Saturday, June 25, 2016

There Are Now More Bureaucrats With Guns Than U.S. Marines

There are now more non-military government employees who carry guns than there are U.S. Marines, according to a new report. Open the Books, a taxpayer watchdog group, released a study Wednesday that finds domestic government agencies continue to grow their stockpiles of military-style weapons, as Democrats sat on the House floor calling for more restrictions on what guns American citizens can buy. The “Militarization of America” report found civilian agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between 2006 and 2014. Examples include IRS agents with AR-15s, and EPA bureaucrats wearing camouflage. “Regulatory enforcement within administrative agencies now carries the might of military-style equipment and weapons,” Open the Books said. “For example, the Food and Drug Administration includes 183 armed ‘special agents,’ a 50 percent increase over the ten years from 1998-2008. At Health and Human Services (HHS), ‘Special Office of Inspector General Agents’ are now trained with sophisticated weaponry by the same contractors who train our military special forces troops.” Open the Books found there are now over 200,000 non-military federal officers with arrest and firearm authority, surpassing the 182,100 personnel who are actively serving in the U.S. Marines Corps...more

According to the report, the federal land management agencies spent over $24 million for guns & ammo.

Next Shutdown, Feds Can Take Their Government Guns Home With Them

President Obama on Wednesday signed into law a measure that will allow federal law enforcement employees to carry their service weapon during a government shutdown or other forced, unpaid time off. Obama signed the 2015 Federal Law Enforcement Self-Defense and Protection Act after it cleared the Senate last week. The measure -- which allows federal law enforcement to retain their weapon during any furlough period -- did not receive any dissent in either chamber of Congress. Lawmakers pushed the bill after the 2013 government shutdown left agencies unsure whether law enforcement personnel could carry their official firearm while the employees were sent home. At least three federal agencies forbid their law enforcement officers from carrying their government-issued firearms while on furlough status during the last shutdown, proponents of the bill said...more

Road warrior, champion rider meets family at Rodeo de Santa Fe

Taos Muncy is now riding for four.The 28-year-old saddle bronc rider from Corona, N.M., has seen his life change in oh-so-many ways since he started on the rodeo circuit in the mid-2000s. Where he once was a prodigy, Muncy now is a star on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, having earned more than $1.5 million and become a two-time saddle bronc world champion. But Muncy is more than just a name that stands apart in a crowded field of cowboys. He is also a father, twice over. The latest addition to the family of Taos and Marissa Muncy was born in May when they welcomed Shooter Muncy to the world. His family was at the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds on Friday night, as Taos Muncy made his annual appearance at the 67th Rodeo de Santa Fe. It was the one day Marissa, Shooter and daughter, Marley Muncy, could see him as he continued his road trip that will hit roughly 50 to 60 rodeos over the summer as he maintains his perch among the sport’s best riders in his chosen event. .. Still, Muncy knows that when the calendar hits June, he won’t see much of home for a while. In the past week, he and his team of four cowboys traveled from Reno, Nev., to Pecos, Texas, to Springville Ark., to Santa Fe. Moments after he rode Double Valley to an 80.50 score that topped the leaderboard at that point in the saddle bronc competition, Muncy and his group hopped into his van and took off for Reno again, where Muncy led that rodeo earlier this week. He’s making up for lost time since Shooter’s birth. Even with the late start to his season, Muncy is 12th in the PRCA saddle bronc standings with more than $25,000 won so far. He said he will be on the road for the most part until August, and then … “I’ll be home for the rest of the year,” Muncy said with a smile...more

Billion dollar Gila diversion off the table

This week the state agency in charge of building a controversial diversion on the Gila River has reined in earlier – and costlier – plans for capturing the river’s water. The agency’s decision might mean good news for project critics who feared its environmental consequences and high cost. But many questions remain around how much money the state has to build the project, the location and scale of the diversion, and who would buy the water once it’s built. At a meeting on Tuesday, the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or NMCAPE, directed its engineering contractor to continue studying only those projects that would cost $80-100 million to build. That’s how much funding New Mexico anticipates receiving from the federal government to develop water from the Gila and perhaps its tributary, the San Francisco River. With that vote, the NMCAPE officially rejected earlier large-scale plans, including one with an estimated billion dollar price tag. By tamping down the budget, the board also acknowledged that the project will be smaller – and not one capable of delivering all 14,000 acre feet of water the state has rights to under federal law...more

Friday, June 24, 2016

House Republicans Chastise Interior Department for Ethics Issues

House Republicans repeatedly attacked the Interior Department Thursday as having "a culture of corruption" because of numerous instances of ethics violations and sexual harassment allegations. "There is an overwhelming amount of disturbing information the Inspector General has delivered in the last few weeks," Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., said during the meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee's oversight subcommittee. Misconduct allegations have been reported in the National Parks Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, to name a few. The committee has expressed concern that the Interior Department isn't taking action quickly enough against employees involved in the misconduct. Steve Guertin, deputy policy director for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said at the hearing that his agency recently terminated Stephen Barton, a top official in the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. The IG's office had found that Barton failed to disclose outside employment at an organization that receives funding from the agency. He also used more than $90,000 to fund trips to Washington, his reported place of residence, from his actual residence in Idaho. The Office of the Inspector General will refer cases of misconduct it believes warrant criminal prosecution to the Justice Department. The committee took issue with the fact that the Justice Department decided not to prosecute 17 of 29 criminal cases presented by the IG's office. Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall noted there were fewer than 80 investigators in her department, which limits her ability to address "more systemic issues within the department and its bureaus."...more

Feds Won’t Prosecute Gov’t Employee Quietly Taking Money From A Lobbying Group

A U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service (FWS) employee was caught secretly working for a prominent environmental lobbying group while also working for the government, according to an Interior Department inspector general investigation. Stephen Barton did not disclose being on the payroll of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) from 2004 to 2014, earning more than $377,000 during his last six years with the eco-group. During Barton’s time at FWS, the agency awarded WAFWA about $3 million in taxpayer grants. Surprisingly, the U.S. attorney’s offices in Eastern District of Virginia and the District of Idaho both declined to prosecute Barton despite evidence he lied to Interior Department officials about taking a salary from WAFWA. “This investigation determined that Barton received income from WAFWA each year between 2008 and 2014, with the largest amount being $109,242.74 in 2013,” the inspector general reported Monday.
“Records revealed that Barton did not disclose his WAFWA position or salary in any of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) financial disclosure reports that he submitted to FWS in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015,” the IG reported. “According to WAFWA records, Barton was paid a total of $377,363.18 between 2008 and 2014.” Barton also admitted to “using a Government office phone, cellular phone, and email account, along with Government office space, to perform WAFWA business,” according to the IG. He also signed federal grant applications on behalf of WAFWA using the name of another group officers — remember, WAFWA got about $3 million from taxpayer during this time. But that’s not all. The IG’s office also found Barton booked more than 100 flights between 2011 and 2015 on the taxpayer’s dime to Boise, Idaho where his wife lived — even though he was supposed to be working in Washington, D.C. Those trips cost taxpayers $96,087...more

Interior Lab Forced To Close After ‘Disturbing’ Data Manipulation

Nearly two decades and $108 million worth of “disturbing” data manipulation with “serious and far ranging” effects forced a federal lab to close, a congressman revealed Thursday. The inorganic section of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colo. manipulated data on a variety of topics – including many related to the environment – from 1996 to 2014. The manipulation was caught in 2008, but continued another six years. “It’s astounding that we spend $108 million on manipulated research and then the far-reaching effects that that would have,” Rep. Bruce Westerman said at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing...more

Bluegrass Patriarch Ralph Stanley Dead at 89

Bluegrass music pioneer and Grand Ole Opry star Ralph Stanley died Thursday (June 23) at his home in Coebun, Virginia, at age 89 following a long battle with skin cancer.

Initially recognized as the high-tenor, banjo-picking half of the Stanley Brothers bluegrass act (1946-1966), Stanley went on to build a distinguished and honor-filled career as a vocal stylist and leader of the Clinch Mountain Boys band.

His stature as an American musical treasure grew enormously following his appearance in the soundtrack album for the 2000 Coen Brothers movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? The album earned him the first two of his three Grammy awards.

Ralph Edmund Stanley was born Feb. 25, 1927 in Stratton, Virginia, not far from the Kentucky border. He learned the basics of banjo picking from his mother and much of his intensely forlorn singing style from the Primitive Baptist Church his family attended. He and his 2-year-older brother, Carter, were also drawn to the high harmony, acoustic string band music of Grand Ole Opry titan Bill Monroe.

Both brothers were called into military service near the end of World War II. Carter was discharged first, and when Ralph returned home in 1946, the two began performing as the Stanley Brothers, first at radio station WNVA in Norton, Virginia, and soon after at the more powerful WCYB in Bristol, the border town that straddled the state line between Virginia and Tennessee. Over the next few years, the Stanleys starred in radio shows in Raleigh, North Carolina; Shreveport, Louisiana; Huntington, West Virginia and Versailles, Kentucky.

The Stanley Brothers began recording in 1947 on Rich-R-Tone Records. Those early sessions produced their first regional hit, “Little Glass of Wine.” From 1949 to 1952, they recorded for Columbia, where they created such classics as “The Fields Have Turned Brown” and “The White Dove.”

The Stanley Brothers produced some of their finest music during their 1953-1958 stay at Mercury Records, a period during which Ralph’s high tenor voice became increasingly prominent. The brothers’ only Billboard hit — the novelty “How Far to Little Rock” — came in 1960 when they were signed to King Records.

After Carter died in 1966, Ralph took command of the Clinch Mountain Boys and installed teenager Larry Sparks as the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist. In the years that followed, Stanley drafted into his band and mentored such major talents as Roy Lee Centers, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Charlie Sizemore and his son Ralph II.

Stanley toured and recorded relentlessly, often racking up as many as 250 concerts and two albums a year even in the twilight of his career. He not only became a favorite on the bluegrass festival circuit but also established his own annual Memorial Day gestival in 1970. Plagued by declining health, he made his last stage appearance at the 2016 festival.

...The singer and banjoist was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014 in a class that also included actor and director Al Pacino, novelists John Irving and Annie Proulx, cartoonist Jules Feiffer, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and oceanographer and discoverer of the Titanic, Robert Ballard.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1642

Mi Amigo Tick says he was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, so he requested Oklahoma Hills by Hank Thompson be a part of Hank Week.  The Woody Guthrie tune was recorded by Thompson in 1961.