Friday, March 16, 2007

NEWS ROUNDUP

Eco-warrior Trudie prefers helicopter to an 80-mile train ride It's one rule for them, and another for the rest of us. Trudie Styler, wife of Sting and self-styled eco-warrior, recently took a helicopter to travel 80 miles from Wiltshire to Devon, a journey that would have taken less than two hours by train. The actress and film producer is forever harping on about saving the environment, having set up the Rainforest Campaign in the late 1980s with her pop star husband. The Stings are known for eating only organic food, supposedly grown on their land, although one member of staff recently admitted to serving up nonorganic salad from the supermarket. So what was Styler thinking as she clambered into her gas-guzzling chopper, off to stay with friend and fellow greenie Zac Goldsmith on his organic farm in Devon?....
'Days of Our Lives' plans 'green wedding' for Sami, Lucas "Days of Our Lives" is going green. The NBC daytime serial will feature a wedding with "earth-friendly elements" in a story line that is to begin this month and end in May with the marriage of Samantha "Sami" Brady (Alison Sweeney) and Lucas Roberts (Bryan Dattilo). Ken Corday, the show's executive producer, said last month's Academy Award for the global-warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" may be an indication of "where the world is headed and how urgently we need to address the current environmental crisis." It's important for the soap opera to "fall in step in helping to raise the viewers' consciousness of certain environmental problems and solutions," Corday said in a statement Tuesday. The fictional nuptials will include pesticide-free flowers and biodegradable favors. Among those involved in the ceremony are a wedding Web site and restaurant owner Ben Ford, an organic chef and son of Harrison Ford....
Inside the evangelical war over climate change When James Dobson gets angry, people notice. And, in early March, the influential chair of Focus on the Family fired off a very angry letter to the board of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council signed it. So did Gary Bauer. So did 22 other conservative Christian leaders. Their complaint? It seems that Richard Cizik, NAE's vice-president for governmental affairs, had been sounding the alarm on global warming. For years now, Cizik has ruffled feathers by imploring evangelicals to pay more attention to environmental issues--"creation care," as it's called. But the foray into climate change proved a step too far; the letter-writers called it "divisive and dangerous." A no-no. Cizik's awakening came about in 2002, when Jim Ball, the executive director for the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), dragged him to a conference at Oxford. There, he heard a presentation by Sir John Houghton, an evangelical scientist and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As he listened to Houghton rattle off evidence on melting ice caps and increased droughts, Cizik quickly realized that global warming was a serious threat--an experience he has called "not unlike my conversion to Christ." Like many evangelicals now pushing for action on climate change, Cizik remains a staunch conservative, firmly opposed to abortion and gay marriage. He bristles at criticism by Dobson and Perkins that he's trying to divert attention from red-meat issues. "It's not a zero-sum game," he contends....
Back Burner ot long after George W. Bush proudly declared last year that he had no intention of watching Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, he told reporters that there was a "fundamental debate" about whether global warming was "manmade or natural." It was an ignorant statement utterly at odds with the scientific consensus. Recently, however, he tried to walk it back. "Beginning in June 2001," read a White House letter released last month, "President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem." Consider the current raft of climate-change legislation. The only piece that has a chance of surviving a GOP filibuster and Bush veto is one sponsored by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman. His bill would implement a cap-and-trade regime, setting a national limit on carbon emissions and allowing companies to buy and sell pollution credits--a system that worked with acid-rain legislation in the 1990s. But Bingaman's proposal includes "safety valves" that give companies an out, and it doesn't reduce emissions quickly enough. Unfortunately, stronger bills--such as one sponsored by John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Barack Obama--stand almost no chance, even with the current Democratic majority. (Last time around, that bill netted only 38 votes.)....
Antarctic Glaciers' Sloughing Of Ice Has Scientists at a Loss Some of the largest glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are moving in unusual ways and are losing increased amounts of ice to the sea, researchers said yesterday. Although the changes in Greenland appear to be related to global warming, it remains unclear what is causing the glaciers of frigid Antarctica and their "ice streams" to lose ice to the ocean in recent years, the researchers said. "In Greenland we know there is melting associated with the ice loss, but in Antarctica we don't really know why it's happening," said Duncan Wingham, an author of the review released today in Science magazine. "With so much of the world's ice captured in Antarctica, just the fact that we don't know why this is happening is a cause of some concern." The Antarctic ice loss, which Wingham said is not caused by melting but rather by the pushing of ice streams into the ocean by several glaciers in the west of the continent, has picked up speed in recent years. But Wingham said that because researchers did not have good measures of the depth of the Antarctic ice shelf until about 10 years ago, scientists do not know whether this is a natural variation or a result of human activity....
Winter Warmest on Record Worldwide This winter was the warmest on record worldwide, the government said Thursday in the latest worrisome report focusing on changing climate. The report comes just over a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said global warming is very likely caused by human actions and is so severe it will continue for centuries. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the combined land and ocean temperatures for December through February were 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the period since record keeping began in 1880. The report said that during the past century, global temperatures have increased at about 0.11 degrees per decade. But that increase has been three times larger since 1976, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported....
U.S. WINTER TEMPERATURE NEAR AVERAGE The December 2006-February 2007 winter season temperature was marked by periods of unusually warm and cold conditions in the U.S., but the overall seasonal temperature was near average, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Precipitation was above average in much of the center of the nation while large parts of the East, Southeast, and Southwest were drier than average. The global temperature was the warmest on record for the December-February three-month period. The winter temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 0.6°F (0.3°C) above the 20th century average of 33.0°F (0.6°C). Statewide temperatures were warmer than average from Florida to Maine and from Michigan to Montana. Cooler than average temperatures occurred in the southern Plains and areas of the Southwest....
Danish scientist: Global warming is a myth A Danish scientist said the idea of a "global temperature" and global warming is more political than scientific. University of Copenhagen Professor Bjarne Andresen has analyzed the topic in collaboration with Canadian Professors Christopher Essex from the University of Western Ontario and Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph. It is generally assumed the Earth's atmosphere and oceans have grown warmer during the recent 50 years because of an upward trend in the so-called global temperature, which is the result of complex calculations and averaging of air temperature measurements taken around the world. "It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth," said Andresen, an expert on thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate". He says the currently used method of determining the global temperature -- and any conclusion drawn from it -- is more political than scientific.
Wolves pushing cats from Buffalo Valley Cougars may have met their match in the gray wolf when it comes to defending prime habitat in and around Buffalo Valley, according to local researchers. Craighead Beringia South researcher Howard Quigley presented information at a talk at the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance Thursday night. Quigley also presented research showing the movements of one cougar on East Gros Ventre Butte and said cougars, for some reason, have started eating more mule deer in 2006. According to Quigley, six female cougars that had established territories in the Buffalo Valley have either left or been killed by hunters in recent years. Despite a healthy population of cougars around the Jackson Hole area, no new females have moved in to claim the vacant habitat. The answer to this mystery could be wolves, said Quigley, who leads a team of biologists who track the cats using GPS collars. “One of our theories is that wolves are now pushing cougars into habitat that they used to occupy 200 years ago,” he said. “Cougars may be concentrating themselves in escape territory.” Escape territory is steeper terrain with lots of trees – land where the cats could more easily elude threats....
Wild Horse League hopes to educate public on Open Range laws Members of the Wild Horse Preservation League are launching an ambitious public education effort to inform property owners who live near open range of state law that requires home buyers to fence-out wild horses and livestock that graze or roam on adjacent open range. Speaking at the Silver Springs Advisory Board meeting, members of the WHPL announced their plans to circulate a publication entitled, "Welcome to Wild Horse County," which includes information on state laws governing range land disclosures, open range laws and a range land disclosure form. Wild-horse advocates are urging realtors and county elected officials to enforce state statutes governing range land disclosure and open range laws, which allows livestock and wild horses to roam and graze on open range. The public education campaign comes after residents primarily in the Stagecoach and Dayton areas have complained about livestock and wild horses destroying lawns and vegetation on their properties....
City to pursue ordinance making cattle owners responsible for damages The Fernley City Council had a difficult task: to consider whether to prohibit open grazing in the Fernley City limits, which encompasses 160 square miles. After hearing from residents in the Desert Bluffs subdivision, located south of Fernley High School, as well as, cattle owners, the council agreed by consensus to pursue an ordinance that would make livestock owners responsible for any property damages their animals may cause within the city limits. The Council also agreed to direct the Community Development Department to place conditions on future projects to require developers to fence their subdivisions and provide cattle guards on property that is adjacent to public land....
Home on range to home in refuge A wild bison bound for Colorado didn't see the point of being driven from an open field into a 5-foot holding pen Thursday before boarding a truck for a ride to Commerce City. The reluctant 1,500-pound bull pawed the ground, snorted, bucked its head and cocked a back leg before slamming its hoof against the metal chute. The bison is one of 16 being driven from the National Bison Range in western Montana to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, where they will be released into a 1,400-acre fenced area. "These are definitely wild critters," said Steve Kallin of the National Bison Range. "The guys have been doing everything they can not to get them aggravated. But this one ..." The bison were picked from the national herd of about 350 by their genetics, which show no indications of domestic- cow DNA....
Why the Buffalo Roam Sometimes you have to eat an animal to save it. That paradox may disturb vegetarians, but consider the bison: 500 years ago, perhaps 30 million of these enormous mammals inhabited North America. By the late 1800s, several forces--natural climate changes and Buffalo Bill--style mass killings among them--had slashed the bison population to something like 1,000. And yet today North America is home to roughly 450,000 bison, a species recovery that has a lot to do with our having developed an appetite for them. This year usda-inspected slaughterhouses will kill approximately 50,000 bison for human consumption. In 2000 the figure was just 17,674. Although bison consumption remains minuscule compared to beef eating--Americans ingest the meat of 90,000 cattle every day--bison is by far the fastest-growing sector of the meat business....
Groundwater not an endless resource, environmentalists say More than half of Utah's 2 million-plus residents are dependent on the aquifers beneath them for their drinking and irrigation water, and have been for decades. But a new study by an environmental group suggests that they - and other Westerners - shouldn't take such a resource for granted. In fact, the report released Thursday by Trout Unlimited warns that without serious reforms, the region's explosive growth, coupled with a continuing drought, could end up compromising not only its groundwater supplies, but surface water resources as well. The two are inexorably linked, according to the study, titled "Gone to the Well Once Too Often." But Melinda Kassen, director of Trout Unlimited's Ground Water Project, argues that it is a link that has gone unnoticed for far too long....
Cloud seeding hits snag There may be more questions up in the air over the Wind River Range than the silver iodide particles used in a state-sponsored cloud-seeding experiment. The project has stalled over a U.S. Forest Service-required environmental study and the question of who pays for the study. At issue is whether the cloud seeding -- tiny particles of silver iodide aerosolized into the air to allow ice crystals to form around the particles -- is compatible with the 1964 Wilderness Act or with a Forest Service regulation banning weather changes that affect wilderness areas. The Wyoming Water Development Commission has allocated $9 million for a five-year cloud-seeding research program, designed to increase the snowpack in the Medicine Bow, Sierra Madre and Wind River ranges, for the benefit of irrigators, municipalities and industry. The state has contracted with Weather Modification Inc. of Fargo, N.D., for the project. “I think this is a clear violation of the Wilderness Act and a Forest Service manual regulation,” said Jonathan Ratner, a Pinedale-based conservationist....
Firefighter Supervisors Get Protection New Mexico became the first state with a law that protects wildfire supervisors from criminal liability if a volunteer firefighter under their command dies while battling a fire. Firefighters called on to fight wildfires are supposed to be certified to national standards, but in rural communities, it is often volunteer firefighters without proper training who arrive first on the scene. House Bill 507, crafted by the State Forestry Division, was signed into law this week by Gov. Bill Richardson. The bill was spurred in part by reaction among firefighters over last year's indictment of a U.S. Forest Service boss in Washington state on involuntary manslaughter charges involving a 2001 fire there that killed four firefighters. A subsequent nationwide survey of firefighters found that 36 percent of the 3,362 respondents would make themselves less available to fight wildfires because of liability concerns, and one-fourth said they would downgrade their qualifications to refuse supervisory positions....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

NEWS ROUNDUP

Utah may relax eminent domain laws Utah was one of the first states to rein in the use of eminent domain to make sure private development couldn't capitalize on laws intended to serve the public good. Now, the state could be one of the first to relax those rules. A bill before Gov. Jon Huntsman would allow a community to take property deemed blighted from reluctant owners if enough neighboring land owners want the area redeveloped. Eminent domain technically refers to the right of government to take private property for public use. The big question often is, what constitutes public use? House Bill 365 could allow Ogden to push forward with plans to condemn land so a Wal-Mart could be built in an effort to generate more tax revenue. It was the city's efforts to attract Wal-Mart by using eminent domain that drew the wrath of lawmakers in 2005, when a moratorium on the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes was put into effect. While the bill would allow a redevelopment authority to condemn land, it makes it difficult to do so. It requires 80 percent of those who live in a proposed redevelopment project area to sign a petition saying they want the land condemned. It would also require a two-thirds vote of a city's redevelopment authority board to approve the condemnation....
World Population to Reach 9.2B in 2050 The world's population will likely reach 9.2 billion in 2050, with virtually all new growth occurring in the developing world, a U.N. report said Tuesday. According to the U.N. Population Division's 2006 estimate, the world's population will likely increase by 2.5 billion people over the next 43 years from the current 6.7 billion - a rise equivalent to the number of people in the world in 1950. The new report estimates 32 million fewer deaths from AIDS during the 2005-2020 period in the 62 most affected countries, compared with the previous U.N. estimate in 2004. This change contributed to the slightly higher world population estimate of 9.2 billion in 2050 than the 9.1 billion figure in the 2004 estimate, the report said. The report also said most population growth will take place in less developed countries, whose numbers are projected to rise from 5.4 billion in 2007 to 7.9 billion in 2050. The populations of poor countries like Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, East Timor and Uganda are projected to at least triple by mid-century. By contrast, the total population of richer countries is expected to remain largely unchanged at 1.2 billion. The report said the figure would be lower without expected migration of people from poorer countries, averaging 2.3 million annually. According to the report, 46 countries are expected to lose population by mid-century, including Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and most of the former Soviet republics....
Carbon confusion Sara Demetry thought she had found a way to atone for her personal contribution to global warming. The psychotherapist clicked on a website that helped her calculate how much heat-trapping carbon dioxide she and her fiance emitted each year, mostly by driving and heating their home. Then she paid $150 to e-BlueHorizons.com, a company that promises to offset emissions. But Demetry's money did not make as much difference as she thought it would. While half of it went to plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide, the other half went to a Bethlehem, N.H., facility that destroys methane -- a gas that contributes to global warming. The facility has been operating since 2001 -- years before the company began selling offsets -- and Demetry's money did not lead the company to destroy any more methane than it would have anyway. Moreover, the project received a "dirty dozen" award from a New England environmental group in 2004 because it burns the methane as fuel to incinerate contaminated water from the landfill, emitting tons of pollution each year in the process....
Sage grouse survival focus of conservationists You'd be hard pressed to call it a fan club. But a pair of embattled Sage-grouse species in Utah has generated a pretty crowded bandwagon. Federal and state government agencies, ranchers and farmers, and conservation groups have teamed up in recent years in a quest to keep the greater sage-grouse and Gunnison sage-grouse off the federal endangered species list. They all gathered Tuesday in downtown Salt Lake City to compare notes, and not surprisingly, concluded that there is still much work left to be done - even if there is unanimity about the bottom line. "Caring is critical to the conservation of the species, but in addition we're going to have to be smart if we still want to have sage grouse in Utah in 100 years," said Joan Degiorgio, a regional director for the Nature Conservancy of Utah. Tuesday marked the beginning of a two-day sage-grouse "summit" sponsored by Utah State University's Extension Services and the state Department of Natural Resources, among others. And what emerged during a morning discussion is that it's going to take more than just good intentions to return the two species to healthy population numbers in the state....
Idahoans eager to thin resurgent gray wolf packs Margaret Soulen measures the success of endangered gray wolves by an annual body count. The first few years after wolves were returned to Idaho in 1995, her sheep losses were small — as recently as 2002, just one head. With the wolf population's remarkable growth, her losses soared: 330 sheep in 2004, 175 in 2005, 200 last year. Soulen and her husband, Joe Hinson, who graze 9,000 sheep over nearly a half-million acres of backcountry, have hired more herders and bought more guard dogs. Herders have taken to sleeping among sheep bands to keep wolves away. When wolves are near, sheep get nervous and don't eat and gain weight as they should, Soulen says. As one of the state's largest ranchers, Soulen has felt the wolves' impact as much as anyone. Yet her attitude about this top-rung predator is at odds with Idaho's anti-wolf image. "I've always said we could live with some wolves, and we can," Soulen says. "But I would like to see the numbers reduced some."....
In the Southwest, recovery of the lobo is going slower As gray wolves thrive and multiply in the northern Rockies, their cousins are having a tougher time in the Southwest. The Mexican gray wolf or lobo, a smaller and rarer subspecies, was hunted nearly to extinction in the early 1900s. After it was put on the endangered species list in 1976, five survivors were caught in Mexico and bred with others in captivity. In 1998, the federal government released 11 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico in an effort to restore them to the wild. Under the official recovery plan, their numbers should have grown by now to 102 animals in 15 packs. An official count in January found 59 wolves and seven breeding pairs. "The plight of the lobo is dire," says Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group suing over management of the Mexican wolf. A bigger challenge may be getting the species off the federal endangered list. The 6,800-square-mile recovery zone can't accommodate the numbers of wolves and packs that would be needed to end federal protection. "It's going to take either expanding the boundaries or finding other suitable areas" for more releases, Morgart says. "Where does that habitat come from?"....
Ads Recognize Environmentally Conscious Farmers Eight farmers, ranchers and landowners will be recognized in a series of ads starting Sunday for their actions to protect farmland from sprawl, conserve wildlife habitats, and maintain clean air and water. The ads are sponsored by Environmental Defense. "The farmers, ranchers and forest landowners featured in these advertisements represent tens of thousands of farmers taking steps to meet our nation's environmental challenges," says Scott Faber, Farm Policy Campaign Director for Environmental Defense. "These farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are 'everyday environmental heroes' who deserve our thanks for their stewardship." The farmers, ranchers and forest landowners from the ads will join other producers from and Environmental Defense staff on Capitol Hill Thursday, to urge Congress to reform farm policies to provide new incentives for land stewardship when Congress renews the Farm Bill....
Miners move step closer to volcano To the chagrin of environmentalists, a Spokane mining company is one step closer to hardrock mining 12 miles from Mount St. Helens' crater. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday released its environmental assessment on Idaho General Mine's proposal to lease 900 acres of Gifford Pinchot National Forest land north of the volcano in the upper Green River Valley. The BLM found issuing a 20-year renewable lease poses no environmental impact for a 217-acre section, in part because leasing the parcel is a procedural step that doesn't allow any actual mining on the land in question. More information is needed for a determination on the remaining 683 acres, said Michael Campbell, a BLM spokesman, though the agency did not specify what other information it requires....
Mount Baker slalom draws a crowd — of cops In the foothills of the North Cascades, it's become an annual tradition: The Legendary Banked Slalom, a famed snowboard race at Mount Baker Ski Area, draws the world's top talent for a February get-together. When it's over, everyone drives back down the mountain and right into the teeth of the Legendary Cop Shakedown. A push-pull between board riders and badge-wearers has been going on in these parts for most of three decades. But it reached a crescendo last month, when police descended in such force on the Mount Baker Highway that slalom-watchers and hapless bystanders began cursing about harassment. As many as 14 patrol cars from various police agencies were counted at a single time around Glacier, a tiny burg halfway between Bellingham and the mountain, where, on an average day, you might not see 14 cars, period. The cars came from the Whatcom County sheriff's department, the Washington State Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Everyone short of Homeland Security and the Minutemen, in other words, was patrolling a lonely stretch of highway that rarely sees a blue light. And all those cops were busy beavers. On the slalom weekend, Feb. 9-11, 127 people were issued warnings, many for walking alongside the highway, or crossing it improperly, police records show. And 108 other citations, ranging from speeding to impeding traffic to failing to possess proof of insurance, were issued....The Forest Service has made several claims to the media that it is too shorthanded to police the Federal lands. Yet, they have plenty of time and personnel to hand out traffic tickets on a state highway.
Otters Out Of Exile Sea otters must be celebrating what amounts to a relaxed immigration policy in the works, which will officially allow them to expand their range to southern California—something biologists say is critical to the threatened species’ survival. In 1987 the US Fish and Wildlife Service, responsible for the sea otter’s recovery since its 1977 listing under the Endangered Species Act, created an experimental otter colony on San Nicolas Island, about 60 miles west of Los Angeles. Congress approved the program on the condition that the agency also designate a “no-otter” zone from Point Conception to the Mexican border, including the Channel Islands (with the exception of San Nic). Technically the purpose was to isolate the experimental colony, but USFWS’s Lilian Carswell explains that the no-otter zone was also a compromise to placate shell fishermen, who didn’t like the competition with otters, and oil companies, which didn’t want to be held liable if an oil spill harmed the protected species....
Group sues to have protection for rare marbled murrelets lifted Marbled murrelets -- a robin-sized seabird that lays eggs in old growth woods -- is at risk of extinction in the lower 48, but is it special enough to protect? The American Forest Resource Council, an Oregon-based non-profit representing timber companies, filed suit in federal court Wednesday to undo federal protections for the vanishing birds. The murrelet population has shrunk to about 24,400 birds in Washington, Oregon and California, where they were deemed "threatened" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992. In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the timber group is arguing that the birds are not different enough from populations in Canada and Alaska to merit protection under the Endangered Species Act....
NAHB, Affordable Housing Win in Endangered Species Case Years of legal wrangling have resulted in yet another decision that favors housing affordability and rejects interference from interest groups that would make wide swaths of land unavailable for development, cost millions of dollars and offer no environmental benefit, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on March 9 upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove the pygmy owl from the list of endangered species, agreeing that the owls living there are not a separate species and rejecting a petition from the Defenders of Wildlife. With that ruling, the Court agreed with NAHB that building new homes will not hurt the population of the owl, which thrives over the border in Mexico. The decision follows a landmark ruling from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the most environmentally conscious court in the nation, which determined in 2006 that the initial decision to list pygmy owls was “arbitrary and capricious.” “We’ve been mired in this argument for 10 years. It’s time for everyone to concede that there is no environmental benefit to the listing, and I am glad the Court concurred,” said NAHB President Brian Catalde, a home builder in Southern California....
BALCO's Singing Cowboy Larry McCormack figured the FBI owed him a favor. He'd sold out his friend to the agents, and even wore a wire to help them prove that Troy Ellerman was the long-sought leaker in the BALCO steroids case. In return, McCormack asked them not to move in on Ellerman until the big rodeo was over. They obliged, and on Dec. 10, the day after the National Finals Rodeo ended, McCormack and Ellerman sat down in a steakhouse at the far end of the Vegas strip for their last meal together. Ellerman, a former criminal defense lawyer who was then head of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, talked about the future....
Cook-off a taste of cowboy grub Visitors to the Festival of the West at Rawhide this week will be able to chow some real cowboy vittles at the Pace Chuck Wagon Cook-Off. At 1 p.m. today through Saturday, Tom Perini, who works with Pace, will give talks on how chuck wagons began and cook up samples of how cowboys of old ate. He grew up on a Texas ranch and always enjoyed cooking chuck wagon style, which includes making food over an open flame and in Dutch ovens. "I try to keep the heritage and traditions of these old chuck wagons and trail drives alive," he said. The history started in 1865 after the Civil War, when ranchers returned to south Texas to find millions of wild cattle that had reproduced while they were gone, he said. Cowboys would drive the cattle north through Texas and what is now Oklahoma and Kansas to the railways so they could be sold and shipped to cities in the Midwest. These drives started the Texas beef industry. "The problem is, they would have to feed these cowboys for a two-month period," Perini said. They rigged up a chuck box ("chuck" is an old English word for food) in the back of a wagon with staples such as rice and beans, salt pork, coffee and ingredients to make simple breads. There was no refrigeration....
Got a taste for testicle? Oakdale fete for you It's almost impossible to avoid the puns when talking about the annual Testicle Festival. "You'll have a ball," Christie Camarillo said with a laugh. It has taken years, but that statement is kosher now around the folks who courteously used to call it the Calf Fry. "It started as a good ol' boys thing," said Bob Brunker, a Rotarian who has been frying them up for 17 years. This year's festival is Monday, March 26, in downtown Oakdale. Why Monday? Because it takes 75 cooks and volunteers all weekend to prepare the more than 300 pounds of testicles that will be consumed. "It's real labor-intensive," said Camarillo. One year, a cook tried to save time by not removing the skin. "People were still chewing the next year," Brunker said....
It’s The Pitts: Cowboy Courage The job of a ring man isn’t for sissies. I’m not talking about those guys who wear silk ties, eat free barbecue every day and stand outside the ring taking bids at purebred sales. I’m referring to those brave souls who stand INSIDE the ring at your local auction market. To me there’s nothing more entertaining than watching an agile ring man match wits with a killer cow. Although the auctioneer usually gets top billing we all know the real star is the ring man who risks his life so that the show may go on. I’ve never seen the ring man profession listed as one of the most dangerous jobs but I guarantee it’s a widow-makin’ profession. I’ve never been to a bullfight either but I doubt it could be as entertaining as watching a daring ring man take bids while opening a gate as a mad bull tries to gore him. Unlike a bullfight, the ring man stands a greater chance of getting killed than the bull. Attend a commercial cattle auction and you’ll often see a ring man put himself in harm’s way by acting as a decoy merely to get a raging bull or huffy heifer to vacate the premises. I’ve seen ring men wade into a herd of pairs to sort off a cow and calf without the aid of armor or mandatory ID. I once saw a ring man in Texas walk across the backs of a bunch of steers and I’ll never forget the time in South Dakota when a rancher in the crowd asked if the outlaw horse in the ring was broke to ride and darned if the ring man didn’t answer the question by hopping on that stumpsucker and giving the crowd a six second answer....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

ATTENTION ELK HUNTERS

Southwest Elk Hunters, Alert, Elk being decimated in wolf areas: See link for photo's.

It is vital that those of you who value your elk hunting in the Gila come to this meeting on Thursday, March 15th at the Elks Lodge on Elks Drive here in Las Cruces. We will start the meeting promptly at 7:00 pm.

This wolf recovery program in the Gila and Apache Sitgreaves National Forests is a disaster. Ranchers are losing livestock on a daily basis. Horses have been killed and consumed right in the corrals in front of barns. Dogs are being attacked and killed right in the front yards of people's homes. The Superintendent of Schools in Catron County is looking for funding to construct enclosures at bus stops so kids waiting for the school bus can be safe.

Hunters need to know that elk are being killed at an alarming rate. We will hear recorded messages from Mark Miller, Tom Klumker, Jess Carey, Don Gatlin, Jim Haught, Jim Blair, Gene Whetten, Jack Diamond, Becky Campbell, Laura Schneberger and others.

I have asked them to tell you what they think you ought to know about the wolf recovery program and the impact it is having on the elk population in the Gila TODAY!!!!!! Further, I have asked them to project out for the next two to five years and give you their assessment of what will become of the elk if this absurd program is allowed to continue.

The New Mexico Game Commission will meet at the Best Western Mesilla Valley Inn from 9:00 am til 5:00 pm on Wednesday, March 28. Everyone needs to be there and ask the questions you need answered. I hope to create a huge upswell of people who are fed up with this ridiculous experiment with wolves.

Please come to the meeting at the Elks Lodge on March 15 and plan on attending the Game Commission meeting on March 28.

I have attached a flyer for the meeting you can print and pass out to people. I also attached a legislature report produced by Laura Schneberger which we have passed out to 80 or so of our state legislators in Santa Fe. Senator Komadina introduced a bill that will hold the IFT (Interagency Field Team) accountable for managing these wolves. It passed the Conservation Committee today and is headed for Judiciary committee....

Joe Delk
Field Representative
Paragon Foundation
H 505-524-1233
C 505-644-3082
NEWS ROUNDUP

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won an Academy Award for best documentary. So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness of climate change. But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism. “I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.” Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots. Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.” Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe’s recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence....
It's Not Pretty Being Green THE LATEST CRAZE in architecture, after fizzled experiments in Modernism, Post Modernism, Brutalism, Deconstructionism, and Post-Brutal-Deconstructed-Neo-Modernism, is a genuflection to environmentalism called "Green Building" or "Sustainable Architecture." For the most part, building "Green" means cloaking an intrinsically inefficient high rise building in an ecological hair shirt that makes owners feel good and tenants feel miserable. The latest example of Green Building has risen in San Francisco, where the city by the Bay has ripped apart one of the grittier parts of its foggy utopia to construct what is surely the most ridiculous building of our still young century: the poetically-named Federal Building. A unique combination of crackpot environmentalism and elaborate ugliness, the Federal Building will finally opens its doors (or flaps, or airlocks, or orifices, or something) later this month and it will boast a number of odd design "features." For instance, the Federal Building is an office tower tall enough to disrupt the city's skyline, yet its elevators only stop on every third floor--the better to conserve energy. And after trudging up and down the stairs on a blazing summer afternoon the unfortunate tenants soak in their own sweat because the building has no air conditioning . . . again to save energy. Who could have conceived of such a thing? Imagine a hip West Coast architect who surrounds himself with turtle necked young designers and calls his firm Morphosis and you have Thom Mayne....
There Are Big Problems With Ethanol, Namely Corn Supply The reality is that it's costly and incredibly inefficient to unlock energy stored inside plant cells, relative to the effort needed to distill comparable volumes of fuel from crude, even crude as expensive as it is today. The reality is that making biofuels from Brazilian sugar cane is much easier, cheaper and kinder to the environment than using Midwestern grain. The reality is that we care about all those principles so much as to impose a stiff tariff on Brazilian ethanol, lest it displace our homebrew. The end result is that corn, traditionally America's most abundant natural resource, has turned into the focus of a scarcity scare, with futures prices nearly doubling, in just eight months. So taxpayers end up subsidizing this folly thrice: Once in federal payments to corn producers that totaled almost $9 billion last year, again in a tax credit of 51 cents per gallon for ethanol producers and a third time in the supermarket checkout line. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects ethanol's claim on the corn crop to increase by 50% this year, sucking up more than a quarter of the national output. Legislation passed in 2005 requires the use of "renewable fuels" to rise by more than 50% from current levels by 2012....
Environmentalism Religion Rather Than Science, Says Czech Leader Centralized planners seeking to "rule from above" are operating under the guise of environmentalism and other fashionable "isms" in a bid to attack freedom and liberty, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said here. Addressing an audience at the CATO Institute in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Klaus argued that although communism has been eradicated in Eastern Europe, there are renewed efforts in this new century to reintroduce statist schemes. Those who have experienced the absence of freedom in their lifetimes have a "special sensitivity" to dangerous and disturbing trends at work in Europe and America, Klaus said. He identified what he said were three main "internal challenges" to freedom. Fashionable and trendy "isms" like environmentalism seek to "radically re-organize human society" in a way that is detrimental to the freedoms that were secured just 17 years ago when Soviet communism fell, he argued. Proponents of the environmental ideology were attempting to sell the public on "catastrophic scenarios" that could be used to justify the restoration of statist practices, he said....
Prairie dog poisoning planned in N.D. Ranchers’ complaints have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to propose poisoning about 12,000 prairie dogs this fall on federal grasslands in western North Dakota. Officials say it would be the first time in 15 years that poison has been proposed for the rodents in that area. “Prairie dog colonies are crossing property lines to private and state land, and vice versa,” said Dan Svingen, a Forest Service biologist in Bismarck. “We’re only doing it where a neighboring landowner does not want prairie dogs.” The agency plans to lace oats with the rodenticide zinc phosphide to kill the animals. Svingen said the poison would be spread over an area of about 700 acres....
Cloud seeding project gets sent back to state A controversial cloud seeding experiment over the Wind River Range has momentarily stalled while the state considers cost estimates for the project, including the price for the necessary environmental studies by the U.S. Forest Service. The project would affect the Bridger Wilderness, the Fitzpatrick Wilderness and the Popo Agie Wilderness. It is intended to cause 10 percent to 15 percent more snowfall each year of the five year project. Officials with Weather Modification Inc. filed an application to put up to 12 ground-based generators targeting Raid Peak and Granite Peak. So far, five generators have been put on private or state land and the Forest Service has received permit applications for two on the Bridger-Teton and one on the Shoshone national forests. Those permits will require environmental studies, which, by law, the applicant – in this case the state – must pay for, said Bridger-Teton spokeswoman Mary Cernicek. At issue is whether the state can, or should, modify the environment of a congressionally protected wilderness area....
Court: No Fake Snow at Sacred Peak A ski area on a northern Arizona mountain may not use treated wastewater to make snow because that would violate the rights of American Indian tribes that consider the peak sacred, a federal appeals court has ruled. The Arizona Snowbowl on the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff wanted to add a fifth chair lift, spray man-made snow and clear about 100 acres of forest to extend its ski season. However, the Navajo Nation and a dozen other Southwest tribes filed suit to block the project, arguing that it would violate their religious freedom. The lawsuit also said the government did not adequately address the environmental effect of using wastewater, which would be pumped up a pipeline from Flagstaff. In a decision Monday, Judge William A. Fletcher of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the snowmaking scheme violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and would be akin to using wastewater in Christian baptisms....
Ski resort owner pledges to make snow, no matter what The owner of the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort said he is committed to installing snowmaking equipment, despite a federal appeals court ruling that said a plan to use treated wastewater violated the religious freedom of Indian tribes. Snowbowl owner Eric Borowsky said he'll either try to have Monday's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, or make snow using water pumped from company owned land. "We are definitely going forward with this," Borowsky said. "This ruling is definitely the wrong ruling and it has a major impact on federal land ... I think this decision is saying that if a Native American thinks it impacts his religion, then you're not allowed to do it."....
Study: Thinning trees helps build water table In 2001, the Otero SWCD received a grant to thin parts of the watershed. At Sunspot, eight acres on the western slope below the National Solar Observatory were thinned. The Circle Cross Ranch thinned more than 40 acres along the western boundary of Timberon, and the Southern Cross Ranch thinned 337 acres south of Timberon. Other entities, like the Bureau of Land Management and Timberon, had also received and used thinning project money. "All together, we treated about 3,000 aces," Abercrombie said. Otero SWCD began monitoring the static water levels in six of the wells in the watershed. The water level data has been collected since 2003. At the Southern Cross well, results are dramatic. In mid-2004, the water was found at 80 feet under the surface. In 2005, the water had risen to 10 feet beneath the surface. Abercrombie said he can think of no other reason for such a dramatic change than the thinning of the trees....
Deal with the devil: Jobs not worth damage from coal mine, trucking A deal with a coal-mining company could bring 100 jobs to picturesque, rural Kane County. But residents of Panguitch who make their living off tourism believe it would be a deal made with the devil. They argue that a steady stream of coal-bearing semitrailer trucks driving from the proposed strip mine between Alton and Bryce Canyon National Park along U.S. 89 to I-15 would discourage visitors and new residents. It's obvious they are right. The continuous rumble and safety hazard of a coal caravan - a truck every four minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week - would scare off just about anybody looking for a quiet respite or retirement home. The justified outcry over a plan to strip-mine 2,600 acres of this scenic piece of Utah calls attention to a growing New West war. This battle pits the economic driver of the past, the destructive extraction industry, with the clean, environmentally conscious harbingers of future prosperity - tourism and outdoor recreation. Kane and Garfield counties and the towns of Panguitch, Alton and Hatch should take the side of tourism in this battle. If the Bureau of Land Management approves the mine and its trucking plan, it will compromise the future economic health of the region....
Interior Dept. Energy Leases Prompt a Suit A decision by the Interior Department to reactivate 20-year-old energy drilling leases in southern Utah areas that have since been set aside for protection and recreation will be challenged in court on Wednesday by three environmental groups. The groups argue that the reactivation amounts to granting illegal new leases on protected lands. The Bureau of Land Management, the Interior Department agency responsible for the areas, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Glen Canyon National Recreation area, has said its decisions on the 23 leases were correcting its failure to give the three leaseholders final rulings on their petitions when they were filed in the ’80s. A spokeswoman for the bureau’s Salt Lake City office, Mary Wilson, said in a statement that the applicants had procedural rights that the bureau could honor now only by taking action that it failed to take years ago to clear the way for the leaseholders to try to retrieve oil from tar sands in the protected areas....
Endangered Rabbits Return to Washington The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is finally back in its old stomping grounds, munching olive-drab sagebrush and hopefully doing what rabbits do best. Twenty of the creatures _ each not much bigger than a man's hand _ were set free Tuesday in a remote wildlife reserve, an attempt to jump-start their population in central Washington state. The rabbits were born and raised at Washington State University and at the Portland Zoo in Oregon. They are descendants of the last known wild rabbits, caught in 2002. The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is the country's smallest native rabbit and the only one in the United States to dig its own burrows. The rabbit was listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2003....
Agency revises grizzly methods The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released three documents Tuesday that are precursors to removing federal protection for grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone area, an action expected later this spring. Some conservation groups took note of the documents and found them lacking in serious protection for the grizzly bear or its habitat to prevent relisting of the animal under the Endangered Species Act. Two supplement documents to the grizzly bear recovery plan present revised methods to estimate population size and sustainable death limits for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population, and establish habitat-based recovery criteria for the bears. A third document, the final conservation strategy for the grizzly in the region, will guide state and federal management decisions for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population upon delisting....
Carson Lake grazing agreement signed A handful of local ranchers will again be able to graze their cattle at Carson Lake and Pasture this year following the signing of the management agreement for livestock grazing between the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District and the Bureau of Reclamation. The agreement was signed by TCID President Ernie Schank at the district's board meeting last week. Norm Norcutt, TCID grazing manager at Carson Lake, said 17 ranchers graze about 2,600 cattle at the site. The animals usually graze from early April to November on the 29,718.16 acres, Schank said. The actual number of cattle allowed to graze is dependent upon the animal unit months determined by the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency which owns the property. An AUM is the amount of forage needed to feed a cow for one month. Grazing permits will cost ranchers $5 per AUM to BOR and $2 per AUM to TCID. The irrigation district will also impose a $1.50 per head surcharge for administering vaccines and spraying for insecticide....
High corn price tempers interest in conservation acreage U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will decide by early this summer whether to ease contract penalties for farmers who pull acres out early from a government program that pays them to set their land aside for conservation, his department said Tuesday. With ethanol demand driving corn prices higher, more farmers are mulling whether to take their land out of the Conservation Reserve Program _ a move conservationists fear will lead to the loss of millions of habitat acres for game birds and other endangered species. Johanns will base his decision in part on the Agricultural Statistics Service prospective planting report that comes out March 23, said Keith Williams, spokesman for the Agriculture Department in Washington, D.C. Johanns also will factor in the newly released results from a special offer made last year to landowners with expiring acres. "He has not made a decision, and he doesn't have the information to make a decision at this point in time," Williams said....
Wolves lose their federal protection After three decades under the watchful eye of the federal government, the protection and management of wolves is falling back into the hands of the state and tribal governments. At 12:01 a.m. Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed the western Great Lakes population of gray wolves from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. Shooting wolves will no longer be a federal offense, although state laws already in place mean it will still be illegal in most cases. The federal de-listing will make it easier for farmers, dog owners and government trappers to kill wolves. A farmer who sees a wolf threatening cattle can legally shoot it for the first time in 40 years....
On the Edge of Common Sense: Multitude of uses for those rotten avocados My friend Steve is in the avocado business, which I think makes him an avocadonist, or an avocodinarian. He has many distributors (avocodlers) who count on him to keep them supplied. The freeze that hit southern California this winter wiped out the crop. I called him after I heard him being interviewed on national radio. When he answered, he was in Chile! Turns out he was down there and in Mexico, home of guacamole, arranging to import Spanish-speaking avocados to fill the gap for the avocadophiles in the United States of Avocado. Steve explained that 20-degree weather kills the fruit and it becomes useless. I commented that when old bananas turn black, the average mother with children will say, "Don't throw it away, we'll make banana bread out of it!" So I postulated there must be some way to use old black avocados. There is a rum drink with pineapples, coconuts and a paper umbrella called a PiƱa Colada. How 'bout the Avocolada? Maybe use something dark like prune juice, a coagulant like vitamin K and a miniature Mexican flag!....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

FLE

Chief of staff of US attorney general quits The chief of staff to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned amid intense scrutiny of the Justice Department accused of excessive use of tough anti-terror laws and being overtly political. Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson has resigned his position as chief of staff to the attorney general from Monday, March 12, the department said. "Kyle Sampson has served as a key member of my team beginning at the White House and continuing here at the Department of Justice first as my Deputy Chief of Staff and then as my Chief of Staff," Gonzales said in a statement. The United States has been rocked by a series of revelations that officials overstepped their authority in applying tough anti-terror laws brought in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks....
Key Democrat calls for Gonzales to resign US Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has so politicized the Justice Department that he should step down for the good of the nation, the Senate's third-ranking Democrat said yesterday. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York called for the resignation in light of recent disclosures about the FBI's improper use of administrative subpoenas to obtain private records and the controversy over the firing of eight US attorneys in December. Schumer, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, charged that under Gonzales, the Justice Department has become even more politicized than it was under President Bush's first attorney general, John D. Ashcroft. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, stopped short of suggesting that Gonzales step down. But he said that a report released Friday by the Justice Department's inspector general raised questions about the investigatory powers given to federal agents under the USA Patriot Act, which Congress reauthorized last year....
Gonzales, Mueller admit FBI broke law The nation's top two law enforcement officials acknowledged Friday the FBI broke the law to secretly pry out personal information about Americans. They apologized and vowed to prevent further illegal intrusions. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left open the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against FBI agents or lawyers who improperly used the USA Patriot Act in pursuit of suspected terrorists and spies. The FBI's transgressions were spelled out in a damning 126-page audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. He found that agents sometimes demanded personal data on people without official authorization, and in other cases improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances. The audit also concluded that the FBI for three years underreported to Congress how often it used national security letters to ask businesses to turn over customer data. The letters are administrative subpoenas that do not require a judge's approval. "People have to believe in what we say," Gonzales said. "And so I think this was very upsetting to me. And it's frustrating."....
Bush Pledges to End FBI Privacy Lapses President Bush on Saturday pledged an end to FBI lapses that led to illegal prying into people's lives. "Those problems will be addressed as quickly as possible," Bush said during a news conference in Uruguay, the second stop on his Latin America trip. A new audit by the Justice Department's internal watchdog found that the FBI improperly used a tool called national security letters. The letters are administrative subpoenas that don't require judicial approval. Agents sometimes demanded personal data on people without official authorization, and in other cases improperly obtained telephone records. Shoddy record-keeping and human error were to blame in most cases, the audit found. "My question is, `What are you going to do solve the problem and how fast can you get it solved?'" said Bush, who was briefed on the report last week....
Top Secret: We're Wiretapping You It could be a scene from Kafka or Brazil. Imagine a government agency, in a bureaucratic foul-up, accidentally gives you a copy of a document marked "top secret." And it contains a log of some of your private phone calls. You read it and ponder it and wonder what it all means. Then, two months later, the FBI shows up at your door, demands the document back and orders you to forget you ever saw it. By all accounts, that's what happened to Washington D.C. attorney Wendell Belew in August 2004. And it happened at a time when no one outside a small group of high-ranking officials and workaday spooks knew the National Security Agency was listening in on Americans' phone calls without warrants. Belew didn't know what to make of the episode. But now, thanks to that government gaffe, he and a colleague have the distinction of being the only Americans who can prove they were specifically eavesdropped upon by the NSA's surveillance program. The pair are seeking $1 million each in a closely watched lawsuit against the government, which experts say represents the greatest chance, among over 50 different lawsuits, of convincing a key judge to declare the program illegal. The lawsuit is poised to blow a hole through a bizarre catch-22 that has dogged other legal efforts to challenge the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance. Since the 2005 Times story, and subsequent acknowledgment of the surveillance by the Bush administration, some 50-odd lawsuits have sprung up around the NSA program, taking on the government and various telecom companies who are allegedly cooperating in spying on their customers, including BellSouth, Verizon and Sprint. Justice Department and phone company lawyers have asserted that the plaintiffs in those cases don't have legal standing to sue, because they have no proof that they were direct victims of the eavesdropping. At the same time, the government claims it doesn't have to reveal if any individual was or was not wiretapped because the "state secrets privilege" permits it to withhold information that would endanger national security. The tangible document makes Belew's case uniquely positioned to cut through that thicket, says Shayana Kadidal, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights....
Feds, AT&T urge against wiretap trial The federal government is urging an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging President Bush's domestic eavesdropping program, warning that disclosure of such activities could compromise national security. "The suit's very subject matter — including the relationship, if any, between AT&T and the government in connection with the secret intelligence activities alleged by plaintiffs — is a state secret," the Justice Department argued in court papers. The documents were filed late Friday and released Monday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which brought the suit. It accuses AT&T Inc. of illegally making communications on its networks available to the National Security Agency without warrants, and challenges Bush's assertion that he could use his wartime powers to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant. The NSA had conducted the surveillance without a court warrant until January, when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court began overseeing the program. The court filings on Friday are part of the government's appeal of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's decision last year to keep the foundation's lawsuit alive. Walker ruled that warrantless eavesdropping has been so widely reported that there appears to be no danger of spilling secrets....
D.C. gun ban goes down In a blockbuster opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman, joined by Judge Thomas B. Griffith, ruled that “the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.” That puts the D.C. Circuit in rather exclusive company. Only the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, has adopted the “individual rights” position; all the other circuits have held that private citizens have no Second Amendment recourse when they challenge state and local gun-control ordinances. Moreover, only the D.C. Circuit has actually invoked the Second Amendment to overturn a government gun regulation. Not even the Fifth Circuit went that far. The case is Parker v. District of Columbia, and the regulation challenged is a 1976 law banning all handgun registrations, barring pistols already registered from being carried from room to room in the home without a license (which is never granted), and requiring all firearms in the home, including rifles and shotguns, to be unloaded and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. According to the appellate court, activities protected by the Amendment “are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.” In other words, the Constitution forecloses an outright ban on handguns. Ergo, if we Americans decide that a ban is required for public safety, we must change the Constitution....
Gun Owners Irked By Newspaper Database Ploy Virginia handgun owners are fired up over the publication of their names and addresses in a database posted online by a state newspaper. The database of every Virginia resident who holds a state-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun was posted on the Roanoke Times' website Sunday to accompany a column in the paper by Times editorial writer Christian Trejbal. "There are good reasons the records are open to public scrutiny," Trejbal wrote. "People might like to know if their neighbors carry. Parents might like to know if a member of the car pool has a pistol in the glove box. Employees might like to know if employers are bringing weapons to the office." However, gun owners contend such public scrutiny could pose a risk to gun owners and non-gun owners across the state. "I've talked to federal agents who have testified against criminals, and police who have permits, that now have their home address posted on the Internet," Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, told Cybercast News Service. "What if a stalker wants to cross check if his victim has a permit?" Van Cleave said the VCDL is organizing a boycott of the newspaper and businesses that advertise in the paper....
Americans Selling ID Papers to Illegal Immigrants Asked by a federal judge why she sold her birth certificate, Rosie Medellin said she needed a few bucks and did not really think it through. Bobby Joe Flores said he sold his ID documents to buy drugs. Margarita Moya and her son did it to raise money for medicine for a loved one. Their documents were destined for illegal immigrants. In all, seven defendants pleaded guilty in Corpus Christi this past week to charges of selling their birth certificates and Social Security cards for $100 each. Seven other defendants pleaded guilty to buying or reselling those documents as part of a ring that sold documents to illegal immigrants seeking jobs in Dodge City, Kan. The federal government's attention has been on stolen or fabricated identity documents, and officials say they know little about people who sell their own legitimate documents. Defense attorneys said prosecution for selling an ID may be something new. "I've been practicing criminal law for years and this is the first I've seen in our Southern District," said Grant Jones, who represents a roofer with sporadic employment. "If they've [the government] been aware in the past, they've now decided to enforce the law." However, Jones said his client told him that document selling was a well-known way to earn a quick buck....
Bush in a quandary over border agents' case For weeks, defenders of the two former Border Patrol agents imprisoned for shooting a Mexican drug trafficker have bombarded the White House with calls, e-mails and petitions. Their demand is straightforward: A presidential pardon for a pair of Texans they view as heroes persecuted for doing their jobs. "This is a terrible injustice, and I urge you to use your considerable authority and power to pardon these two agents and right this obvious wrong!" reads a petition from Grassfire.org, a conservative Web site that claims more than 337,000 people have signed the online form. But the issue is far from simple for President Bush, who is being asked to wade into a highly controversial case where even the most basic facts are in dispute. The quandary for the president: Whether to side with former Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos or with the prosecutors who contend they were rogue officers who wounded a fleeing, unarmed man and then concealed evidence....
House May Proceed With Hearings on Border Agent Case Lawmakers may hold hearings on the controversial prosecution of two former Border Patrol agents who shot a Mexican suspected of smuggling drugs into the United States. They want to determine whether the Mexican government played a role in the affair. Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), chairman of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, granted a request to hold hearings "to explore possible foreign influence in the ruthless prosecution of ... Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean," according to ranking member Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who made the request. Rohrabacher, who has criticized President Bush harshly over the Ramos-Compean case, praised Delahunt for being willing to pursue the matter. "This hearing will permit us to conduct an official investigation into aspects of the Ramos and Compean prosecution and others cases where a pattern of questionable foreign influence seems to exist," he said in a statement Tuesday. "I hope this Administration will more forthright and cooperative than they have been thus far considering all of our requests for information will now be a part of an official subcommittee investigation, culminating with hearings," Rohrabacher added....
"It's Our Job to Stop That Dream" Border Patrol Agent Elizier Vasquez gets out of his car on Elephants Head Road, a smear of dirt and gravel wedged between two slices of desert. His eyes comb the rust-colored Arizona dirt that stretches for miles to the north, south, and west, its stark beauty marred by scattered piles of trash. A few miles to the east of us is Highway I-19, which shoots straight from Nogales to Tucson, and past that there's more desert. We came here from the U.S.-Mexico border, about 25 miles to the south. The drive took less than 30 minutes. Walking, Vasquez tells me, would have taken about three days. "Look at all the trash left by illegal aliens," he says, navigating through a knee-high pile of old clothes. I trip on a dusty sweatshirt; it catches in the branch of a mesquite tree and rips, brittle and weathered. Empty water jugs lie beneath the desert shrubs, the plastic brittle and broken from the heat. We navigate through backpacks, clothes, empty tuna cans. Shoes, some with soles worn out, lie in piles among the tangles of cactus and mesquite. "We call these lay-up spots," Vasquez says in a low voice. "Illegal aliens rest here while they wait for their rides. Most are known spots. Probably we'll find the illegals sleeping under a tree. If not, they've probably already been picked up by their smugglers."....
NEWS ROUNDUP

Rancher Preps for High Court Does Uncle Sam have an unqualified right to bully you through his agents into surrendering your property without just compensation after you have refused to grant him access to your land? Hot Springs County rancher Harvey Frank Robbins, his Cheyenne attorney, Karen Budd-Falen, and others held a teleconference this week with reporters from national media outlets to discuss that very question at the heart of their U.S. Supreme Court case next week. Robbins has been involved with litigation against the federal government for years stemming from conflict with Bureau of Land Management officials over his ranching operation abutting Indian and federal lands. These purported actions and others by federal agents, Robbins claims, are why he is seeking relief under the “takings” clause of the Fifth Amendment and suing BLM agents under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, for their alleged coercion to illegally extort his land....
Giving up grazing For more than half a century, the Krouse family has been running its cattle each spring into the mountains ringing the Applegate Valley to graze on open range. Shortly after June 1, the Krouses would begin the cattle drive to the alpine meadows on the southeast side of Grayback Mountain, which rises to 7,000 feet elevation south of their ranch. Krouse has agreed to a proposed $265,500 buyout of his family's historic Big Grayback grazing allotment of 19,703 acres in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. That agreement, pending the approval of Uncle Sam, also would include the family's Billy Mountain grazing allotment of 4,758 acres on U.S. Bureau of Land Management forestland immediately north of the ranch. Reached after a lengthy negotiation with the Ashland-based Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Andy Kerr, an adviser for the group, the proposal also calls for the 480-acre Oregon Caves National Monument to be expanded by 3,410 acres to protect its water source and increase tourism in the area. Under the terms of the family's historic grazing lease, Krouse can run 70 head of cattle on the Big Grayback allotment from June 1 through the fall. The lower elevation Billy Mountain allotment allows him to graze 70 head of cattle from April 16 to June 30....
Former E. Idaho elk rancher acquitted of obstruction charge Former elk rancher Rex Rammell has been found not guilty of obstructing a police officer by refusing to get off a dead elk. The verdict is a victory for property rights and will help his $1.3 million lawsuit against Idaho state officials, Rammell said. "I'm sure it won't hurt," he told the Post Register. The six-person Fremont County jury returned the verdict in 30 minutes Friday after listening to closing arguments of the two-day trial in 7th District Court. An estimated 160 domesticated elk escaped in August from the Chief Joseph private hunting reserve operated by Rammell near Ashton in eastern Idaho. On Sept. 7, then-Idaho Gov. Jim Risch, now lieutenant governor, signed an executive order for the elk to be killed, saying they could spread disease and pollute the gene pool of wild elk. Rammell was charged in October with obstructing a police officer after he refused law enforcement orders to get off an elk that had been shot....
Elk rancher files claim against Idaho A former elk rancher who had more than 100 domesticated elk escape from his hunting preserve near the Wyoming border last fall has filed a $1.3 million tort claim against the state of Idaho, alleging it was negligent and capricious in its handling of the incident. Named in the claim are the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the state Department of Agriculture, and the governor's office, whose actions the claim says were "negligent, unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious and malicious." Tort claims are generally a precursor to a lawsuit, unless a settlement is reached. The state has 90 days to respond to the claim, which was filed Tuesday with Idaho officials by Rex Rammell of Rexburg. Jon Hanian, a spokesman for Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, said Wednesday the state would not comment because of the potential pending litigation....
Panel approves wild horse sale ban Legislation to reinstate a ban on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros was approved by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee this week. The bill, which has received bipartisan support, would restore the prohibition on the sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros that was eliminated by a provision inserted into the fiscal year 2005 appropriations bill by then-Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont. Enacted in 1971, the original law directed the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to enforce the protection of wild horses on public lands. To the delight of Western stockmen and the consternation of wild horse advocates, Burns' amendment allowed the sale of any wild horse that has been rounded up and is more than 10 years old or has been unsuccessful in the adoption program three times....
Editorial - Evolving cooperation
The program that brought the endangered Mexican gray wolf back to the Southwest is evolving to ensure its survival. That's good news for wolves and for the public, which has long understood the importance of restoring this top predator to an ecosystem that was poorer without it. Wolves were slaughtered to near extinction at public expense for the sake of cattle ranching, and ranchers remain the staunchest opponents of the recovery program. They need to find a little humility. Ranchers who graze their cattle on the public lands do not own those lands; they are tenants. The owners of that land - the public - passed laws that establish the value of preserving and restoring endangered species. Like wolves. Ranchers have long complained about the economic damage to their operations because wolves sometimes take cattle. OK. But they also complain about a compensation program established by Defenders of Wildlife to reimburse them for losses. To put it tactfully, ranchers lack a satisfactory comfort level with this environmental group. Making ranchers feel that their livelihood is not threatened by wolves is important to the long-term success of the reintroduction program. Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, understands that. He's working to establish a fund to which ranchers and environmentalists could contribute and from which ranchers could get compensation. Local groups that included ranchers would decide the payout. There would be oversight....
Salazar gives Army conditions on Pinon Canyon If the Army wants support for expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, it must discard the use of eminent domain, create an economic development fund to help the region, and allow ranchers to graze the land through leasing agreements - according to Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo. In a letter to Assistant Army Secretary Keith Eastin this week, Salazar spelled out a list of requirements that will affect whether he ultimately supports expanding PCMS, the 238,000-acre training ground southwest of La Junta. The Army wants to add another 418,000 acres to PCMS - a goal that has prompted a broad front of opposition from ranchers and communities that border the training area. Earlier this week, a House committee of the General Assembly approved legislation that would withdraw the state's consent for the federal government to expand PCMS through property condemnation or eminent domain....
Once threatened Aleutian geese crowd Northern California pastures Once on the verge of extinction, Aleutian geese have made a healthy comeback—but some ranchers say the grass-eating birds have become so prolific they're destroying Northern California's valuable cow pastures. The Aleutian goose looks like a petit Canada goose, mostly brown with a black neck and white patch under its beak. They spend the summer nesting season in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, then head down the Pacific Flyway to California's northern coast and the San Joaquin Valley. Escaped foxes from Alaskan fur farms hunted them throughout the early 20th century. By the 1970s fewer than 1,000 Aleutian geese were left. They became protected under the 1971 U.S. Endangered Species Act. Ecologists' efforts to reduce the fox population and rebuild the goose population were successful. The birds were removed from the endangered list in 2001. The population is now thought to exceed 100,000, growing as much as 20 percent a year. Farmers and ranchers say hordes of Aleutian geese are stripping pastures of grass, leaving cows hungry. Aleutians love sweet, high-protein grass seedlings—new shoots on recently grazed land....
Tumbleweeds tamed by fence cleaner Stelter is a New Leipzig native and an owner of Stelter Repair, a three-generation welding shop with a reputation for good work far and wide. Stelter's been thinking about those problem tumbleweeds and how they get stuck to fences since 2002. It was a year like this one. Tumbleweeds filled ditches and barbed wire all around the countryside. He put his thoughts and his ability together and invented a fence cleaner. He and his son, Preston, built two of them and are working on a third. They've been tinkering and experimenting in their shop not far from the now-closed Leipziger Hoff German restaurant and out in the field. What they came up with is a pull-along piece, attached to tractor hydraulics, that has two basic functions. Stelter is applying for a patent on the first function of the cleaner. So, without giving away his trade secret, the first part sweeps weeds out of the fence. The second part grabs and grinds the weeds, leaving a windrow of chopped vegetation in its wake for baling or decomposition. It leaves fences clean enough to eat lunch off....
Subsidy tensions high Ross Hirschfeld says folks have been talking behind his back ever since the local paper reported that he has been getting millions of dollars in farm subsidies from Washington. Exactly how much Hirschfeld and other farmers get from Uncle Sam has become common knowledge around here because an environmental group has been posting names and figures on its Web site as part of its campaign against the nation’s multibillion-dollar farm-subsidy program. At small-town coffee shops across the countryside, talk about the weather and Nebraska football now competes with gossip about who is getting big bucks from Washington. The Hirschfeld family – Hirschfeld, his brothers and his son – received $2.64 million from 1995 to 2005. The Hirschfelds farm mostly corn on a 5,000-acre spread near York and are among the top subsidy recipients in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District. It surpassed all districts in the nation in 2005 with $992 million in subsidies....
Feral hogs pose potential problems Invading feral hogs are wreaking havoc on some farm and ranch lands in Quay County. And if left unchecked, the problems spread, state wildlife experts said. “We had them uproot and damage one of our fields so bad that it looked like the Army had been out there shelling,” said Quay County farmer and rancher Ted Rush. “We farm on top of the cap and they have destroyed our crops before. When we have wheat, they uproot the roots and when the Milo heads bloom, they knock down the stalks and eat the heads.” Rush, who farms and ranches 12,000 acres on the caprock, said he knows first hand that getting rid of the intruders can be a handful but is aware of the destructive implications if the animal is left unchecked. “They have been in this area for about four years,” said Rush. “I have seen some herds with as many as 30 hogs. They are nocturnal animals and can travel great distances. In the four years, I have killed over 100 of the animals. The older boars do have tusk. But, I have not killed any of them or even seen one. I bought some dogs to help me run them off my land and aid in hunting them in an effort to control the population.” Rush also said the older members of groups are savvy and difficult to hunt and kill....
Trainer: Gentleness pays Joe Wolter has a national reputation as an expert in working with difficult horses. The soft-spoken Texas rancher is known for his quiet demeanor. Just don’t call him a horse whisperer. “It’s all Hollywood,” he said during a clinic Sunday at the Louisiana Horse Expo. After finishing an afternoon clinic for experienced horsemen who listened intently to his every word, Wolter climbed off an unfamiliar horse and dug his boots into the dirt floor of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center’s main arena. He walked toward an exit gate, hoping to get a quick lunch before he had to judge a competition, but was stopped every so often by horse enthusiasts seeking to shake his hand and to get advice. Some people consider Wolter a natural because of his knack of calming skittish horses. Wolter said his technique of horsemanship, by feel and teamwork with the horse, can be taught — and he does so, working clinics and producing videos....
"Devil's rope" meets its match Ever since Joseph Glidden patented barbed wire in 1874, the "devil's rope" has been the object of contention: beloved by cattle ranchers but decried by open-range proponents, rustlers, fence-builders (who have to handle the bloody stuff), wildlife lovers and even religious groups. It was this invention - perhaps more than any other - that helped to settle the West. But now it's rapidly fading from the landscape. Just last week, the Minturn town council gave unanimous preliminary approval to a law forbidding barbed-wire fences in the municipality. "We had a citizen who thought it was a good idea to put up a barbed-wire fence in the middle of town," Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty explained. "I'm not one for doing away with it totally. I still think there are places where you can use it." But not in Minturn, nestled between Vail and the rural remnants of Eagle County, once a ranching stronghold. Police Chief Lorenzo Martinez said there are safety concerns with the wire, noting that the fence is about neck-high to a snowmobiler unwittingly encountering it from adjacent public lands....
Sweet cowboy types: 'City Girls' want you There's New York. There's Los Angeles. And then there's all that stuff in the middle. Wichita is part of all that stuff in the middle, as I was reminded this week after getting a call from an L.A.-based television casting agent. She's looking for singles to appear on a new reality dating show on the Women's Entertainment Network, tentatively titled "City Girls." The show will be in the vein of "The Bachelor," only it will focus on big-city girls who are having trouble meeting quality big-city guys. Apparently, those men are all commitment-phobes. Who knew? "City Girls" will introduce these frustrated female sophisticates to some down-home, well-mannered farmers and ranchers who are just hanging around the Midwest waiting for their chance to gallantly open doors and bashfully compliment smiles. The casting agent called The Eagle because she was hoping we could get the word out to all the polite and gorgeous farmer/rancher types in our area. She wants them to call her immediately if they think they'd be good for the show....

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wrangler Timed Event Championship

March 8-11, 2007 Lazy E Arena-Guthrie, OK
Aggregated on 25 head of cattle

1. Trevor Brazile - Decatur, TX 281.7 seconds $50,000 + $3,000 for new arena record previous record was 287.6 set in 2002 by Daniel Green.

2. K.C. Jones - Hawk Springs, Wy 330.2 seconds $25,000

3. Kyle Lockett - Ivanhoe, CA 332.2 seconds $15,000

4. J.R. Olson - Sheridan, WY 408.9 seconds $10,000

5. Daniel Green - Oakdale, CA 414.1 seconds $7,500

6. Jess Tierney - LaVerne, OK 415.3 seconds $5,000

7. Scott Snedecor - Uvalde, TX 420.3 seconds $4,500

8. Paul Teirney - Oral, SD 423.3 seconds $3,000

Fastest go-round times - on five head of cattle

1. Trevor Brazile 45.2 seconds $10,000

2. Trevor Brazile 49.0 seconds $6,000

3. Kyle Lockett 49.8 seconds $5,000

4. Paul Tierney 55.0 seconds $4,000

5. Kyle Lockett 56.4 seconds $2,500

Cash Myers 56.4 seconds $2,500


Trevor becomes the first man to win five championships during the event's 23 year history.

Trevor's 12 year careet earnings now stand at $467,500 for the Timed Event Championship.