Friday, August 29, 2008


GOP defers to McCain on Alaska oil drilling
Republicans are putting John McCain's presidential prospects above their wish to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Members of the GOP platform committee voted yesterday to stick with an energy plank that does not mention drilling in the refuge, saying it would only highlight an area where they differ with the Arizona senator. McCain opposes drilling in that protected land, and some committee members said they would rather bring him around on the issue after he is in the White House than widen their disagreement now....
Dems betting on New West Hopeful Democrats did more than showcase their candidates and purvey a spectacle of unity at their convention Equally important, they are planting their blue flag in America's newest, most geographically expansive "swing" region - the fast-growing, increasingly diverse, no-longer-reliably-Republican Intermountain West. A land of sagebrush and Sagebrush Rebellions, these states have been known more for Republican politics and Endangered Species Act blow-ups than nationally significant "king-making." But thanks to sweeping economic changes and a massive influx of blue-leaning voters, the southern intermountain region has become central to the Democrats' strategy for assembling a winning coalition. In each of the southern intermountain states, the greatest population growth has occurred among minority populations, especially Hispanics, and among Whites with bachelor's degrees and higher educational attainment. Polls show these groups lean more toward the Democrats than White, working-class populations, whose growth is either modest or negative....
Industry groups file lawsuit over polar bear rule Five industry groups have sued the Interior Department over a rule to protect the polar bear that they say unfairly singles out business operations in Alaska for their contribution to global warming. Groups representing the oil and gas, mining, and manufacturing industries asked a federal judge Wednesday to ensure that laws designed to protect the bear, which was recently designated a threatened species, are not used to block projects that release heat-trapping gases in the state. The American Petroleum Institute was joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Iron and Steel Institute in the lawsuit, which explicitly challenges three words — except in Alaska — that appear in a 62-page rule issued in May. That's when the polar bear became the first species with a population that the government has classified as threatened by global warming. The groups say the three words — which they refer to as The Alaska Gap — are unlawful and run counter to the administration's belief that it is impossible to link emissions from a single project to the increasing temperatures that threaten the polar bear. "Anchorage has no more effect on climate change or polar ice than does an emission in Ankara," the suit reads....
New Report Calls into Question ‘Man-Made’ Climate Change New scientific evidence suggests there is a stronger link between solar activity and climate trends on Earth than there is with greenhouse gases, Fred Singer, an atmospheric and space physicist, told CNSNews.com. The new data call into question whether scientific evidence shows that global warming is a man-made phenomenon and suggests that natural forces, as opposed to human activity, may drive global climate change. Singer is one of many scientists who say recent scientific observations have determined that “solar variability” – or fluctuations in the sun’s radiation – directly affects climate change on Earth. The report, “Nature, Not Human Activity Rules the Climate,”(pdf) has helped open the way for scientists to perform meaningful research in areas that have been largely unexplored and under-emphasized in previous studies, Singer said in the interview....
17,000 acres purchased by BLM for public use More than 17,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat in the Granite Range, Buffalo Hills, Twin Peaks and Poodle Mountain wilderness study areas in northern Washoe County now belong to the public, using money from public land sales in Southern Nevada. After a five-year process, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management purchased the land for $7.25 million from Todd and Sam Jaksick of Reno. State BLM director Ron Wenker called the 17,493-acre acquisition one of the largest and most important wildlife initiatives under the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act....
Motion Filed to Extend Review of Endangered Desert Nesting Bald Eagle Conservationists and American Indians filed a court request Wednesday requesting an extension of a deadline for protecting Arizona’s desert nesting bald eagle to allow Arizona’s Indian nations, communities, and tribes time to demonstrate that the eagle’s historical range is more extensive than acknowledged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service’s removal of the eagle’s Endangered Species Act protections was reversed in March by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia. The judge ordered the Service to immediately reinstate protections and provide a new evaluation and decision by December 5th. Wednesday’s motion, which seeks to extend the decision to October 12th, 2009, enjoys support from Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, and is unopposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service....
Feds propose expanding Peninsular bighorn sheep land Federal wildlife officials are proposing to expand by about 36,000 acres the amount of land they consider essential for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep to survive in the mountains above the Coachella Valley. Although the land was added to the latest so-called critical habitat proposal issued last October by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, environmentalists complained it is still half the land included in the agency's original 2001 decision. Jane Hendron, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman, said critical habitat doesn't necessarily include a species' entire range. She said the agency refined its mapping technique and excluded areas that already are developed when it reduced by half the 2001 habitat last year to some 420,487 acres....
County appeals in Plum Creek case Frustrated that the federal government appears to be withholding documents, Missoula County officials on Wednesday filed a formal appeal, requesting information related to an ongoing forest road controversy. “It looks to me as though they've withheld pretty much as many documents as they've provided,” said James McCubbin, deputy county attorney. “It's very clear that they haven't provided us with what we asked for.” What Missoula County asked for, in an earlier Freedom of Information Act request, were documents leading up to a road easement deal struck between the U.S. Forest Service and Plum Creek Timber Co.
For decades, the agency and the company have shared access easements on forest roads, allowing them to cross each other's lands for timber hauling. But in recent years, as real estate sales have become increasingly important to Plum Creek's profit margin, the company has argued the road agreements allow all sorts of access, including residential driveways....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

USDA proposes downer rule The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced yesterday a proposed rule to amend the Federal meat inspection regulations to initiate a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle that become non-ambulatory after initial inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service personnel. Under the proposed rule, all cattle that are non-ambulatory disabled at any time prior to slaughter, including those that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing ante-mortem inspection, will be condemned and properly disposed of. Previously, USDA allowed a case-by-case re-inspection of cattle that became disabled following a pre-slaughter inspection by FSIS personnel. If the inspector deemed the animal fit for human food it could then be slaughtered....
Time to fight invaders If scriptwriters need ideas for a horror movie, they should check out the new statewide invasive-species management plan. Some of the descriptions of the non-native plants and animals threatening Arizona can make your skin crawl. Crayfish, for instance. They're no big deal in their home territory. But in Arizona, where they're not native and have no natural predators, they are creepier than the Creature from the Black Lagoon. When crayfish get into an Arizona pond or stream, they start off by gobbling all the insects. As their population grows, they tear into the frogs and fish. Then they strip out the plants. In the end, when there's nothing else left to eat, they turn cannibal, devouring each other. The management plan, adopted by the governor this month, does a vivid job of laying out the scary scenarios. Quagga mussels invading our reservoirs, where they can cause millions of dollars in damage by clogging pipes and watercraft. Buffelgrass taking over swaths of the Sonoran Desert, where it competes with signature plants like saguaros, paloverdes and even creosote bushes. The plan is a lot hazier on the solution side, however....
Alaska voters put mining over fish Alaskans were given an option Tuesday when voting on the Clean Water Initiative in the primary election: mining or fish. They chose mining. With more 84 percent of votes tallied, the measure was losing with more than 57 percent of voters rejecting it. Brian Kraft, a lodge owner and member of the Renewable Resources Coalition that fought for the initiative, said the mining industry was guilty of fear-mongering and spreading mistruths about Ballot Measure 4. Ballot Measure 4 would impose two water quality standards on any new large-scale mines in Alaska. Had it passed, it would have restricted large, new mines from releasing toxic pollutants into water that would adversely affect the health of humans or salmon. The ballot measure defined toxic pollutants as substances that will cause death and disease in humans and fish. Opponents of the initiative say if it had passed, it would have killed large-scale mining in Alaska....
GOP adds global warming to its 2008 platform The National Republican Party for the first time is expected to acknowledge global warming in its 2008 GOP Platform, according to a draft of the document. “Increased atmospheric carbon has a warming effect on the earth,” the document said. “While the scope and long term consequences of this warming effect are the subject of ongoing research, we believe the United States should take measured and reasonable steps today.” Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, is a strong proponent of tackling global warming and has co-authored legislation to address the issue....
Grazing lawsuits spawn talks Ranchers and environmental activists have taken steps toward a dialogue over grazing on public lands, although the path has been rocky so far. Concerned about ongoing lawsuits challenging grazing, a few ranchers from Grant and Harney counties approached the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) earlier this summer to see if they could resolve the organization's concerns. The outreach came after similar talks brought a compromise in the deadlock between timber and environmental interests over wildfire salvage sales on Forest Service land in Grant and Harney counties. Ken Brooks, a Fox Valley rancher, said Grant County Judge Mark Webb and the ranchers were seeking ways to prevent ongoing lawsuits from undermining the cattle industry in the region....
Lawsuit resurrects wilderness issue Seven environmental groups put up a united front on Aug. 14, filing suit against the United States Forest Service for failing to adequately protect Southern California’s national forests. In 2005, local fire departments successfully fought to keep the proposed Sugarloaf Wilderness area out of the final Forest Service land management plan for fear it would hamper fire fighting abilities. The northern boundary of the proposed 3,000-acre Sugarloaf Wilderness is near the communities of Sugarloaf, Moonridge, Lake William and Erwin Lake. According to then Big Bear City Fire Chief Dana Van Leuven, wilderness restrictions would require firefighters to do their jobs on foot without heavy equipment or air support in the designated area. When making the final decision on the plan, San Bernardino National Forest supervisor Gene Zimmerman agreed the designation was unnecessary. “I have chosen not to recommend the Sugarloaf Roadless Area for wilderness designation even though it was included in the preferred alternative in the Draft Plan and EIS,” Zimmerman wrote in the record of decision. “My decision is based on the need for fuels treatment in the area to protect the Big Bear community. At the same time, I believe the current back country character will be effectively maintained using the Back Country Non-Motorized and Back Country Motorized Use Restricted land use zones.”....
Winds leave path of destruction in Western Idaho The anemometer atop the Bureau of Land Management fire tower on Lookout Mountain in Valley County clocked Monday evening's wind at 71 miles per hour. Then it broke. "They estimated the wind at 80 to 90 mph after it broke the instrument," said Valerie Mills, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise. Another BLM instrument measured gusts at 65 miles per hour near Silver City. The powerful winds that pushed a cloud of dust, tumbleweeds and other debris hundreds of feet into the air caused fires, traffic accidents and property damage from the Oregon state line to Mountain Home....
Fire lawsuit targets gun club Although Trinity County, the federal Bureau of Land Management, and the Weaverville Rod & Gun Club all received demand letters months ago from Cal Fire for over $6 million in connection with the 2006 Junction Fire, the gun club is the only entity being sued. The demand letters to Trinity County and BLM have been rescinded, and the state Attorney General's Office has opted not to sue either of them, said Alan Carlson, deputy chief for Cal Fire's Northern Region. The gun club is another matter. A complaint against the club and individual members has been filed at the Trinity County Courthouse. Cal Fire seeks $6.3 million for its costs of suppressing and investigating the fire. Gun club members said recently that they had not yet received a summons in connection with the lawsuit. The July 29, 2006, Junction Fire started during an NRA-sanctioned service rifle shoot held at the range east of Junction City....
Hike could end with a towing bill Planning to save a few bucks in gas this weekend and go hiking locally? Don't blow the savings on towing fines. The U.S. Forest Service is cracking down hard on illegally parked cars along the Alpine Loop in American Fork Canyon. After previously placing signs and notices directly on cars, Forest Service employees threw up their hands and called the Utah County Sheriff's Office on Saturday. The result? Sixteen towed cars. The parking limit at Timpooneke and Tibble Fork is firm with only one real option if it's full when you get there: "Find another place to recreate," Clark said....
Sandia picnic areas closed due to bear sightings Three picnic sites in the Sandia Mountains have been temporarily closed after bears began venturing into the area in search of food, a spokeswoman for the Sandia Ranger District said Wednesday. Karen Takai said Cienega, Sulphur and Doc Long picnic areas will be closed for two weeks after a bear took an ice chest from one site Sunday. "The bears are looking for food obviously to fatten up for the winter, and they're going after picnic baskets," Takai said. The state Game and Fish Department will trap bears that are frequenting the picnic sites and remove them from the area, she said....
Rare mineral found in N.D. A brief mention in a half-century-old document has led an Australian company to a large and valuable deposit of high-grade germanium, a scarce silicon-like mineral used in making semiconductors, transistors and fiber optic cables. A consultant says it may be the first time a “significant” germanium deposit has been found in a coal seam in North America....
Lawmakers say rules are a ‘pain in the ass’ It’s taken just three convention days for Democratic lawmakers to get buyer’s remorse over sweeping new ethics rules they passed last year. Members of Congress attending the Democratic National Convention are expressing frustration with the thicket of restrictions that they say have caused confusion and pointless irritation. “It’s a pain in the ass!” said Rep. Jim Moran (Va.), one of 221 Democrats who voted for the final version of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. Lawmakers have paid as much as $90 from their own pocket to attend parties that many guests attend for free and that members of Congress used to enjoy gratis at past conventions. “I think the whole thing is ridiculous,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)....The poor things. The general public has to put up with "ridiculous" laws every day. It's nice to see they gored their own ox.
Indicted Senator Wins G.O.P. Primary Senator Ted Stevens’s easy victory in Alaska’s Republican primary on Tuesday sets him up for two more fights this fall that are likely to be much tougher: one in the general election and the other in the courtroom. The senator received 63 percent of the primary vote against six challengers, even as he faces a trial in September on charges that he concealed $250,000 in home renovations and gifts provided by an oil services company, VECO. If the trial goes forward on schedule, Mr. Stevens, who has been in the Senate for 40 years and is revered in Alaska for bringing home billions of dollars in federal spending, will be defending himself in court while he also tries to hold off a strong general election challenge from a popular and well-financed Democrat, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Internet Down

We had a shower yesterday afternoon which apparently caused an outage of DSL for some Qwest customers. Thank you Qwest for taking so long to fix the problem.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sierra logging case in Supreme Court A stalled Sierra Nevada salvage-logging venture is sparking the U.S. Supreme Court's next major environmental showdown. What began as a 238-acre Sequoia National Forest timber sale has drawn in big players on all sides. The fight, pitting California officials against the Bush administration, will determine how easy it will be to challenge future forest decisions nationwide. "It's ... whether or not the public has a right to be involved," Jim Bensman, an Illinois-based environmentalist who is involved in the case, said Friday. "The No. 1 priority for the Bush administration, aside from logging, has been to reduce public accountability." Attorneys are preparing for their Oct. 8 oral arguments. The case sounds acutely technical, as many key environmental disputes often do. The proposed timber sale itself, which got the ball rolling five years ago, has long since been canceled. But there's a reason that farmers, home builders, law professors and others still are weighing in: The winner could hold the key to the courthouse door. "The United States seeks ... to shield from judicial review certain rules that bar the public from participation in federal management decisions affecting national forests," California Attorney General Jerry Brown complained in a legal filing....
Convention 'Greening' Goes Awry The Democrats have embarked on a highly visible effort to make their convention the "greenest" ever, focusing on everything from expanded recycling to more creative programs like encouraging Denver restaurants to offer "lean 'n' green" meals made with healthful, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. But not all of their environmentally friendly initiatives have gone as planned. Take the hotel card keys, for example. Instead of the traditional plastic cards, the Sheraton in downtown handed guests Visa-sponsored swipe cards "made from sustainably-harvested wood." The plan lasted all of a few hours. By Saturday night, enough guests had reported problems getting into their rooms with the wooden cards that the front desk clerks had abandoned them and switched back to the plastic cards. A clerk said they were now handing out one of each and suggested that the wooden one could kept as a souvenir.

Border fence design blasted as causing flooding
Environmentalists say flooding caused by a new border security fence in southwestern Arizona shows the structure is being built too quickly and without regard for the environment. Critics say the design of the border fence caused debris and water backup during a July 12 storm that led to flooding at the port of entry at Lukeville and Sonoyta, Mexico, and at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. "One of the reasons for it was the debris that accumulated on the fence itself," said Lee Baiza, superintendent of the monument, a 517-square-mile lush desert tract overseen by the National Park Service. Environmental groups have criticized the manner in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contractors for federal agencies have designed and built a range of fencing and vehicle barriers at various points along the Arizona-Mexico border....

Spotted owl's diminishing numbers have some fearing species is doomed
The northern spotted owl - an endangered icon that 14 years ago spurred a rescue effort so sweeping it brought old-growth logging to a virtual standstill in the Northwest - is now closer than ever to extinction. While there is disagreement over how bad it could get, some are contemplating the virtual disappearance of a bird elevated to sainthood by environmentalists and hung in effigy by loggers. The situation is particularly bad in Washington, where the rate at which owls are found at nesting sites has fallen by nearly half since 1994. Scientists blame the decline largely on the invasion of a tougher owl and the loss of much of their habitat to decades of logging....
Managing leases in roadless areas confusing When Brimmer earlier this month reinstated the Bush administration’s interim roadless policy by overruling California Magistrate Judge Elizabeth LaPorte, who two months earlier had overruled Brimmer, neither side of the question rolled out the band and danced in the streets. It’s not that there was no one with whom to dance. In Colorado’s case, it’s more a question of musical chairs. Gov. Bill Ritter started the process by responding to the Bushies call for each state to devise its own roadless policy and kicked in the Colorado Roadless Area Review Task force. The task force eventually hammered out an agreement on how to protect 4.4 million acres of Colorado’s backcountry from development. From the beginning, Ritter considered the Colorado plan a form of insurance in case Brimmer’s original 2003 ruling, which said the 2001 roadless rules were implemented in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Wilderness Act, were ever usurped. It was, by LaPorte, and now Brimmer has returned fire, at the same time calling LaPorte’s actions “surreptitious.” Which means Brimmer’s latest decision and the judicial cat fight is bound to end up in the Supreme Court....
Rains reopen grassland for foraging Recent rains have led to improved forage conditions on the Pawnee National Grassland in rural Weld County, allowing more cattle that were removed earlier this summer to return to graze. Because of drought conditions, 12 of 76 grazing allotments on the Pawnee National Grassland were vacated this summer, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Cattle were removed when forage dropped below 300 pounds per acre, a standard used for range management to provide sustainable grazing, habitat and forage for other grassland animals, the Forest Service said. The number of cattle returned to each allotment is less than 100 percent, but still provides relief for those with grazing permits, said the Forest Service. The two remaining allotments are vacant because of low forage production. On other Pawnee National Grassland allotments, cattle will remain unless available forage drops below 300 pounds per acre or will be removed in the fall at the end of the grazing season.
Lynx reintroduction program hindered by lack of hare research Colorado’s $3.5 million lynx-reintroduction effort was started before basic research was undertaken on the availability of its main prey, snowshoe hares, scientists now acknowledge after no new kittens were found for the second straight year. “Nobody did the hard work before the introduction to see of there’s enough prey,” said Kevin McKelvey, a Montana-based biologist who has recently studied snowshoe hare ecology in Wyoming. “There has always been the question: Are there enough snowshoe hares?” Just before the federal government listed lynx as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the Colorado Division of Wildlife launched an ambitious program to bring the cats back to the state....

Budget woes threaten wild horse herds
The cash-strapped BLM manages an estimated 33,000 wild horses and burros on public rangelands and cares for an additional 30,000 in short-term and long-term holding facilities around the country. It says it is facing problems on several fronts, including: - A lack of space at its corrals and pastures. - Skyrocketing hay and grain prices that have made it more expensive to feed the animals. - An economic downturn that has prompted a sharp drop in the number of adoptions. But one of its proposed solutions, cutting the herds by about 6,000 horses, isn’t sitting well with conservationists and agency critics, who say the federal government has mismanaged the Wild Horse and Burro Program so badly that it actually created the crisis....
BLM proposes closing Utah land to drilling Federal officials have proposed closing more than 186,000 acres to oil and gas drilling in eastern Utah. The Bureau of Land Management officials said they increased the number of acres it wants to close in response to concerns about wildlife and cultural resources. The acreage proposed as off-limits in the Book Cliffs and Uinta Basin is about three times larger than the amount the agency suggested last fall. Bill Stringer, BLM's field officer in Vernal, said the change is a result of public comments. The proposal is part of a larger plan for 1.7 million acres in the region, one of the nation's busiest for oil and gas activity....
Expect Burning Man to increase traffic congestion The Burning Man alternate life-style celebration opens today and drivers can expect increased traffic on roads leading to Gerlach, which is 11 miles from the entrance to the Black Rock City on the desert playa. The celebration is scheduled to last all week, but traffic eases once most Burners arrive at Black Rock City. The climax comes Saturday night when the wooden Burning Man effigy will go up in a blaze of fireworks and flames. While many visitors will leave Sunday morning, jamming Highway 447, many will stay for the Sunday night burning of art works scattered about the playa....

Cows truly have animal magnetism
Birds do it, bees do it, and so, apparently, do ... cows? No, it’s not that. We’re talking about sensing the Earth’s magnetic field. German scientists using satellite images posted online by the Google Earth software program have observed something that has escaped the notice of farmers, herders and hunters for thousands of years: Cattle grazing or at rest tend to orient their bodies in a north-south direction just like a compass needle. Studying photographs of 8,510 cattle in 308 herds from around the world, zoologists Sabine Begall and Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen and their colleagues found that two out of every three animals in the pictures were oriented in a direction roughly pointing to magnetic north....

Livestock Board criticized for response time
There are more concerns about how long it takes for the New Mexico Livestock Board to respond to calls about alleged animal abuse. Nearly two weeks ago, it took the Livestock Board almost a full day to get to a horse that was starving to death near Los Lunas. The latest case involves a pig with its rear legs tied up on a Santa Fe County road. According to the Santa Fe County Undersheriff, it took the state Livestock Board about three and a half hours to respond to an injured pig Saturday in La Cienega. By the time someone showed up, the pig was dead....

Monday, August 25, 2008


Investigation Reveals Little Abuse; HSUS Indifference


For Immediate Release / August 25, 2008

Cruelty from the standpoint of negligence on the part of management was determined by the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB) after investigation of allegations of animal abuse at a livestock auction, according to New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) President Alisa Ogden, Loving.

“The cruelty was in the form of insufficient or non-existent knowledge and training of employees handling livestock,” Ogden explained, quoting from report released by the NMLB in mid August. The Portales Livestock Auction was cited for a violation of 30-18-1 NMSA, Cruelty to Animals.

The investigation was brought about by the release of a video tape in late June taken by an “undercover operative” of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

“Unfortunately the operative, a male who hired on to work livestock at the auction, neither did anything to aide the animals in distress nor did he make himself available to aide in the investigation after the fact,” she said.

The video tape depicted nine (9) different scenes, most of them either indicating no interaction between animals and humans or involving situations where employees were attempting to extricate cows from dangerous, damaging or life threatening predicaments, Ogden noted.

“The HSUS photographer had at least one opportunity to help relieve the suffering of an animal by assisting another employee,” she pointed out, “but instead chose to take pictures.”

The HSUS operative was therefore found to be indifferent to the suffering of the animal and to the dilemma of the auction employee, according to the NMLB.

“Although the credibility and conduct of HSUS is questionable in this case, the incident does offer the opportunity for the livestock industry to re-examine its’ supply chain,” Ogden quoted the report, “and the role of livestock markets in it.”

Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President and CEO is scheduled to be in Albuquerque today for the New Mexico State Humane Conference, according the Animal Protection of New Mexico website.

For further information, contact:
Caren Cowan, Executive Director
New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association
505.247.0584 / nmcga@nmagriculture.org
Girls rule Great American Duck Race track Two youngsters were big winners Sunday afternoon at McKinley Duck Downs (Luna County Courthouse Park for most of the year) as the 29th Annual Great American Duck Race concluded with final races on wet and dry tracks. Deming's Alejandra Orosco, 5, won $1,440 with a first-place finish by his duck on the dry track. Las Cruces' Monique Zertuche, 11, was the wet track winner, also claiming $1,440. Orosco was unable to fathom her sizeable winnings. A kindergartner at Memorial Elementary School, she said a $20 bill was the largest she'd ever seen....
Sandia scientists help solve anthrax case When the FBI approached Sandia National Laboratories scientist Joseph Michael in February 2002, federal officials were worried. Five people had died after someone mailed anthrax to five news organizations and two U.S. senators, and federal investigators needed to answer a pressing question: Could the anthrax have come from a terrorist group or a foreign state? Within a month of getting their first anthrax samples, Michael and his colleagues were able to answer the question: The sample did not appear to be "weaponized" anthrax — anthrax converted in a weapons research lab to enhance its lethality. The finding contradicted earlier reports that it was weaponized, which had been repeated for years and fed the public's worry....
STATE ENGINEER - WATER RIGHTS

PRESS RELEASE

Albuquerque, New Mexico
August 22, 2008

Bill Turner, Chief Executive Officer of WaterBank, a firm that deals in water rights, announced today that the State Engineer has begun sending out offers of judgment to water rights owners in the Lower Rio Grande. “Though this adjudication has been in process for some years, the State Engineer has refused to recognize any pre-1907 water rights.” he said. “In fact, the Offers of Judgment that the State Engineer is sending out all offer only a 1906 priority date.” He continued by saying that Judge Valentine, in a recent letter to water-rights owners suggested that they file Declarations with the Las Cruces Office of the State Engineer if they thought they had pre-1907 water rights. Turner said that his office in Albuquerque has received a number of calls seeking his help in determining the priority of their water rights.

“There were about 30,000 acres of land irrigated in New Mexico prior to 1900. So, it stands to reason that about one-third of the irrigated lands in the Lower Rio Grande have a pre-1907 priority of use.” said Turner. “This is a global issue as far as Lower Rio Grande water users are concerned because no allocation of the quantity of water rights or settlements can be made until the priorities have been determined. It was recognized by the Bureau of Reclamation back in 1902 that the normal flow of the Rio Grande had already been appropriated and that new irrigation could only come from impounded flood waters. Therefore, those who used the normal flow of the river prior to 1906 have first call on the water and their rights cannot be diminished by using the normal flow on new lands irrigated under the Rio Grande Project.” concluded Turner.

“If an irrigator is in doubt as to whether he has pre-1906 water rights, he should file a Declaration as Judge Valentine has suggested.” Said Turner.

For further information contact:

Bill Turner
Telephone: 505-843-7643
Pelosi says case needed for U.S. offshore drilling U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that expanded oil drilling in federal waters could be included in a broader energy bill if advocates can prove its viability as a solution to America's energy problems. Pelosi, a California Democrat who reversed her outright opposition to expanded offshore drilling earlier this month, said the oil industry and its allies in Congress must also agree to royalties on oil profits to fund the development of renewable energy resources. She criticized President George W. Bush and other Republicans for presenting offshore drilling as an answer to the recent rise in U.S. gasoline prices, saying expanded drilling would not affect prices for a decade and then only by a small degree....
Alaska Vote Pits Fisheries Against Mines Salmon and gold mining. Both are, inarguably, very Alaskan. But on Tuesday, Alaskans will vote on a ballot measure that is being framed as a choice between the two industries and portrayed by both sides as striking at the heart of what it means to be Alaskan. The initiative was drafted to block the proposed Pebble Mine, a massive operation that would extract gold, copper and molybdenum from the tundra surrounding Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska, one of the world's most lucrative wild salmon fisheries. The measure would prohibit any new large metal mines from polluting salmon streams or drinking-water sources....
The Politics of Public Lands Ranching For those interested in understanding and maybe influencing the management of public lands, a new and so far under-appreciated resource is making its way onto the bookshelves. It’s Western Turf, Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching, by Mike Hudak. If you’ve ever suspected that current public lands management isn’t in the best interests of public lands and wildlife, Western Turf Wars will confirm your suspicions. But it will do so in a more personal way than most activist works on the subject. There are no pages of statistics in Western Turf Wars, no maps or charts. There are life stories. Western Turf Wars is a window into the lives of individuals dedicated to improving public lands management, through the medium of interviews with scientists, activists and public lands agency personnel. Although the book focuses on grazing issues, anyone interested in the subject of reformers versus government agencies, or reformers versus the vested interests and traditions that hide behind government agencies, should find interest in reading Western Turf Wars....
Both Parties Promote Energy Socialism While controversy and discord between the two major political parties about energy policy play out in the media, in reality they do not disagree at the level of principle. The current energy debate is a skirmish between those who advocate energy socialism without drilling (or with some drilling if needed as a political bargaining chip) and those who advocate energy socialism with drilling. Neither major presidential candidate advocates a free market in energy. Ideologically there is no difference between the Democrat and Republican approaches. They both propose to use the powers of the federal government to move energy production and consumption in the direction that central planners deem appropriate. The overarching goals of both the McCain and Obama plans are to fight global warming and to prevent Americans from freely purchasing oil on international markets, aka energy independence. Clearly the Republicans have abandoned all conservative principles when it comes to this issue....
Unearthing a profit through easements For Eugenia "Bini" Abbott and her husband, Meade, it was never about the money. The conservation easement placed on their land in 2004 was about preserving pristine ground that decades ago held winter wheat along Stanley Lake's western shore in Arvada. "We didn't want the kids to have to sell half of it to keep half of it," Bini Abbott, 76, said of her decision in 2004 to conserve a 5-acre piece of their 85-acre ranch. "We wanted them to always have it." But the Abbotts never took their parcel's tax credits — the state giveback to a landowner who protects property from development through an easement — preferring o let someone else handle it. Instead, the credits went to a land holding company set up by Denver tax lawyer Rodney Atherton, who handled the easement deal for the Abbotts. In the end, the principals of the company — people unknown even to the Abbotts — could have pocketed nearly $60,000 in profit, records show....
Chinese farmers forfeit water to Olympic Games THOUSANDS of Chinese farmers face ruin because their water has been cut off to guarantee supplies to the Olympics in Beijing, and officials are now trying to cover up a grotesque scandal of blunders, lies and repression. In the capital, foreign dignitaries have admired millions of flowers in bloom and lush, well-watered greens around its famous sights. But just 90 minutes south by train, peasants are hacking at the dry earth as their crops wilt, their money runs out and the work of generations gives way to despair, debt and, in a few cases, suicide. In between these two Chinas stands a cordon of roadblocks and hundreds of security agents deployed to make sure that the one never sees the other....
Escaped buffalo gores woman A Rail Road Flat woman who was gored by a buffalo was in a Modesto hospital Thursday, fighting infections in her legs and awaiting word on whether she will need skin grafts to recover. "My legs are mutilated," said Tracy Whalen, 38. The buffalo belongs to Dale Buller, a millionaire gun collector and buffalo rancher who owns most of the acreage in central Rail Road Flat. Whalen, who lives in a house across Mountain Ranch Road from the buffalo pasture, said at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, she saw a buffalo in her yard. It was the third time in the past week that one had escaped and crossed onto her property. She said she attempted to lure it away from her yard by throwing fruit from her apple tree - normally an attractive treat to a buffalo - toward the street. "He just turned on me and that is really all I remember," Whalen said....
Duck race events still excite It's a long toss from Glendale, Calif., to Deming. Darin Kuhlmann made it worthwhile Saturday afternoon, throwing a tortilla 204 feet, 6 inches to win his age division (male, 17-to-54) in the Rotary Club Great American Tortilla Toss. It was the day's top throw among 55 competitors scattered in seven divisions. He beat Deming's Robert Nordorf by a foot on Tortilla Flats (Poplar Street). Each competitor got two throws, using tortillas of six to eight-inches in diameter, donated by Amigo's Mexican Foods. The discs were allowed to go stale, providing a harder body with which to get distance....
It's All Trew: Selling water never a thought My chair upon which I have sat each morning at 7 a.m. for more than 20 years is located in the Crockett Travel Center in Alanreed. I sit beside a freezer holding sacks of ice. Just up the aisle, shelves of plastic jugs full of water are offered. To one side are coolers of cold drinks with plastic water bottles in prominent display. I would be afraid to estimate how many of the containers of water and bags of ice I have seen carried out in the last 20 years. It sure is different from the old days. The very thought that water could be sold never entered our minds when I was young. Water belonged to whoever needed it. All were welcome to pump a handle, visit the windmill or turn on a faucet. Every home had a water bucket sitting on the cabinet with a dipper inside. To refuse to drink from the family dipper was an insult to the owner. Grandma Trew even kept new No. 16 iron nails in her water bucket by the sink to put iron in your blood. Guess it worked as I have been accused of having lead in my rear many times....
New Guidelines Would Give F.B.I. Broader Powers A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday. The plan, which could be made public next month, has already generated intense interest and speculation. Little is known about its precise language, but civil liberties advocates say they fear it could give the government even broader license to open terrorism investigations. Congressional staff members got a glimpse of some of the details in closed briefings this month, and four Democratic senators told Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey in a letter on Wednesday that they were troubled by what they heard. The senators said the new guidelines would allow the F.B.I. to open an investigation of an American, conduct surveillance, pry into private records and take other investigative steps “without any basis for suspicion.”....
U.S. May Ease Police Spy Rules The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years. The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants. Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months....
Citizens' U.S. Border Crossings Tracked The federal government has been using its system of border checkpoints to greatly expand a database on travelers entering the country by collecting information on all U.S. citizens crossing by land, compiling data that will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations. Officials say the Border Crossing Information system, disclosed last month by the Department of Homeland Security in a Federal Register notice, is part of a broader effort to guard against terrorist threats. It also reflects the growing number of government systems containing personal information on Americans that can be shared for a broad range of law enforcement and intelligence purposes, some of which are exempt from some Privacy Act protections....
City defends 'secret jail' built for DNC Activist groups say the converted warehouse poses a threat to civil liberties. The city maintains the facility is needed in case of mass arrests during the Democratic National Convention. The makeshift holding center, dubbed "Gitmo on the Platte" by activists, is located on city-owned property near Steele Street and 38th Avenue. Newly-installed security cameras guard the exterior, chain-link fences and barbed wire form cells inside. "We feel the city should be ashamed of this secret prison they've set up," said Re-create '68 organizer Glenn Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo and other activists gathered outside the formerly-secret facility on Friday to protest the city's plan to use it as a processing center for all those arrested outside the DNC....
Security officials to scan D.C. area license plates Homeland security officials in the Washington area plan to dramatically expand the use of automated license plate readers to prevent possible terrorist attacks. Officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have agreed to install 200 license plate readers on police vehicles, at airports and along roads. The plan announced Friday will be funded by federal homeland security grants for the area. The readers will scan every license plate that passes by and will run the numbers through federal criminal and terrorist databases....
NYC Plans To Track All Vehicles In Manhattan The New York Police Department is working on a plan to track every single vehicle that enters Manhattan. The initiative, called "Operation Sentinel," is aimed at preventing terror attacks. With the use of cameras and radiation censors, police plan to track anything and everything that enters the Big Apple, reported CBS station WCBS-TV in New York. The NYPD wants to photograph the license plates of every vehicle coming into Manhattan and keep the image and information in a database. The proposal is part of a multimillion dollar plan to secure lower Manhattan. It includes cameras, license plate readers and radiation detectors. They would be set up at 7 vehicle crossings that function as major arteries into Manhattan....
How Big Brother watches your every move With every telephone call, swipe of a card and click of a mouse, information is being recorded, compiled and stored about Britain's citizens. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has now uncovered just how much personal data is being collected about individuals by the Government, law enforcement agencies and private companies each day. In one week, the average person living in Britain has 3,254 pieces of personal information stored about him or her, most of which is kept in databases for years and in some cases indefinitely....
Shakedown From Feds Imperils Medicinal Marijuana Now, just last week, the federal government’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) paid a visit to Santa Barbara and threatened the people who rent their properties to California-approved cannabis clubs with hefty fines, property seizure, and criminal charges for violation of federal law. The visits, which Santa Barbara District Attorney Christie Stanley coyly refused to confirm or deny, leave in their wake a questionable future for the eight or so medical marijuana shops that operate in Santa Barbara and the thousands of patients who visit them each week to seek relief from a wide variety of conditions....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The tater tot explosion
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Julie Carter

Any cowboy will tell you that bachelorhood has its advantages, but cooking isn't always one of them.

A fella is usually pretty busy all summer - in a hurry and trying to get his work done so he can do his other stuff that involves horses, saddles, trailers and ropes.

The recent monsoon rains forced through the area by the landlocked hurricanes have left Dan the team roper fending for himself for days on end because there is no roping practice at his partner's and therefore no home cooked meals from his partner's wife.

For Dan, rain brings on some of the issues that become glaring in bachelorhood. No one to visit with except the dog, and while that's acceptable most of the time, there is also no one to cook for him except ... himself.

Proof of the danger in that came one night this week.

Leaving his work at the farm implement dealership quite hungry, Dan said he had stopped on the way home and bought a bag of frozen tater tots with a plan to make a tater tot casserole.

Upon arrival at his humble homestead, he placed them in a the bottom of casserole dish, added a can of Wolf Brand Chili on top and then a nice covering of grated cheese for the next layer.

Thinking his culinary creation was looking quite good, he added a few sliced-up wieners on top and then yet another layer of some diced jalapeños.

To his way of thinking, this had to be about the best supper ever.

Knowing he had piled a lot of food into the one dish, he shoved it in the microwave and cranked it up a ways, thinking it would take awhile to get it all warmed completely through.

He wasn't sure exactly how long he needed to set it for, so he allowed plenty of time for his masterpiece to get done all the way through.

Then, remembering he needed to go check on Pittsburgh's water, he headed out the horse corrals while his delectable dinner cooked nuclear-style.

He got sidetracked, as cowboys are wont to do, and it was a good 30 minutes before he got back to the house.

What he found inside his kitchen was the aftermath of the complete explosion of his microwave and its contents.

There was chili, wieners and tater tots all over the ceiling with tendrils of cheese hanging in various places around the room.

His first move was to pick up the microwave and deliver it to the trash, knowing it would never be the same again.

Too tired to care much about the mess, his main concern was still the fact he was very hungry.

Like most cowboys in cow camp after long hard day, he resorted to the old stand by - canned peaches.

He first drank off the liquid, then, he filled the can up with whiskey, sat down, and ate his supper of "pickled" peaches.

None of this would have happened if it hadn't rained for days and days and had he just been able to rope.
Recently Received Email

I looked at part of the article (LA Times articles aren't usually worth reading in detail) and spotted this one sentence paragraph: "The government's long campaign to tame wildfire has, perversely, made the problem worse."

The author's problem is that they think the Forest Service, BLM, BOR, NPS,ETC. are actually interested in extinguishing fires.

I seem to remember that as recently as twenty years ago these agencies were growing trees for lumber and grass for forage. Those renewable natural resources were the back-bone of productive land uses (logging and grazing), prosperity for local communities, and the economic health of our nation.

Today the agencies obviously take a great deal of pride in producing an abundance of trees and grass as fuel for wildfires --- the new management goal is to produce fire fuels so they can do their part to support the fire fighting industry. As any average, self-justifying bureaucrat understands they must make sure that their job is in next year's budget. Some of them have the Endangered Species Act as their budget justification, many are now getting rich from global warming hysteria. Both of those efforts are puny compared to the growth of the fire industry which now includes whole populations of government employees that use of the fear and terror caused by the fires to justify taxpayer money for their jobs. It is more than a coincidence that the land management of today's agencies directly results in huge fires; those fires are the consequence of the fuels that they grow. There is no "fire extinguishing" industry because that would not result in hundreds of millions of tax payers' dollars being spent for "fire fighting"

All that wildfire fuel has to be logged or grazed, or it will be burned.

Floyd Rathbun

The cure for the BLM and the wild horse program:

1. To reduce the cost at the processing centers
1. Reevaluate vaccination program. Old horses versus young, under six years of age. Question the need for rabies vaccination
b. Stop all castrations of stallions going to the LTHF. Continue on young adoptable horses
2. Eliminate the surgery on cryptorchid horses except for the removal of the testicle that is “down”. Return this animal back to the herd and he will become the domineering stallion and his fertility will be almost non-existent. Birth control.
3. Obtain waivers from the state or federal vet where the present LTHF are in to eliminate the testing for EIA which is statistically non existent in Wyoming and probably in Nevada
2. To reduce numbers of horses being gathered
1. Encourage all grazing permit holders to take a horse with no restrictions and increase his aum’s a certain amount for each horse the permitte takes. These horses are given free title eliminating the one year wait. Ideally the permitte picks the horse up at the corrals before processing.
2. If the permitte is willing allow the horses to remain on his leased land with the appropriate reduction in his cattle or sheep numbers to accommodate the horses. He will be paid for this the same amount the LTHF participants are getting. The rule on no horses on public lands must be waived for these circumstances.
3. For those ranchers unwilling to participate a reduction of their aum’s may be in order but this should be a last resort.
3. A rewrite of the 1971-1972 Wild Horse and Burro Act may be in order
4. Yearly gatherings will still be needed to allow the ranchers to select their horses.
5. Encourage the non-passage of the anti horse slaughter act and warn congress that passage of this bill interferes with the horse owners right to do with his private property as he wants and that right is guaranteed under the constitution. In my eyes this gives the government the obligation to take possession of and to take care for these horses.
6. The humane euthanasia is a legitimate method of disposing of unwanted horses.
7. In reference number two I know that this has been tried before with no success. I read the letter and I have to say that it was the most pathetic begging piece of writing that I have ever seen. I don’t recall that anything was offered to the ranchers so why should they have participated? Also, please stop referring these animals as icons of the west, as true descendents of the early spanish horses and so on. All the rancher knows is that they is eating the grass he has paid for and up to now, if my suggestions are not acted, has no real reason to participate. God rest old wild horse Annie’s soul but the problem that was created by her has ballooned into an un-recoverable quagmire.
8. Reconsider the non-placement of horses with the Indian tribes. The fear that they may be used and get skinny is stupid and unfounded. I would contact the Mexican government to see if they would like a few thousand horses also. I think the advisory board wants to control the horses even after they are sold or given away
9. Respectfully submitted and retains all rights to the above suggestions. Dr. John E Radosevich
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