Friday, November 21, 2014

Protest set against prosecutor, PETA in dog's death

A rally will take place Monday, Nov. 24, in Accomac to protest the death of an Accomack County family's pet at the hands of Norfolk, Virginia-based animal-rights activists. Hundreds are expected to show up in the sleepy county seat for a march beginning at 10 a.m. to protest the euthanization of Maya, a Chihuahua owned by Wilbur Cerate of Hopeton. The march will end in front of the Accomack County Commonwealth's Attorney Office, where protestors will ask Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Agar to reconsider his decision not to prosecute the case. "The ultimate goal is to take it to trial," said organizer Edward Armstrong, Cerate's friend. The saga began in October, when two workers from People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals came to the Hopeton mobile home park where Cerate lives and took the Chihuahua from a porch while the family was out, police records show. The dog, a gift for Cerate's 9-year-old daughter, was later euthanized. The area has had an ongoing problem with stray dogs. Cerate said PETA has been there several times before, picking up strays. "There are probably about five or six other families" that have had their dogs taken in similar incidents, Armstrong said, noting, "PETA admitted themselves they took a total of three dogs" that day from the mobile home park. But in Cerate's case, a security camera on the property captured the scene — it showed a PETA van in the yard, then a woman entering a porch and leaving with the dog, which Cerate admitted had no collar or tags. Cerate, upon returning home, found the dog missing. The security footage told the story. He called PETA; then, on Oct. 20, he called the police. The Accomack County Sheriff's Office on Nov. 4 obtained arrest warrants for PETA workers Victoria Jean Carey, 54, and Jennifer Lisa Woods, 52, both of Virginia Beach, Virginia. They were arrested the next day, charged with larceny of a dog and released on personal recognizance bond. One of the women visited Cerate a couple of days after Maya was taken and told him the Chihuahua had been destroyed. She apologized and handed him a fruit basket, he said. Maya's death has sparked outrage far beyond the Eastern Shore of Virginia, with the report making headlines in news outlets across the nation. But Commonwealth Attorney Gary Agar declined to prosecute the case, saying there wasn't criminal intent...more

Biofuels and the Do-Nothing EPA

Under the nation’s biofuels policy known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to set an amount of biofuels—ethanol, biodiesel, and low carbon advanced biofuels—which are to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. That amount is to be finalized by the EPA on November 30 of the previous year so as to give energy markets a clear signal of what to expect. Thus, EPA should have established the 2014 volumes by November 30, 2013. Instead, today, nine days short of a year late, EPA has announced that it “will not be finalizing 2014 applicable percentage standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program before the end of 2014.” It’s not surprising that EPA missed its deadline; it has not been on time since 2009. But this year’s lapse is truly mindboggling. Consider: EPA will set the standards that fuels companies must comply with after the compliance year is over. The best guess now is that the 2014 standards will be set in February 2015, which is also the date the EPA has targeted for proposing the 2015 standards, three months after the statutory deadline for those standards to be finalized. Earlier in the year, informed speculation was the Obama administration was delaying the announcement to be well-timed to help Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley in his campaign in Iowa. That was back in June when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy indicated that the volume standards would be issued “soon”—although they were already by then seven months late...more

EDITORIAL: Republicans uphold NSA snooping

Republicans in the Senate flunk a test to stand up against the NSA

Invoking the Constitution is the common rhetoric of many politicians who swore to follow and defend it, but a lot of them have obviously never read it, or if they have, didn’t understand it. The Founding Fathers wrote it in plain English, simple enough for even a lawyer to understand, but some politicians nevertheless have trouble with it.

Some are honest about their disagreement with the Founders. Some Democrats want to restrict First Amendment protections to their friends and supporters and would amend the Constitution if necessary to do it. Others argue that the document doesn’t really mean what it says, but what they believe it should say. The Supreme Court — all lawyers trained in the art of the loophole — has been guilty of this over the past six decades. Others simply ignore the Constitution. The current occupant of the White House falls into this category.

Just as dangerous are those who pick and choose parts of it to ignore or belittle. If the vote on Tuesday to end a filibuster to kill the USA Freedom Act is an indication, most Republicans in the Senate have fallen into this category.

A version of the bill, which attempts to circumscribe or impose limits on the National Security Agency’s ability to collect metadata on just about every telephone call and email, passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year. It was an attempt to pull such practices into compliance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

During the debate in the House the national security hawks argued that restrictions on surveillance practices would invite disaster because the program foils terrorist plots, and had foiled a few already. The NSA later conceded that what it had said was not necessarily so. Finally the Obama administration and the director of National Intelligence admitted that the House provisions would not interfere with the ability of NSA to track down terrorists. Now come revelations that many analysts within the NSA questioned the effectiveness of the program, and had feared for a long time that if what the agency was really up to became public knowledge, there would be a furious backlash.

Governments have always used “national security” to justify assaults on the liberties of its citizens. Our own government has tried to frighten everyone to obtain power and authority it didn’t need, but power and authority to make its job easier. The “lone wolf” terrorist can be a genuine threat, but skeptics and critics of the USA Freedom Act have cited this ghostly wolf to justify a program that was neither designed nor seems especially useful in locating the wolf. The program was meant to enable the agency to track terrorists through their contacts with other terrorists or terrorist organizations here or abroad by “connecting the dots.” The “lone wolf” by definition isn’t part of a terrorist network, and is unlikely to be discovered by monitoring everybody’s telephone calls and email exchanges.

Colorado Roan Plateau drilling battle leads to legal compromise

The decade-long battle over drilling on western Colorado's Roan Plateau — a lofty oasis rich in wildlife and natural gas — eased on Friday with federal and state officials announcing a legal settlement. Nearly all of the Bureau of Land Management leases that allow Bill Barrett Corp. to drill on top of the plateau will be canceled, and $47.6 million will be paid back to the company. Drilling would be allowed on ecologically sensitive areas below the rim and around the base of the Roan. Gov. John Hickenlooper, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and BLM chief Neil Kornze announced the settlement Friday afternoon in the Colorado capitol. Oil and gas industry and conservation groups also attended. Jewell said the settlement was "a commonsense resolution to a very contentious issue." The agreement cancels 17 of 19 leases on top of the Roan that were issued in 2008. The other two leases on atop the Roan and 12 leases at the base will remain...more

Fifth Grader Suspended For Making Gun With Fingers

Another little boy has gotten in trouble at school for having something that primitively, comically represents a gun but isn’t actually anything like a real gun. This time, the student is Nickolas Taylor, a fifth grader at Stacy Middle School in the distant Boston suburb of Milford. The 10-year-old boy’s crime was to make the universal sign for a gun with his thumb and forefinger and point at two girls in the cafeteria lunch line last Friday, local NBC affiliate WHDH reports. Taylor said he wasn’t pointing his make-believe gun at the girls or anyone else, but just generally pretending to “shoot” with his forefinger and thumb. Despite the fact that nothing real happened, assistant principal Noah Collins wrote the boy up, labeling his actions as “a threat.” Collins then suspended the kid for two days...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1331

Billy Lee Riley was a rockabilly star and here he is with (You'll Have To) Come And Get It

LANL chief denies lab hid facts from WIPP

=The head of Los Alamos National Laboratory issued a memo to employees Monday condemning a story published Sunday in The New Mexican that exposed missteps at the lab that had played a part in a WIPP radiation leak. The story also addressed efforts to downplay the dangers of LANL transuranic waste that had been sent to the nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad. The newspaper’s investigation, which took six months and included interviews and a review of thousands of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, found that LANL documents provided to Waste Isolation Pilot Plant officials and regulators about the waste drum’s contents failed to mention several components: organic kitty litter, the unusually high acidity of the waste and a pH neutralizer. Now, those components are being eyed as possible factors in the chemical reaction that caused a LANL drum to burst, leading to the radiation leak. On Feb. 14, when the drum ruptured inside the underground storage facility, more than 20 workers were exposed to radiation. The plant has not reopened since, stranding thousands of barrels of waste from Cold War-era nuclear weapons production at national labs throughout the country. Fully reopening WIPP is expected to take up to five years and cost at least $550 million, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “Over the weekend, many of you may have read a story in the Santa Fe New Mexican suggesting that Los Alamos National Laboratory was hiding scientific theories about the accident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant,” lab Director Charles McMillan wrote in his memo sent to LANL employees just before 5 p.m. Monday. “I want to assure you that nothing is further from the truth.” According to McMillan’s statement, obtained by The New Mexican, he took aim at a portion of the newspaper report about the lab’s delay in sharing a memo with WIPP personnel that likened the contents of the burst waste drum to explosives. The story reported that a May memo by LANL chemist Steve Clemmons asserted he had determined the waste in the drum that ruptured held the same components as three patented explosives. “The Lab was very open with the Department of Energy and the Carlsbad Field Office about hypotheses under evaluation, with daily discussions on all efforts to discover the cause of the breach and to ensure the safety and security of the remaining drums,” McMillan wrote in the memo to lab workers Monday. But emails that were the basis for the news report contradict McMillan’s memo. Those messages, colored at times by outrage from WIPP officials about what they weren’t told by LANL, show that despite daily briefings between WIPP and Los Alamos personnel about the ongoing investigations into the leak, a week passed before WIPP officials learned of Clemmons’ findings about the potentially explosive mixture in the waste...more

Attorney: Immigrant Transfers Out of Artesia Detention Center To Begin Immediately

An attorney representing immigrant women and children detained in New Mexico says her clients will be transferred to a facility in Texas starting today. The news came a day after the federal government announced the New Mexico facility will close by the end of December. Christina Brown got a phone call Thursday night, just as President Obama was beginning his nationwide address on immigration. Brown heads a group volunteer attorneys who represent immigrants held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. She said the call was from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, alerting her that 24 of her clients would be moved to a facility in Texas Friday morning..more

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Possible wolf sighting north of Ruidoso

Nathan Thomas was walking with his wife on Box Canyon Circle in Ranches of Sonterra subdivision north of Ruidoso when they witnessed two wolves attack and drag a mature doe into the Bonito River. In an email to another resident of the community, Thomas, president of the Ranches home owners association, wrote that the incident occurred not at night, but at 9:45 a.m. Saturday. He estimated the mule deer weighed about 150 pounds. "We were able to save the deer by getting the wolves to release her throat and flee after a 20-second vicious attack," Thomas wrote. "Thank goodness I didn't shoot the wolves, because later when I got on the Internet, I discovered these animals were Mexican gray wolves, an endangered species protected by both federal and New Mexico law." He described the canines as looking similar to a 50-pound German shepherd with burnt orange/red fur mixed into their lower torsos and tails. "I'm writing, because if these animals are roaming ROS in the daytime, they could have just as easily grabbed one of our small dogs or a neighbor's much larger dog," Thomas wrote. "I don't know if they'd attack a human. Perhaps you might want to alert ROS residents of this incident. I'm not naive enough to think there aren't predators in this part of New Mexico, but seeing two wolves appear out of nowhere and grab a huge deer right off the pavement in broad daylight was a sobering reminder to be ever vigilant when walking, jogging or bicycle riding."...more

Germany gives up on emissions target - Japan emits more CO2 than ever

Germany’s Vice Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has indicated that the country will abandon its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020, from a 1990 base level. According to the Environment Ministry, Germany would have to find a way of cutting emissions by between 62 and 100 million tonnes of CO2 every year for the next sixteen years in order to reach the target. Shutting down coal power stations would only contribute 40 million tonnes to that target. “It’s clear that the [2020 CO2] target is no longer viable,” Gabriel said, adding: “We cannot exit from coal power overnight.” Earlier this year Gabriel told Spiegel: “It is an illusion to believe that Germany could simultaneously move away from both nuclear and coal energy”...Japan’s carbon dioxide emissions were the worst on record in the last fiscal year, forced up by the nation’s reliance on natural gas and coal to generate electricity. In the year ended in March, Japan emitted 1.224 billion metric tons of CO2, up 1.4% from the previous year and up 16% from 1990, the base year for emission cuts previously targeted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday...more

Lawsuit by Nebraska Landowners May Decide Keystone Pipeline’s Fate

For all the angst and anger over the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington, the project’s fate may lie here in Nebraska, where disgruntled landowners are challenging a state law that officials used to approve the pipeline’s path through their property. After the U.S. Senate rejected a measure to approve the project Tuesday, Republicans who will control the chamber in January said it would be one of the first items on their agenda next year. A more immediate hurdle, though, is the Nebraska suit, which encompasses much of the legal and emotional core of the battle over Keystone. “I worry that members don’t know there is a pending lawsuit that could take this whole thing back to square one in Nebraska,” said Heather Zichal, an energy consultant who was a top energy and climate adviser in the White House until about a year ago. The Nebraska Supreme Court is expected to rule in the coming weeks on the case. If the court upholds the law, the Obama administration would have a clear path to decide on the project, which has been under federal review for more than six years. Another potential ruling could require the company building the pipeline, Calgary-based TransCanada , to submit its proposed route through a new review process set by a 2011 state law, delaying the project up to a year. In a third, less likely outcome, the court could cast the project into an indefinite legal limbo by compelling the Nebraska legislature to revisit a couple of laws it has passed since 2011 in response to the growing scrutiny of the pipeline in the Cornhusker State...more (subscription)

Senate Dems Push $2 Trillion Carbon Tax Bill After Voting Down Keystone XL

Fresh off their legislative victory against the Keystone XL pipeline, Democratic senators are pushing a bill that would tax carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels that would rise every year. Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii first introduced the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act Tuesday. The bill would slap a $42 per ton fee on carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 that would gradually rise 2 percent each year. Democrats argue it would raise $2 trillion, which could be used for things like paying down the national debt or funding green energy production. The tax would be levied on fossil fuels produced domestically or imported in the U.S. and cover large emitting facilities, possibly power plants or refineries...more

Roan Plateau: Officials to announce 'major development' in drilling dispute

The years-long legal conflict over oil and gas drilling on the Roan Plateau may be ending.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — along with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, other government officials, and representatives from environmental groups and the energy industry — are set to make an announcement at 1 p.m. MST Friday regarding what's being called "a major development" regarding the Western Slope landmark. Also on hand Friday for the announcement will be U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and Neil Kornze, the director of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which in 2008 auctioned off thousands of acres of mineral rights leases allowing drilling on the federally managed areas of the plateau and around its base...more

Bison-Herding Copters Don't Bug Bears, 9th Says

State and federal wildlife officials properly allow helicopters to "haze" wild bison back into Yellowstone National Park in the spring, the 9th Circuit ruled, finding little proof that the operation harms grizzly bears. Yellowstone's bison are allowed to range outside the park's boundaries in the winter, but must be herded back in mid-May to prevent the spread of brucellosis to local cattle herds. The Montana Department of Livestock employs cowboys on horseback and off-highway vehicles, as well as in helicopters, to convince the wild bison to move out of Montana and back into the park. Fearing that the helicopters were harming endangered Yellowstone grizzly bears, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies challenged the Interagency Bison Management Plan that authorized the herding technique...more

Los Alamos National Laboratory kitty litter "bomb" led to nuclear leak at WIPP

A Department of Energy nuclear lab used the wrong kind of kitty litter in its haste to dispose of hazardous waste last year, leading to a radiation leak that sickened at least 20 workers and caused a shutdown of a federal disposal plant to the tune of $500 million. The report from the Santa Fe New Mexican characterizes the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and its private operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC, as being so careless with the hazardous material that they inadvertently created what one chemist called a potential bomb. The LANL is a federal laboratory that works on nuclear technology and other national security projects. According to the newspaper, the LANL took shortcuts when prepping a highly acidic batch of nuclear waste for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground disposal plant for nuclear waste that is also in New Mexico. The lab was working vigorously to meet a June 30, 2014 deadline for disposal of Cold War-era waste that would help Los Alamos National Security LLC secure a renewed contract with the Energy Department. In its haste, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the lab used a “wheat-based kitty litter rather than clay-based kitty litter” to absorb some of the material. This mistake turned the waste into a mixture that was “akin to plastic explosives,” the paper reported. The mistake was small, but costly. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that in February 2014, once the drum containing waste had reached the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, it cracked open. At least 20 workers at the plant were injured by low levels of the radiation and the plant was shut down...more

Shutting off NSA's water gains support in Utah Legislature

A Utah legislative committee on Wednesday asked a lawmaker to refine a bill that seeks to — eventually — shut off water to the National Security Agency’s data center in Bluffdale. Committee members expressed some concerns with the bill but no outright opposition. They asked the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, to better define who would be impacted by the bill. The members also asked questions on whether Utah taxpayers are supporting the NSA. "I just don’t want to subsidize what they’re doing on the back of our citizens," said Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville. The committee heard a report on how Bluffdale issued $3.5 million in bonds to pay for water lines leading to the Utah Data Center. Bluffdale agreed to sell the NSA water at a rate below the city guidelines in order to secure the contract. The bill considered Wednesday is similar to one Roberts sponsored in the general session earlier this year. It would prohibit a municipality from providing "material support or assistance in any form to any federal data collection and surveillance agency." Roberts’ bill would grandfather in Bluffdale’s financial agreements with the Utah Data Center, but when those agreements expire, his bill would prohibit further cooperation with the NSA. It also would prohibit any other cities or water districts from signing new agreements with the NSA. Water is a major ingredient at the data center. It’s projected to use more than 1 million gallons a day to cool its computers when the Utah Data Center is fully operational. Roberts on Wednesday told the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee that the NSA came to Utah with promises it was acting within the Constitution. "We all know and are aware that has been violated," Roberts said...more 

Well why not?  If the feds can shut off the water to Tombstone, Arizona they deserve a little taste of their own medicine.  See here and here.

Enviros Jump Government Over Canada Lynx

Despite eight years of prodding, the federal government refuses to protect the threatened Canada lynx, environmental groups claim in two federal lawsuits. America's wild snow cat was listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000. The essence of the fight lies in the millions of acres of boreal and subalpine forests in Canada and the United States. Environmentalists claim Fish and Wildlife has failed, after several tries, to designate enough acreage in the northern states as critical lynx habitat. Environmental groups sued in 2010, and filed two more lawsuits Monday after Fish and Wildlife's latest habitat designation. WildEarth Guardians, Conservation Northwest, Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands sued Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe, under the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. The groups claim that Fish and Wildlife's 2014 revised designation excludes important areas critical to the lynx. The designation includes areas in the Northern Rockies and North Cascades in Montana, Wyoming and Washington, but excludes habitat in the southern Rocky Mountain range, where Fish and Wildlife claims reintroduction of the lynx is not necessary. It excludes other areas in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon where the lynx has traditionally thrived. The environmentalists say the exclusions were made "without any analysis." "The best available science reveals many of these areas were occupied by lynx at the time of listing, remain currently occupied by lynx and contain the habitat elements essential to the species' conservation in the contiguous United States," according to the WildEarth complaint...more

Lakota song celebrating defeat of pipeline leads to arrest in Senate - video

Greg Grey Cloud came to Washington for meetings Sunday with South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson and other lawmakers. He never planned on being arrested in the U.S. Capitol two days later. But Grey Cloud, a South Dakota resident and a member of the Crow Creek Tribe located 2-1/2 hours northwest of Sioux Falls, was taken into custody Tuesday night after he started singing a song he said was meant to honor those lawmakers who voted against the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate narrowly defeated legislation that would have approved construction of the pipeline – part of which would cross South Dakota. Grey Cloud was one of five people arrested, but the only one from a Native American tribe...more

Here's the video of the event:


Keystone Foes Use Narrow Win in U.S. Senate to Prepare for 2015

Environmental foes of the Keystone XL pipeline are using their narrow victory in the U.S. Senate this week to raise funds for the next showdown on the project. “Make an emergency gift to the Sierra Club right now,” Sierra Club head Michael Brune said in a pitch after the Senate fell one vote short of the 60 needed to pass a bill backing the pipeline. “We’ve worked so hard to stop the pipeline for a long time now. But we have to keep fighting.” The League of Conservation Voters, which lobbies for environmental causes, sent out emergency alerts to its 40,000 members nationwide, urging them to contact their senator to offer thanks, or criticism, for their vote. “We expect to see even more attacks on the environment when the new Congress comes into session in January,” according to the LCV e-mail. “Our democracy works when lawmakers know that we’re paying attention.”Since TransCanada Corp. (TRP), a Calgary-based pipeline maker, applied to build Keystone in September 2008, it has become a proxy in broader political debates over jobs, U.S. energy security and climate change. Keystone XL would have the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day, linking Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast...more

NM Commission rules on wolf reintroduction

The New Mexico Game Commission ruled at its monthly meeting last week that it will no longer automatically issue permits to allow private landowners to hold carnivores in captivity for the purpose of reintroducing them into the wild. The commission will have to give its approval on each request. In this case, Mexican gray wolves. According to Lance Cherry, assistant Chief of Information for the Game Commission, the new ruling allows for more transparency in the permitting process. “It will probably go into effect around mid-December,” he said. “For the time being, any permits won’t be impacted by this rule.” But any future renewal of permits will go through the Game Commission instead of going straight to the director for approval. “Prior to the change that they made, the permit requests were reviewed internally,” Cherry said. “Now there will be a public comment attached to them.” Ranchers in Socorro and Catron counties are happy about the ruling. “It’s a positive thing for New Mexico agricultural producers,” said rancher Anita Hand of Datil. The Hand Ranch lies between the San Mateo Mountains and Datil Mountains. “I appreciate the layer of protection,” she said. “There’s a process you have to go through, so when carnivores are released a neighbor can be notified, and they’re not just randomly released.” Hand said wolf tracks have been seen in and around the area, enough, she said, to warrant a wolf-proof enclosure for the protection of children waiting for the school bus. “They’re raised in captivity. They’ve been around human interaction,” she said. “They have humans feeding them and vaccinating them and taking care of them. They’re not scared of humans.” Caren Cowan, executive director of New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, said, “We’re very pleased the state is trying to stand up for our rights and for New Mexico.” “As you probably know we have long opposed the Mexican wolf program, and we fail to see how the federal government has the right to turn loose predators on us with no compensation,” Cowan said. “The new ruling says, that as a private landowner, you can’t import a large carnivore, be it a wolf or anything else into the state and release it on your private property,” she said. “The genesis of this is that the drafted Environmental Impact Statement that was released last summer contains a provision that private property owners can cooperate with the Mexican wolf program and release wolves on private property. And as you and I know, once you release an animal like that on private property there’s no guarantee it’s going to stay there. We hope this addresses that situation.”...more

American Farm Bureau Federation Announces Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Rises, Still Under $50

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 29th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.04. The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.65 this year. That’s roughly $1.35 per pound, a decrease of less than 1 cent per pound, or a total of 11 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2013. “Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store,” AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. Some grocers may use turkeys as “loss leaders,” a common strategy deployed to entice shoppers to come through the doors and buy other popular Thanksgiving foods. The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers. Foods showing the largest increases this year were sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix. Sweet potatoes came in at $3.56 for three pounds. A half pint of whipping cream was $2.00; one gallon of whole milk, $3.76; and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.12. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery ($.82) and one pound of green peas ($1.55) also increased in price. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) rose to $3.48. The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1330

Jerry Clark requested some Wanda Jackson rockabilly and so we've had a Rockabilly Week on Ranch Radio.  Most have been mainstream stuff, but I know J.R. Absher likes the rare ones.  So here's Ken Patrick performing Night Train.

Free ‘Obama Phones’ A Little Too Easy To Get

They’re lined up outside welfare offices, on street corners and in supermarkets: people hawking free cellphones for those in need. CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein says it’s called the California Lifeline Program, but it’s more commonly known by another name. “Is that what they call the ‘Obama phones?’ ” asked one customer. The program exploded under President Barack Obama: 14 million American have the free phones, costing $2.2 billion in subsidies nationwide in 2013. And it’s all paid for by taxpayers. There’s a Lifeline surcharge on everyone’s cellphone bill, and just in California the numbers have tripled: 30,000 new subscribers in August, 90,000 just last month. Officially, you need proof of government assistance or low income in order to qualify for the program. But our undercover producer hit the streets telling people she didn’t have anything — no Medi-Cal or EBT card — and found plenty of salespeople, many of whom work on commission, willing to offer advice on how to bend the rules. One salesman for Budget Mobile stationed outside a South L.A. welfare office was one of those people. “Do you have any friends or family that might have EBT or some sort of social service?” he asked our producer. “What you could do is ask your friend to sign up for a free phone and when it comes in, they can let you have it.” Outside one welfare office on Grand Avenue, two salespeople for Assurance Wireless said our producer could use someone else’s card, which is against the rules. But it was outside another welfare office on 108th and Central that Erica, also with Assurance Wireless, went the furthest. “You don’t need an ID or a Social Security number, none of that,” she said. “I would make up the Social, the last four, I would make up those four numbers for you. “If you have a friend or something that already has their EBT, I’ll take a picture of their card so that you can get the phone,” Erica offered. “But would it be in my name?” our producer asked. “Yeah, I can put it in your name,” Erica replied...more

Run down and get your free Obamaphone.  Then call the White House, EPA, USFWS, your Congressman, etc. and tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

University’s new ‘vaqueros’ mascot decried as ‘racist, gender biased’

The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley hasn’t even opened yet and already its mascot has been decried as racist and gender biased. Some students, scholars and others associated with the newly forming University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley are demanding University President Guy Bailey step down after he helped pave the way for its mascot to be “Vaqueros.” Vaquero is masculine in Spanish, and it was criticized not only for gender bias, but critics also said “a Vaquero and the eventual cartoon depiction of one will be drastically culturally insensitive and ripen with Hispanic stereotypes.” But Bailey recommended the “Vaqueros” mascot, and the University of Texas System Board of Regents officially and unanimously approved “Vaqueros” as the athletic nickname for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley earlier this month. The university is coming together through the merger of two older campuses in the region and is slated to open next fall. “The vaqueros were the horsemen and cattle herders who laid the foundation for the North American cowboy and cowboy culture,” Bailey has stated. “There is no more iconic figure in American lore than the cowboy and that iconic figure was born in the Rio Grande Valley.”...more

The opponents of "Vaqueros" have initiated a petition.  Below see the University's response and a note from an editor at The College Fix:

University officials also released a statement last week that clarified the meaning of “Vaqueros,” and defended the decision. “The vaquero and vaquera represent the tenacity, perseverance, intelligence and ambition of all who settled the Old West,” its officials said in a Nov. 14 statement. “Both men and women played an equal role in the proud pioneering history of Texas and the nicknames vaqueros and vaqueras for men’s and women’s teams honor that revolutionary spirit.”

A note from Assistant Editor Dave Huber: As a Spanish teacher I must note that the claim of gender bias regarding the term “vaqueros” is silly on its face as, in the Spanish language, the masculine plural of a noun can encompass both genders. In other words, “vaqueros” can translate to “cowboys and cowgirls,” or, to be PC, “cowpeople.”

Government attorneys want Sierra Pacific lawyers off Moonlight wildfire case

In the years-long legal brawl over the 2007 Moonlight wildfire that torched Plumas and Lassen counties, government attorneys have asked a Sacramento federal judge to kick the lawyers defending Sierra Pacific Industries off the case for alleged unlawful and unethical tactics. Lawyers who handled the recent declaration of a former assistant U.S. attorney who once represented the government in its civil lawsuit against Sierra Pacific are guilty of “egregious professional misconduct,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner and his staff allege in a motion filed Monday. In his declaration, the former assistant U.S. attorney, E. Robert Wright, described what he perceived as questionable inner workings of the U.S Attorney’s civil division and how he bucked a practice of withholding evidence that the law required be turned over to the opposition. Wright, now retired, said he suspected he was removed as the government’s lead counsel in the suit against Sierra Pacific because of his insistence on honesty. The Moonlight fire started on Sept. 3, 2007, on private property in Plumas County and spread into neighboring Lassen County. It turned 65,000 acres, including 46,000 acres of national forestland, into a moonscape, and burned for more than two weeks before it could be suppressed. The government’s suit, which was settled more than two years ago, sought compensation for fire-related damages from timber giant Sierra Pacific and, to a much lesser extent, other defendants. The government’s motion this week to banish Sierra Pacific lawyers from the suit claims that Wright’s declaration is “replete with protected work-product, privileged attorney-client communications, and client confidences and secrets.” Every lawyer involved in the document’s creation and public disclosure knew it represented a blatant violation of the State Bar’s rules of professional conduct, including Wright and defense lawyers who merely read it, the motion asserts...more 

I don't know the particulars on this case but checkout the following:

Hundreds of Justice Department Attorneys Violated Professional Rules, Laws, or Ethical Standards An internal affairs office at the Justice Department has found that, over the last decade, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work. The violations include instances in which attorneys who have a duty to uphold justice have, according to the internal affairs office, misled courts, withheld evidence that could have helped defendants, abused prosecutorial and investigative power, and violated constitutional rights. From fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2013, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) documented more than 650 infractions, according to a Project On Government Oversight review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and from OPR reports. In the majority of the matters—more than 400—OPR categorized the violations as being at the more severe end of the scale: recklessness or intentional misconduct, as distinct from error or poor judgment. The information the Justice Department has disclosed is only part of the story. No less significant is what as a matter of policy it keeps from the public. As a general practice, the Justice Department does not make public the names of attorneys who acted improperly or the defendants whose cases were affected. The result: the Department, its lawyers, and the internal watchdog office itself are insulated from meaningful public scrutiny and accountability.

And we should all remember the Senator Ted Stevens case:

Report blasts prosecutors in Ted Stevens case Federal prosecutors knowingly concealed exculpatory evidence and allowed false testimony to be presented at trial in their overzealous pursuit of criminal charges against the late Sen. Ted Stevens, a scathing new report by a special investigator finds. Stevens was charged in July 2008 and later convicted on seven counts of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper gifts. The longest serving Senate Republican in U.S. history, he lost his reelection that November, ending a legendary political career that had begun before Alaska was even a state. “The investigation and prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness,” Schuelke wrote in the summary of his report. It came after more than two years of review, including interviews of all the members of the elite DOJ team handling the case, all of whom worked for the Public Integrity Section.

Groups sue over predator derby

The fight over a predator-killing contest scheduled to take place around Salmon, Idaho, in January isn’t over yet. On Thursday, Nov. 13, the BLM approved a five-year permit to conduct a predator derby there each winter. Almost immediately, two coalitions of conservation groups each filed a lawsuit in federal court. The groups are asking that the BLM be ordered to carry out an environmental impact study of the potential effects of the proposed contest. In making its decision, the agency relied on a less extensive, 28-page environmental assessment. The assessment concluded that there would be no significant impact from the contest warranting an EIS. The suits seek a court order stopping the contest in the meantime. One suit was filed by Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Project Coyote in U.S. District Court in Boise. The other was filed by the Boulder-White Clouds Council, WildEarth Guardians and Cascadia Wildlands in U.S. District Court in Pocatello, Idaho. The first group of plaintiffs claims that the EA and related documents relied on “numerous factual and legal misstatements, omissions and unwarranted assumptions to downplay potentially significant adverse impacts to wildlife populations, recreational use, [wilderness study areas], and other environmental values.” The complaint states that a full EIS should be required partly due to the precedent being set by allowing the hunting contest on BLM land and to the conflict between its action and the federal wolf reintroduction program. The plaintiffs also question the BLM’s decision not to conduct an EIS in light of the fact that during two public comment periods, it received more than 100,000 comments, virtually all of which opposed the event. (The agency reported that almost all comments were copies of nine different form letters, though 491 of the 507 unique comments received during the final comment period expressed opposition.)...more

Lies of the Land

By Dave Skinner

...So, what about transferring federal lands to Montana? Greens, of course, are fine with the current dysfunction, as it empowers them, not average Montanans. The mere idea of the state of Montana controlling any current Forest Service lands has environmentalists in a tizzy, making all sorts of specious claims – such as:

Montana can’t afford the cost of wildfire fighting. Utter tommyrot, at least in the long term. Today’s high, landscape-scale fire risk (a result of paralytic federal policy) is certainly real, but can only change for the better with DNRC (and Montana’s Land Board – whom Montanans get to select) in charge. Anyone with eyes and a brain visiting state trust lands – I suggest Pig Farm/Kuhns and both Spencer units for your examination – has to realize that Montana DNRC does fantastic work in terms of habitat, safety and economic outcomes. Period. Even if Montana saw some big fires in the short run, rather than leave dead trees to rot, merchantable wood would be timely salvaged, with sale proceeds plowed back into rapid replanting of the next forest.

Ranchers would see their grazing fees increase. Pure cow flop. Private land grazing costs around $20-23 per AUM (animal unit, basically a cow/calf pair) in Montana according to USDA, with Montana’s state trust minimum being about $6.12/AUM, with a relatively few competitive leases bringing fees about 80 percent of the private rate. So the federal monthly grazing fee of $1.35/AUM (snarlingly protected by Western congresscritters) seems dirt cheap. But Greens won’t admit “cheap” federal fees come with a huge downside of risk. Litigation all across the West has given federal AUMs a bad habit of disappearing at the worst possible moment – becoming unavailable at any price, often permanently. Would savvy ranchers pay more for predictability? Gladly.

Recreation access would decrease. Absolute tommyrot. On federal ground, access for everything, except the most-politically-correct recreation, currently stinks. While state-land recreation access is not THAT much better today, it’s mostly worth the 10 bucks. Further, the Land Board could improve recreation access even more if Montanans encouraged them to.

Payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) would go away. Deflectionist sludge. First of all, PILT cash is chumpola changeola: $28 million statewide in 2014 on 30 million acres. The annual amount per acre of PILT? In Montana, it runs from 27 cents in Petroleum County to $2.53 per acre in Custer County. What’s the property tax on your acres of paradise, kids?

Avalanche of hostility over environmental analysis re-do

If you didn’t know any better, you might think you walked in on an angry game of dodgeball between Plumas National Forest officials and local residents last week in Quincy. However, it was really a townhall meeting in the Mineral Building on the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds stemming from a 2013 court settlement between the U.S. Forest Service and Snowlands Network, Winter Wildlands Alliance and the Center for Biological Diversity. A condition of that settlement requires the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region to re-do an environmental analysis of over-snow vehicle use under the National Environmental Policy Act. The study will result in the designation of National Forest System roads, trails and areas for over-snow vehicle use with minimal impact to natural resources. “The previous analysis we did was found to be inadequate,” said Bart Lander, a Forest Service environmental coordinator. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t do an adequate job the first time.” Five national forests are impacted by the agreement: Eldorado, Tahoe, Stanislaus, Lassen and Plumas. Area residents are concerned this may take its toll on winter recreation and industries including snowmobiling, downhill and cross-country skiing, trails, grooming, tourism and more. Before the $1 million “enterprise phase” of the second analysis gets underway, Forest Service officials told the standing-room-only crowd they needed public input. “The need is for you guys to better do your jobs,” countered area resident Gordon Hardgrave. “Why are we spending a bunch of money to re-do an analysis we’ve already done?” asked Kyle Felker, of Quincy. “Another nail in the coffin affecting our economic development,” added Portola Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Gault. As officials explained, apologized and pledged to do better, they were often booed, heckled, subjected to name-calling and made targets of offensive language. “This is probably the most contentious (project) I’ve worked on and I’ve been doing this for 12 years,” said Lander. “Most of my colleagues do five in a career; I’m doing five all at once. We can only do the best job we can.” Four of the five national forests have already hosted townhall meetings on the issue. Tahoe National Forest representatives say they will schedule similar meetings after the NEPA process begins next month.  Source

Fracking to be allowed in largest national forest on US east coast

Over the objection of environmental groups and Virginia’s governor, a federal management plan released on Tuesday will allow a form of natural gas drilling known as fracking to occur in parts of the largest national forest on the east coast. The US Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking in the 1.1m-acre George Washington National Forest, but energy companies cried foul after a draft of the plan was released in 2011. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest. “We think we’ve ended up in a much better place, which is we are allowing oil and gas drilling,” Robert Bonnie, the US Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. “From a policy perspective, the Forest Service allows fracking on forest lands throughout the country. We didn’t want to make a policy decision or change policy related to fracking. This decision is about where it’s appropriate to do oil and gas leasing.” Under the new plan, which is subject to appeal, drilling will only be permitted on 167,000 acres where there are existing private mineral rights and on about 10,000 acres that are already leased to oil and gas companies...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1329

On Rockabilly Week here's Ricky Nelson - Boppin' The Blues, from 1957.