Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prosecutor: No formal agreement to conspire in refuge takeover, but a 'meeting of the minds'

A federal prosecutor told jurors that they won't hear evidence of a formal meeting, written contract or verbal agreement between four men on trial for allegedly conspiring to impede federal employees from carrying out their work at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Instead, they'll be able to infer through the words and actions of defendants Jason Patrick, Duane Ehmer, Jake Ryan and Darryl Thorn that they used the federal property as their own last winter as a "platform for their cause,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Barrow said. They raided the refuge headquarters Jan. 2, 2016, going building to building with guns and converted the refuge offices and bunkhouse into their own living quarters and meeting space, while keeping armed watch at the property's front gates and fire tower to control access to and from the site, Barrow said. "The defendants assumed complete control over the refuge, '' Barrow told 12 jurors and four alternates. "Circumstantial evidence will show there was a meeting of the minds to keep employees from doing their jobs.'' Defense lawyers countered that the defendants on trial weren't leaders or organizers, but followers who were drawn to the refuge for a smattering of reasons. They argued there was no organized conspiracy, but a spontaneous gathering of like-minded people. Ehmer thought the occupation was some sort of a "sit in,'' and that the refuge employees were on "seasonal layoffs until March,'' his lawyer told jurors. Thorn's lawyer characterized him as a "bit player swept up in a larger show,'' who was drawn by the Bundys' interpretation of the U.S. Constitution that he shared and "a desire to belong, to be part of something greater than himself.'' Ryan's lawyer described him as "just a theater kid from the country with strong beliefs'' about limited government who felt compelled to help out once Ammon Bundy issued a call for support...more

Farm sparks outrage with video of miniature horse eating from HIGHCHAIR

A video of a miniature horse sitting in a high chair like a baby has sparked outrage online - as people branded it animal abuse. The little pony was filmed eating carrots from a bowl while awkwardly sitting in the chair - usually used for humans rather than horses. Japan's Suetoshi Farm, which shared the clip on Instagram, has received a furious backlash since posting it last week. Hundreds of people slammed it as "abuse" saying it could seriously damage the horse's spine. One wrote: "What stupid f***er thought this was cute. ABUSE." Another wrote: "Cute but not good for their back" And another said: "It's not funny !!! It's stupid and cruel." But others seemed to love it, commenting under the original video: "You should see the uproar you've cause on Facebook - everyone says it's animal abuse. I think it's adorable personally. link

Here is the video

Nearly a quarter million horses call Idaho home

A new report from the University of Idaho says that the state has an estimated 221,000 equines, including riding horses, draft horses, ponies, miniature horses, donkeys, mules, and others of the species. The report is based on research carried out in 2015 by the Social Science Research Unit at the University of Idaho. It was paid for by the Idaho Horse Council and the Idaho Horse Board. The researchers said 14 percent of the households in Idaho own a horse of some type. Horse owners spent $122 million including $49 million on hay, straw and grain; $23 million for veterinary and farrier care, and $10 million in horse trailers. Thirty-eight percent of the Idaho horses are used for pleasure riding. The rest are used for packing or hunting (19 percent), ranch or farm work (12 percent), breeding (8 percent), endurance trail riding (8 percent) showing (3 percent), rodeo (3 percent) racing (2 percent) or other. The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed of horse in Idaho, the report said. link

3 people injured after drone spooks horse in Colorado

SILVERTON, Colo. (KKTV) - Three people are recovering from injuries after a horse was spooked by a drone during a winter racing event in southwest Colorado. The incident happened Saturday at a skijoring race in Silverton. Skijoring is a race where horses pull cross-country skiers through a series of gates and jumps. San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad said he plans to ticket a drone pilot. The pilot allegedly flew his drone close to a horse at the race. The horse then ran into the crowd. Two women were hospitalized and a third man was given a bloody chin. The spectators were unable to escape the horse's path because of a large snowbank behind them. The drone pilot has not been identified. Event organizers say drones won't be allowed to fly over the event in the future.

 Can you visualize the animal rights folks at a rodeo, or....

USDA Is Targeting a Family Business. A Religious Liberty Organization Is Calling on Trump to Protect It.

A religious liberty organization is asking President Donald Trump to sign a proposed executive order that would protect the religious freedom of a family-owned business and others like it from the punitive actions of an executive agency.“The Vander Boons are at risk of having their plant shut down and their employees left jobless because of the [Department of Agriculture’s] unfair targeting of the Vander Boons for their religious beliefs,” wrote Michael Farris, the new president of legal defense organization Alliance Defending Freedom, in a letter sent to Trump Wednesday. The Vander Boons are facing closure due to the United States Department of Agriculture threatening to pull inspectors from reviewing their business. The department had made a decision that “prohibits [the] family-owned Michigan meatpacking facility from including religious literature concerning marriage on a break room table,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom...In 2015, Dr. Ryan Lundquist, the USDA site inspector for West Michigan Beef Company, found a religious tract about marriage that Donald Vander Boon placed on the break room table of the family-owned business, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom. Lundquist took the article and reported it to Robert Becker, the USDA frontline supervisor, and Lundquist and Becker held a meeting with Vander Boon, “at which Becker threatened three times to remove USDA inspectors if Vander Boon didn’t agree to refrain from placing the article in the break room,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom. Karnail S. Mudahar, USDA deputy district manager, said Vander Boon violated a new “anti-harassment” policy that forbids written or spoken communications that USDA executives determine to be “disrespectful” or “insult[ing]” in regards to sexual orientation...more

Alamogordo ghost hunters investigate haunting in historic downtown

On Sunday, Feb. 19, Hidden Haunts Paran Before ormal investigated their first haunt in Historic Downtown Alamogordo. The group investigated vintage store Everything Outwest, 819 N. New York Ave., which was rumored to be haunted. the building on New York Avenue became Everything Outwest it was several other stores including the old JCPenney store. According to Brandt’s personal research, a hotel which was named the New Hotel Weigele was right across the street which was 822 N. New York Ave. The hotel was owned by Alamogordo pioneers George and Alma Weigele who settled in the community in 1903. The New Hotel Weigele was later sold to J.C. Wilborn and his sister M.M. Ward, the hotel was renamed the Wilward Hotel in 1945. The hotel mysteriously burned down in 1969 killing three people and injuring two others. Everything Outwest store owner Courtney Hewes said when she first opened business at the location she was told it was haunted right away by the previous store owners. “When we bought it they told us it was haunted and they later asked us if we’ve seen any ghosts yet. A plumber came in one time and said he experienced activity on the third floor, he was on a ladder and fell and felt somebody catch him,” Hewes said. “We hear huge, loud noises all the time and we run next door to see if our neighbors heard anything and they said they don’t hear anything. We’re nervous to be alone at night sometimes. If they weren’t friendly they would’ve scared us by now I think so we started saying hello to them.” Hewes said when she discovered there was a hotel in the area that burned down in a blaze she wondered if the spirits of the people who died were still around...more

There is a video at the link provided.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1788

Here is some early Flatt & Scruggs with their 1951 recording of Cora Is Gone.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Note to readers

Its a slow week and other projects will take up most of my time for the next few days, so posts may be sparse.

EPA head's emails with energy companies to be released

The Oklahoma attorney general's office said Tuesday it is complying with a judge's order to surrender documents related to new Environmental Protection Agency leader Scott Pruitt's communications with energy companies while he served as the state's attorney general. The office had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to comply with District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons's order to turn over emails and other documents to the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy, which requested the documents more than two years ago under Oklahoma's Open Records Act. A spokesman for the office, Lincoln Ferguson, said it turned over records related to the January 2015 request to the watchdog agency and that other records were turned over to the judge to determine if they are privileged and not subject to release under the law...more

Patagonia Launches Campaign to Defend Bears Ears from Utah Politicians

atagonia isn’t done in its fight with Utah politicians. The company led the charge to leverage the economic impact of the Outdoor Retailer trade show, which has long been held in Salt Lake City, to try to change the stance of Utah politicians towards public lands in general, and the newly-designated Bears Ears National Monument in particular. That effort failed, and the organizers of the trade show are pulling up stakes in Utah after this summer. But OR's departure doesn't mean that Patagonia is ready to leave Utah politicians alone. This morning they are launching a campaign to flood Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office with comments in favor of Bears Ears National Monument. The company is using Phone2Action, a site that allows organizations to connect supporters with elected officials. The company will use Facebook and Twitter to share a Phone2Action link which will supply followers with a brief set of talking points and then patch their phone call directly into the governor’s office. Patagonia hopes to generate thousands of calls from Utah citizens with the effort. (Though it also hopes non-Utahns will voice their support as well.) It’s not just Bears Ears that’s in jeopardy from Utah politicians, notes Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. On Friday, February 17, just days after speaking with representatives from the Outdoor Industry Association in an attempt to keep OR in Utah, Governor Herbert signed a resolution that urges President Trump to shrink the boundaries of 20-year old Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. "It's not surprising that he would double down by trying to lift longstanding protections on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument," says Marcario. "It sure is disappointing, and not just for the outdoor companies driving an enormous economy in Utah based on protected public lands, but for the 122,000 Utahns whose jobs largely depend on the very places Herbert denigrates."...more

Population of Mexican wolves grows

Members of the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team completed the annual year­end population survey, documenting a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016.  The tally compares with a minimum of 97 wild wolves in 2015.
The results from the aerial survey, coupled with the ground survey conducted by the IFT, confirmed:
  • There are a total of 21 packs, with a minimum of 50 wolves in New Mexico and 63 wolves in Arizona.
  • The 2016 minimum population count includes 50 wild­born pups that survived through the end of the year compared to 23 pups surviving in 2015. 
  • Six wolf pups were cross-fostered in 2016. Three are known to be alive, one of which is radio collared...more

Alaska's effort to peel off some ANWR land under review at Interior Department

The state's current dispute over the boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a place believed to have huge oil deposits, is partly based on a pilot for a defunct airline who came to believe long ago the U.S. government was enforcing an incorrect border. Andy Bachner, a Fairbanks investor in oil and gas leases, said his flights across Alaska's North Slope as a Wien Air Alaska pilot started during the early days of the oil rush in the 1960s. That brought him into contact with petroleum geologists who took particular interest in that area of the Slope, which later became the 19-million-acre national wildlife refuge. On his flights — sometimes at altitudes so low he could spot polar bears and whales — Bachner said he realized ANWR's northwest boundary, as enforced by federal officials, overshot the Canning River, the western boundary in the refuge's legal description, by far. The federal government says the boundary extends to the Staines River, which it describes as a channel of the Canning. The state, and Bachner, say the Staines, farther to the west, is a river in its own right and therefore outside the refuge...more

Backlash to Anti-Public Lands Policy Grows

A backlash against policy assaults on public land is growing, and now, a conference of outdoor retailers has decided to leave Utah over that state's position on the issue. The Outdoor Industry Association, which has held its giant trade shows in Salt Lake City for two decades, says it will seek a new home for its Outdoor Retailer shows in 2018. It's a direct response to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's opposition to the newly-created Bears Ears National Monument. Ron Hunter is the environmental activism manager for retailer Patagonia, a member company of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) that runs the conference. He said his company is pulling out of the next two OIA shows, still under contract to take place in Salt Lake City later this year. Hunter said Patagonia also objects to a proposal to shrink the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. The new national monuments also are attracting more attention from travel buffs. Both Gold Butte in Nevada and Bears Ears in Utah have just been named destinations for "epic road trips" by

'Power's War,' about Arizona's deadliest gunfight, available to stream

The gunfight at the OK Corral was not Arizona's deadliest gunfight. That happened decades later, in a remote canyon in southern Arizona, when four lawmen tried to arrest a couple of alleged draft dodgers. The story is not as well-known as the shootout in Tombstone, but it has been the subject of several books, and, more recently, a documentary by filmmaker Cameron Trejo. That film, "Power's War," is now available to stream on Amazon, or to purchase on iTunes or the filmmaker's website. Historians debate exactly when the frontier closed, but in 1918, the charac ter of rural Arizona was changing. The country was involved in a world war and called on young men to sign up for the draft. People like Jeff Power, a rancher and prospector who wanted to work his mining claim and be left alone, drew more attention than they may have before Arizona achieved statehood. When Power's sons, John and Tom, failed to sign up for the draft, four lawmen rode in to arrest them. The shooting began almost immediately and ended quickly. Three lawmen and Jeff Power wound up dead. A month-long manhunt for the Power boys and a ranch hand made headlines but answered few questions about what really happened, and why...more

Here is the official trailer for the documentary

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1787

From the CD MGM Hillbilly, Vol. 4, we have Your Way by Arthur Smith.