Saturday, April 18, 2009

Border agroterrorism workshop heads to tribal land

Laguna Pueblo officials hope an agricultural terrorism course being held at the pueblo this week will help create a way for tribes to coordinate their emergency preparedness plans for livestock and crops with the state's plan. The course, "Preparedness and Response to Agricultural Terrorism," focuses on preparing the agricultural industry in case of a major attack, but also provides a framework for dealing with more common threats, including animal and plant diseases. It will be the first course of its kind on pueblo land and geared specifically toward pueblo farmers and ranchers. "This is the most comprehensive class available to teach how to recognize and deal with issues that might affect agriculture whether from accidental, natural or criminal cause," said Billy Dictson, co-director of the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center and director of New Mexico State University's Office of Biosecurity in Las Cruces. Ken Tiller, emergency management coordinator with Laguna Pueblo, said he requested the training because the state's preparedness plan didn't address how it would coordinate with pueblos in case of an incident. "The tribes are sovereign, but most of our lands are right next door, like Laguna and Acoma, and they weren't included in the state's basic plan," Tiller said. "This is an effort to start doing outreach to the tribes and it will help fill in the gap that wasn't addressed by the state." The course, led by Louisiana State University's National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and Academy of Counter Terrorism Education, is tailored teach the tools farmers and ranchers need to create and implement a response plan, said Jeff Witte, director of agriculture biosecurity for the state Department of Agriculture and co-director of the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center...AP

More Suburbanites are Raising Chickens

Mostly farm families wait to pick up the chicks, but mixed in with the rural chick-raising veterans are first-timers like Justin and Stacey DeWeese, both 25. They collect a box of 30 chicks, which they plan to raise in suburban St. Louis. Motivated by the taste of farm-fresh eggs and a desire to try something new, the couple built a coop at a friend's house and researched how to care for a flock. Stacey said the couple wants chickens "for the eggs, to watch them play in the backyard." And to "kill the bugs," Justin added. It's a phenomenon that's playing out all over the nation. Poultry dealers, chicken feed businesses and self-proclaimed "chicken enthusiasts" report city slickers and suburbanites are showing greater interest in raising small flocks of chickens far from the farm. Clearview's manager Karen Ruck said about every tenth person who calls to inquire about ordering chicks through the store says they've never raised chickens before. She hears from suburban moms, who want a few hens to teach their kids responsibility, and new gardeners, seeking birds to go with their attempts to grow backyard vegetables. Livestock feed and pet food maker Purina Mills is seeing double-digit growth for its small, 5-pound bag of all-natural poultry feed marketed since 2003 to people who raise small flocks for eggs or as companion animals. Backyard Chickens, a Web site that began to help city residents raise chickens, says its community of about 27,000 people is growing rapidly, with about 100 new members daily...AP

Are their premises registered with the USDA?

Friday, April 17, 2009

EPA Proposes Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposal today finding greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare, a determination that could trigger a series of sweeping regulations affecting everything from vehicles to coal-fired power plants. In a statement issued at noon, EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson said, "This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations." The finding identifies six gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluorid -- as contributing to global warming. EPA noted in its official announcement that in making the determination that climate change poses a threat to Americans, Jackson took into account "the disproportionate impact climate change has on the health of certain segments of the population, such as the poor, the very young, the elderly, those already in poor health, the disabled, those living alone and/or indigenous populations dependent on one or a few resources." Global warming also poses a national security threat, the statement added, as well as an environmental one. The move, coming almost exactly two years after the Supreme Court ordered the agency to examine whether emissions linked to climate change should be curbed under the Clean Air Act, marks a major shift in the federal government's approach to global warming...WashPost

Renewable Energy's Environmental Paradox

The SunZia transmission line that would link sun and wind power from central New Mexico with cities in Arizona is just the sort of energy project an environmentalist could love -- or hate. And it is just the sort of line the Interior Department has been tasked with promoting -- or guarding against. If built, the 460-mile line would carry about 3,000 megawatts of power, enough to avoid the need for a handful of coal-fired plants and to help utilities meet mandated targets for use of renewable fuel. "We have to connect the sun of the deserts and the winds of the plains to places where people live," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said recently. But the line would also cross grasslands, skirt two national wildlife refuges and traverse the Rio Grande, all habitat areas rich in wildlife. The graceful sandhill crane, for example, makes its winter home in the wetlands of New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, right next to the path of the proposed power line. And much of the area falls under the protection of the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM)...Washington Post

Lawyers ask judge to split sweeping grazing suit

A federal lawyer is asking a judge to break apart a sweeping lawsuit that accuses federal land mangers of putting grazing and energy ahead of preserving sage grouse on millions of acres in six western states. The lawsuit, filed last year in U.S. District Court in Boise, challenges 16 separate land use plans developed by the Bureau of Land Management in Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and California. The Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project claims the BLM violated federal environmental laws when the agency failed to properly weigh the impacts grazing and natural gas drilling have on sage grouse and its diminishing habitat. Thursday's hearing in Boise focused on procedure rather than the merits of the case. Lawyers for the government, cattlemen and energy developers argue the case should be split and argued separately in the six different states...AP

Wolves caught on camera, 23 lambs killed

A motion-detector camera has photographed two wolves killing lambs on a ranch in Eastern Oregon — the first documented wolf attack on livestock in Oregon since they started moving into the state in 1999. Baker City-area sheep rancher Curt Jacobs said Wednesday his family — third generation sheep ranchers — had been moving ewes and lambs from the ranch compound, where they had been brought in for lambing, out to pasture last week. Monday morning, Jacobs, 52, found the wolves had come back and killed more lambs. One of the cameras captured a photo of two wolves looking right at it, with dead lambs at their feet. The attack is likely to revive the contentious debate over whether ranchers should be allowed to shoot wolves on sight. "It's all right to have the animal be here," Jacobs said from his ranch. "But if every time you went to work in the morning, somebody stopped you and took your lunch pail and you couldn't say nothing about it, it would get old after awhile." Jacobs said photos of the wolves and their tracks will go into his claim for $7,300 in compensation from Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation group supporting the return of wolves to Oregon. In all he had 23 lambs killed, and others too injured to be sold. The dead lambs had suffered bites down over the rib cage...AP

Hat Tip: The Outdoor Pressroom

U.S. will approve higher ethanol blend

The U.S. government will eventually allow higher levels of ethanol to be blended into gasoline, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said on Tuesday. Ethanol is currently approved to make up 10 percent of gasoline, but producers have lobbied the government to increase the blend level. "I absolutely believe that when all the science is in, the efficacy of using greater than 10 percent blends will be validated," Dinneen told reporters at an Energy Information Administration summer energy outlook conference. Growth Energy and 52 ethanol manufacturers petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency last month to raise the maximum blend level for ethanol in gasoline to as much as 15 percent. Dinneen said he expects the EPA to issue a notice "within days" to begin collecting public comment on the issue. The EPA has 270 days to act on the ethanol producers' request...Reuters

Currently, ethanol receives subsidies through mandated concumption, grants, loan guarantees, tax incentives and tariffs on imports. The tax incentives alone are estimated to be $9 billion in 2009. Higher blends means more subsidies.

BMI Surveillance: The Food Police Will Be Watching You

Two doctors from the nonprofit Altarum Institute have taken a page from the Department of Homeland Security playbook, and began advocating a “Body Mass Index surveillance system” this week. What kind of surveillance? An electronic registry of children’s personal health information, gathered in order to monitor their weight. Here’s our question: Will the FBI start tapping phone conversations any time the words “cookies” and “ice cream” are spoken? Let’s hope not. Because although Body Mass Index (BMI) is a popular measurement for weight-conscious consumers, it’s simplistic to the point of being practically useless. This new surveillance system is reminiscent of the BMI “report card” that Arkansas mandated in 2003 in order to grade students’ weight. How did that work out? “The BMI testing has not put a dent in the state's number of overweight kids,” The Baltimore Sun reported three years later...CFCF

EPA releases national greenhouse gas inventory; Ag responsible for 6 %

An EPA news release from yesterday stated that, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the national greenhouse gas inventory, which finds that overall emissions during 2007 increased by 1.4 percent from the previous year. The report, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2007, is the latest annual report that the United States has submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.” The inventory report, which can be downloaded here, stated on page 34 that, “The Agricultural chapter contains anthropogenic emissions from agricultural activities (except fuel combustion, which is addressed in the Energy chapter, and agricultural CO2 fluxes, which are addressed in the Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry Chapter). Agricultural activities contribute directly to emissions of greenhouse gases through a variety of processes, including the following source categories: enteric fermentation in domestic livestock, livestock manure management, rice cultivation, agricultural soil management, and field burning of agricultural residues. CH4 and N2O were the primary greenhouse gases emitted by agricultural activities. CH4 emissions from enteric fermentation and manure management represented about 24 percent and 8 percent of total CH4 emissions from anthropogenic activities, respectively, in 2007. Agricultural soil management activities such as fertilizer application and other cropping practices were the largest source of U.S. N2O emissions in 2007, accounting for 67 percent. In 2007, emission sources accounted for in the Agricultural chapters were responsible for 6 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”...agriculturelaw

EPA Will Mandate Tests On Pesticide Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency for the first time will require pesticide manufacturers to test 67 chemicals contained in their products to determine whether they disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates animals' and humans' growth, metabolism and reproduction, the agency said yesterday. Researchers have raised concerns that chemicals released into the environment interfere with animals' hormone systems, citing problems such as male fish in the Potomac River that are bearing eggs. Known as endocrine disruptors, the chemicals may affect the hormones that humans and animals produce or secrete. "Endocrine disruptors can cause lifelong health problems, especially for children," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. "Gathering this information will help us work with communities and industry to protect Americans from harmful exposure." Testing will begin this summer and will focus on whether these chemicals affect estrogen, androgen and thyroid systems. The tests eventually will encompass all pesticide chemicals. Pesticide industry officials said they had anticipated the move, which was set into motion in 1996 by the passage of the Food Quality Protection Act, and they planned to cooperate on the matter...WPost

Cure for honeybee colony collapse?

For the first time, scientists have isolated the parasite Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) from professional apiaries suffering from honeybee colony depopulation syndrome. They then went on to treat the infection with complete success, according to an April 14 announcement. In a study published in the new journal from the Society for Applied Microbiology, Environmental Microbiology Reports, scientists from Spain analyzed two apiaries and found evidence of honeybee colony depopulation syndrome (known as colony collapse disorder in the U.S.). They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, Israeli acute paralysis virus or pesticides) other than infection with N. ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies...Feedstuffs

NAIS meeting strikes out again

A stakeholders summit on the troubled National Animal Identification System (NAIS) Wednesday in Washington, D.C., ended -- again -- with no consensus from the livestock industry. Officials from major livestock groups, representing a full range of viewpoints on the issue, met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to lay out their positions. Vilsack called the meeting after House agricultural appropriations subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.) told him earlier this month that "the clock is ticking" on future funding for the program. Both she and House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) have threatened to end spending based on the underperformance of NAIS, which so far has cost taxpayers more than $120 million. Following today's meeting, Vilsack announced a new round of public "listening sessions" in an attempt to find a way to design a system that works effectively for market protection and animal health. He noted that there were entrenched positions among some species groups, but he remained optimistic on finding a solution for a system that would be effective for all participants. With sharp criticism coming from Congress about the failed effort to develop such a system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is under considerable pressure to find a solution before funding is for the program is zeroed out in the fiscal 2010 agricultural spending bill...Feedstuffs

Ticks Take Toll On Cattle

Following a treacherous winter, some ranchers in western South Dakota are already having an even worse spring. Hundreds of cattle have died and officials believe an infestation of winter ticks may be to blame. There are usually around 200 head of cattle grazing on the May ranch near Kyle. But in less than two months, a quarter of them have mysteriously died...two in the last two days. "Fifty-four head. Doesn't seem to be an end in sight. We've been doing this for thirty years. Never. Never seen anything like this," rancher Liz May said. The Mays aren't alone in their struggles. Veterinarian Norma Headlee says this season, she's seen about 250 individual cases of animals dying after being bitten by a winter tick...KELOLAND

Kilmer Asks $33 Million For New Mexico Ranch

Val Kilmer, who's failed to find a buyer for parts of his 6,000-acre New Mexico ranch, has now listed all of it for $33 million. The 49-year-old actor, who announced in February that he may run for New Mexico governor next year, says he's listing so that "someone who has the time and the finances" can maintain and preserve the property. His Pecos River ranch (with nearly six miles of the popular trout-fishing river) is about 25 miles southeast of Santa Fe and remains largely wild with canyons and pine forests. There's a main log house of about 5,600 square feet with four bedrooms, and two guest houses. The star of "The Doors" (1991) and "Batman Forever" (1995) assembled the ranch roughly 13 years ago. In 2006, he asked $18 million for 1,800 acres of the property, including the main houses. In January Mr. Kilmer offered those houses on a 1,000-acre parcel for $9 million, down from $12 million a few months earlier. John Watson, president and CEO of ranch broker Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield, has the listing...WSJ

48th annual Western Heritage Awards honors portrait book on rural life

Paul Mobley took the summer off at his cabin in Michigan to escape the thing that wore him out during his years as a commercial photographer in New York: taking pictures. Then, he saw some farmers hanging around outside a coffee shop. "I just looked at their faces and thought, ‘I have to take their picture,’” he said. "It was a kind of rebirth of my photo career.” Four years and more than 100,000 miles crisscrossing America later, Mobley figures he has captured the essence of rural life in a photo book. "American Farmer, The Heart of Our Country,” a collection of more than 200 portraits of farmers and ranchers in their native habitat, along with 45 profiles by writer Katrina Fried, has been selected for a Wrangler Award by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The Wrangler is "like winning an Oscar,” museum spokeswoman Shayla Simpson said. Mobley’s book was selected from among seven entries in the photo book category of the literary division, she said. It will be presented at the museum Saturday during the 48th annual Western Heritage Awards ceremony...The Oklahoman

Jody McCrea dies at 74

Jody McCrea, the actor son of Joel McCrea who appeared in a spate of westerns in the 1950s and '60s but was best known for his comedic work in the surf and on the sand as a regular cast member of the popular "Beach Party" movies, has died. He was 74. McCrea, whose mother was actress Frances Dee and who later became a cattle rancher in New Mexico, died of cardiac arrest April 4 in Roswell, N.M., said his brother, Peter. The strapping, 6-foot-3 McCrea launched his acting career in films in 1955 and teamed up with his movie-star father in the 1959-60 TV western "Wichita Town," in which the elder McCrea played the marshal and Jody one of his deputies. Over the next decade, McCrea appeared in about two dozen films and television shows, including the movie westerns "The Broken Land," "Young Guns of Texas," "Law of the Lawless," "Young Fury" and "Cry Blood, Apache." The beach movies provided a distinct change of pace. Beginning with "Beach Party," the 1963 American International Pictures comedy starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, McCrea appeared in "Muscle Beach Party," "Bikini Beach" "Pajama Party," "Beach Blanket Bingo" and "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini." Recalling the much taller McCrea, Avalon said, "He was a well-built, real athletic-looking guy, and he really was a surfer: He'd get on that board and surf." Although McCrea had two famous parents, Avalon said, "he never boasted about who his parents were."...LA Times

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Posts at New Mexico Liberty

For those who may be interested, here are links to my March posts to NM Liberty:

Greens Have A Reverse Tea Party


Condom Conundrum

Donating For Dollars? Bailed Out Banks Contribute To Campaigns

Is Rand Relevant?

Supporters of Free Markets Are Crazy, Says Harvard

In New Terror Video, AIG Demands Huge Ransom from U.S.

Stripper Tax In NY, "Pole" Tax In Texas

Eight Republican Senators Vote for Pork-Laden Spending Bill

"Obama Aims to Shield Science From Politics" - Does He Really?

You, Too, Can Profit from Pork and Earmarks

Not A Natural Disaster

$1.8 Million For Pig Odor Research; $200,000 For Gang Tatoo Removal

Troops Leaving Iraq, Guard Pulls Ouf Of New Orleans

Tax-free Internet shopping may be at an end

If a little-known but influential alliance of state politicians, large retailers, and tax collectors have their way, the days of tax-free Internet shopping may be nearly over. A bill expected to be introduced in the U.S. Congress as early as Monday would rewrite the ground rules for mail order and Internet sales by eliminating what its supporters view as a "loophole" that, in many cases, allows Americans to shop over the Internet without paying sales taxes. The final legislation is expected to be introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Rep. Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, who have championed similar proposals in the past. In response to complexity concerns, the pro-tax forces have offered a proposal that they hope Congress can be persuaded to adopt. The concept is called the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, invented in 2002 by state tax officials hoping to straighten out some of sales tax laws' most notorious convolutions. Since 2003, more than 20 states have signed on, either wholly or partially, to the agreement, meaning they agree to simplify their tax codes and make them uniform. If enough states participate, proponents believe it will be easier to convince Congress to make sales collection mandatory for out-of-state retailers...cnet news

New taxes on digital downloads

Because of quirks in many state laws, sales taxes may be levied on CDs sold in storefronts but not on iTunes and other digital downloads. It's a situation that recession-weary, tax-hungry politicians are hoping to change. A growing number of states are considering laws to tax digital goods, such as iTunes songs, Amazon MP3s, or electronic books. Yet at a time when governments say they want to encourage broadband adoption and the development of a low-carbon economy, opponents say taxing digital goods sends exactly the wrong message...cnet news

Mississippi is the most recent state to adopt such a tax, it goes into effect on July 1. Seventeen other states claim the authority to tax digital downloads, and more a seeking the authority.

Note To Readers

The computer is the handicapped person’s window to the world. Well, the curtains were drawn on my two windows last night.

Regular readers know my PC has been in the shop. Last night the laptop I have been using as a backup went bonkers.

Technology giveth and technology taketh away.

I got my PC back this evening and was posting away when I noticed Blogger had a scheduled shutdown for maintenance. Damn.

I should also warn you my PC has a “temporary fix” while we wait for a part to come in.

Bottom line: You got a crippled man and a crippled oomputer trying to bring you the good and bad of what’s happening in The West.

Don’t waste your time on me, but pray this contraption I’m writing on lasts until that part arrives.

White House completes review of EPA "endangerment" finding on global warming

The White House Office of Management and Budget reports that it completed its review yesterday of EPA’s proposed finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to health and the environment. I think this means we could expect the announcement at any time – perhaps as soon as tomorrow. (Or perhaps as late as Earth Day – April 22.) It will be a landmark moment in environmental history. It’s the first step in creating a comprehensive, federal climate change policy. This ought to make a sometimes balky Congress get serious about doing something. One thing is pretty clear: if Congress doesn’t act, the Obama administration will begin to take action on global warming...Clean Air Watch

Bureaucratic micromanagement of the economy, all in the name of fighting global warming, would likely be the end result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) endangerment finding on greenhouse gases. The endangerment finding is the first step in a long regulatory process that could lead to EPA requiring different regulations and units of emissions requirements for each gadget that emits carbon dioxide. The first target would be automobiles, but the EPA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) suggested regulations of almost everything that moves, including new regulations smaller items such lawnmowers and forklifts. The ANPR also suggests putting speed limiters on large trucks on the table as a means of reducing carbon dioxide and even suggested sharkskin boats oozing bubbles to reduce emissions from the shipping industry. You can’t make this stuff up...The Foundry

Obama Energy Chief Discusses Climate

While the Obama administration outlined its sweeping energy plans in recent months, Carol Browner, the energy and climate “czarina,” was a discreet figure, making few public appearances. That discretion may have helped to fuel doubts that the administration was really committed to seeking new climate legislation this year. But on Monday, Ms. Browner offered a glimpse of the administration’s strategy at an energy forum held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. By her account, the administration is determined to move forward on climate change even in the face a crippling recession and global economic crisis. As opposition to a climate bill mounts, particularly from Congressional Republicans, Ms. Browner said such legislation would significantly strengthen the administration’s position in Copenhagen, where nations will negotiate a new climate treaty at the end of the year. “Copenhagen and the position we can take there will be driven by what we can do domestically,” she said. “The bill is absolutely essential to our position and what we hope to achieve.” “The president has been very clear that he wants to re-establish the U.S. as a leader on the issue of climate change and global warming,” Ms. Browner said...NY Times

Poll: Northwest voters oppose Snake River dam removal

A poll suggests a majority of voters in the Pacific Northwest think removing four lower Snake River dams is an "extreme solution" for recovering salmon. The poll was commissioned by Northwest RiverPartners, a coalition of upstream farmers, ports and others who want to see the dams left in place. It was conducted by Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts of Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall Inc. "Dam removal would be economically devastating to the Northwest's energy picture and use of the rivers as an economic highway," said Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest RiverPartners...The Oregonian

Spammers scourge to inbox and environment

There are plenty of reasons to hate spammers. Add this to the list: They're environmentally unfriendly. A report being released Wednesday by security company McAfee Inc. finds that spammers are a scourge to your inbox and the environment, generating an astounding 62 trillion junk e-mails in 2008 that wasted enough electricity to power 2.4 million U.S. homes for a year. The "Carbon Footprint of E-mail Spam Report" estimated the computational power needed to process spam — from criminals tapping their armies of infected PCs to send it, Internet providers transmitting it, and end users viewing and deleting it...AP

Border Security Task Force mulls livestock border fences

Proposals directed at improving livestock fencing along the New Mexico-Mexico border were heard Friday by an ad hoc subcommittee of the Border Security Task Force. The subcommittee met at Mimbres Valley Learning Center, drawing area ranchers and representatives from a cross-section of city, county, state and federal agencies. The chief concern is danger to livestock if an animal or person carrying a disease crosses the border. As they did at a BSTF meeting in March, Keeler and the New Mexico Livestock Board's Joe Delk presented slides showing the variety of fencing. There are newly constructed 19-foot high pedestrian fences, vehicle barriers, Normandy barriers - some with a livestock component further restricting access - and older post-and-rail barriers and barbed-wire fences. "There wasn't a focus," Keeler said of fencing history. "Foot and mouth disease is endemic in South America," said Jeff Witte, of the Office of Agricultural Biosecurity. It has a life of days to weeks on clothing and hay, for example. One infected animal can desolate a whole country, the subcommittee was told, also affecting others whose jobs depend on transporting ag products and grocers. If you eat, you are involved in agriculture. Witte would like to see education on agricultural issues spreading knowledge to a wider population than ranchers and livestock officials...Las Cruces Sun-News

Feds pay farmers to till arid land

As drought forces families in the West to shorten their showers and let their lawns turn brown, two Depression-era government programs have been paying some of the nation's biggest farms hundreds of millions of dollars to grow water-thirsty crops in what was once desert. Records obtained by The Associated Press show that the federal government handed out more than $687 million in subsidies over the past two years to hundreds of farmers in California and Arizona, the most seriously drought-stricken states in the West. One program pays farmers for planting water-needy crops such as cotton and rice, which are largely grown by flooding the fields. The other provides cut-rate water for irrigation...AP

Dairy industry sees less-gassy future for cows

The U.S. dairy industry wants to engineer the "cow of the future" to pass less gas, a project aimed at cutting the industry's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The cow project aims to reduce intestinal methane, the single largest component of the dairy industry's carbon footprint, said Thomas P. Gallagher, chief executive officer of the U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc.'s Innovation Center in Rosemont, Ill. One area to be explored is modifying the dairy cows' feed so they produce less methane, said Rick Naczi, the leader of the initiative. "Right now there is some work being done on fish-oil additives and some other things," he said. "The cow is responsible for the majority of the greenhouse gas on the farm itself. We know there are ways that we can find to cut or reduce that production." Another possible solution is targeting the microbes in the cow's gut, Naczi said. "You can change the mix of the bacteria in the cow's rumen and change the methane production that way." He expects the research to develop some solutions within a year...AP

US fears horse harvest ban a step to veganism

At the core of the current horse harvesting debate in the United States is animal agriculture's concern that the criminalisation of one animal-based protein source - horse meat - could be a stepping stone toward making all meat consumption illegal. At the recent National Institute for Animal Agriculture meeting, Essie Rogers, director of education for the Kentucky Horse Council, said the issue of horse harvesting has become so divisive that the council itself and its board are split 50/50 over whether horses should be harvested for human consumption. Republican Sue Wallis, of Wyoming, agrees and has just completed an information paper addressing the issue of horse harvesting and the fundamentals of animal agriculture. According to Wallis, efforts to criminalise horse meat have become such a significant threat that the rights of Americans are close to being abruptly curtailed. Well-financed animal rights organisations, and even well-intentioned but uninformed horse lovers, are behind the push, she said. Noting that animal agriculture is a business, Wallis said prohibiting horse owners from a salvage market is the same as prohibiting a rental car company from selling their cars once they have so many miles on them. The legislation also would transform horses from valuable assets to expensive liabilities. Economic incentives to keep, breed and improve the species will be massively affected, and ranchers, breeders, trainers and all related equine service industries will see their livelihoods greatly diminished...Stock & Land

Wild boar attacks woman in Gothenburg cemetery

The woman was out walking her dog in the woods at Västra Kykogården cemetery at 7am this morning when she came face to face with a large wild boar, according to local newspaper Göteborgs-Posten. "I have never run as fast in all my life," the woman told the newspaper. A hunter employed by the Church of Sweden was later able to confirm that in fact two wild boars had been out in the graveyard...The Local

Song Of The Day #018

Most everyone should be familiar with Johnny Horton, of I'm A One Woman Man, The Battle of New Orleans, North To Alaska, etc. fame. He was born in 1925 to a family of migrant fruit pickers and got most of his raising in East Texas. He got his start by winning a talent contest hosted by the then radio announcer Jim Reeves. He was killed in a car wreck in 1960.

I picked this song for today's selection because my dad got such a big kick out of it. He even liked it after he found out what a pirogue really was.

So here's Johnny Horton's 1956 recording of I Got A Hole In My Pirogue. It's available here as an mp3 download, and is available on several collections, including his 16 Biggest Hits.

Please enjoy while I sit back and remember dad's reaction to this song.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Immigration Raid at Customs Officer’s Home Leads to Suit

James and Sheila Slaughter said that when they answered the door of their home in San Luis, Ariz., on a July afternoon last year, they were surprised to find five armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers strapped into bulky bulletproof vests accusing them of harboring an illegal immigrant. “Is this ‘Candid Camera’?” Mrs. Slaughter recalled asking. That irritated the lead officer, her husband said Tuesday. “He said: ‘No, it isn’t “Candid Camera.” You need to step back into the middle of the room.’ ” The couple said they complied, and the officers prepared to search their home. Mr. Slaughter, a six-foot, 285-pound former Marine, said he then told them, “Look fellas, do you guys realize that I’m a U.S. Customs K-9 officer at the San Luis land port?” “The lead officer’s eyes got about as big and round as silver dollars, and the three guys who were standing just inside the door went straight outside,” said Mr. Slaughter, 51, who with a Labrador retriever, Whitey, searches cars at the Mexican border for narcotics. “They left without saying a word. They knew they messed up.” The Slaughters recently filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Phoenix accusing the Department of Homeland Security of violating their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. They are seeking $500,000 from each of the five officers...NY Times

Obama Taps 5th RIAA Lawyer to Justice Dept.

President Barack Obama is tapping another RIAA attorney into the Justice Department. Monday's naming of Ian Gershengorn, to become the department's deputy assistant attorney of the Civil Division, comes more than a week after nearly two-dozen public interest groups, trade pacts and library coalitions urged the new president to quit filling his administration with lawyers plucked from the Recording Industry Association of America. The move makes it five RIAA lawyers Obama has appointed to the Justice Department. Gershengorn, left, a partner with RIAA-firm Jenner & Block, represented the labels against Grokster (.pdf) and will be in charge of the DOJ Federal Programs Branch. That's the unit that just told a federal judge the Obama administration supports monetary damages as high as $150,000 per purloined music track on a peer-to-peer file sharing program...Wired

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Albq & El Paso in top twenty for auto thefts

This city along the Rio Grande is on the verge of becoming the stolen-car capital of the U.S., according to data set for release Monday that underscore how drug cartels are helping make the U.S.-Mexico border region a hot spot for vehicle thieves. The National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit body that collects law-enforcement reports, said 1,960 vehicles were reported stolen in the Laredo metropolitan area last year, an increase of more than 47% since 2005, when Laredo ranked 32nd nationally. That comes to 827 thefts per 100,000 people, putting Laredo just behind No. 1 Modesto, Calif. Of the 20 U.S. metropolitan regions with the highest theft rates, according to the crime bureau, seven are near the Mexico border: Laredo; San Diego; Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; El Centro, Calif.; El Paso, Texas; and Phoenix. El Paso in particular has jumped up the charts; it ranked 17th in 2008, compared with No. 81 in 2005. While Mexican drug cartels aren't behind every stolen car along the border, police say their money drives the professional side of the trade...WSJ

Suit says grazing, drilling rules threaten bird

Conservationists say federal rules that allow livestock grazing and oil and gas development across 25 million acres of public land in the West are illegal because they fail to acknowledge the harm being done to sage grouse. A lawsuit recently filed in federal court accuses the Bureau of Land Management of violating two major environmental laws and its own regulations by allowing commercial activities to continue on those lands in California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. But in a switch in strategy, the environmentalists aren't asking a judge to immediately halt those operations. They want to talk, and they think they may have a willing listener in the new Obama administration. "What we are after is finding a way to do things differently than in the past and better manage these public lands into the future," said Laird Lucas, a lawyer for the Western Watersheds Project, which filed the suit. Since taking office, President Obama has distanced himself from several Bush administration policies on the environment and suspended some administrative orders Bush signed in the waning days of his term that could lead to the easing of protections for threatened wildlife on federal land. The change in administrations prompted the new approach from the Idaho-based environmental group that has spent much of the past eight years in court battling land-use rules adopted by the BLM and Forest Service...AP

City official says power line flak is BLM's fault

The Bureau of Land Management is forcing Idaho Power to route its Gateway West Transmission Line Project through the city limits, Kuna City Planner Steven Hasson said after a two-hour meeting Wednesday between city officials, BLM and Idaho Power. He said the agency ignored an Idaho Power study that showed the utility's preferred route for its proposed 500,000 volt Gateway project was through the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area south of Kuna that is already "crisscrossed" with similar high-voltage electrical towers. "Last year the BLM just told them there was no way those lines were going to run on public land," Hasson said. "It soon became apparent who was the 800-pound gorilla in the room. It was a matter of might makes right." The Gateway project calls for running 1,150 miles of transmission line from a substation near Casper, Wyo., to the Hemingway substation outside of Melba. Unable to locate the transmission lines on public land, Idaho Power submitted a proposal to the BLM that would route the project on land that Kuna has since annexed. If the project goes that route, it would endanger construction of the Osprey Ridge development, a 1,500-acre, 4,500-home and mixed-used planned community, according to Jedd K. Jones, an attorney for Osprey Ridge Partners LLLP...Idaho Statesman

It's no problem having a National Conservation Area near your community. Just plan on having your property condemned for rights of ways that otherwise would have been on federal land, and don't plan on economic development that would bring jobs.

Remember city officials: BLM, Congress and the enviro's told you an NCA would be good for business. Do you still believe them?

Forest Service fees rising for electric utilities

Electric utilities throughout California are getting hit with steep cost increases to continue using federal land for their hydropower projects. Conservationists say it's about time. The Placer County Water Agency's annual land use fee for its Middle Fork American River hydropower dams is jumping from $286,000 to $880,000 annually. The charge to Sacramento Municipal Utility District's Upper American River Project is rising from $343,000 to $635,000. Both are expected to increase again next year. The two utilities use U.S. Forest Service land in the Sierra Nevada to store and move water to generate electricity. The higher bills were mailed in late March by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has not adjusted the fees since 1987. Payment is due in early May. The agency estimates the fees are increasing, on average, 113 percent for hydropower utilities nationwide this year...Sacramento Bee

BLM floats fee to ride river rapids

Floating down the Colorado River is a local tradition. But if a Bureau of Land Management idea holds water, users of the Colorado River in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area could be paying fees by 2011. The fee could be $3 to $7, based on the fee river users already pay in the Kremmling area ($3) and in the Ruby Canyon area ($7). “This is in the very preliminary stages, looking at whether a fee to float in that area of the river would be appropriate,” said David Boyd, spokesman for the BLM. Implementation of the fee would not be immediate, if it is imposed at all. First, the citizen advisory council for the McInnis Canyons area would have to hear the proposal and give its OK for it to be explored. The BLM would then poll river users this summer. Public meetings would be hosted, and there would be a formal comment period. If all went smoothly, the fee would take effect in 2011...GJ Sentinel

Owners of cabins on Forest Service land face much higher fees

Al and Kay Alsing bought a cabin in Southern Oregon in 1966, paying the U.S. Forest Service $35 a year in fees for the privilege of using national forest land for recreational housing. But they say their tenure may end because the fees, which had risen to $1,000 recently, now are scheduled to rise sixfold, to about $6,250 a year. "It looks like we can't make it," Al Alsing said. A federal law requires the Forest Service to have new appraisals of cabin properties across the nation. It sets permit fees at 5 percent of the raw land value as decided by local market information. In some cases, the rises will be dramatic because appraisals can be decades old. The new appraisals will affect 14,000 recreation residences on national forest land. The fees will begin in 2011 and be phased in over three years. Twenty-five percent of the revenue will be given to the county and 75 percent will go to the federal treasury...AP

Long Time Valley Resident Won't Leave Historic Cabin

One of the oldest cabins in the Santa Barbara back country could be coming down soon, but the last resident to live there says it's too historic to lose. The Forest Service lease on Paradise Road ended last November. Tom Merkel who lives on the property, has a collections of odds and ends, covered with dust and cobwebs in a structures that is irregular in every way. Merkel says the structure which was built in 1918, should be given historical considerations before it's leveled. The Forest Service says it's studied the site, and does not believe it has the historical significance that Merkel claims. They want to use the site to increase public access in the area. Merkel says that 26 other cabins nearby, have already been vacated...KEYT3

More background is in The Last Man in Paradise.

Simplot mine expansion, seen as Yellowstone threat, blocked by court

A federal appeals court has temporarily halted the expansion of a phosphate mine in southeastern Idaho that opponents say would damage roadless areas near Yellowstone National Park. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that U.S. District Judge Mikel Williams failed to consider whether logging and topsoil removal during expansion of the J.R. Simplot Co.-owned Smoky Canyon phosphate mine would cause irreparable harm to the site. The mine has supplied about 1.5 million tons of phosphate ore a year to the company's Don plant in Pocatello, where it is converted into fertilizer. But company officials have said the current site will likely be played out by 2010. Last June the Bush administration approved a plan to allow the mine to expand into roadless areas of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, about 100 miles south of Yellowstone. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition sued last fall, contending the mine has historically sent large amounts of naturally occurring selenium into local waters, which has poisoned or caused birth defects in wildlife and livestock. The environmental groups say expanding the mine would create a major environmental disturbance and that the decision has not had adequate scientific review...AP

They are protecting roadless areas at all cost, so they can eventually be declared wilderness.

Montana to Washington: 'Hands off our water'

It's called the Clean Water Restoration Act. Sounds innocuous enough. After all, who could oppose clean water? But the bill introduced earlier this month by Sen. Russ Feingold and 23 co-sponsors, ostensibly to protect Americas wetlands, lakes and streams, was running into opposition even before hearings begin. The Montana Senate overwhelmingly voted to oppose the legislation because it removes control of all of the state's waterways, including temporary ones like seasonal ponds and swamps, from local officials to those in Washington. The 29-19 bipartisan vote of the Montana Senate was meant to send a clear signal to Washington – "get your hands off our water." The new legislation would bring federal oversight to all waters in the U.S., going further than the original Clean Water Act, which was limited to navigable waters. Montana legislators say the bill would potentially run roughshod over the rights of property owners. "It's why I call it the goodbye clause, or the goodbye private property clause," Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey, said about the new legislation. Two Supreme Court decisions ruled the federal government had exceeded its mandate in attempting to control isolated wetlands through the law. Opponents of the new law say it pushes the limits of federal power further than perhaps any other law in U.S. history – a grab for power heretofore left to the states. The Competitive Enterprise Institute says the bill would put the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of a nationwide land permitting process – removing authority from the people and properties actually affected by decisions it would make...WorldNetDaily

Utah counties lose again in road & water monument fight

Kane and Garfield have lost another round in their years-long court fight for more road and water access in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld an earlier ruling that the Kane County Water Conservancy District, which is seeking to drill a culinary well within the monument, doesn't yet have a case. In their 32-page ruling, the judges said that because the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which crafted the management plan for the monument's 1.9 million acres, hasn't completed an environmental analysis on Kane's request to drill the well in Johnson Canyon, the county cannot show it has been harmed. Kane County, the Kane County Water Conservancy District and Garfield County sued the Interior Department and the BLM to challenge the monument plan on both road and water-right access. Mike Noel, executive director of the water district and Kane's representative to the Utah House, said the monument plan allows water rights of way only under certain circumstances that make it difficult for his water district to tap its water right, whose headwaters are within the monument boundaries. The proposed well site is on land proposed for wilderness study, which the BLM already has identified as having wilderness-quality resources...Salt Lake Tribune

Population Alarmists

Today's world population is about 6.8 billion, give or take a hundred million or so. By 2050, most estimates show the population will be about 9 billion — roughly a 35% or so increase. That's the equivalent, population-wise, of adding seven new countries the size of the U.S. to the world population. When you say it that way, it does sound dramatic and, as Attenborough put it, "frightening." The problem is, numbers lie. Past estimates of population growth have virtually always overestimated world fertility rates, and underestimated social trends that led to fewer babies. This time will be no different. If fertility rates decline just a little more than predicted (and the decline in fertility rates over the past four decades has been faster than almost any estimate out there), the population actually begins to shrink in 2040. By 2050, at the low end of fertility expectations, U.N. forecasts show just 7.96 billion people in 2050. And by the end of the century, the population will actually drop below its current levels. Worrying about population is an old preoccupation. Ever since the Rev. Thomas Malthus warned in the early 19th century that population growth would surely outstrip our ability to feed people, gloomy population prognosticators have been consistently wrong...IBD

Snowkiters flying above Forest Service wilderness rules for now

Three years ago, Chris Sabo first saw the colorful kites twisting above the snowy contours of Ball Butte. The Deschutes National Forest trails specialist was patrolling the boundary of the Three Sisters Wilderness west of Bend on a snowmobile when he came across a group of snowkiters, who harness the wind to pull them across the snow on skis or snowboards. "I do remember the big question was, 'Is this legal technically?'" recalled Sabo. That question could soon lead to one of the first changes to the U.S. Forest Service's wilderness regulations in more than two decades. "It has rapidly made its way up to the Washington office" of the Forest Service, said Shane Jeffries, Bend-Fort Rock District Ranger in Bend and Sabo's supervisor. The small sport of snowkiting is about a decade old in Oregon, but it's growing. Congressionally designated wilderness areas have been around since the 1960s. The recent intersection of the two demonstrates how government agencies react as the way we play on public lands continues to change. "Periodically new things pop up on us that we just can't envision," said Sabo. It happened with hang gliding and, more recently, Geocaching -- a GPS-driven treasure hunt popular on public lands. Now it seems it's snowkiting's turn to bow to the bureaucracy...The Oregonian

"bow to the beaucracy" - when it comes to wilderness, that's a pretty accurate phrase.

Can you fly a kite in a wilderness area? Wonder what Benjamin Franklin would say.

Faced with global warming, can wilderness remain natural?

For those who think of nature as a wild, unspoiled Eden that preserves the natural flora and fauna free from human interference, global warming has a nasty surprise in store, according to University of California, Berkeley, biologist Anthony Barnosky. In his new book, "Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming" (Island Press, 2009), Barnosky says that because of climate change, wilderness left to its own will no longer look like the natural areas we see today. Our conservation strategies must be rethought, he adds, because business-as-usual will not preserve all the aspects of nature we have come to know, love and respect. Setting aside preserves, for example, puts animals and plants in a bind: As global warming makes their current habitats unsuitable, surrounding human development prevents them from moving to more hospitable places. The alternative, assisted migration, smacks of creating wild zoos - quasi-natural areas like the dinosaur wonderland portrayed in the book and movie "Jurassic Park." "The new twist in preserving nature is that we might have to come up with a separate but equal system, where we actively set aside some tracts of land as wildlands where people can experience this feeling of 'wilderness,' but recognize that the species that live in those places and the landscape are not going to be the species and landscape we are used to," he says. "Our kids are going to see very different things in those kinds of places than we do." Barnosky describes in his book how global warming is already causing shifts in the ranges of animals and plants, disrupting migrations and spawning, and stressing animals confined to parks and reserves...EurekAlert

Recession Erodes Resistance to Arizona Copper Mine

Two years ago, Marles Jimenez demonstrated against the proposed development of Resolution Copper mine by Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton here. The mining site, more than a mile above the largest known copper reserve in North America, is also adjacent to Apache Leap, a majestic jutting cliff of rocks. But recently that worry has been eclipsed by the region's economic troubles. Mr. Jimenez, out of work as a mechanic since October, has had to sell his 1999 Ford pickup to pay the rent on his trailer. "The Leap is beautiful, but we need jobs," he says. Seeing an opening, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are now touting their joint-venture mine as a local stimulus package. "Except ours won't cost taxpayers any money," says David Salisbury, president of the joint venture, Resolution Copper Mining. The copper reserve could employ at least 1,132 people at its peak, add $800 million to Arizona's economy and eventually supply 20% of North America's copper needs, Mr. Salisbury says...WSJ

Power, Prestige, and Politics - The Sixteen Surveyors General of New Mexico

The U.S. Land Office was an intensely political one, and the office of surveyor general was so important, that when President Cleveland in May 1885 gave George W. Julian the choice between it and that of governor of New Mexico Territory, Julian chose the former as the more desirable of the two. Following are short biographies of the sixteen men who held the office of ‘Surveyor General of New Mexico’ from its inception in 1854 until it was abolished in 1925. All of them had interesting careers as surveyors, engineers, lawyers, military officers, a medical doctor, and above all as politicians. Thirteen of them stemmed from east of the Mississippi River and only the last one, Manuel Sanchez, was a native New Mexican (Llewellyn was brought to New Mexico as an infant); but eight are still here, a part of our soil forever...American Surveyor

State agency investigates pollution and 13 years later discovers it was them

Thirteen years after Washington state's environmental agency found a creek severely polluted, the contamination has been traced back to the agency's regional office. City workers discovered this week that a sewer line from the building housing the regional offices of the state Department of Ecology and Department of Fish and Game, and a small U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contingent, was mistakenly connected to a storm water runoff system, rather than a municipal sewer main. As a result, sewage from the building has been entering Burnt Bridge Creek and eventually Vancouver Lake for an unknown number of years. Workers in the leased offices were stunned when they got the word Wednesday, The Columbian newspaper reported...AP

Song Of The Day #017

I gotta quit pickin' these songs at the end of my postings. I completely ran out of time yesterday, and don't have the time tell you about Johnny Bond today. He was a country music star on records, radio and the movies, and I will tell you more about him in a future posting.

Today's selection is Johnny Bond's Oklahoma Waltz, available on the cd I Like My Chicken Fryin' Size.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Note to readers

My computer is still down, hope to find out later today if it has to be shipped back to Dell or can be fixed at home.

Using the wife's laptop, so there may be fewer posts, fewer comments and all my blog images are on the other computer.

Obama, Who Vowed Rapid Action on Climate Change, Turns More Cautious

President Obama came to office promising swift and comprehensive action to combat global climate change, and the topic remains a surefire applause line in his speeches here and abroad. Yet the administration has taken a cautious and rather passive role on the issue, proclaiming broad goals while remaining aloof from details of climate legislation now in Congress. The president’s budget initially included roughly $650 billion in revenue over 10 years from a cap-and-trade emissions plan that he wants adopted. But the administration, while insisting that its health care initiative be protected, did not fight to keep cap-and-trade in the budget resolutions that Congress passed last week, and it wound up in neither the House’s version nor the Senate’s. Overseas, American officials are telling their counterparts that they need time to gauge the American public’s appetite for an ambitious carbon reduction scheme before leading any international effort...NY Times

Climate bill could trigger lawsuit landslide

Self-proclaimed victims of global warming or those who "expect to suffer" from it - from beachfront property owners to asthmatics - for the first time would be able to sue the federal government or private businesses over greenhouse gas emissions under a little-noticed provision slipped into the House climate bill. Environmentalists say the measure was narrowly crafted to give citizens the unusual standing to sue the U.S. government as a way to force action on curbing emissions. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sees a new cottage industry for lawyers. "You could be spawning lawsuits at almost any place [climate-change modeling] computers place at harm's risk," said Bill Kovacs, energy lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Under the House bill, if a judge rules against the government, new rules would have to be drafted to alleviate the problems associated with climate change. If a judge rules against a company, the company would have to purchase additional "carbon emission allowances" through a cap-and-trade program that is to be created by Congress. The measure sets grounds for anyone "who has suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable, in whole or in part," to government inaction to file a "citizen suit." The term "harm" is broadly defined as "any effect of air pollution (including climate change), currently occurring or at risk of occurring."...Washington Times

Green Stimulus Money Costs More Jobs Than It Creates, Study Shows

Every “green job” created with government money in Spain over the last eight years came at the cost of 2.2 regular jobs, and only one in 10 of the newly created green jobs became a permanent job, says a new study released this month. The study draws parallels with the green jobs programs of the Obama administration. President Obama, in fact, has used Spain’s green initiative as a blueprint for how the United States should use federal funds to stimulate the economy. Obama's economic stimulus package,which Congress passed in February, allocates billions of dollars to the green jobs industry. But the author of the study, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, said the United States should expect results similar to those in Spain...CNS News

The Truth About "Green Jobs"

The Green Jobs Act mandates that in order to receive federal funding for "green jobs", organizations must partner with an organized labor union, saying: (ii) ELIGIBILITY- To be eligible to receive a grant under clause (i), an entity shall be a non-profit partnership that-- (I) includes the equal participation of industry, including public or private employers, and labor organizations, including joint labor-management training programs, and may include workforce investment boards, community-based organizations, educational institutions, small businesses, cooperatives, State and local veterans agencies, and veterans service organizations; and... To receive federal funding, this Act forces organizations to partner with labor unions. The problem: organized labor only makes up 7.8 percent of the private sector workforce. If the Green Jobs Act is not fixed, over 90 percent of the private sector workforce will not be able to compete in one of the largest growing fields of construction...ATR

Water Shortage?

There is plenty of water to go around and human beings are not using all that much. Every year, thousands of cubic kilometres (km3) of fresh water fall as rain or snow or come from melting ice. According to a study in 2007, most nations outside the Gulf were using a fifth or less of the water they receive—at least in 2000, the only year for which figures are available. The global average withdrawal of fresh water was 9% of the amount that flowed through the world’s hydrologic cycle. Both Latin America and Africa used less than 6% (see table). On this evidence, it would seem that all water problems are local. The trouble with this conclusion is that no one knows how much water people can safely use. It is certainly not 100% (the amount taken in Gulf states) because the rest of creation also has to live off the water. In many places the maximum may well be less than one fifth, the average for Asia as a whole. It depends on how water is returned to the system, how much is taken from underground aquifers, and so on. But there is some admittedly patchy evidence that, given current patterns of use and abuse, the amount now being withdrawn is moving dangerously close to the limit of safety—and in some places beyond it. An alarming number of the world’s great rivers no longer reach the sea. They include the Indus, Rio Grande, Colorado, Murray-Darling and Yellow rivers. These are the arteries of the world’s main grain-growing areas...It is not the absolute number of people that makes the biggest difference to water use but changing habits and diet. Diet matters more than any single factor because agriculture is the modern Agasthya, the mythical Indian giant who drank the seas dry. Farmers use about three-quarters of the world’s water; industry uses less than a fifth and domestic or municipal use accounts for a mere tenth. Different foods require radically different amounts of water. To grow a kilogram of wheat requires around 1,000 litres. But it takes as much as 15,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef. The meaty diet of Americans and Europeans requires around 5,000 litres of water a day to produce. The vegetarian diets of Africa and Asia use about 2,000 litres a day (for comparison, Westerners use just 100-250 litres a day in drinking and washing)...The Economist

Science, Mythology, Hatred, and the Fate of the Gray Wolf

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find a way to accept the decision by Ken Salazar, the new secretary of the interior, to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana. It was a relief to have a sensible conversation with newly appointed interior officials after eight years of hearing almost nothing but distortion and duplicity from the top figures in the department. It was also a relief to hear them say, in describing the way they reached this decision, that they were simply following the guidance of career scientists. And yet I still can’t accept it. The reintroduction of wolves in the Rocky Mountain West has been an overwhelming success. It began with 65 wolves in 1995 and 1996, and the population has now reached approximately 1,600 across the region, with about a hundred breeding pairs. The numerical standards of the original recovery plan have been more than met, and there is new evidence, according to Interior Department scientists, that enough intermingling is taking place among separate populations to ensure a healthy genetic diversity. Unfortunately, very little has been done to change the behavior of humans — who drove wolves to the brink of extinction. The way the wolf has been delisted, this time, is a reminder that what we are really doing when we protect endangered and threatened species is managing our own species...NY Times

Interior deputy secretary in Bush admin now consulting for EDF

Lynn Scarlett, who held the Interior Department's No. 2 post during the Bush administration, is now working for an advocacy group that was frequently at odds with her department during her time there. The former Interior deputy secretary is consulting for the Environmental Defense Fund, working on three white papers on climate change, ecosystem services and landscape-scale conservation. Said Scarlett, "I love it. It's great." Scarlett was second in command at Interior from 2005 to 2009, a period some environmentalists call the worst years ever for the department. At issue for the groups were rampant political corruption and much-reviled efforts to shrink endangered-species protection and promote oil and gas development on public lands. But environmental lobbyists say they do not blame Scarlett for Interior's problems. They say Scarlett -- a birder who took a particular interest in wildlife refuges and bird conservation -- was willing to listen to environmentalists and took a reasonable approach to formulating policy...NY Times

Environmentalists seek ban on owner-operated diesel trucks at N.J. port

The independent trucker is an American icon, glorified 30 years ago in B-movies like "Smokey and the Bandit" as the modern cowboy making a living on his own wits and diesel-powered rig. But it's time for them to hit the highway -- permanently -- charged a coalition of environmental groups and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters today, blaming the bulk of diesel engine pollution in New Jersey and New York ports on owner-operated trucks handling most of the port-hauling business. Members of the Coalition for Healthy Ports and the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force stood at the Tullo Truck Stop in Kearny, calling for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to implement Los Angeles' controversial ban on independent rigs -- a prohibition lambasted last month by a federal appeals

Nice to see the Teamsters Union so concerned about clean air.

I'm sure their involvement has nothing to do with the fact that 73% of the 7,000 truck drivers at the two ports are independent operators and not members of the union.

Report: Ethanol Raises Cost of Nutrition Programs

Food stamps and child nutrition programs are expected to cost up to $900 million more this year because of increased ethanol use. Higher use of the corn-based fuel additive accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of the rise in food prices between April 2007 and April 2008, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That could mean the government will have to spend more on food programs for the needy during the current budget year, which ends Sept. 30. It estimated the additional cost at up to $900 million. Roughly one-quarter of corn grown in the United States is now used to produce ethanol and overall consumption of ethanol in the country hit a record high last year, exceeding 9 billion gallons, according to the CBO. It took nearly 3 billion bushels of corn to produce ethanol in the United States last year -- an increase of almost a billion bushels over 2007...AP

But the greenies lobbied for it and the first Presidential primary is in Iowa.

Global warming endangers U.S. corn production, study says

Global warming could rob the U.S. economy of $1.4 billion a year in lost corn production alone, a national environmental group estimated in a report released Thursday. The Environment America study, based on government and university data, projects that warming temperatures will reduce yields of the nation's biggest crop by 3% in the Midwest and the South compared with projected yields without further global warming. Iowa would be hit hardest, losing $259 million a year in corn revenues, followed by Illinois at $243 million. California, which leads the country in agriculture but doesn't grow much corn, would take an estimated $4.7-million hit. The study doesn't directly address other crops, but one of its main sources, a 2008 government report on the effects of warming on agriculture and natural resources, suggests that California's signature fruit and vegetable harvests could suffer even more than corn if temperatures rise...LA Times

The study is here.

Cattlemen respond to food safety legislation

Kansas cattlemen support safety measures that provide enhancement and promotion of food safety in the United States. However, there are new concerns that proposed legislation aimed to promote food safety would only hinder U.S. production. HR 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, will establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. This legislation would provide the Food and Drug Administration with the authority to visit and inspect U.S. farms and ranches. The FDA would be responsible for setting practice standards for production agriculture and be responsible for monitoring and conducting surveillance of animals and the environment. If enacted, this legislation would require the establishment of a national traceability system that enables the FDA to retrieve the history, use, and location of an article of food through all stages of its production and require producers to keep and maintain records for traceability. Producers would be required to provide the Administrator with access to and the ability to copy all records (paper or electronic) not only to determine whether the food is contaminated, adulterated, or otherwise not in compliance with the food safety law, but also to track the food in commerce. This essentially creates a mandatory animal Identification system...High Plains Journal

Prediction: The Politically Superior Ones will threaten the cattle industry with H.R. 875, but will agree to leave the program at USDA in return for the industry's support of a mandatory program.

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Horse Cloning Bill

The Oklahoma legislature on April 7 approved a bill that prohibits cloned horses or the offspring of cloned horses from participating in races at tracks in Oklahoma. The bill provides that neither clones nor the offspring of clones would be permitted to race even if they are registered by a national breed registry. Sponsored by State Sen. Joe Sweeden and State Rep. Don Armes, the bill is supported by the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association. The final step for the legislation to take effect is the signature by Gov. Brad Henry...The Horse

Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is considered by many “the first cultured President” of the United States. He was born into a privileged family in Albemarle County, Va., on April 13, 1743. His father, Peter, was a plantation owner, and his mother Jane was a daughter in the aristocratic Randolph clan. In 1774, Jefferson authored his “Summary View of the Rights of British America,” a precursor to his legendary declaration. Though the delegates of the First Continental Congress chose a separate essay to represent their claims, his writing gave him authority and influence in the political sphere. Jefferson served as President George Washington’s minister to France, and then as vice president under John Adams, in spite of their conflicting views on states’ rights. In 1800 he was elected president of the United States over Aaron Burr. A tie vote by the electoral committee forced the decision upon the House of Representative, and Alexander Hamilton, who supported neither candidate but disliked Burr more, persuaded the House to choose Jefferson...[link]

Happy Birthday, Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy was born Robert Leroy Parker on April 13, 1866, in Beaver, Utah. The first of 13 children born to Maximillian Parker and Ann Gillies, two Mormon immigrants from Britain, Roy grew up working on his family’s ranch. He had his first brush with the law as a teenager when he broke into a closed clothing store, took a pair of jeans, and left an IOU note; he was arrested, but served no prison time. When his father lost his land, Roy began working for rancher Mike Cassidy, who taught Roy to rustle cattle and use guns. In 1884, the 18-year-old Roy Parker, who had already begun rustling cattle, left Utah for Telluride, Colo., where he would begin his life as an outlaw...[link]

Giving God the reins: Cowboy churches get back to basics

Here, Easter bonnets will give way to Stetson hats, and any baptizing will be done not at a font or in a baptismal pool, but in a galvanized steel trough usually used for watering horses. Easter is a big deal in these churches, but as for the Easter theme of redemption – well, that's what it's about all year 'round. These, pardner, would be your cowboy churches, a fast-growing part of the crowded religious landscape of Texas. They celebrate Western culture while trying to reach both cowboys and tenderfoots with an unpretentious, nonjudgmental approach. Long a novelty, cowboy churches have in recent years become a bona fide, Texas-based movement, showing strong growth in congregations, attendance and baptisms even as much of denominational Christianity in the United States is losing ground. Cowboy churches offer simple, Bible-based sermons and live country music – with "Happy Trails" as a standard sendoff. Pastors further set the tone by wearing cowboy hats, doffed only for prayer. Extracurricular activities typically include trail rides, bull riding and roping contests. Cowboy churches have been around at least since the 1980s, and can be found now in small numbers across the country and in Canada, within both the Pentecostal and more mainstream Protestant traditions. But their systemic growth dates to 2000. That's when the Dallas-based Baptist General Convention of Texas, the state's largest Baptist group, began to help start and sustain cowboy churches, offering staff support and financing. The BGCT-backed Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches now includes 136 churches scattered across the state, and a new one is opening nearly every other week...Dallas Morning News

Rancher taking 4K sheep on 220-mile trek

There was a time when a spring sheep drive up into the cool mountains for breeding season wasn't such an uncommon sight in Arizona, but these days, only three or four ranches in the state continue the tradition. One of them is the Sheep Springs Sheep Co. in Chandler, whose owner, Dwayne Dobson, is preparing for the 220-mile, 55-day trek northeast up to the north side of the White Mountains, about 40 miles from the New Mexico border. Around 6:30 a.m. April 21 and 22, about 2,000 head of sheep each day will be fording a designated sheep crossing on the Salt River, at the Blue Point Bridge on the Old Bush Highway north of Apache Junction where sightseers are welcome. Transporting sheep by trailer is a choice more and more sheep ranchers have made over the years. While Dobson has some trailers, he said he doesn't have the capacity to haul 4,000 sheep at once. He would have to either buy new trucks or hire someone to haul them, he said. After the sheep - driven by men with dogs and donkeys - cross the Salt River, the flock turns northeast and heads along a sheep corridor through the Tonto National Forest to Forest Lakes. Dobson said such corridors were created by a presidential executive order and pre-date Arizona statehood...East Valley Tribune

It's All Trew: Nothing beats experience of Western movie

In January 2009 the Trew Ranch contracted to provide the location for a Western movie to be filmed on the premises. It was a new experience for this old man. In 1980 we began improving a site in a deep canyon here on the ranch for use in hosting an annual family reunion on Labor Day each year. These reunions on the Trew side of the family date back to Depression and Dust Bowl days in the dirty thirties. First came a road down into the canyon, a long tin shade for cooking and meal service. Of course toilets had to be included along with tables and fireplace. A two-story cabin was built later when we acquired the telephone poles from a pipeline right-of-way that changed over to satellite controls for their switching valves. As our sons also shared our respect for history, we built along the lines of an old Western town in the period 1870-1900. Not only was the work fun, the result was satisfying and unusual in appearance but rustic as in "the old West." Amazingly, the thought of using the site as a movie location was never discussed. The years passed, things were added and the improvements aged. When we were approached in December 2008 to use the site for a movie location, the place was weathered and ready...Amarillo Globe

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy

Even cowgirls get the Facebook blues

Julie Carter

Are you Facebooking yet? You might be missing out on a momentary "howdy" in the morning or a late-night laugh at a one-liner you would never have heard from someone you never see in person.

And my favorite part? The photos. Hundreds of photos posted in my friends' albums that give me a chance to share their lives without leaving my desk chair.

The wildly popular social network called Facebook, this week, hit milestone membership of 200 million. Some of us here in the small town and rural American West are part of that rage. And yes, even in New Mexico we are Facebooking, along with 30-some countries in as many languages.

I don't know what your excuse is, but my kids drug me into this. Oh, I tried the MySpace thing (same idea, different format) to track my own child's activities as he participated in the teenage rage of MySpace socializing. It's a mom's job.

And, every time one of those pages blinded me with psychedelic moving backgrounds, flashing blingy letters, rotating photos and music that blew me off my office chair, I lost another piece of my desire to visit.

A quieter, gentler opportunity arrived on the scene in the form of Facebook, with white pages and a standardized font.

The beginning for Facebook was February 2004, and it was limited to students of Harvard University, where founder Mark Zuckerberg was attending. It soon expanded in phases to include anyone, anywhere, older than 13, and is now the most popular social networking site in the world.

Apparently, the social networks aren't just for kids anymore. The Facebook people say the 35-and-over group is the fastest growing portion of the recent surge in membership, (a half -million since November 2008).

With this socializing by computer comes the need for discipline. It is so much more enjoyable to "visit," comment, look and read than it is to, oh say, cook, clean and do laundry. It also can be hazardous to your health.

In a world where we already sit in front of small screens, TV or computers, for too many hours, Facebook woos us to sit a little longer, move a little less. My warning for you is, the rewards are easily countered by the time-waster it can be.

And without a lot of detail, I will recommend you don't put something on the stove to cook while you are Facebooking. I gave a complete new meaning to "hard" boiled eggs.

"What's that smell?"

If there is no one to talk to, there are always the goofy quizzes that decide the gemstone you are most like, the country song that most describes you, the type of super hero you'ld be and what level of sarcasm you measure in at.

Or there are the virtual gifts you can send covering any kind of interest including Rodeo Bling and Cowgirl Retro. Or a Bible quote, a cross and something for the appropriate holiday. Easter eggs have been plastering up the pages since St. Patrick's was over.

Honest confession aside, I love saying good morning to people I may see only rarely, if at all.

My mother just took the Facebook plunge and is now in contact with her grandchildren, who like many of us, finally got too busy to email, just after we got too busy write or call. At least now she can see photos of them and know that they indeed, made it past age 16 and right on to their 30s.

Not all my friends are on Facebook yet, so I'm resigned to that old-fashioned email stuff. I do have some yellowing note cards I could use up, but I can never remember how much postage is now. I have a drawer full of one- and two-cent stamps to go with my sheets of Christmas stamps that I never used.

Gotta go. I just got a new friend request on Facebook and myFarm crops (don't ask) need harvesting.

Julie can be reached for comment at or

Empty Saddle: William H. "Billy" Mundy 1917-2009

William H. Mundy, Jr., 91, died peacefully at the Arbors of Del Rey, a Vista Living Community, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on April 6, 2009.

“Billy” Mundy was born in Dona Ana, NM on October 3, 1917 to William H. Mundy and Elizabeth Mundy. Bill attended New Mexico Military Institute in 1937-38 where he was an alternate on the polo team and New Mexico State University. In 1938 -1939 he guided tourists on mules in the Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company. Bill also worked for the infamous Las Cruces Rancher, Emmitt Isaacks, where he met his future bride, Ethel Isaacks. Bill and Ethel were married in Hill, NM in 1941.

Bill and Ethel moved to Chama, New Mexico in 1949 to settle his dream. Bill and Ethel endured the violence shown against them in the early days of their ranch settlement and continued to persevere through six decades of Rio Arriba County unrest. Bill’s enemies were fierce and his friends the “best a man could have.” Bill was called “Mano de Águila” (Eagle Hand) a name bestowed to him when he lost his pinkie and part of the use of his hand in a hunting accident. Bill and Ethel survived a near-fatal car crash on our country’s Bi-Centennial in 1976. He was an active member of the Los Rancheros Vistadores- Bustardos Camp and rode with Ronald Reagan in 1989. The Mundy Ranch is also home to the “Mundy Buck” (pictured) the #1 World Record Mule Deer in the Burkett Scoring System and the widest Buck entered in Boone & Crocket.

Bill Mundy was a hard worker, a hard hitter, a horseman, a hunter, a mountain man, a fence and road builder, a rodeo clown, a rancher, a cowboy, a cowman, a tier of knots, a nail ‘straightener’ and baling wire fanatic, a rock-hound, a land baron, a poet and an artist, a nature conservationist, a comedian, an organizer, a collector of everything, a dad, grandpa and great-grandpa, an uncle, a father-in-law and a part time husband, a full time ladies man and most of all he had a great line of B.S. He never lacked for a first-rate story!

Bill is predeceased by his wife, Ethel and his sister, Florence (Betina). He is survived by his two sons, Emitt W. Mundy and James W. Mundy, grandsons, Print, Cache, Robert and Mark Mundy, and four great-grandchildren, Tyler, Annalee, Aria and Trew Mundy, and his nephew’s, Joe Morrow and William (Bill) Morrow.

A Memorial Party is planned for June 20, 2009 at the Mundy Ranch in Chama, New Mexico. Please contact Susan Jane Mundy ( or call 575-756-2196 for more information.

The Family requests all donations be made to The Chama Valley Rotary Club on behalf of the Ethel I. Mundy Scholarship Fund. The Ethel I. Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance, motivation and internship opportunities for Escalante and Dulce High School Students pursuing post-secondary degrees. You may send donations in care of: Susan Jane Mundy, Mundy Ranch, Inc., PO Box 1087, Chama, NM 87520.

Song Of The Day #16

The gospel song this Easter Sunday will be by a modern bluegrass group who does it the traditional way.

Today's selection is Praising The Risen Lamb by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. The song is on their cd Treasures Money Can't Buy.