Saturday, July 05, 2008


5 arrested in Rainbow Family clash with feds About 400 members of the Rainbow Family threw rocks and sticks at 10 federal officers as they tried to arrest a member of the group, the U.S. Forest Service said Friday. Five members of the group were arrested and one officer was slightly injured. A government vehicle was also damaged. Ten Forest Service officers were patrolling the main meadow of the Rainbow Family's camping area Thursday night and apprehended one person described as being uncooperative, Rita Vollmer, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said in a statement Friday. "Officers began to leave the gathering site with the subject and were circled by more Rainbow participants that began to physically interfere," Vollmer said. About 400 Rainbows surrounded the officers trying to leave, she said. "The mob began to advance, throwing sticks and rocks at the officers," Vollmer said....What can we learn from this? First, you and 400 of your compadres can surround and threaten Forest Service law enforcement, and it's no sweat. Second, you can throw rocks and sticks at them, no problem. Third, whatever you do, don't threaten them with a pair of bridal reins or you will be charged for assault with a deadly weapon. Don't believe me? Just as rancher Kit Laney who did five months in the federal pen. How many Rainbow Family member do you think will wind up in the federal pen?
ACLU plans to investigate Rainbow Family treatment The American Civil Liberties Union said Saturday that it plans to investigate the actions of federal law enforcers who arrested five Rainbow Family members in western Wyoming during their annual gathering. The U.S. Forest Service says a mob of about 400 members of the Rainbow Family, a group of hippie types and eccentrics who camp on public land every year, threw rocks and sticks at Forest Service officers who tried to arrest a member of the group. Up to 60 federal and local law enforcers responded, Forest Service officials say, and fired "pepper balls" — similar to paint balls but containing a pepper solution — at the crowd to control it. As many as 7,000 members of the Rainbow Family camped out this year on Forest Service land near the Big Sandy Reservoir. The group holds a weeklong gathering on public land in a different area each year. The Rainbows and federal officers have clashed before, and in 1998, the Forest Service established a national response team to deal with the group. The ACLU plans to accept collect calls from Rainbow Family members for the next two weeks to hear their version of events, Linda Burt, executive director of Wyoming's ACLU, said Saturday....
Rainbow gathering inspires odd jurisprudence More than 100 participants in the annual Rainbow Family of Living Light "Gathering of the Tribes" near Big Sandy made appearances at a temporary federal court at the fire station here this week. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management had issued numerous citations and warnings, ranging from traffic violations to drug possession, during the week before the event semi-officially began Tuesday. Chief U.S. District Judge William Downes signed the unusual order to create the temporary courtroom because the closest federal courtrooms to the gathering are in Green River, Lander and Jackson, he said Thursday. Farson was chosen because it is close to the gathering and because it imposed the least inconvenience to law enforcement and the Rainbow gathering participants, Downes said. "We sent the magistrate judges to them." This marked the first time in Downes' nine-year tenure that he has signed an order to create a temporary court, he said. "But it was clearly appropriate here." The court will remain as long as Rainbow gathering participants are in the area, he said....
Dr. North On Celebrating July 4th

...When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to save money like a maniac because the government has stolen 30% to 40% of everything you have made, it takes away a lot of the enthusiasm for celebrating the Declaration of Independence. When Jefferson wrote that document, the British were extracting approximately 1% of national income from the American colonies. For the southern colonies, it may have been 2.5%. If we could somehow get back to the tyranny of Great Britain in 1776, I would be willing to celebrate the Fourth of July with greater enthusiasm. But that would take a revolution....

Friday, July 04, 2008


There was a side to Jesse Helms the media won't report.

As a young Senatorial aide I would ride back and forth from the Senate Office Buildings to the Capitol on a small train. One double car was reserved for Senators, the rest were first-come first-serve for staff and the public.

One day after a Senate vote I was heading back to the office, but the cars for staff were full. Normally, I would have to wait until the train returned to catch a ride. The cars reserved for Senators was not full and Senator Helms said, "Come on in, you can ride with me." As we entered the Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., there were two sets of elevators, one reserved for Senators and one for the public. There was a large crowd and line in front of the public elevator, so Senator Helms grabbed my arm and said, "You can ride up with me." Both of these thoughtful and gracious acts were not typical of the Senators I had been exposed to.

I also recall an incident in a room just off the Senate Chamber. One liberal Senator was upset with some amendment Helms had offered. He told Helms, "I'll bet you think you can walk on water." Helms replied, "I can" and the bet was on. Helms then filled a paper cup from the water cooler, poured it on the carpet, and walked on it.

No matter his sometimes controversial stands, Jesse Helms was an exception in the Senate - an exception because he was a true gentleman with a friendly and humble demeanor.

Helms, North Carolina's Former `Senator No,' Dies

By Jim O'Connell and Gopal Ratnam

July 4 (Bloomberg) -- Jesse Helms, the former five-term U.S. senator from North Carolina whose relish for thwarting initiatives he opposed as too liberal earned him the nickname ``Senator No,'' died at age 86.

As a Republican member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the conservative senator was best known for pushing to withhold U.S. dues owed to the United Nations, opposing the 1977 treaty that ceded U.S. control of the Panama Canal, and backing policies aimed at isolating Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Helms tried in 1983 to filibuster legislation to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday. He also gave fits to both Republican and Democratic presidents by using parliamentary tactics to block administration nominees he opposed. In 1997, he thwarted Massachusetts Governor William Weld's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Mexico, saying Weld, a Republican, was a bad choice because he backed the medical use of marijuana.

``Somebody said, `Jesse, why do you so often advance things or take positions that you know you don't have any chance to win?''' Helms told reporters in 2002. ``And my answer to that is, I do it on principle.''

Helms died at 1:18 a.m. today in Raleigh, said John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center Foundation in Wingate, North Carolina, in a phone interview today. The cause of death has yet to be determined, he said.

Presidential Condolences

President George W. Bush, in a statement, expressed his condolences for the family and called the conservative icon ``a stalwart defender of limited government and free enterprise, a fearless defender of a culture of life, and an unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty.

``So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July,'' America's Independence Day, Bush said.

Helms was ``a leading voice and courageous champion for many causes he believed in,'' said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, in a statement. ``Today we lost a senator whose stature in Congress had few equals.''

While Helms embraced the nickname ``Senator No,'' in many ways ``he was a visionary,'' Dodd said.

``He was talking about Social Security reform in the early 1980s and private accounts to supplement it, and talked about reforming the State Department, which is one of the things he got done, and talked about holding the United Nations accountable,'' Dodd said.

Helms also could change his mind, as he did on AIDS, backing U.S. legislation to provide treatment for people with the disease in Africa, Dodd said. The singer Bono ``told me personally that Helms helped save hundreds of thousands of lives in Africa because of his change in position,'' Dodd said.

Heart Surgery, Cancer

Helms didn't seek another term in 2002, citing health problems. He had undergone heart-valve transplant surgery and survived prostate cancer and a knee replacement. Much of the last year of his term was spent in the hospital, and during his appearances in the Senate he used a motorized scooter to make his way around.

His 30 years in office made him North Carolina's longest- serving senator.

``My friend and long-time senator from my home state'' was a man ``of consistent conviction to conservative ideals'' who served ``on principle, not popularity or politics,'' said the Reverend Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist, in a statement released on PR Newswire.

Conservative `Icon'

When Helms announced his decision not to seek re-election, the Boston Globe called him ``an unyielding icon of conservatives and an archenemy of liberals.''

Washington Post political writer and columnist David Broder wrote in 2001 that Helms was ``the last prominent unabashed white racist politician in this country.''

In his 1990 re-election bid, facing Democrat Harvey Gantt, a black man who was mayor of Charlotte, Helms broadcast a television advertisement that showed a pair of white hands crumpling a rejection letter while the announcer said, ``You needed that job and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.''

In 1994 he caused an uproar when he told a newspaper that President Bill Clinton ``better have a bodyguard'' if he ever visited North Carolina.

Helms was born Oct. 18, 1921, in Monroe, North Carolina, a rural community outside of Charlotte. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and after the war was a reporter and city editor of The Raleigh (North Carolina) Times.

He started in politics as a Democrat at a time when the party drew its strength in the South. Helms served as an administrative assistant to two Democratic U.S. senators from North Carolina in the 1950s. From 1953 to 1960, he was executive director of the North Carolina Bankers Association.

TV, Radio

From 1960 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 1972 Helms wrote and presented daily editorials on WRAL-TV in Raleigh and on a radio network. He also served as executive vice president of the Capitol Broadcasting Co. in Raleigh.

He switched party affiliation in 1970, drawing support from free-market conservatives, foes of federally mandated racial desegregation and Christian evangelicals. A similar coalition was behind the shift that led the South to go from solidly Democratic to Republican.

Helms's stances on contentious social issues made him a frequent target of critics from the Democratic Party and made many of his election campaigns into close races. In 1984, when Republican President Ronald Reagan won North Carolina with 62 percent of the vote, Helms won with 52 percent.

Historic Company

``You may not have agreed with his politics all the time, but he was a gentleman about it,'' Bush said in 2001 when Helms announced he wouldn't seek another term in office.

Helms had lived in a nursing home since May 2006 and suffered from dementia, a spokesman said. He is survived by his wife Dorothy and three children.

Helms's death on July 4 puts him in the historic company of John Adams, the second U.S. president, and Thomas Jefferson, the third president, both of whom died on July 4, 1826, and James Monroe, the fifth president, who died July 4, 1831.

A Necessary Observance

If our nation’s Founders could visit us on this, our 232nd Independence Day, what would they make of us? What would they declare of us?

A hint can be discerned in a letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, as the Declaration of Independence had just been approved. “It ought to be commemorated,” said the man who would become our second president, “as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Day’s Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

Americans have maintained the “Pomp and Parade” for more than two centuries now, and the “Bonfires and Illuminations” are commonplace, but how often do we recognize Independence Day as “the Day of Deliverance?” How often do we honor it with “solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty”? How often do we contemplate the cost of our freedom, “the Toil and Blood and Treasure?”

Our Founders believed that independence was more than a choice; they viewed our break from royal rule as necessary.

Consider the first statement of the Declaration: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The signatories were emphatic that separation from the crown was not only an objective, but an obligation: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.” In conclusion, the Founders wrote, “We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation...”

Their cause, of course, was not anti-government. Rather they objected to the misgovernment of the king, saying, “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” Furthermore, the Americans had been patient, petitioning their British rulers for redress for over a decade. Armed hostilities had commenced on April 19, 1775, at the battles of Lexington and Concord, and the colonists faced the full power of the British Empire in their quest for American independence.

One year before taking that step for nationhood, on July 5, 1775, the Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition, beseeching the British king for a peaceful resolution of the American colonies’ grievances. A day later, that same Congress resolved the “Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms.”

King George III refused to read the peace petition and assembled his armies. On July 2, 1776, Richard Henry Lee’s proposal for a formal declaration of separation passed, and the document was ordered printed on July 4.

The war-weary among us today might ask, was independence really necessary?

To pose the question at the outset of the Revolutionary War was to answer it. Representatives of the colonial Americans realized that, in voicing this query, they already possessed proof that they, not the King of England, were legitimate instruments of self-government for their countrymen. How could circumstances be otherwise when the king offered no remedy for his subjects’ complaints, no guarantee their rights would be respected, and no means for them to govern themselves in their new lands?

The founders knew, however, that power could not be its own justification. They recognized that only an appeal to overarching laws, binding the king as much as his subjects, was legitimate. And abuse of authority demonstrated disqualification of any governor, whether a monarch or a purported representative.

We would do well to apply this insight to the political debates of today.

Indeed, two competing philosophies of government at odds during the American Revolution have reappeared, with the anti-republican form seen in those politicians who would seek to gain favor by manipulating language and misrepresenting their positions. Royalists, on the other hand, believed that the king was divinely ordained to rule over the people and was therefore above the law. This view is manifest currently in government officials—especially our elected officers—who believe they may properly command the citizenry to whatever they please, to whichever they purport to be for the good of the people.

As Thomas Jefferson observed, “Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” Yet the prevailing philosophy of government proposes exactly this—that directions from Washington as to how we must conduct ourselves, in matters large and small, will lead inexorably to scarcity and will inevitably erode our freedom.

Our system of government today is not so different from the monarchy we escaped, except that a swarm of bureaucrats have taken up the throne.

A necessity thus presents itself to us as well: We must reconnect with the timeless principles that inspired our Founding Fathers; those same principles that long ago gave birth to a good, great and God-blessed nation.

“[W]hat do we mean by the American Revolution?” reflected John Adams. “Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”

Let us celebrate this Independence Day 2008 in a manner that Adams himself might recognize—with “solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty,” and with a rededication to the principles of our necessary American Revolution. And as always, in the words of George Washington, “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Western Govs Hope to Sway Future Energy Policy Citing a lack of federal leadership, the nation's Western governors want to draft a national energy policy they hope will influence the next presidential administration. Governors participating in the final day of the Western Governors' Association meeting in Wyoming said their resource-rich region is well positioned to take the lead on the issue. "We all know that nature abhors a vacuum, and so does politics," said Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. "This group is very, very serious about putting forward a policy recommendation to the next administration." Tuesday's meeting wrapped up three days of discussions on issues related to energy, climate change, water supply and wildlife habitat. Over the next several months, representatives from the governors' offices will craft the energy policy proposal....
Senators Fault Pentagon On Bases' Toxic Cleanup Five Senate Democrats wrote to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday, chastising the Pentagon for resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up three contaminated military bases in their states. They also slammed the Pentagon's refusal to sign cleanup agreements required by law covering 12 other sites on the Superfund list of the nation's most polluted sites. "We would like to know why your department is endangering the public health," wrote Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), who was joined by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Barbara A. Mikulski (Md.), Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.). Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said yesterday she will hold hearings on the matter. Menendez, Lautenberg and Nelson have also asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate....
Four Ways of Looking at Global Warming Policy Assume man-made global warming is a big problem. What should we do about it? The four general policies currently in play are (1) cap-and-trade; (2) carbon taxes; (3) encourage economic growth and allow richer future generations to deal with any problems; and (4) massive government-funded low carbon energy research. Of course, these policies can be mixed and matched in various ways, but all involve the invention and deployment of new low-carbon energy technologies. The first two proposals do it by raising the price of carbon-based energy relative to low-carbon energy technologies. The third one implicitly melds the two-century-long trend toward progressive decarbonization of our energy supplies with a strategy of adaptation. The fourth one aims to accelerate technological innovation by stimulating the research and engineering pipeline. When climate push comes to shove, politicians prefer cap-and-trade schemes. Why? Because they don't have to explicitly tell voters the bad news that they are raising the prices of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline. Senators and representatives instead cloak this mandated energy price increase in the virtuous language of the market, disguising the fact that cap-and-trade is really a hidden tax. Issuing emissions permits is like coining money. If the denizens of Capitol Hill decide to auction the permits,it will provide a vast new revenue stream with which members of Congress can play....
'Om'-ing in Wyoming They pray, enjoy and discipline their kids, walk their dogs, eat together, do art, fall in and out of love, work day jobs, volunteer, disagree, agree to disagree, play, grow older and usually wiser, behave imperfectly, love the land, and believe America's vision as a home of the free and land of the brave. Sort of like your family. "Welcome home" to the Rainbow Family of Living Light, which is conducting its annual international Gathering of the Tribes this year at this site southeast of Pinedale in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. "Welcome home," "we love you," "hello, brother," "hello, sister," are among the frequent greetings heard at the unofficial front gate, along the trails, at the camps and associated kitchens. Some activities aren't like your family. Some Rainbows indulge in certain drugs and eschew others. Some also say people and their bodies aren't shameful, so clothing is optional. The annual gathering runs for the first seven days of the seventh month. The main event happens in the middle of that period, or noon on July 4, when thousands assemble at the main circle for silent meditation before chanting "Om," a sacred sound of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions....
Coming under fire Wildland firefighters are sending up smoke signals all over the West, as doubts emerge about the Forest Service’s ability to tackle devastating wildfires. In spite of the concerns and a damning, recent Congressional testimony, San Juan Public Lands officials remain confident about the local front against fire, but admit that it has come at a price. The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, the union representing federal firefighters, recently raised red flags about the Forest Service’s firefighting ability. In mid-June, Casey Judd, the union’s business manager, provided testimony before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. In essence, Judd accused the U.S. Department of Agriculture of diverting funding away from fire preparedness and fuels reduction and toward administrative expenses. “It’s a mess,” Judd said this week from his office in Idaho. “We’ve basically spent the last 2½ years trying to demonstrate that Congress is not getting the straight scoop from the USDA.” As an example, Judd pointed to the recently completed U.S. Forest Service Albuquerque Service Center, a nearly 100,000-square-foot building centralizing administrative services for the agency. Judd also alleged that $400 million in firefighting funds were skimmed this year to fund administrative positions at the center....
'Paradise Is Burning': Fires Prompt California Evacuations On the eve of one of the biggest tourism weekends of the summer, rampaging wildfires are prompting the evacuation of a picturesque stretch of the California coast and blanketing other popular spots with a haze of brown smoke. "It's paradise. And paradise is burning," Brian Courtney, 50, said as he sat outside a shuttered Big Sur restaurant and talked with neighbors awaiting what they viewed as an inevitable order to clear out of town. "It's very unsettling," Mr. Courtney, an artist who lives several miles from the main road, Highway 1, said. "I'm waiting for somebody to tap me on the shoulder and say, 'Get out.'" During a visit yesterday to a firefighters' camp at a state park on the outskirts of Big Sur, Governor Schwarzenegger pleaded with local residents to heed instructions to leave. "It's tough to move out of your home. We understand it, but do it. Listen to our authorities and the people that know better," the governor said. "We cannot think selfishly here and say, 'I am going to stay in my house ...' and all those things. It doesn't work." About 300 separate wildfires were burning across California yesterday, officials said. Most were uncontrolled and in the northern half of the state. Mr. Schwarzenegger said roughly 1,400 fires had broken out in the past few weeks. "That is, I think, the most amount that anyone has ever heard in this state at one given time," he said. "In the last two, three years we've seen there is really no fire season any more. It used to be that late summer into fall is the fires but now it's all year round."....
Thirsty Denver joining beetle battle? Front Range water consumers could help pay for the removal of trees infected by pine beetles in western Colorado under new legislation. Senate Bill 221 lets the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority loan money to water providers, which would pay to remove trees devastated by beetles in Eagle and Summit counties and other places, said Democratic state Sen. Dan Gibbs, of Silverthorne. “This really takes forest health, in particular how we pay for forest-thinning projects, to a whole other level,” Gibbs said. The bill lets the Colorado water authority issue bonds to finance the loans, Gibbs said. The money to pay back the loans could come from higher water bills in Denver, Colorado Springs and other places, he said. Denver residents get some water from Lake Dillon in Summit County, for example, so Denver Water could pay to remove infected trees and to plant new ones to protect their water supply, Gibbs said. If a forest fire occurs, exacerbated by infected trees, water supplies could be tainted because dirt will spill into rivers and lakes at a greater rate, Gibbs said. Gibbs points out that a significant amount of dirt was dumped into Colorado water supplies after the Hayman Fire, which burned almost 138,000 acres southwest of Denver in 2002....
Here's the drill: BLM pulls rank on state Amid all the loud noises erupting from the recent series of hearings conducted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regarding water and wildlife protection, one reality has escaped public notice. When all debate is done, the state agency may not have the authority to enforce whatever rules it finally adopts. Citing a list of legal precedents, the Bureau of Land Management claims jurisdiction to conduct leasing on federal lands as it sees fit. This assertion was made early last month in a letter to the commission from Sally Wisely, director of BLM's Colorado State Office. "BLM believes that certain draft rules would be pre-empted by federal law if applied to oil and gas operations on federal lands," Wisely wrote in a five-page letter that repeatedly proclaimed supremacy regarding activities on the federal domain. "The COGCC may avoid the pre- emption problems discussed above by adding language to the draft rules which acknowledges that COGCC regulations do not apply to federal lands and minerals absent BLM concurrence." In the federal hierarchy, BLM administers all matters pertaining to minerals, even on Forest Service lands. All of which appears to set the stage for a direct state-federal conflict of the sort that has not existed for a century or more. For its part, Colorado's Department of Natural Resources, of which COGCC is a part, shows no inclination to back down. "Issues regarding water and wildlife are expressly reserved for the state and we intend to protect them under the state constitutional provisions and mandates," said Mike King, DNR deputy director....
Land deal raises a few questions Sen. Max Baucus bills it as the most significant conservation deal in Montana history, and he’s right. This week’s announcement that Plum Creek is selling 320,000 acres for conservation purposes may be hard to top. The Montana Legacy Project was made possible by a provision in the recently approved U.S. Farm Bill that allows federal bonds to be sold, providing up to $250 million toward an overall purchase price of $510 million. The balance must be raised by the nonprofit partners in the project, including the Trust For Public Lands and the Nature Conservancy. The basics sound simple, but in reality the project will be complex, involving three closing transactions over the next three years. How those transactions unfold remains to be seen, raising plenty of questions about the project. Plum Creek, for instance, is requiring “fiber supply agreements” to ensure that timber continues to flow from the lands that are sold to its Western Montana manufacturing facilities for up to 15 years. How much timber will be harvested, and who gets to decide? More important, perhaps: What’s the long-term outlook for Plum Creek in Western Montana? So far, the Montana Legacy Project’s backers maintain that purchased lands eventually will be conveyed to the U.S. Forest Service, the state of Montana and to private ownerships, provided there are conservation easements discouraging subdivision and development and maintaining public access. The nonprofit partners say they have no plans to assume long-term ownership of the lands....Issuing bonds for federal acquisition instead of appropriations? This is a precedent which will lead to more federal acquisition than otherwise would be the case. I guess the feds owning one out of every three acres in the U.S. is not enough.

Red tape may delay $400 million for Mexico drug war The Bush administration said Tuesday it would take months, and possibly longer, to deliver $400 million in emergency assistance to help Mexico combat murderous drug cartels, days after pressing Congress to urgently approve the money. Three senior Bush administration officials outlined various bureaucratic impediments to speedy delivery of assistance to bolster Mexican President Felipe Calderon's $4 billion, military-style campaign against drug traffickers. The cartels have killed more than 4,000 people over the past 21 months, including some 450 police officers, soldiers or government officials. Challenges to implementing the first phase of the Merida Initiative include developing coordination between the Defense Department, the State Department and the Treasury; setting benchmarks for success; and prolonged procurements of military equipment such as helicopters and surveillance aircraft. "Both governments have seized a political moment to show solidarity, but the real planning for implementation has yet to take place," said Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. "There was a real sense of urgency to show cooperation, without coordination on a long-term plan."....Ain't this typical. They justify the expenditure because of an "emergency", it takes 14 months from the Summit for Congress to appropriate the money, and will it will take the Bushies upwards of a year to spend it on this "emergency". Two years to respond to an "emergency".... The Bush administration officials spoke as Texans in Congress vowed to re-double efforts to boost federal spending on U.S. law enforcement along the border to balance the aid flowing to Mexico. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, had added $100 million to the emergency supplemental spending bill to bolster U.S. law enforcement agencies operating along the U.S. side of the 1,947-mile border with Mexico. But the House knocked the added spending out of the final compromise version of the legislation. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, said he remained "disappointed and frustrated that we can't get funding on this side that our Border Patrol and sheriffs desperately need."....I'm not sure this money would be spent wisely either, but it does let us know Congressional spending priorities: Mexico $400 million - U.S nada.
NTSB gives cause of crash that killed ICE officer The National Transportation Safety Board says a U.S. Customs and Border Protection instructor pilot's failure to maintain control of the aircraft during an aborted training flight landing contributed to a crash that killed an ICE officer. Julio E. Baray, of El Paso, Texas, was killed in the Sept. 24 crash of a Cessna 210 near the Moriarty airport. The NTSB said an autopsy report listed the cause of death as blunt force injuries to the head. Neither the customs agency nor the NTSB released the name of the instructor pilot, who was injured in the crash. The NTSB said that during interviews, he told investigators he could not remember the flight or the previous several days. Witnesses say the plane had been practicing takeoffs and landings just before the crash. Officials said it went off the runway and caught fire. The NTSB, in a report Monday on the probable cause of the crash, said the instructor pilot's failure to maintain control during the aborted landing and an attempted go-around resulted in a stall and the plane went down. The NTSB also cited the instructor pilot's inadequate supervision during landing.
Mandela off U.S. terrorism watch list Former South African President Nelson Mandela is to be removed from a U.S. terrorism watch list under a bill President Bush signed Tuesday. Mandela and other members of the African National Congress have been on the list because of their fight against South Africa's apartheid regime, which gave way to majority rule in 1994. Apartheid was the nation's system of legalized racial segregation that was enforced by the National Party government between 1948 and 1994. The bill gives the State Department and the Homeland Security Department the authority to waive restrictions against ANC members. The bill is H.R. 5690, which "authorizes the Departments of State and Homeland Security to determine that provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act that render aliens inadmissible due to terrorist or criminal activities would not apply with respect to activities undertaken in association with the African National Congress in opposition to apartheid rule in South Africa."....
Young Lawyer Takes Victory Lap After Supreme Court Gun Case Win A group of gun rights advocates roared with approval as Alan Gura descended the stairs of the Supreme Court on the morning of June 26, having just learned of the high court's decision in the landmark Second Amendment case, District of Columbia v. Heller. "Goodbye, gun ban!" they chanted. Gura, whom history will remember as the lawyer who successfully argued that Americans have an individual right to keep and bear arms, smiled broadly. Goodbye, gun ban. A few minutes later, Mary Mitchell Purvis, a senior at the University of Mississippi, caught Gura between interviews with Associated Press Television News and National Public Radio. She presented the 37-year-old lawyer with a copy of the Heller opinion. "Would you sign this? I'm doing my thesis on your case." But of course he would. When libertarian activist Robert Levy, the lawsuit's financier, tapped Gura to argue the case before the Supreme Court earlier this year, more than a few Court watchers questioned the young lawyer's qualifications. Though he won the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit -- in his first federal appellate arguments -- it was presumed that the high court work would go to a veteran. And now here was Gura, with his shaggy brown hair and iPhone, signing opinions like they just went gold....
The Ancient Right The U.S. Supreme Court D.C. v. Heller decision now makes it clear to all — the Second Amendment affirms an individual right to own firearms for the purpose of self-defense. Even though the Court’s opinion leaves room for laws regulating guns in schools and government buildings, as well as restricting “dangerous and unusual weapons,” these exceptions should be considered just that — exceptions. The opinion devotes only three pages to them, toward the end of a lengthy discourse on the historical basis for the individual right interpretation. Perhaps Heller’s deepest affirmation is that it invokes the natural right of self-defense in support of the constitutional right to have firearms. Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia cites the historical evidence that the founders intended protection of an individual, not a collective right. He quotes founding-era legal scholar St. George Tucker’s version of Blackstone’s Commentaries: “The right to self-defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine the right within the narrowest limits possible.” The rulers of big cities in 21st-century America, not to mention assorted despots around the world, have long sought to confine the right within the narrowest limits possible. Those limits have just been greatly relaxed, and it’s only a matter of time before they are pushed back to a level far more in keeping with the view of the Founders....
Gun Rights: Media Armageddon 2008 The Supreme Court ruling on gun laws last Thursday created media frenzy. Editorials, columnists, anchors and pundits predicted it would result in an American Armageddon. According to the major media outlets in the nation, innocent lives will be lost, the Supreme Court justices have joined forces with city criminals and life as we’ve known it is over. Who knew upholding the Constitution would have such disastrous effects? In the 5-4 majority vote, the Supreme Court’s ruling reversed the liberals’ longstanding interpretation of the Second Amendment, that it was a right of the state, not the individual, to keep and bear arms. For the past 70 years, America’s elites viewed the right to bear arms as a collective right. Applied in the District of Columbia, the law prohibited the ownership of handguns and made it a criminal offence to have an operable weapon in the home ready to defend self and family from intruders. While these laws intended to curb gun violence, they failed in that and made it nearly impossible for people to exercise the fundamental right of self-defense. While Americans should celebrate this law for its perpetuation of individual freedoms, the media instead perceives disaster....
Wilmette Suspends Local Handgun Ban Wilmette has suspended enforcement of its 19-year-old ordinance banning handgun possession in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that appears to invalidate such bans. In a 5-4 decision, the court struck down Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns, a prohibition similar to those used in several major cities, including Chicago, and a handful of suburbs including Wilmette, Evanston, Winnetka and Oak Park. "The Law Department and the Police Department have suspended enforcement of the ordinance pending further review by the Village Board," Wilmette village attorney Tim Frenzer said Thursday. "Based on the decision today, at a minimum it calls into serious question the continued viability of the ordinance." Frenzer said questions remain about how directly the court's decision will impact local gun laws in Wilmette and other parts of the country. Washington is not a state, and each state has its own legal language governing the right to bear arms. "That aside, the opinion will require further review and discussion by the Village Board, but it's prudent at this point to suspend enforcement of it," Frenzer said. Wilmette's law, enacted in 1989, levied fines of up to $750 for handgun possession and allowed the village to seek a judge's order to have seized weapons destroyed....
A Victory and a Warning The Supreme Court rightly deserves applause for its fidelity to the Constitution in deciding Heller. The case is perhaps the most significant decision of this century. However, Americans should not forget that this was a 5-4 decision. Four justices of the Supreme Court would have ignored the plain language and historical context of the Amendment. Believing themselves at liberty to rewrite fundamental law, these justices would leave Americans at the mercy of armed criminals and a future government tyranny. The Second Amendment is part of the same Bill of Rights that guarantees liberty of the press, the right of assembly, and freedom of religious worship. If a near majority of the Court attempted to erase the Second Amendment from the Constitution, what is to stop them from taking a cavalier approach to other constitutional rights? While Americans should rejoice in the victory for individual rights in Heller, they should not forget that four justices of the nation’s highest court would have eradicated the right to bear arms. If only a slight majority of the Court respects the ancient and fundamental right of resistance and self-preservation, Americans should be concerned about the fate of other liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights....
Groups Sue U.S. for Data On Tracking By Cellphone Two civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government yesterday, seeking records related to the government's use of cellphones as tracking devices. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the government in federal court in Washington under the Freedom of Information Act. Last November, the ACLU had filed a FOIA request with the Justice Department for documents, memos and guides regarding the policies for tracking people through the use of their cellphones. The groups also want to know how many times the government sought location information without first establishing probable cause that a crime was taking place. The ACLU's FOIA request was made after an article in The Washington Post last fall revealed that federal officials were routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data on individuals and that courts sometimes have ordered the data released without first requiring a showing of probable cause....

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Lots of lightning and storming, will probably lose power, so am shutting down for the night.
Legislation Has Little Impact on Climate Change, Critic Says While the Bush administration has spent nearly $45 billion on climate change-related programs, according to Deputy Transportation Secretary Thomas Barrett, experts called for more spending and initiatives during a recent Senate subcommittee hearing on the topic. Critics, however, say the spending is wasteful and unnecessary. During his testimony to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee last Tuesday, John D. Porcari, Maryland's secretary of transportation and chairman of the Climate Change Technical Assistance Program, said his state is developing a statewide Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Footprint Reduction Strategy to reduce emissions between 25 and 50 percent between 2006 and 2020, and to obtain 90 percent reductions by 2050. "If we can reduce the fuel burned by vehicles stalled in traffic, that is a gain," he said. "If we can improve the flow of traffic so fuel is burned at more optimal efficiency that is also a gain." Patrick Michaels, senior fellow for environmental studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, who was not asked to testify before the committee, told Cybercast News Service that climate change is not an imminent threat and legislation is not going to help "wave a magic wand" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "There's really nothing you can do to substantially reduce emissions," he said. "If every nation in the world followed the Kyoto Protocol, the amount of warming that would be prevented is 7-hundredths of a degree Celsius. ... We have no idea how to reduce emissions - these amounts that are being talked about in bills like Lieberman-Warner, 70 percent reductions in 42 years? Give me a break."....
Berkeley tree-sitters still hanging on In December 2006, protesters angry about campus expansion plans clambered into the branches of a threatened oak grove at the University of California-Berkeley. The tree-sitters continue to sit. There had been signs the protest might be coming to an end as a court case challenging a planned multimillion-dollar athletic-training facility inched closer to resolution. This month administrators, who won a court order allowing them to evict the protesters at any time, cut supply lines, yanked a few protesters out of the trees and drove the rest into a single redwood. For a while, it looked like campus officials were prepared to starve protesters out. But after the remaining half-dozen or so tree-sitters said they were a) not moving and b) rationing water, officials relented and offered sustenance to the protesters aloft. "This misguided effort to preserve a 1923 landscaping project certainly doesn't warrant any action that could cause harm or permanent health consequences for anybody involved," said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof....
The bulb hoarders The government wants your old-fashioned energy-hungry incandescent tungsten light bulb gone, and gone soon. But some people are willing to go to great lengths to hang onto the lights they love. Incandescent bulbs - that's the traditional kind to you or me - waste 95% of the energy they use, according to Greenpeace. They calculate that phasing them out in the UK will save more than five million tonnes in CO2 emissions a year. And yet some households are so attached to them that they not only keep buying them - they're stockpiling them ahead of the day when they're no longer available. In September last year, the UK government made a deal with major shops for the supply of traditional bulbs to be turned off. Some higher energy bulbs will be gone by January 2009, and all incandescent lights will be off by 2011. The agreement is voluntary, but other countries have announced legal bans, including Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and the US....Is anybody surprised at this? Soon we'll be sneaking our light bulbs in from Mexico, just like we do our toilets.
Now health and safety cut number of holes in chip shop salt shakers Pot-holed roads, crumbling schools, litter-strewn streets – there’s no shortage of problem areas crying out for their attention. But councils believe they have found a better use for their money: reducing the number of holes in chip shop salt shakers. Research has suggested that slashing the holes from the traditional 17 to five could cut the amount people sprinkle on their food by more than half. And so at least six councils have ordered five-hole shakers – at taxpayers’ expense – and begun giving them away to chip shops and takeaways in their areas. Leading the way has been Gateshead Council, which spent 15 days researching the subject of salty takeaways before declaring the new five-hole cellars the solution. Officers collected information from businesses, obtained samples of fish and chips, measured salt content and ‘carried out experiments to determine how the problem of excessive salt being dispensed could be overcome by design’. They decided that the five-hole pots would reduce the amount of salt being used by more than 60 per cent yet give a ‘visually acceptable sprinkling’ that would satisfy the customer....How long will it take the food nazies on this side of the ocean to pick up on this? Note how the plan is to fool the citizen into thinking they have a "visually acceptable sprinking." The all-knowing government officials will trick us into better health. Grover Nyquist's "Leave Us Alone Coalition" is looking better every day.

AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates 'Infrastructure for a Police State' Mark Klein, the retired AT&T engineer who stepped forward with the technical documents at the heart of the anti-wiretapping case against AT&T, is furious at the Senate's vote on Wednesday night to hold a vote on a bill intended to put an end to that lawsuit and more than 30 others. Klein saw a network monitoring room being built in AT&T's internet switching center that only NSA-approved techs had access to. He squirreled away documents and then presented them to the press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation after news of the government's warrantless wiretapping program broke. independently acquired a copy of the documents (.pdf) -- which were under court seal -- and published the wiring documents in May 2006 so that they could be evaluated. The lawsuit that resulted from his documents is now waiting on the 9th U.S. Appeals Court to rule on whether it can proceed despite the government saying the whole matter is a state secret. A lower court judge ruled that it could, because the government admitted the program existed and that the courts could handle evidence safely and in secret. But the appeals court ruling will likely never see the light of day, since the Senate is set to vote on July 8 on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which also largely legalizes Bush's warrantless wiretapping program by expanding how the government can wiretap from inside the United States without getting individualized court orders....
Momentum stalls for wiretapping bill Backlash from a senator and liberal advocacy groups helped sidetrack legislation to legalize President Bush's undocumented wiretapping program last week, just days after it appeared to be on a fast-track to passage. The delay is a setback for Democratic leaders who support the measure, who had hoped to send the bill to Mr. Bush before this week's July 4 holiday break. The House June 20 put aside more than a year of partisan wrangling and easily passed a bill to modernize the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), allowing U.S. intelligence agencies to eavesdrop, without court approval, on foreign targets thought to be outside the United States. But opposition from Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, who has threatened to hold up the bill with a filibuster, forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, on Thursday to postpone a vote until next week. The legislation included retroactive immunity from lawsuits to phone companies that participated in a post-Sept. 11 surveillance program that operated outside court review - a controversial measure that had doomed previous attempts to pass a bill. Mr. Feingold, who opposes the bill's immunity provision, said the measure was "not a compromise - it is a capitulation."....
Airport gun showdown moves to courts Guns were the issue. But words and federal lawsuits became the weapons of choice Tuesday as Atlanta officials declared Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport a "gun-free zone," and gun advocates immediately retaliated by suing them. The fight about a new state law — one that permits licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons in more public places — began at Atlanta's city-run airport, the world's busiest with 89 million passengers a year. But city officials say they think it could eventually have a nationwide impact. "This is a matter of national significance," Mayor Shirley Franklin told reporters at a news conference. Permitting guns inside an airport, even weapons carried by permit holders, would create an unsafe environment that "would endanger millions of people," the mayor said. Franklin vowed Tuesday to lobby Congress and federal officials to mandate that any public facility receiving federal money be declared a "gun-free zone." That would affect airports nationwide. Franklin's comments followed a vow by city officials to arrest anyone carrying a gun at Hartsfield-Jackson. The city drew a line in the sand on the very same day a new state law easing gun restrictions in public places took effect. The new law allows licensed gun owners who pass background checks to carry concealed weapons on public transportation, in parks and recreation areas and in restaurants that serve alcohol — all areas that were previously off-limits....
Gun Bill Provides for Self-Defense District gun owners would be able to keep weapons in their homes, loaded and without trigger locks, for "immediate self-defense" under legislation being introduced in the D.C. Council today. The bill, sponsored by Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), would also repeal the city's 32-year-old ban on handguns, which was struck down last week by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 ruling. Mendelson released a draft of his legislation yesterday. The bill specifically addresses the majority opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia that said, "We hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense." Technically, the legislation would still require that firearms be kept unloaded and disabled, but it would provide a broad exception for guns that are present in the home for the purpose of "immediate self-defense." The exception is intended to address the high court's objection to a requirement that all guns be kept unloaded and either disassembled or outfitted with trigger locks. The exception would extend to firearms at the owner's "place of business, or . . . being used for lawful recreational purposes within the District of Columbia," according to the draft....
Civil rights coalition sues San Francisco over public housing gun ban Today, using the Heller decision as the basis for the challenge, the Citizens Committee, in partnership with the National Rifle Association (NRA), filed a civil rights lawsuit to confirm that the Second Amendment restricts state and local governments from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms as well. The lawsuit was filed in federal court against the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Public Housing Authority to invalidate the City’s ordinance (Police Code section 617) and lease provision that bans the possession of firearms in public housing. Before the Second Amendment can be used to challenge unconstitutional regulations laws at the state or local level, it must be “incorporated” through the Fourteenth Amendment to apply to the state and local governments. The lawsuit will serve to establish the incorporation doctrine in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, including California, and invalidate the existing ban on firearms in public housing in San Francisco in the process. “As with the advancement of any civil right throughout history, subsequent litigation is essential in order to establish both the parameters of the Second Amendment’s protections, and initially to establish that the Second Amendment restricts state and local governments from infringing on your right to self-defense,” said Chuck Michel, civil rights attorney for the plaintiffs in the case....
Judge Advises Crime Victim To Arm Herself After Attack General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said Friday that crime in Chattanooga "has become so rampant that it is no longer possible for the police department to protect our citizens." He told a woman who had been pulled from her car and beaten in the head that she or her mother needed to "purchase a weapon, obtain a gun permit and learn to protect yourself." The woman moved back in with her mother after the May 4 incident on E. 17th Street. Judge Moon said, "The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that all citizens have a right to purchase a weapon to defend themselves, their families and their homes - unless there is some disqualification that prevents them from owning a weapon." The woman said she was driving on E. 17th Street when Beard came riding up on a bicycle and pulled a gold handgun on her. When she refused to get out of the car, he began hitting her in the head with the gun. He then pulled her out and drove off with her gold 2001 Toyota Corolla....

Salvo is tie-down champion

Nat Holland El Defensor Chieftain Reporter

Horse Springs roper Johnny Salvo is sitting at the top of his game. Salvo, who rides with the New Mexico State University rodeo team, is the College National Finals Rodeo champion in tie-down roping, after a series of top performances last week in Casper, Wyo.

"I didn't really try to win it, just tried to have good runs," Salvo said. "It didn't feel too much different from high school. I'm just a freshman, but I didn't really feel like I was an underdog or anything."

The top three ropers in each division qualify to compete in the finals, and Salvo has competed against most of them in previous rodeos.

Salvo is currently competing in various rodeos around New Mexico, and plans work his way eventually towards competing in the National Finals Rodeo.

"That's the toughest one to get into," Salvo said. "That is where everyone's sights are eventually."

After a year with the NMSU team, Salvo has adapted to life away from home.

"It's harder in the fact that you're not with your family anymore. You have to set up your own practices," Salvo said. "One of the best things about it is that it's nice to accomplish stuff on your own."

The NMSU rodeo team, coached by Jim Dewey Brown, doesn't practice together, according to Salvo, but everyone pulls for each other at the rodeos.

The credit for his win isn't his own, said Salvo. "Anytime I win I want to give the glory to God because that's where it comes from."

Gow races to national rodeo title for NMSU

The News-Review

New Mexico State University senior Bailey Gow can call herself a national champion.

Gow, a Roseburg High graduate, won the barrel racing aggregate title at the 60th annual College National Finals Rodeo last weekend at the Casper Events Center.
Gow — who placed fourth in barrel racing at the 2007 CNFR — finished with a time of 57.92 seconds over four runs, including a 14.22, which won the short go-round. Annelle Williams of University of Nevada Las Vegas was second overall at 57.95.
UNLV sophomore Jaymie Leach, another Roseburg grad, finished 17th in barrel racing. Leach’s fastest run was 14.55.

Gow is the second Roseburg native in four years to win a national barrel racing championship. Nataly Tatone captured the crown in 2005 as a senior at UNLV.

Gow finished fourth in the women’s all-around standings with 225 points. She finished 20th in breakaway roping.

Gow’s horse — “Aprils Honor” — won the women’s American Quarter Horse Association Horse of the Year award.

UNLV won the women’s team title with 470 points, followed by New Mexico State with 432.5. Walla Walla Community College was first in the men’s race with 740 points.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Georgia Judge Cites Carbon Dioxide in Denying Coal Plant Permit A judge in Georgia has thrown out an air pollution permit for a new coal-fired power plant because the permit did not set limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Both opponents of coal use and the company that wants to build the plant said it was the first time a court decision had linked carbon dioxide to an air pollution permit. The decision’s broader legal impact was not clear, either for the plant, proposed to be built near Blakely, in Early County, Ga., or for others outside Georgia, but it signaled that builders of coal plants would face continued difficulties in the court system as well as with elected officials in many states. In the ruling released late Monday afternoon, a state judge relied on a decision by the Supreme Court last year that carbon dioxide could be regulated as a pollutant. Carbon dioxide, which is colorless, odorless and not directly harmful to animals or plants, is not now regulated, and the Bush administration has signaled that it would not issue such regulations before the president leaves office. But the judge, Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore in Superior Court in Fulton County, Ga., said that federal air pollution control laws required pollution permits to cover all pollutants that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act, not just those for which there is “a separate, general numerical limitation.” The case had been brought by the Sierra Club and a local environmental group, Friends of the Chattahoochee....
Girl was mauled on popular grizzly trail A 14-year-old girl mauled by a bear as she rode in a 24-hour mountain bike race was on a city trail known to be regularly patrolled by grizzlies. Strong winds made it hard to hear. The early morning hour and salmon in a nearby stream made the location so dangerous even other bears kept their distance. "Even black bears have better sense than to walk that trail," said biologist Rick Sinnott of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "They're as afraid of brown bears as we are." City officials on Monday asked residents not to use the trail but said it would be impossible to enforce a closure because of its remote location. Warning signs were posted at 20 trailheads that lead to the attack location. The signs urge people to find alternate routes, said Jeff Dillon, Anchorage's parks director. The injured girl suffered head, neck, leg and torso wounds, including damage to a lung. She underwent emergency surgery and was scheduled for more Monday, said Anchorage Fire Department spokeswoman Cleo Hill. Her parents have asked that no further information, including her name, be released....
Deal Is Struck in Montana to Preserve Forest Areas A huge patchwork of privately owned forest in northwest Montana — much of it abutting wilderness, and together almost a third the size of Rhode Island — will be permanently protected from development under an agreement announced Monday by two private conservation groups, the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land. The groups will pay $510 million for about 500 square miles of forest now owned by Plum Creek Timber, a lumber and real estate firm based in Seattle. It is one of the biggest sales of forest land for preservation purposes in United States history, conservation experts said. About half the amount will come from private donations, the conservation buyers said, and about half from the federal government under a new tax-credit bond mechanism that was included in the giant farm bill recently passed by Congress over President Bush’s veto. The bond mechanism was devised by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana. Mr. Baucus, his spokesman said, was approached about a year ago by representatives of the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land, who argued that development pressures were growing so intense that new tools had to be created to buy the Plum Creek properties if they were to be protected. The lands in this case were considered especially valuable, and vulnerable to the effects of development, because most were in fragments — 640-acre squares interspersed in a checkerboard with public lands mostly owned by the Forest Service. Checkerboard ownership is a legacy of the railroad-building of the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the government offered millions of acres of the West as an incentive to companies laying track through Montana and other Rocky Mountain states. The purchases, which are to be completed in phases over the next two years, with most of the land then conveyed to the Forest Service or other government agencies over the next decade, will essentially fill in the checkerboard, Mr. Ginn said. An outline of the project is on the Nature Conservancy’s Web site,
$1M to help pronghorn Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne on Monday announced $1 million in funds for the pronghorn migration corridor from Bridger-Teton National Forest to Sublette County. Kempthorne, who made the announcement at the Western Governors’ Conference in Jackson, pledged $1 million from the Jonah Compensation Mitigation Fund to the Green River Valley Land Trust and formally recognized the corridor. The money will go toward examining the impact of and making improvements to fencing — which can also impact species such as mule-deer, elk and white tailed deer — along the 75-mile corridor. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal said he applauds efforts to protect the corridor. “We hope it is just the beginning,” he said in the release. “This effort is an example of the right way to approach this challenge, by sitting down with landowners and negotiating with them on how best to protect corridors that border or cross their land. An important ingredient here is the recognition of the paramount nature of private property rights as we work with our federal partners.” Lara Ryan, executive director of the Green River Valley Land Trust, said the money will help give landowners “tools to conserve the things they love about their land.”....
The Basics Of Wildland Firefighting Using chainsaws, shovels, and Pulaskis, firefighters generally work shifts of 12 to a maximum of 16 hours constructing breaks in the fire’s fuel, or "fireline". A fireline is cleared of vegetation down to the mineral soil. Pulaskis were developed by a Forest Service Ranger Ed Pulaski that saved 30 men at the risk of his personal safety in the fires of 1910. The tool named for Ranger Pulaski is an ax on one side and digging hoe on the other. In some suitable areas, bulldozers are used to build fireline with the same purpose of eliminating burnable fuels from the path of the fire. All fireline must be rehabilitated to allow for future vegetation growth. Firefighters also slow the spread of fires using portable pumps leading from water bodies such as streams and lakes to wet down fuels, helicopters to pinpoint drop water on hot spots, airtankers to lay down a line of retardant that slows the fire allowing firefighters to proceed more effectively. Watertenders are tanker trucks that transport water to various parts of the fire. They will water down dusty roads to improve travel safety, refill engines, and add water to portable holding bags called ’pumpkins’ because of their orange color that serve as dipping facilities for helicopters....
Drilling limits Two conservation groups have asked the federal government to impose new restrictions on oil and gas development in the West to protect the greater sage grouse, a popular game bird on the decline. Scientists contend sage-grouse breeding areas are suffering in the face of accelerating oil and gas exploration in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and other Western states. West Nile virus, drought and residential development also have taken a toll on the bird, which is being considered for the endangered species list. Federal rules now say oil and gas companies cannot drill within a quarter mile of sage-grouse breeding areas, or leks. Last week, Idaho-based North American Grouse Partnership and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership of Washington, D.C., filed a legal petition asking for the rule be extended to 2 miles. "The birds aren't doing too well, and biologists have known for quite some time that a quarter-mile buffer was not effective," said Steve Belinda, a former Bureau of Land Management biologist now with the Theodore Roosevelt group. "The BLM has the authority to do better. Nobody has said they can't go beyond that if it's warranted." An attorney for the groups said Washington was obligated to consider the petition but not adopt it. A decision could take several months....
Mining boom, gloom From the South Dakota and Colorado plains to the Rocky Mountains, uranium exploration is surging as local communities struggle to control it. In 12 Western states, the number of uranium mining claims has doubled since 2003 to 414,228, according to an analysis of federal data by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group. In Colorado, uranium-mining claims filed on federal land have gone from 120 in 2003 to almost 11,000 last year, according to the federal Bureau of Land Management. "We are surely in a boom," said Ronald Cattany, director of the state Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. A more telling measure — for the claims are often speculative — is exploration permits from the state and the BLM. State permits doubled over the past year to 90, Cattany said, and in the past six months, the number of federal exploration permits jumped almost 50 percent to 67. Across Colorado, communities are fighting to control the uranium rush. In Weld County, a grassroots campaign against a plan by Powertech Uranium Corp. has led to new state laws requiring greater public disclosure of mining activity and tougher rules on so-called in-situ mining, in which ore is flushed from the ground through wells....
Connecting the dots in the forest debate While Oregon's forest products industry and affected rural communities applaud Sen. Ron Wyden for trying to show leadership in the never-ending battle over forest management on our federal lands, a great deal of work remains to be done, not only to forge a successful forest management plan but to find a way to fund our counties facing a loss of federal timber payments. But both can be achieved. While contentious, the issues involving federal forest management are fairly simple: The federal government owns about half the land in Oregon, much of it forested, and for the past two decades it's done very little management on the ground, leaving these forests diseased and in poor health. That's led to a rise in catastrophic wildfires that devastate habitat, property and local communities, while emitting tons of dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere. The Clinton administration (with the support of then-Rep. Ron Wyden) proposed the Northwest Forest Plan, promising the state of Oregon 615 million board-feet of timber per year to help protect rural Oregon economies and jobs. Since the plan's enactment, Oregon has received about 30 percent of the timber that was promised. This has devastated local governments, school districts, public safety and other programs, to say nothing about the forest products industries and the communities in which they are -- or were -- located....
Government considering euthanizing wild horses Faced with too many wild horses on the range and in holding facilities, federal officials are considering drastic policy changes that include ending roundups and euthanizing animals. U.S. Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Henri Bisson said Monday there is an overpopulation of wild horses on public lands and the agency can no longer afford to care for the numbers of mustangs that have been rounded up. The number of horses adopted by the public has dropped off, leaving the BLM with more animals than it can care for, he said. One option would be to stop all roundups — something the agency said would lead to "ecological disaster." "The other option is to use some combination of the (adoption program) and euthanasia, which would be really difficult to do," Bisson told The Associated Press. "Our goal is supposed to be about healthy horses on healthy ranges. But we are at the point we need to have a conversation with people about pragmatically what can we do given the financial constraints of our program to meet the goals we have," he said before meeting with area horse advocates. Bisson was in Reno to brief the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. He said there are 32,000 wild horses on the range in 10 Western states. About half of those are in Nevada. BLM has set a target "appropriate management level" of horses at 27,000....Bush and Congressional policies on horse slaughter have driven down the value of horses. Bush and Congressional energy policy have driven up the cost of grain, leading to fewer people who can afford to adopt horses. One of the unintended consequences of this foolish energy policy will be either starving or euthanized wild horses. It's a shame these animals will pay the price for federal distortion of the marketplace.
U.S. solar energy industry blasts government move Leaders in the U.S. solar energy industry blasted the U.S. government on Monday for a freeze on applications for new solar projects on public land in six Western states. The Bureau of Land Management announced the freeze a month ago, saying it would conduct an extensive study looking at the environmental, social and economic impacts of solar energy development. During the 22-month study, the agency will not consider any new proposals for solar energy developments on public land in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico or Utah. Fred Morse, senior advisor for U.S. operations at Abengoa Solar, a Spanish company (ABG.MC: Quote, Profile, Research) with a solar plant in development in Arizona, said the moratorium could hurt many companies in the burgeoning U.S. industry. Companies could face hefty fines if they don't deliver on previously signed agreements to supply power, and a blanket freeze on the industry is a mistake, he said....Someone should tell these solar industry folks about private property. Or could it be their economics don't pan out if they have to pay the market price for a lease?
No Sun Intended The Bureau of Land Management quietly decided in May that the development of solar plants in 119 million sun-soaked, federally owned acres in the western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah would have to wait at least two years while bureaucrats sorted out their environmental impact. For decades environmental groups have been pushing the government and private sector to develop more alternative sources of energy. But that campaign is beginning to look like a sham to cover the groups' BANANA — Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything — activism. To be fair, it appears the BLM acted without being forced by an environmentalist-filed lawsuit or activist pressure. And so far, the media are reporting that only a single group — the Wilderness Society — has expressed support for the moratorium. Make no mistake, though. The environmental groups are the reason the BLM made its decision. Had they not spent the past 30 years rabidly crusading against development, reflexively defending wildlife habitats from minor and imaginary threats and demonizing economic progress, the solar projects would not have been interrupted....
Governors seek new tools to protect wildlife from development
Three-dimensional computer programs similar to Google Earth could help humans better "co-evolve" with wildlife, and could assist state and federal officials in protecting critical habitat and migration routes while still developing vital energy resources, speakers said Sunday at the Western Governors’ Association meeting. The annual meeting kicked off with speeches and discussions about how Western states can better protect crucial migration corridors for animals such as antelope, moose and elk, while still extracting energy resources such as oil and natural gas. The meeting at Teton Village opened with speeches by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, among others. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, chairman of the Western Governors' Association, recommended that the governors from Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and other Western states create a collaborative planning system for new development, with a common vocabulary and based on shared interests. The purpose would be to protect wildlife migration routes and corridors, many of which cross state lines and include federal, state, public and private lands. Jack Dangermond, CEO of Environmental Systems Research Institute, in a presentation to the governors, said technologies similar to those used in the popular geographic program Google Earth could help authorities and residents of states such as Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming better understand “the expanding human footprint” and actually see, with computer modeling, how the footprint interacts with known wildlife movements....

Monday, June 30, 2008

NMSU rodeo team claims four national titles

The New Mexico State University rodeo team has four national champions after the completion of the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 15-21 in Casper, Wyo.

Many team members also placed in the top 20, and the women’s team placed second in the nation overall. The men’s team placed in the top 15.

“I can’t tell you how happy and proud I am of what these fine young rodeo athletes have accomplished. To have four students from NMSU win national titles in one year is a phenomenal experience. These and all of our student rodeo athletes at NMSU have worked very hard to get this far and they deserve every bit of their success,” said Jim Dewey Brown, NMSU rodeo coach.

Bailey Gow, of Roseburg, Ore., won first place in the barrel racing event. She also placed 20th in breakaway roping, giving her enough points to receive fourth place in the women’s all-around.

Megan Corey Albrecht, of Bremerton, Wash., won first in the goat tying.

Datil, N.M., native Johnny Salvo received first in the tie-down roping. Salvo also placed second in the men’s rookie standings.

Wyatt Althoff, of Gilbert, Ariz., won the all-around cowboy honor by placing in two events. He placed third in the tie-down roping event and fifth in the team roping, heeling for partner Matt Garza, of Mesquite, N.M.

Kelsi Elkins, of Aztec, N.M., received 12th place in the barrel racing.

In the goat tying event, Brittany Striegel, also of Aztec, N.M., placed sixth.

Tanner Robinson, of Mesilla Park, N.M. placed 14th in the steer wrestling.

Header Tony Steele, of Alamo, Nev., and heeler Aaron Moyers, of Moriarty, N.M., placed 14th in the team roping.


Photo is available at

CUTLINE: Members of the New Mexico State University Rodeo Team who placed at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) are, from left, Johnny Salvo, of Datil, N.M., Megan Corey Albrecht, of Bremerton, Wash., NMSU rodeo coach Jim Dewey Brown, Bailey Gow, of Roseburg, Ore., Kelsi Elkins, of Aztec, N.M., Brittany Striegel, of Aztec, N.M., and Wyatt Althoff, of Gilbert, Ariz. (Courtesy photo by Shawna Brown)

Margaret Kovar
June 27, 2008
Protect N.M. Land and Its Many Uses

LAS CRUCES — The Wilderness Act of 1964 provides the framework for the use and management of designated wilderness areas. Wilderness is the most restrictive land use designation available, and one of its most contested aspects is access. Motorized vehicles and even mountain bikes and motorized wheelchairs are prohibited.

The restricted access not only affects the public, but significantly impacts law enforcement, search and rescue and firefighting activities. Wilderness areas close to the border created havens for drug trafficking and other illegal activity; concerns for citizen safety resulted in closure of those areas to the public.

Wilderness also severely limits proactive conservation and stewardship measures for the land and its wildlife. Recreation, outdoor sports and hunting are impacted, and unrealistic burdens are placed on existing ranching operations.

Wilderness designation results in numerous impacts to every individual and organization that utilizes federal land. The designation is one way to “protect” wild areas, but not the only way, as New Mexico Wilderness Alliance would have the public believe.

Our group, People for Preserving Our Western Heritage, developed an alternative proposal to protect these areas that became the basis for HR 6300.

Our objective was to provide a meaningful balance among environmental protection, water resource management, law enforcement, national security, conservation, community development, recreation and respect for private property rights.

The result is the Doña Ana County Planned Growth, Open Space And Rangeland Preservation Act of 2008, introduced by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M. The People's Proposal would protect 302,000 acres by creating two Special Preservation Areas and four Rangeland Preservation Areas.

These lands could never be sold or exchanged and will be permanently withdrawn from the mining and mineral leasing laws — protection legislatively identical to wilderness designation.

This proposal differs from wilderness designation in that each area would be managed to protect its unique resources. Open space would be preserved and established, and historic uses of the land such as ranching, recreation and hunting would be accommodated.

The lands would be managed in a manner that protects and enhances grazing, recreation, wildlife management and scenic values under multiple-use, while conserving open space and unique resources.

The use of motorized vehicles will be allowed only on designated roads and trails. There would be exceptions as needed for administrative purposes, homeland security, law enforcement, emergency response, construction and maintenance of authorized rainfall runoff management systems or authorized rangeland improvements.

The act incorporates provisions from legislation drafted in 2005 by U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici for a land exchange for NMSU, and for the disposal of federal land identified in the Bureau of Land Management's 1993 plan.

The “People's Proposal” quickly earned significant community support, with a coalition of more than 700 businesses and organizations along with numerous professional endorsements. The concept of tailoring legislation to meet each area's specific needs, addressing identified threats and preserving beneficial historic use has been viewed with great enthusiasm.

The proposal is receiving attention throughout the West, where the never-ending flow of wilderness proposals has created public outcry and legislative logjams. We can protect our land, our natural resources and our open space without federal wilderness designations. This proposal protects not only the land itself, but also the access to the land and the beneficial stewardship and use of the land.

For a copy of the act and more information, visit

Tom Cooper is chairman, and Jodi Denning is communications director, of People For Preserving Our Western Heritage.
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Atlantic Yards Challenge In an unsurprising move, the U.S. Supreme Court today denied the petition to grant a hearing to 11 property owners and tenants opposed to the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. The plaintiffs had turned to the High Court after a lower federal court dismissed their challenge to the state's use of eminent domain for the mega development in Prospect Heights. Lacking avenues in the federal courts, Atlantic Yards opponents now plan to take their lawsuit to state court, where in a long-shot effort, they will argue that the use of eminent domain for the $4 billion project violates the law of New York because the state government is attempting to seize their private property not for the public good, but for the private benefit of the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies....
Pentagon Fights EPA On Pollution Cleanup The Defense Department, the nation's biggest polluter, is resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases where the EPA says dumped chemicals pose "imminent and substantial" dangers to public health and the environment. The Pentagon has also declined to sign agreements required by law that cover 12 other military sites on the Superfund list of the most polluted places in the country. The contracts would spell out a remediation plan, set schedules, and allow the EPA to oversee the work and assess penalties if milestones are missed. The actions are part of a standoff between the Pentagon and environmental regulators that has been building during the Bush administration, leaving the EPA in a legal limbo as it addresses growing concerns about contaminants on military bases that are seeping into drinking water aquifers and soil. Under executive branch policy, the EPA will not sue the Pentagon, as it would a private polluter. Although the law gives final say to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson in cleanup disputes with other federal agencies, the Pentagon refuses to recognize that provision. Military officials wrote to the Justice Department last month to challenge EPA's authority to issue the orders and asked the Office of Management and Budget to intervene. Experts in environmental law said the Pentagon's stand is unprecedented....Notice under their "policy", they will sue you or me but not their fellow feds. Another example we are not all equal before the law.
Western guvs discuss balancing energy, wildlife Governors from several Western states voted Sunday to form a council that will study ways to protect wildlife habitat in the face of ever-increasing demand for energy development in their region. The governors were attending the first day of the annual Western Governors' Association conference, held this year in the valley of Jackson Hole in Wyoming's northwestern corner. The task of the Western Wildlife Habitat Council will be to identify key wildlife corridors and habitats for animals such as pronghorn antelope, sage grouse and bear. It is also considering the potential impact of energy development — both in the form of oil and gas drilling and new construction of solar and wind generation plants — as well as the matter of infrastructure for the rising population in the region and the effects of climate change. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, chairman of the association's board of directors, has stressed the preservation of wildlife habitat, particularly to protect hunting, as his state enjoys the benefits of wealthy coal and natural gas reserves. Along with gathering a foundation of information on wildlife habitats, Western states and the federal government should cooperate to make sure energy developers follow through with mitigating habitat disruption, he said....
This summer may see first ice-free North Pole There's a 50-50 chance that the North Pole will be ice-free this summer, which would be a first in recorded history, a leading ice scientist says. The weather and ocean conditions in the next couple of weeks will determine how much of the sea ice will melt, and early signs are not good, said Mark Serreze. He's a senior researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo. The chances for a total meltdown at the pole are higher than ever because the layer of ice coating the sea is thinner than ever, he said. "A large area at the North Pole and surrounding the North Pole is first-year ice," Serreze said. "That's the stuff that tends to melt out in the summer because it's thin." Preliminary February and March data from a NASA satellite shows that the circle of ice surrounding the North Pole is "considerably thinner" than scientists have seen during the five years the satellite has been taking pictures, NASA ice scientist Jay Zwally said Friday. He thinks there is slightly less than a 50-50 chance the North Pole will be ice-free. Last year was a record year for ice melt all over the Arctic and the ice band surrounding the North Pole is even thinner now....
Animal rights group turns its fire on celebrity meat-eaters Animal rights protesters have launched a series of angry campaigns against A-list carnivores. They are shifting their focus from celebrities who wear fur to others who encourage the "exploitation" of animals by eating them. In its latest campaign, Peta – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which became infamous for dousing fur-wearers in red paint – has launched an attack on the singer Jessica Simpson. Ms Simpson was singled out for ridicule after she was spotted wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan "Real Girls Eat Meat", believed to be a light-hearted dig at her boyfriend Tony Romo's vegetarian ex-girlfriend, Carrie Underwood. Alistair Currie, a spokesman for Peta, said: "Jessica Simpson might have a right to wear what she wants, but she doesn't have a right to eat what she wants – eating meat is about suffering and death. Some people feel like they are standing up against a tide of political correctness when they make a statement like this – what she is really doing is standing up for the status quo." The animal rights group doctored a photo of Ms Simpson to read "Only Stupid Girls Eat Meat", and listed "five reasons only stupid girls eat meat"....
Cowboy Church Ministers To Western Culture
Worshippers - dressed in western boots, blue jeans, casual shirts and T's - perch on red and yellow metal folding chairs in a metal-clad building cooled by box fans and a slow breeze. An iron welcome sign behind the singers depicts a barbed wire fence, a horse and a rider who has apparently dismounted to kneel before a cross. A hay bale and a cross fashioned from horseshoes also grace the rustic tableau. The music, backed by guitars and a fiddle, features country stylings of familiar tunes - "Victory in Jesus," "Because He Lives," and "Turn Your Radio On." The special this Father's Day is a rendition of "My Front Porch Looking In." Welcome to Sunday night worship - cowboy style. Cross Brand Cowboy Church seeks to reach a wide range of people - from rodeo cowboys to people who simply have an affinity for western heritage, said Tim Wallace, the congregation's pastor. It's no stretch for Wallace, wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and a cowboy hat, to feel at home with those audiences....
How the Comanche won the west By the start of the 19th century, the Comanche tribe of Native Americans had come to dominate all the southern plains of the present-day United States. Comanche power stretched from the western frontier of French-controlled Louisiana to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and from the waters of the Arkansas River to the northern provinces of Spanish-controlled Mexico. The region today includes most of Texas and Oklahoma, and all of New Mexico and the trans-Rio Grande down to Durango. So vast was the territory and so complete the sway that Pekka Hamalainen, in this scholarly and eye-opening book, asserts that Comanche dominance deserves to be called an empire. Not an empire in the classic, Western meaning of the word, with a central metropolis and demarcated frontiers, but an empire in the sense of hegemony. The tribe developed a military, economic and cultural cohesion that rivalled the French and Spanish presence in North America and overwhelmed the many other Indian tribes in the region. Only in the third quarter of the century, when the post-Civil War United States began its real push into the plains, did Comanche pre-eminence fall apart. But for more than 100 years, the Comanche were the 800-pound gorilla of the American West. In the early 1700s, this small nomadic tribe migrated out of the mountainous Great Basin and into the southern plains. Rarely have a people and an ecology been so perfectly matched. The plains were a vast ocean of grasslands, especially shortgrass, with a long growing season and comparatively mild winters. The region was home to perhaps a million wild horses and it touched the northern frontier of Spanish New Mexico where wild and domesticated horses could be easily traded. In a few brief years, the Comanche emerged as prodigious equestrians, and the horse became both the reason and the vehicle for Comanche expansion....