Monday, November 24, 2014

USFWS Says Wolf Spotted On North Rim Of Grand Canyon Is A Rocky Mtn. Gray Wolf

A female gray wolf that dispersed from the Rocky Mountains, presumably in search of a mate and new territory, has been roaming the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, according to a DNA analysis performed for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The confirmation announced Friday came from analysis on a scat sample conducted by the University of Idaho’s Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics. The lab now will turn to comparing that DNA to DNA samples taken from other female Rocky Mountain gray wolves to see if it can pinpoint where the North Rim wolf came from. “The DNA results indicate this wolf traveled at least 450 miles from an area in the northern Rocky Mountains to northern Arizona,” Benjamin Tuggle, the Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest regional director, said in a release. “Wolves, particularly young wolves, can be quite nomadic dispersing great distances across the landscape. Such behavior is not unusual for juveniles as they travel to find food or another mate.” The scat sample was obtained Nov. 2 by researchers. Efforts to capture the wolf to obtain a blood sample and replace a worn radio collar were unsuccessful and suspended due to cold weather, the agency said. With the confirmation, the wolf automatically gains protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to Defenders of Wildlife...more

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Thankful is the cowboy way

By Julie Carter

As a rule, a cowboy is a man of few words.  His thankfulness for his life is heartfelt but will be expressed in a simple manner.

The job doesn’t pay much, but the air is clean. The benefit package is limited, meaning ranch rules are he can have two horses, one dog and he must use both for work. If he happens to get hurt or sick he will just have to get better and sooner rather than later.

His clothes don’t have designer labels. He has one “town” shirt and Lord willing, he will have saved enough for new chaps by Christmas.  A pair of clean jeans, a mostly ironed shirt and the dust knocked of the toe of his boots make him ready for polite company.

He gets mail once in a while. The latest catalog from the veterinary supply is the highlight in the week.

His schedule is pretty simple. It coincides with Mother Nature and Father Time. If the weather lets him and there is any daylight left, he will get it done. Once in a while he is forced to meet a deadline set by an arriving load of feed or the cattle trucks at shipping time.

His pickup is old but it still runs good enough to get him where he needs to go. His horse is young and still has a little buck in him. For a cowboy, it doesn’t get much better.

The roads out at the ranch don’t have traffic lights and there are definitely no heavy traffic issues.  A traffic jam to a cowboy is when he needs to move a large herd of cattle through a small gate.

Neighborhood gangs are made up of the neighbors coming to help. The closest thing to smog arrives in the spring in the form of blowing dust and smoke from the branding irons. Sometimes when he starts up the old pickup it belches a little black smoke. Some might call that smog.

Office politics don’t exist and a nylon rope keeps things politically correct with a cow.
There are no lines to stand in to wait for anything.  Back of the line to a cowboy means riding drag behind the herd.

His outlook on the weather sums it up in an ever optimistic attitude of “maybe it’ll rain one of these days. It always does eventually.” In the meantime, its winter and time to chop a little fire wood before it gets dark and keep the axe handy to break ice on the water tanks in the morning.

He sees in one day more of creation than most will see in a lifetime of the Discovery Channel. He watches natures cycle in wildlife of all kinds as the coyote hunts, the deer and elk graze and hawks on the wing observe from above.

For this life he is most thankful. He knows he can ride to the top of a ridge and be just about as close to his Lord as he is going to get on this earth. His prayer for himself is that Lord willing, he’ll be here next year to say thanks again.

Julie can be reached for comment at


Rain running off the eaves
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Let’s begin where this isn’t supposed to start … it’s raining.
            Water is running off the eaves as if it is serious. The matter is supported by the drumming on the metal roof. It could be classified as dreary, but I sense no such description. These kinds of mornings can only be described as joyful.
            I love the rain.
            I know exactly where if not when metal roofs became my preference, too. My grandparents’ place on Bell Canyon remains my claim on such matters. Sleeping out on the porch was the genesis that elevated tin roofs to importance. When just a hint of sprinkle gave way to a full blown storm, nothing can compare to those old strong barn tin roofs. The wafting of the smell of night showers with the impact of cool air across that screened porch while in that warm bed with fresh sun dried sheets was nothing short of glorious.
            Pulling the covers up to be consumed by that cavalcade of sensory explosion gave rise to why rainy mornings can be described as joyous. Maybe New Mexico has something to do with it as well. There is no place on earth that I have experienced that has offered such parallel natural exultation. Call it bias, it remains the basis to judge many things.
            Maybe it is just memories of home …
On a grand morning not long ago we moved a pasture in the rain, and, while the folks from town that came to help lacking cowboy logic and protection suffered mightily, I savored the morning. I was warm and comfortable in my slicker and horse and I both enjoyed everything about the experience.
Exposure to real conditions is the best teacher.
Dusty and I have stripped off more than once to build a fire to dry our clothes and warm our bodies. Two most memorable times were both on the sides of mountains. Both were deer hunts.
One was on School House Mountain and that juniper fire saved the day and our spirits. The other was on the side of Granny Mountain and there was nothing on us or around us that wasn’t dripping with water.
The latter had started with a ride from Corral Canyon down into the Sapillo and on up the river to the old Heart Bar round corral across from to the mouth of Fall Canyon. We arrived in mid afternoon and had time to put the wall tent up, get our camp in order, and cut and stack firewood. We cooked a good supper and were inside the tent when the rain started. The patter on that wall tent grew to a pounding, but we remained dry and comfortable. We commented that if wanted to rain for two days, let it rain!
It let up enough to allow us to rim out onto Granny and spend the next day hunting before we got wet. We dried by the fire and came off the mountain in the dark in a high trot.
Another grand lightning display and hard rain was experienced at the Trotter Place on the Middle Fork. Hugh and I had arrived at sundown and unsaddled and fed the horses just before the storm hit. We felt our way around the inside of the cabin and got a lantern lit. We ate and decided to go to bed and listen to it rain. In the midst of the display that lit up the meadow outside the old cabin like day, I glimpsed a visitor to my bed. It was a rat sitting on my sleeping bag in upright pack rat fashion just staring at me. When the lightning lit the backdrop, I could see him silhouetted there on my midriff. I mentioned it to Hugh and he told me to shut up and go to sleep. Eventually, the rat left, and the rain continued.
Perhaps the most enduring memories, though, came from wet corrals and the smell of horses. Once, my granddad and I had come in to unsaddle at the headquarters on the Mangus only to get caught in a rain at the barn. We sat there protected and looked out into the storm through the big open door. I suspect not much was said. Grandpa was not always talkative on those occasions. When it was over, we probably went to house to get in the pickup to “go see where it rained”.
That simple thing we did with regularity. Rain was so important to our lives, and that included therapy for our souls … nostalgia.
            I started this with the intention of Thanksgiving.
            The rain changed the course of events, but not the intent. In fact, the same natural inclination has everything to do with Thanksgiving. The same basis of nostalgia emerges.
With our increasingly gray heads, a different dynamic is developing. Certainly, we refer to the importance of the renewal of ties to family and friends created by Thanksgiving, but those that made it most appealing to us are now largely gone.
            Seldom is there a day that goes by that I don’t think about one of my grandmothers. Unequivocally, they were the forces that kept our families together and Thanksgiving was hugely important in that regard. Those celebrations were prompted by those who came before our grandmothers and instilled in them the same thing.
            We are now the caretakers.
            With that responsibility, what was it that created that sense of awe and excitement of this holiday? It wasn’t a Detroit Lion football game because, in the early years, none of us had a television much less interest in a Thanksgiving Day football game.
            Games were played. Rousing games of Pitch were played by the men on the card table set up in the living room. The women cooked, talked, and laughed in the kitchens. Almost universally, the kids were outside. We were on our own until Nana or Grandma called us to the meal.
            Outside, we did what we always did at the ranch on the Mangus or the farm on the Gila … depending on the grandmother’s house we had made the first stop. We had our BB guns or .22s depending on the age and the year. We caught a horse or went to the barn or the creek or river to pursue our self evolving agenda.
            Whether we knew it or not, the day was interwoven with fall and harvest and the conclusion of the yearly cycle. If it was at the Mangus, the meal was largely a function of what Grandma had ‘put up’ and retrieved from the cellar. If it was at Cliff and the Gila River, the meal was a function of canned mincemeat, ham from a butchered hog, eggs from the henhouse, or what was retrieved from the freezer and the shelves of home canned larder in the pump room. A major portion of the pending feast was raised or processed by our grandmothers’ hands. It had come from harvest of our immediate control.
            Implicit in that whole process, the ties to our surroundings were direct and the results were chained to generational connectivity. Home was sanctified and all the attachments therein defined the matter of … nostalgia.
            I miss my grandmothers.
            I have come to recognize the immensity of their impact on me and, for that, I am eternally grateful. I also give them most of the credit for creating the backdrop of importance attached to this holiday.
            The changes that have occurred from then until now worry me. Certainly in my family there is no longer a strong connection to our surroundings. It has been a long time since the meal was fashioned largely from harvest managed from our own hands.
Football is on the television. Youthful memories are not derived from wet leaves, fresh air, creek banks, or a horse caught on which to play cowboys and Indians. The connection of harvest is at best an abstract notion, and, in that, there is danger and loss.
            It is seen in the corrupted opinions of how our lands should now be managed, the distance from things actually natural, and the plunging numbers of those who have direct connections to the past through skills and ethics of those who preceded us.
            If we are judged on the basis of maintaining what once were simple but have become esoteric traditions of value, we have failed.
            The most valued memories of this holiday and all that frames it are the most simplistic. Just like the rain that has finally stopped dripping off the eaves, memories and the security of the circumstances that emerged as representing home are the real basis for this celebration.
It has meaning to this gray headed rancher, and I pray that a semblance of it remains with those whom I actually have some … influence.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “In memory of my grandmothers …”

Baxter Black: If organic movement took over home building

In the land of Nod a movement sprung up to build houses without the use of power tools. The advocates of organic construction (OC) supported the movement because it prohibited the recovery and use of the carbon.

To be OC any lumber used must be hand-hewn, saws must be manually operated. Mule power is approved.
Machine-made tools must be made by a blacksmith and made from stones, dug and formed by hand.

Electricity must be generated by wind power or water wheel. Those who live in the OC Stone Age houses glory in their contribution toward low environmental impact. They expect the government to give them tax breaks (think Al Gore) and to subsidize the craftsmen who do the grueling everlasting sawing, shimming, pounding and digging to build their houses under OC rules.

Well, we don't live in a land of Nod. There is no movement to build houses like the Native Americans before Columbus arrived. But that thought occurred to me when I read a newspaper article titled, "Don't let your children grow up to be farmers." It was written by a Connecticut man who, according to his story, was inspired by what is being called today, "The Food Movement." He threw himself joyously into the cause!

The government and many private entities have established foundation grants or donors to support "small farming." He was given financial help to encourage his venture. As he cleared his small acreage and learned first hand the effort it takes to farm, he avoided anything with the word "chemical" in it. No fertilizer unless it was from an organic source; no antibiotics, medicine, anesthetic or parasiticide to care for his sick animals, no insecticides, GMO's, no herbicides for his crops, he didn't even use rat poison.

                                                     READ ENTIRE COLUMN

$200,000 of Homeland Security funds spent on jaguar “attitudes” surveys

by Cindy Coping

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has given the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) more than $2 Million of its own funding to spend on jaguar recovery in the United States border region instead of securing the border. USFWS has already spent $775,000 of that funding to place camera traps around southern Arizona and New Mexico in hopes of photographing jaguars and ocelots. More recently, according to Greenwire, another $200,000 of Department of Homeland Security funds were spent to study ranchers’ attitudes toward jaguars. The survey results are to be incorporated into a jaguar recovery plan that is likely to be released in 2015.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) claims that human hunting and habitat destruction is a primary threat to jaguars. The linked article from the news service Greenwire spins this global statistical finding into misleading  innuendo that ranchers and hunters are the primary threat to jaguars in the southern USA. To the contrary over  the last 28 years, no jaguars have died at the hands of poachers, hunters or ranchers in the United States. In contrast, unprofessional, unethical and even illegal attempts by biologists to snare jaguars for study have inhumanely finished off at least four of the endangered beasts in the United States, northern Sonora and the Yucatan within the last decade.

This is not to say that information quoted directly from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees is by any means accurate. The Greenwire article quotes Mary Anderson, FWS border mitigation coordinator as stating,
“There’s a lot of concern by the public regarding the presence of jaguars in their area, and we’re just trying to find out what those concerns are so that we can educate the public.”
For instance, she said, if people don’t realize that jaguars mainly eat deer and javelinas, then that fact could “lessen concerns of the public regarding the threat of jaguars to humans.”
Apparently Ms. Anderson is unaware of the recent study by Cavalcanti and Gese showing that in Brazil, nearly one-third of a jaguar’s typical diet is beef cattle. She may also be unaware of several lethal attacks on humans by jaguars in Colombia, Belize and Guayana in the last five years, in addition to a three year old child that was taken from the front steps to her grandmother’s home by a jaguar that fractured her skull with its massive jaws. When we interviewed the world-class 1960’s-era jaguar hunting guide Curtis Prock, we learned that he was called upon twice in British Honduras to track down jaguars and recover the remains of children they had taken.

More importantly, lives are threatened directly by the failure of the U.S. Government to secure our southern border. The current policy compromises the safety and security of the nation so that transient, lone male jaguars can cross the border to hunt for nonexistent mates in Arizona and New Mexico. No naturally occurring female jaguar has been seen in Arizona since at least 1949, and that one is questionable. No naturally occurring female jaguar has ever been documented in New Mexico. There is no verifiable evidence that breeding populations of jaguars ever occurred naturally in Arizona or New Mexico. Many ranchers live between the border and the so-called “forward operating bases” of the U.S. Border Patrol. One of those ranchers, Robert Krentz, was murdered on his own property by a man he identified in his last radio transmission as an illegal immigrant. SACPA opposes this perversion of the Endangered Species Act which seems to be employed as a political excuse for continuous border insecurity.


Renewable energy 'simply won't work' says top Google engineers

Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible. Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren't guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or "technology" of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company. The duo wrote, "Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach."...more

We need to raise the price of water

by Randy Simmons

Last January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency following projections of severe drought. State bureaucrats and local officials jumped into action and mandated any number of water conservation tactics. While some have been relatively successful, most will do nothing. In fact, it appears that despite the drought, water use may have actually increased in the past year.

So, exactly how much do Californians value their decreasing supply of drinkable water? According to the California Water Service Company, it is valued at less than a penny per gallon. If water were plentiful, an almost-zero price would not be a problem, but under the current situation it is truly a catastrophe. The average American uses 100 gallons per day, Californians average 124, and in some regions of California up to 379 gallons per person per day. That sounds a bit outrageous for a state experiencing a drought of Biblical-plague proportions, doesn’t it?

The solution to rectifying California’s abysmal water conservation record might be found in California’s agricultural sector. In just the past year, prices for irrigation water have risen from ten to almost forty times last year’s price. Those who have the water to spare can make a sizable profit by selling it to those who need it. Thus, because the value of water has significantly increased, every gallon is a precious commodity that is not wasted.

But won’t raising prices only hurt the poor and have little effect on those who have the money to afford it anyways?

Charging more for water need not create undue hardship for poor or lower middle class families. Establish a minimal per capita water use level and then charge progressive water rates so that any extra water used is billed at a higher rate. This allows consumers to choose if they are willing to pay for an extra long shower, to water their lawn or to wash their car.

Randy T. Simmons is a political scientist who emphasizes the importance of economic reasoning to better understand public policy. He believes the study of politics cannot be separated from the study of markets. Simmons uses this framework to evaluate environmental and natural resource policies. 

What you don't know about Obama's amnesty plan

...But the policy the White House actually announced, as opposed to the policy the President described in his speech, was not merely a directive to emphasize enforcement against those who have committed crimes, or even a simple pause on deportations for millions of Americans here illegally. The policy the White House actually announced, in a memo from its Office of Legislative Affairs hours before the President's speech, was a 17-point plan including several new programs without congressional approval, budget appropriation or spending authorization, and many of which the President either didn't mention or which bore only a faint resemblance to what he described in his speech...more

NH: Dog Fights off Coyote that Attacks Mistress

The first coyote was recorded in New Hampshire in 1972.  By 1980, they were found across the state.  Eastern coyotes have wolf genes, and are larger than the western variety, reaching as much as 60 lbs.
The first coyote attack on a human in New Hampshire occurred in 2012.  Ironically, the boy's dog ran off, leaving him to fight the coyote.  From

The boy’s dog ran away when the coyote approached which left the boy to fend off the coyote’s attack on his own. After repeatedly punching the coyote in the nose, the coyote eventually ran off leaving the boy scratched and potentially bitten. As a precautionary measure, the teen is undergoing a course of rabies shots intended to thwart the deadly viral infection.
The second coyote attack occurred just a couple of days ago, near Greenland, NH.  In this case the woman's dog was an able defender, and gunshots failed to drive off the animal.  From
The woman involved in the Monday morning attack didn't want to be identified. Her 4-year-old dog, Mac, has too many wounds to count and is wearing a pain patch on his hind leg but was credited with fighting off the coyote.
The woman and her dog were attacked while they were walking in a field on her property. Her husband heard her screams and drove his truck to separate them from the wild animal.
"He fired off a couple of shots," said Police Chief Tara Laurent. "Not at the coyote, because it was near his wife, but he shot off a couple of rounds thinking it would scare the animal off, which is usually the case. And it didn't seem to faze the coyote in this particular case.
The attack occurred in a rural area of fields and forest.  No mention is made of the make, model, or caliber of the firearm used.

The man and wife are undergoing rabies shots as a precautionary measure.  Their dog, Mac the Coyote Fighter, is recovering.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

Here's Where You'll Find America's Wild Turkeys

If you're looking to find a wild turkey, your best bet is to hit the US heartland. Nine out of 10 states with the most turkeys were found in the middle of the country, according to a new report by Trulia, which tracked the number of turkeys the US Geological Survey found in a given county over a 2-1/2-hour survey time period...more

Take one look at the map and you'll see a huge error.  The map shows the number one county as Roger Mills, Oklahoma, where you can find approximately 29 turkeys in 2 1/2 hours of looking around.  Go to Washington, DC and you'll see a big old overstuffed Turkey every 2 1/2 seconds.  The biggest flock of freedom stomping guajolotes in the world are right there in our nation's capitol.

These Gross School Lunch Pictures Are Going Viral With the Hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama

First lady Michelle Obama’s quest for healthy school lunches sparked a backlash today from the very people who are served the grub in cafeterias across America. The campaign went viral when students took photos of their lunches and shared them on Twitter using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama. For the past several years, ever since Congress passed and President Obama signed a 2010 measure to impose federal regulations on school lunches, the first lady championed the new standards for schools.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency responsible for implementing the regulations, defends the 2010 law as an “opportunity to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs.” The agency said the photos “do not fully reflect the full range of choices students are provided.” Critics of the standards, like Daren Bakst, want students to have more options. “Parents, not the government, know what’s best for their children,” says Bakst, a research fellow in agricultural policy at The Heritage Foundation. Michelle Obama, in a May op-ed for The New York Times, boasted that “Today, 90 percent of schools report that they are meeting these new [lunch] standards.” She used the opportunity to criticize Republicans for attempting to make changes to the law...more

Here's some of the pictures students are tweeting:

Yummy, yummy, Michelle knows best for your tummy, tummy.

"Losing Our Land" - Must Watch TV

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1332

Governor Jimmie Davis performs I've Been Changed as our gospel selection today.  The tune is on his 1968 album Amazing Grace

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