Saturday, May 23, 2009

600 lb. Grizzly killed by train

A large, 600-pound male grizzly bear was killed on the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks west of Banff during the early morning hours of last Thursday (May 14). Parks Canada officials say a necropsy performed later that day to determine stomach and intestinal contents indicated the adult bear had been feeding on natural foods, including grass and sedges. There was no obvious sign of grain immediately on top of the train tracks there, but Parks officials say they found grain-filled grizzly bear scat very close to the site. While there was no apparent grain on top of the tracks, environmentalists who visited the site said there was a substantial amount of grain beneath the ballast, some already beginning to spout. Pissot said Defenders congratulates Canadian Pacific Railway for its commitment to repair leaking hopper-gates, but the program is scheduled to take five years, and so trains continue to spill grain. “Even if grain spills are reduced to a minimum, grizzlies and other wildlife still will be attracted to the fresh, fermented and sprouting kernels on the tracks,” he said...RM Outlook

Texas Constructs U.S. Border Wall To Keep Out Unwanted Americans

Calling it an essential step toward securing the Texas border and protecting his people's way of life, Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday the completion of a 1,953-mile wall designed to keep out millions of unwanted Americans. According to Perry, the 75-foot-high barricade running along the northern boundary is the culmination of more than 160 years of escalating tensions between Texas and the United States. Though a protective barrier has been under consideration for decades, the Texas Legislature voted unanimously to begin construction on the project immediately following the 2008 presidential election. "As governor, it is my responsibility to do whatever's necessary to maintain the territorial integrity of Texas," Perry told reporters during a press conference held inside a sniper tower overlooking Oklahoma. "If you are a Texas citizen, you shouldn't have to worry about some American coming in here, using your goods and services, and taking away your job." "Let the record show I have nothing personal against Americans," Perry added. "I just think they should stay in America, where they belong."...The Onion (satire)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wind turbines 'killed goats' by depriving them of sleep

Late-night noise from spinning wind turbines on an outlying island of Taiwan may have killed 400 goats over the past three years by depriving them of sleep, an agricultural inspection official said on Thursday. After the eight turbines were installed in the notoriously windy Penghu archipelago in the Taiwan Strait, a neighbouring farmer reported that his goats had started dying, Council of Agriculture inspection official Lu Ming-tseng said...London Telegraph

Global warming may be twice as bad as previously expected

Global warming will be twice as severe as previous estimates indicate, according to a new study published this month in the Journal of Climate, a publication of the American Meteorological Society. The research, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), predicts a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise more than 9 degrees (F) by 2100, compared to a previous 2003 MIT study that forecast a rise of just over 4 degrees. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 forecast a temperature rise of anywhere from 2 to 11 degrees by 2100 based on a variety of different greenhouse-gas-emissions scenarios. The projections in the MIT study were done using 400 applications of a computer model, which MIT says is the most comprehensive and sophisticated climate model to date. The model looks at the effects of economic activity as well as the effects of atmospheric, oceanic and biological systems...USA Today

White House Economic Team Touts Green Jobs as Key to Global Competitiveness

Experts advising the White House on economic recovery have reached a “remarkable consensus” on the need for green jobs to make the United States competitive around the world. It was announced Wednesday at a meeting of the President’s Economic Advisory Board. That assessment, consistent with the Obama administration’s environmental policies, conflicts with an academic study examining the consequences of the government promoting “green jobs” in Spain. A number of the policies instituted there have been referenced by the Obama administration as worth implementing in the United States. However, for every four green jobs created in Spain, nine regular jobs were lost, according to the study by Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. “We talked about energy and clean energy and the opportunity and necessity for reform – there was remarkable consensus from this group,” said Paul Volcker, chairman of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, after the first quarterly meeting with President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the White House...CNSNews

Climate Bill Would Generate $750 Billion for Consumers, Study Finds

Opponents of climate legislation paint efforts to reduce carbon emissions as “cap and tax” policy, but a new analysis of the current House proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions finds that consumers would receive around $750 billion in direct and indirect handouts and subsidies through 2030 to offset the higher energy costs. Point Carbon, a market analysis firm, has estimated that the total value of the allowances given out by the government would amount to $1.5 trillion between 2012 and 2030, assuming that carbon prices rise from $13 a ton in 2013 to $22 a ton. In the early years of the program, most of these permits will be handed out freely by the government. They will be gradually auctioned off, increasing the cost of spewing out carbon into the atmosphere, and creating a large source of new revenue for the government. The 932-page bill gives local electric distribution companies, whose rates are regulated by states, 30 percent of the allowances, amounting to a handout of $409 billion to mitigate any increases in power rates from higher carbon costs, according to Point Carbon. These free allowances will phase out over a five-year period from 2026 through 2030. In addition, the program provides $227 billion to low-income households, $90.6 billion to local gas companies, and nearly $20 billion to protect against increases in rising heating oil costs. The bill also allocates an estimated $254 billion in subsidies to industries that would see their costs rise because of higher carbon costs. These include auto companies, which would be required to work on fuel-efficient vehicles, or industries vulnerable to competition from countries that have not set a cost on carbon, like the steel or cement industries...NYTimes

What a mess. The Politically Superior Ones think they can manage all the facets of energy production plus any international trade that impacts the energy industry.

What arrogance.

What ignorance.

National Black Chamber of Commerce says Waxman-Markey would reduce employment by 2.3 million jobs in 2015

The National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) today released a study by Charles River Associates (CRA) on the economic impacts of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA), the regulatory climate bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA). The results aren’t pretty, and they generally get worse over time as the Act’s emission caps tighten. The report specifically debunks two myths propagated by ACESA proponents. One is that there would be virtually no cost to consumers because (a) utilities would receive lots of free emission allowances, avoiding costs they would otherwise pass on to ratepayers, and (b) revenues from auctioned allowances would be returned as dividends to low-income households. What this myth overlooks is that emission caps inescapably–and by design–increase the cost of producing and consuming energy. The “cap” in cap-and-trade “works”–that is, reduces emissions–by creating an artificial scarcity in the right to produce and use fossil (carbon-emitting) energy. This drives up the price of coal, oil, and natural gas. It also increases reliance on higher-cost non-fossil energy. About 85% of our total energy is carbon-emitting, and about 99% of all transport sector energy is carbon-emitting. Since energy is used to produce and move everything from autos to food to houses to bytes of electronic information, ACESA’s impacts would cascade through the economy. In the report’s words: This analysis reveals that businesses and consumers would face higher energy and transportation costs under ACESA, which would lead to increased costs of other goods and services throughout the economy. As the costs of goods and services rise, household disposable income and household consumption would fall. Wages and returns on investment would also fall, resulting in lower productivity growth and reduce employment opportunities....Open Market

Climate Bill Clears Hurdle, but Others Remain

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, splitting largely along party lines, approved on Thursday the most ambitious energy and global warming legislation ever debated in Congress. The bill’s passage, on a 33-to-25 vote, served as a bookend to a week that began with President Obama’s announcing a deal with auto manufacturers to impose tough new mileage and emissions standards for all cars and trucks sold in the United States starting in 2012. With progress on this legislation and his own executive actions, Mr. Obama is assembling the pieces of a credible American package to take to Copenhagen later this year as United Nations negotiators gather for talks on a new global warming treaty. But the energy legislation passed on Thursday still faces a tortuous path through several more House committees before it can be brought up for a vote later this year. In the Senate, leaders say they lack the votes to pass the bill as it is now written...NYTimes

Renovating Private Parking Garages for U.S. House Will Cost Taxpayers $156,322 Per Congressman

As it is considering legislation that would cap carbon emssions and significanly increase energy prices of U.S. consumers in the name of controlling global warming, the U.S. House of Representatives is also considering spending $68 million to renovate two parking garages that are used exclusively by members of Congress and their staff. Given that there are only 435 members of the House, the renovation of these exclusive garages would cost $156,322 per congressmen. One “green” feature: The garages would have energy-saving lighting after renovations...CNSNews

Rail industry petitions to reduce toxic cargos

Railroad companies are pressing federal regulators to cut back on trains carrying hazardous materials through urban areas, saying they fear a catastrophic release of toxic chemicals in a large city. The companies also fear billions in legal claims if toxic materials spill during a derailment or act of sabotage. Rail industry associations are petitioning to allow railroads for the first time to refuse to carry chemicals such as chlorine over long distances. Federal law requires railroads to transport such materials, which are used in manufacturing, agriculture and water treatment. The companies' move is opposed by the Obama administration and others who say railroads are the safest way to move toxic materials. If trucks end up carrying materials that railroads reject, "that would pose a much greater danger," said Patricia Abbate of Citizens for Rail Safety, a Massachusetts advocacy group. The railroad petition is the latest effort to address the danger posed by the 110,000 carloads of toxic chemicals rail companies carry each year. Navy researchers have said an attack on a chemical-carrying train could kill 100,000 people...USA Today

Number of gadgets to cause global power surge

The number of TVs, computers, iPods and other electronic devices in the home is expected to jump threefold by 2030 and will require the equivalent of 230 new nuclear reactors to keep them running, according to an international study calling on world governments to raise the bar on gadget efficiency. This year, the number of people using a personal computer worldwide will pass one billion and there are already nearly two billion television sets in use today. More than three billion people subscribe to a mobile phone service and the number of chargers for mobile devices is fast approaching six billion. And we're just getting going, argues the Paris-based International Energy Agency in a report released yesterday titled "Gadgets and Gigawatts."...Toronto Star

Water Needs Electricity Needs Water …

It has long been an axiom of infrastructure planning that it takes a lot of water to make electricity, and a lot of electricity to make water. Each day, for example, the nation’s thermoelectric power plants (90 percent of all power plants in the United States), draw 136 billion gallons of water from lakes, rivers and oceans to cool the steam used to drive turbines, according to the Department of Energy. In recent years, the energy department says, plans for new power plants had to be scrapped because water-use permits could not be obtained. For their part, water- and wastewater utilities consume at least 13 percent of the electricity drawn nationwide each day, according to River Network, an environmental group based in Portland, Ore. Such plants face increasing public pressure to cut energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions...NYTimes

Horse Teeth Floaters Freed from Felony Fines, Prison

Today, Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill that reverses a controversial Oklahoma law enacted last November that turned horse teeth floaters into felons. The existing law threatened Oklahoma entrepreneurs who care for horse teeth—known as floaters—with felony penalties that included fines of up to $10,000 and jail for up to four years. Gov. Henry’s action returns to a misdemeanor the acts of filing down and extracting horses’ teeth without a veterinary license. Prior to November, Oklahoma district attorneys did not prosecute floaters when the penalty was a misdemeanor. Horse owners and floaters applaud the Governor for recognizing last year’s mistake and for freeing floaters from potential penalties far greater than any penalty that veterinarians face under their practice act. “Last year’s legislation caused incredible concern for horse teeth floaters,” said Edye Lucas, founder of the Coalition for Oklahoma Teeth Floaters, whose hundreds of grassroots members have called for reversing the law after Bob Griswold, a popular floater from Geary, Okla., was arrested on March 3 in a sting operation set up by the Oklahoma Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. “The Governor’s signature is a strong message to the Vet Board and district attorneys across the state that floaters should be able to work free from crushing occupational regulations.” Begun last year, Lucas’s grassroots movement swelled in membership following the arrest of Griswold, who still faces felony charges for violating the Veterinary Practice Act because the new law does not apply retroactively...Institute For Justice

Why is it even a misdemeanor? Even your horses teeth are regulated by the government.

Raccoon bites motorist who hit him

A motorist who stopped to remove a wounded raccoon from the road led to the second reported case of rabies in Alamance County this year. On Saturday, a raccoon was hit by a motor vehicle on N.C. 119 North near Stagecoach Road in Mebane. The motorist stopped to remove what he thought was a dead raccoon from the roadway. But the raccoon was still alive, and it bit the motorist through a pair of work gloves. The motorist managed to catch the raccoon, which died before Animal Control could claim it. The victim was later treated for the bite at Alamance Regional Medical Center. He is now undergoing post-exposure treatment for Hat Tip: Slugs & Plugs

Thank goodness he didn't mess with that coon's teeth or he could be goin' to prison.

Song Of The Day #044

The Hank today was gonna be the man with the coldest name in country music - Hank Snow. I don't have all my files configured on my new computer, and don't have access to my Hank Snow CDs. I do, however, have access to my old time country radio files and lo and behold here's a 15 minute Hank Snow radio program. It's Country Style USA starring Hank Snow and brought to you by the U.S. Army.

Have a great holiday everybody.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Congress votes to allow loaded firearms in national parks

Pro-gun forces won a major victory in Washington on Wednesday when Congress voted to allow people to carry loaded weapons in most national parks and refuges. The action was a major defeat for supporters of gun control, who earlier in the year won a court reversal of a Bush administration policy that first lifted the restrictions on loaded firearms on those public lands. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, was an outspoken supporter in the House. He has been asking for the rule change since 2007. "Murders, rapes, robberies and assaults happen each year on National Park Service land, and the victims don't have the right to carry a firearm and protect themselves,'' Young said in a prepared statement. "The Second Amendment grants us the fundamental right to protect ourselves. Anyone who knows me knows that I will always defend our right to bear arms and protect ourselves and our loved ones. Current Park Service Regulations require that firearms transported in national parks be unloaded and encased. This makes them useless. Guns are allowed in most park areas in Alaska, and that should be the case across the country."...Anchorage Daily News

National Park Rangers and Park Advocates Outraged by Votes Allowing Loaded Guns in National Parks

"We are disappointed in the members of the House and Senate who allowed this amendment to pass, as well as in President Obama. By not taking a stand to prevent this change, they have sacrificed public safety and national park resources in favor of the political agenda of the National Rifle Association. This amendment had no hearing or review, and will increase the risk of poaching, vandalism of historic park treasures, and threats to park visitors and staff." "These are special protected places, where millions of American families and international visitors can view magnificent animals and majestic landscapes and experience our nation's history, including sites where lives were lost to preserve our American ideals. "Passage of this legislation that would allow firearms of all kinds in national parks is an absolute travesty. There is simply no need for it, given the extremely low risks that visitors face in national parks compared with everywhere else. "Legislators who voted for this amendment now have to live with the fact that they have, in fact, increased the risk to visitors and employees, as well as the risk to wildlife and some cultural resources. Moreover, they've just contributed to diminishing the specialness of this country's National Park System. We hope the American people register their disappointment in the actions of these legislators."...Press Release

I don't know why I take such great pleasure in posting this story.

Senate confirms No. 2 official at Interior

Republicans relented and allowed the Senate to confirm President Barack Obama's pick for the No. 2 job at the Interior Department on Wednesday. David Hayes, an environmental lawyer, was confirmed by voice vote after the GOP senators who had opposed his nomination said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had promised to review a recent decision to revoke 77 oil and gas leases in Utah. Last week, Republicans kept the Senate from reaching the 60 votes needed for Hayes to advance past a filibuster, making him the first of Obama's top-level nominees to be sidetracked on the Senate floor. Hayes, picked by Obama to serve as deputy secretary of the Interior Department, held the same post during the last three years of the Clinton administration. He also led Obama's natural resources transition team, responsible for naming a new Interior Department chief...AP

The Climate-Industrial Complex

Some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming. This is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets. The tight relationship between the groups echoes the relationship among weapons makers, researchers and the U.S. military during the Cold War. President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned about the might of the "military-industrial complex," cautioning that "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." He worried that "there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties." This is certainly true of climate change. We are told that very expensive carbon regulations are the only way to respond to global warming, despite ample evidence that this approach does not pass a basic cost-benefit test. We must ask whether a "climate-industrial complex" is emerging, pressing taxpayers to fork over money to please those who stand to gain. This phenomenon will be on display at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen this weekend. The organizers -- the Copenhagen Climate Council -- hope to push political leaders into more drastic promises when they negotiate the Kyoto Protocol's replacement in December...WSJ

Study: No consensus on climate change

Americans fall into six groups when it comes to climate change, from the alarmed to the dismissive. That's the conclusion of a study from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "When we talk about 'the American public' and its views on global warming, that's a misnomer," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale F&ES Project on Climate Change and a co-author of the report. "There is no single American voice on this issue." Leiserowitz and his colleagues found in their survey of more than 2,000 adults in the fall that Americans are in six distinct groups when it comes to climate change: The alarmed (18 percent); the concerned (33 percent); the cautious (19 percent); the disengaged (12 percent); the doubtful (11 percent); and the dismissive (7 percent). Those numbers are about in line with a recent Gallup poll that found about a third of Americans worry a "great deal" about global warming...AP

Is the Earth's Climate Warming or Cooling?

As Congress scrutinizes new energy and climate legislation, many seem to be asking: Is it getting cooler or warmer? The answer, according to a new study, is that we need to concentrate on the long-term trend, which points to an overall warming tendency over these past hundred years. The great majority of climate scientists agree that it's getting warmer in many places around the world. The cause, they also agree, is heat-trapping carbon dioxide produced by human technology. But how does this square with the observed fact that over the past decade world temperature has actually stayed the same, or even gone down? Two scientists, Michael F. Wehner and David R. Easterling, show that such decade-long fluctuations are quite common in weather history. From day to day, season to season, and year to year, the weather shows great variability thanks to natural factors like capricious wind patterns and ocean currents. Changes in climate -- that is, changes in typical weather conditions over long periods of time -- are more difficult to assess. These short-term changes, say the scientists, must be differentiated from long-lasting, consequential trends in order to determine the role of human activities in shaping climate and to formulate industrial policy -- such as imposing a tax on carbon emissions...Fox News

Grey wolf hunt debate rekindled; population grew 25 percent this winter

Wisconsin’s wolf population grew by about 25 percent in the last year. And it’s rekindling the debate over a possible hunting season for the grey animals. The Department of Natural Resources used tracking surveys to estimate the preliminary wolf numbers at 630-680. That’s up from about 540 last year, and it’s the largest one-year gain since wolves started returning to the Badger State in the 1970s. The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the Conservation Congress have both called for a limited hunt, as the wolves attack more livestock and pets. The state has paid almost $800,000 since 1985 to compensate for wolf slayings of farm animals and hunting dogs. But the U.S. Humane Society says it’s against a wolf hunt, saying Wisconsin’s population needs to keep recovering from its levels of past decades...River Falls Journal

Redden makes it clear the bar is higher than we think for salmon

When Washington’s congressional delegation killed Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch’s efforts to begin a regional dialogue to seek a resolution to the Columbia and Snake River salmon debate, they were confident that U.S. District Judge James Redden might accept the compromise forged between federal agencies, three states and most tribes. Risch’s idea was to begin a process that was centered in the region, not driven by a judge or the new Democratic administration. Even some Idaho interests weren’t very excited especially water users who thought that maybe because of the strong support of their partners in the water rights agreement, the Nez Perce, they didn’t have to worry about the Judge coming back for more water. Redden sent everyone a letter Monday that set down the law. He said he didn’t buy the Bush Administration’s “trending toward recovery standard” for deciding if salmon were jeopardized by the dams. “Even if "trending toward recovery" is a permissible interpretation of the jeopardy regulation, the conclusion that all 13 species are, in fact, on a "trend toward recovery" is arbitrary and capricious...Idaho Statesman

Education key to reducing bear-human encounters

As black bear populations across North America expand, so too are incidents of human-bear conflicts. But experts agreed on Tuesday that public education campaigns on living in bear country are key to avoiding problems. "An informed public is the most effective solution to most problems related to bears," said Jason Holley, a wildlife biologist with California Department of Fish and Game. Biologists from 25 states, Canada, Mexico and Germany shared status reports on bear populations and discussed challenges of managing bruins to coincide with people and public safety at the 10th Western Black Bear Workshop in Reno. The workshop, which runs through Thursday, kicked off the same day a 350-pound male bear was captured in Carson City. Wildlife officials said it was the second time in 11 days the bear was captured, but the animal was not considered a nuisance because it was not rummaging through trash or breaking into homes. The animal was tranquilized and will be released back to the wild today...AP

Name a problem, any problem or issue, and the politicos will tell you "education is the key" to fixin' it. I'm tired of hearing it. Notice how the "education" is always aimed at the public, shifting the burden away from the politicos and their misguided programs. It's a nice dodge they are still plying.

I wonder how much money is spent annually to "educate" us poor ignorant folks.

Former federal firefighter held in Calif. arsons

A former U.S. Forest Service seasonal firefighter has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he started three fires in Tuolumne County. Gregory Livingston is accused of setting the blazes within a few hours of each other Sept. 6 in the Stanislaus National Forest. He had resigned from the Forest Service for medical reasons two months before the fires started. Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Douglas Boyack ruled Tuesday that there is enough evidence to try Livingston, 26, of Sonora, on three counts of arson. He was arrested on the charges in April...AP

House panel approves 'clean energy' bank

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a provision to its sweeping climate and energy bill that would create an autonomous Clean Energy Deployment Administration within the Energy Department and make reforms to DOE's loan guarantee program for low-emission projects. The time spent debating the amendment was more than hour, suggesting the committee will face a slog through the 946-page measure. The amendment passed 51-6, with ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) among a handful of Republicans who opposed it. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who offered the amendment with Democrats Jay Inslee of Washington and Bart Gordon of Tennessee, said the plan would aid deployment of new nuclear plants as well as renewable technologies. Changes to the loan guarantee program and creation of a "clean energy" bank within DOE are also part of a major energy bill before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, although the plans are not identical. The Clean Energy Deployment Administration would be empowered to provide a suite of financing options, including direct loans, letters of credit, loan guarantees, insurance products and others...NYTimes

I'd like to see a government wide study of the subsidies issued for "clean" and renewable energy. Between federal and state programs the amount would be massive.

Forest harvest discord

The Bureau of Land Management has plans to clear cut 400 acres of public forest near a popular recreation area southeast of Eugene, but the northern spotted owl may change the scope of that project and other proposed timber sales as well. The forest the BLM has its eyes on is off the beaten track, about a mile as the crow flies from popular camping spots and hiking trails located on the eastern edge of the Willamette National Forest. New rules put in place by the Bush administration last year allow expanded logging on BLM land while restricting habitat for the birds threatened with extinction. The timber industry and conservation activists have filed suits over both sets of rules and in March, the Obama administration said flatly that it wouldn’t defend the owl recovery plan in court. Since the BLM’s new timber harvest guidelines are based on the recovery plan, it puts a lot of guesswork into mapping timber sales. “We are definitely in a peculiar spot,” said BLM spokesman Michael Campbell...Register-Guard

Natural Oil 'Spills': Surprising Amount Seeps Into Sea

While the amount of oil and its ultimate fate in such manmade disasters is well known, the effect and size of natural oil seeps on the ocean floor is murkier. A new study finds that the natural petroleum seeps off Santa Barbara, Calif., have leaked out the equivalent of about eight to 80 Exxon Valdez oil spills over hundreds of thousands of years. These spills create an oil fallout shadow that contaminates the sediments around the seep, with the oil content decreasing farther from the seep. There is effectively an oil spill every day at Coal Oil Point (COP), the natural seeps off Santa Barbara where 20 to 25 tons of oil have leaked from the seafloor each day for the last several hundred thousand years...Fox News

Livestock Marketing Fairness Act introduced in Senate

Supporters of the Livestock Market Fairness Act say the bill will help stop unfair and manipulative practices by meatpackers that harm independent livestock producers. The act was introduced today (Wednesday, May 20), by U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tim Johnson, D-S.D. The act would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 to end certain anti-competitive forward marketing contacts and ensure that producers have full access to the marketplace, according to supporters. The bill, introduced today, would: *Require that forward contracts for livestock (cattle, hogs and lambs) be traded in public markets where buyers and sellers can witness bids as well as make their own offers. This ensures the market is open to multiple offers. *Require marketing agreements to have a firm base price derived from an external source. This ensures that local contract prices are not subject to manipulation by packer owned herds. *Exempts producer-owned cooperatives, packers with low volumes and packers who own only one processing plant. This exemption targets the source of price manipulation and ensures that the business practices of small family-owned processors are not impacted by the law. *Ensures that trading is done in quantities that provide market access for both small and large livestock producers...Farm & Ranch Guide

Panel votes for probe of 'extremist' report

Democrats joined Republicans on a key House panel Tuesday in voting for a formal inquiry into the development and distribution of a contentious Homeland Security Department report that described military veterans as possible recruits for extremists. In a rare bipartisan move, the House Homeland Security Committee unanimously approved a resolution of inquiry that calls for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to turn over all documents used to draft the report "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." "When this DHS-produced assessment first surfaced in April, like many Americans, I had issues with its content," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and committee chairman...WTimes

FBI: Mexican drug cell trains on own ranch in Texas

The FBI is advising law enforcement officers across the country that a Texas cell of Los Zetas — an increasingly powerful arm of the Mexican Gulf Cartel drug trafficking syndicate — has acquired a secluded ranch where it trains its members to “neutralize” competitors in the United States. In order to ensure its share of the lucrative illegal drug trade, the cartel’s members reportedly are operating north of the border to collect debts and spy on competitors. They have also protected cocaine and heroin shipments that were bound for Houston, where they were repackaged and shipped on to Alabama, Delaware, Georgia and Michigan, according to the FBI. The information, which was disseminated Monday to state, local and federal agencies, does not provide specifics, such as the location of the ranch, but includes a notation that the information came from reliable FBI contacts. Trainees are reportedly taught about home invasions, firearms and ways to run vehicles off the road in order to kidnap occupants who owe drug debts...Houston Chronicle

Song Of The Day #043

Hank Locklin (Lawrence Hankins Locklin 1918-2009) was born in the Florida Panhandle, and took up the guitar after being hurt in an accident when he was eight. He went on to sell 15 million records, have six #1 hits and 70 charted songs. His biggest hits were "Send Me The Pillow You Dream On", "Geisha Girl", "Please Help Me I'm Falling" and "Happy Birthday To Me." In the 1960s he built a ranch-house, called “the Singing L”, in the middle of the field in Brewton, Alabama, where he had once picked cotton as a boy. When he passed away on March 8th of this year, he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ol' Opry at 91.

The best collection of his music is the 4 CD Bear Family Please Help Me I'm Falling, but their are many others. For those who like the oldies, a record company out of Holland has just released Send Me the Pillow You Dream On, 3 CD collection of his 1948-1955 recordings.

Today's selection is one of my favorites of his early recordings, "A Good Woman's Love" from 1956.

Sharon and I will celebrate our 36th anniversary on the 24th. This song comes very close to the truth, so I dedicate it to you darlin'.

It's followed by a 1962 video of Locklin singing "Please Help Me I'm Falling."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Agency says pack your poop out of wilderness areas

The U.S. Forest Service hopes Conundrum won’t be a dirty word this summer. The agency will try to get backpackers to pack their waste out from campsites near the Conundrum Hot Springs, the most heavily visited overnight wilderness destination in the Aspen area. The Forest Service will place a dispenser full of human poop bags at the trailhead this month and urge backpackers to use them, according to Kevin Warner, wilderness crew supervisor for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. The Forest Service received a $2,950 grant from the Aspen Skiing Co. employees’ Environment Foundation this spring to purchase the bags. The manufacturer of a product called Restop 2 also donated to the cause. As a result, the Forest Service has 2,000 of the special human poop bags for use this year. Pit toilets aren’t a legal option in officially designated wilderness lands, where humans’ impact is supposed to be minimal. The Forest Service won’t provide a trash receptacle at the trailhead because it doesn’t want to bear the cost of picking up the waste bags, and probably a substantial amount of other garbage...Aspen Times

Senate confirms EchoHawk as next Bureau of Indian Affairs leader

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Larry EchoHawk as the next head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Born in Wyoming, EchoHawk is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. He is a former state attorney general of Idaho. EchoHawk's nomination was confirmed by the Senate late Tuesday without a roll call vote. Last week, as his nomination moved out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on a voice vote, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sent word that he wanted to be recorded in opposition. Supporters had pushed for a quick confirmation of EchoHawk. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate committee, had noted the post has been empty for more than four of the last eight years. Citing the challenges facing the agency, Dorgan described that record as ""shameful.'' EchoHawk's title will be assistant Interior secretary of Indian Affairs...TulsaWorld

New Push By Casinos On for Eminent Domain in Atlantic City

A former Atlantic City mayor who is now a state senator is joining several casino executives in calling for aggressive use of eminent domain to seize vacant buildings and land to clear the way for new development in this struggling seaside gambling resort. At an East Coast gambling conference Tuesday, State Sen. Jim Whelan, the former mayor, said eminent domain - in which private property owners are required to sell their real estate for a public purpose - is the best way for Atlantic City to weather the economic downturn. The heads of two casino companies with projects under way in town also called for the use of eminent domain to remove blight just blocks from the casinos...AP

Eminent domain is by it's very nature "aggressive." It forces you to bow down and be subservient to the state. Eminent domain comes from the Latin term dominium eminens, which means Supreme Lordship. For our purposes you can go back to 1066, when William The Conqueror seized all the land in England.

Although he maintained absolute power over the land, he granted fiefs to landholders who served as stewards, paying fees and providing military services.

Sound familiar? It was from this system that the right of condemnation developed. This English common law was brought to America. During the debates on the constitution, Thomas Jefferson wanted to get rid of all vestiges of feudalism, and proposed allodial ownership of land. Allodial is:

Allodial title is a concept in some systems of property law. It describes a situation where real property (land, buildings and fixtures) is owned free and clear of any encumbrances, including liens, mortgages and tax obligations. Allodial title is inalienable, in that it cannot be taken by any operation of law for any reason whatsoever. In common legal use, allodial title is used to distinguish absolute ownership of land by individuals from feudal ownership, where property ownership is dependent on relationship to a lord or the sovereign. Webster's first dictionary (1825 ed) says allodium is "land which is absolute property of the owner, real estate held in absolute independence, without being subject to any rent, service, or acknowledgement to a superior. It is thus opposed to feud."

If Jefferson had carried the day, not only could they not condemn your land, they could not tax it either. But along came the moderate on this issue, James Madison, whose compromise was the 5th amendment. They kept the English common law of the sovereign-steward concept, but insisted on compensation. So when they come to take your property, you will know the remnants of the feudal system gave them the authority. Your little fiefdom has just been taken back by William The Conqueror.

Also note in the article the casinos want property condemned several blocks away. In other words, if you don't like your neighbor, just sic William The Conqueror on him.

Obama’s Proposed Increased Fuel Efficiency Will Cost Extra $1,300 Per Vehicle

President Barack Obama outlined Tuesday the nation's first comprehensive effort to curb vehicle emissions while cutting dependence on imported oil, calling the plan an historic turning point toward a "clean-energy economy." While the new fuel and emission standards for cars and trucks will save billions of barrels of oil, they are expected to cost consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle by the time the plan is complete in 2016. Obama said the fuel cost savings would offset the higher price of vehicles in three years. While requiring that vehicle carbon dioxide emissions be reduced by about one-third by the target date, the plan requires the auto industry to be building vehicles that average 35.5 miles per gallon. The plan also would effectively end a feud between automakers and statehouses over emission standards - with the states coming out on top but the automakers getting the single national standard they've been seeking and more time to make the changes...AP

Even if you accept this as good public policy, the federales always underestimate costs and overestimate benefits. So expect to pay more and receive less.

Proposed Mileage Standards Would Kill More Americans than Iraq War

The Obama administration’s proposed mileage standards that will be announced today may kill more Americans at a faster rate than the Iraq War — his signature issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. Obama’s standards will require automakers to meet a 35 miles-per-gallon standard by 2016 — four years earlier than the same standard imposed by the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007. As discussed in my new book “Green Hell,” the only way for carmakers to meet these standards is to make smaller, lighter and deadlier cars. The National Academy of Sciences has linked mileage standards with about 2,000 deaths per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars increases annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715. The Natural Resources Defense Council said that the 35 MPG standard would save about one million gallons of gas per day. So how does that savings balance against the 2,000 fatalities per year that the National Academy of Sciences says are caused by those same lighter cars? For the sake of being utilitarian, let’s generously assume that the mileage standards reduced the price of gasoline by $1. That would translate to daily savings of $1 million. Is that savings worth killing more than five people per day, plus other non-fatal injuries and property damage?...CNSNews

Climate-bill foes likely to seize on CBO's scoring

Congress' chief scorekeeper says the global warming bill moving through Congress will either be scored as a major tax increase or a massive expansion of the federal government - and either one could give opponents substantial ammunition to complicate Democrats' efforts to pass a bill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in a letter sent last week to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, said Democrats' approach of creating allowances for emitting greenhouse gases requires developing from scratch a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Whether the allowances are sold, as President Obama wants, and scored as a tax increase, or given away, as House Democratic leaders have suggested, and scored as "cash grants" to businesses, opponents are lining up to use CBO's conclusions as ammunition in the public relations battle over the bill...WTimes

Yellowstone workers kill problem wolf that chased folks

Yellowstone National Park wildlife officials say they have killed a wolf that chased people on bicycles and motorcycles on several occasions. The action taken today against the yearling male is the first time wildlife managers have been forced to kill a wolf since the animals were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995-96. Previous attempts to haze it away from park facilities were unsuccessful. Wildlife managers said the wolf had lost its fear of people, showing up in the Old Faithful area frequently, and posed a safety risk to park visitors. Officials said the wolf has probably been fed by people. AP

Pinon Canyon expansion in the news

For an excellent audio report on the recent events surrounding this controversy, including interview with the various parties involved, go here.

Environmentalists threaten livestock industry in state

If there was any doubt the livestock industry is in a fight for its life, the events of recent weeks surely erased such thoughts. In Eastern Oregon, Grant County ranchers had heard for months that environmental groups were planning to seek new injunctions on Malheur National Forest grazing allotments. Rumor became reality in early April when the Oregon Natural Desert Association, Western Watershed Project and the Center for Biological Diversity asked a federal judge to halt grazing on six allotments, contending federal land managers have failed to prevent cattle grazing from harming endangered fish. The new injunction would affect 17 ranchers and an estimated 250,000 acres of land. The environmentalists filed their request just as ranchers were preparing for a new grazing season, one now in limbo. It also came just as the ranchers' legal defense group, the Five Rivers Grazing Permittees, had worked with forest officials to craft a plan for drastically reduced grazing on two allotments environmentalists successfully targeted last year. Attorneys for the ranchers in mid-April asked the federal court to accept the plan and allow some grazing to resume on the Murderers Creek and Lower Middle Fork grazing allotments. Judge Ancer Haggerty, who granted the injunction on the two allotments in May 2008, is expected to consider both the grazing proposal and the request to bar grazing on the additional six allotments at a hearing in June. Rural communities are watching with concern as events unfold...East Oregonian

Oklahoma hosts Children’s Cowboy Festival

One of America’s greatest family friendly festivals is back at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The Museum will be celebrating the 19th Annual Chuck Wagon Gathering & Children’s Cowboy Festival presented by Dogwood Foundation, May 23 and 24, 2009. Children can participate in numerous outdoor activities including pony rides, rope making, bandana designing, horseshoe pitchin’, leather crafting and many more. Stagecoach and covered wagon rides around the festival grounds are a family favorite. The food is fantastic as ten chuck wagon crews cook such delicious fare as stew, brisket, sourdough biscuits, beans, cobblers and rice pudding for visitors to sample. Demonstration recipes are free to the audience and cookbooks are available for purchase at The Museum Store wagon. Western musical entertainment is scheduled on two separate stages. Don Edwards will be on stage Saturday, May 23. Edwards’ career as a balladeer, guitarist and composer has spanned more than three decades, enriching audiences with his authentic Western music and his extensive knowledge of cowboy lore. He played the role of Smokey, Robert Redford’s best friend, in the “Horse Whisperer” film. Red Steagall, who will perform Sunday, May 24, has performed at the Chuck Wagon event since 1991. The official Cowboy Poet of Texas is a master songwriter, recording artist, author, actor, radio personality and rancher. His career spans more than 25 years of performances at rodeos, major fairs, poetry gatherings and worldwide tours...Press Release

Song Of The Day #042

Running late this morning. Our third Hank of the week is Hank Thompson (1925-2007). He was born Henry William Thompson in Waco, Texas. He sold over 60 million records and his band, The Brazos Valley Boys, was voted the #1 Country and Western band 14 years in a row. He has been inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Thompson's music is widely availabe; you might want to start with his Vintage Collection.

He had a series of hits based on nursery rhymes. Here's one of them: Rub-Adub-Dub

Influencing Congress: Defenders’ Effective Offense

It’s a deceptively simple political strategy but it works for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife. Rather than trying to elect dozens of friendly lawmakers, it’s been concentrating its money on just a few high-profile races and flooding them with money and volunteers. It was this strategy in 2006 that allowed the group to help defeat Richard W. Pombo, the California Republican who at the time chaired the House Natural Resources Committee. Armed with $60,000 worth of polling that suggested Pombo was vulnerable, the group spent $1.7 million through two political funds and fielded canvassers across his district with the message that Pombo was “America’s No. 1 wildlife villain” for helping developers, miners, and the oil and gas industry. A Web site called posted more information. Pombo lost to Democrat Jerry McNerney by 13,000 votes. The Washington-based wildlife group, founded in 1947 primarily to fight fur trapping, still mainly focuses on the welfare of predators such as wolves and coyotes. And it’s become an example of a shift in the direction of advocacy groups away from general issue campaigns and toward targeted efforts against individual politicians, while at the same time shielding the identity of political contributors. This new wave of groups, organized under section 501(c)4 of the tax code as “ideological education” groups, spent nearly $200 million in the 2007-2008 election cycle, more than each party’s congressional campaign committees, according to a study by the Campaign Finance Institute, an academic research group affiliated with George Washington University. The Defenders in 2006 were involved in 26 races...CQ

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama's EPA clears 42 of 48 new mountaintop removal mining permits

The Obama administration has cleared more than three-dozen new mountaintop removal permits for issuance by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, drawing quick criticism from environmental groups who had hoped the new president would halt the controversial practice. In a surprise announcement Friday, Rep. Nick J. Rahall said 42 of the 48 permits already examined by the U.S. Environmental Protection had been approved by EPA for issuance by the corps. The West Virginia Democrat is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the federal strip mining law, and represents a district that includes most of the state's southern coal counties. Rahall said officials from the EPA told him their review so far has objected to only six of the 48 Clean Water Act permits the Corps of Engineers had proposed to issue. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had announced in March that her staff was taking a closer look at those permits because of concerns that mountaintop removal was burying streams and damaging downstream water quality. Carl Pope, director of the Sierra Club environmental group, said Friday's announcement by Rahall raises questions about whether Jackson and EPA are up to the task...wvgazette

DOJ nominee's industry experience a worry for some

The corporate background of President Obama's pick for the nation's top environmental litigator has spurred concerns that she is ill-suited to lead the office charged with tackling corporate polluters. Obama announced plans earlier this week to nominate Ignacia Moreno, counsel of corporate environmental programs at General Electric Corp., to serve as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. If confirmed by the Senate, Moreno would take the helm of the office tasked with enforcing environmental laws and defending federal regulations in lawsuits. But environmental groups fear that Moreno's tenure as a corporate attorney makes her a poor choice to lead the nation's environmental litigation efforts. "The question is: Is she the best possible person for that job, given the sensitive nature of that position?" said Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch. "It seems as if she has spent maybe more time defending polluters than prosecuting them." Prior to joining GE in 2006, Moreno worked at the Washington law firm Spriggs & Hollingsworth, where she specialized in environmental and mass tort litigation. She also worked for DOJ during the Clinton administration, serving as special assistant and principal counsel to the assistant attorney general for the environment division. She began her career at Hogan & Hartson LLP, where she practiced with the firm's environmental and litigation groups. "There's a huge amount of concern circulating through the environmental community" about Moreno's nomination, said Alex Matthiessen, president of the New York-based environmental group Riverkeeper...NYTimes

Bush Administration Left a 'Mess,' Interior Secretary Says

Romano: Your former Republican colleagues in the Senate are blocking David Hayes, your pick to be deputy secretary. What's happening with that? Salazar: There was a mess that was left here by the prior administration, and it essentially revolves around a perspective around here that the laws were to be skirted, and the consequence of that is that we're dealing with many decisions that have had to be revisited. It's in the context of cleaning up the mess and bringing about . . . a new direction that there has been a swing back by some in the Republican Party. . . . The unfortunate legacy of the Bush administration is at the political level, there were ethical lapses and illegal activity that occurred that created a blemish on this department probably like no other . . . when you have deputy secretaries who have been sent to prison, when you have criminal conduct that essentially has taken place in MMS. Romano: Are you reconsidering the Utah leases in light of the fact that they have thrown up these barriers to Hayes's confirmation? Salazar: No. I am reconsidering the leases in the context of my decision, but not because of whatever it is that is going on in the Senate today. I made the determination that I was going to pull back on those leases and basically call a timeout so that I could review what had happened and make a decision on how to move forward...WPost

Ritter to sign bill to block Pinon Canyon expansion

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said Saturday he will sign a bill to prevent the Army from buying or leasing land in southeast Colorado for a military training site. Ritter told The Pueblo Chieftain the bill is a safety net for farmers and ranchers who fear an Army takeover of their land. "It may not be the last discussion we have on Pinon Canyon, but it's important to put this safety net in place," he said. Ritter told the newspaper Saturday he will sign the bill as soon as the paperwork is ready. The bill bars the sale of land from the Colorado State Land Board for Army expansion. About 20 percent of the land the Army wants to use is owned by the land board. The Army has said it needs to expand its training site near La Junta, about 140 miles southeast of Denver, to accommodate new weapons, tactics and soldiers. The Army's plan, announced more than three years ago, immediately drew the ire of landowners and congressional representatives who have fought the expansion, saying it would hurt the area's agriculture economy and permanently damage the land. The original plan was to increase the 238,000-acre site by about 414,000 acres...AP

"It may not be the last discussion we have on Pinon Canyon..."

Are those weasel words from Governor Ritter? Let's hope not.

Pinon Canyon: Coffman Irked by Ritter Bill Signing

U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) issued a statement today in response to Governor Bill Ritter´s announcement, last Saturday, to the Pueblo Chieftain that he intends to sign House Bill 1317 into law. House Bill 1317 would bar the U.S. Army from either buying or leasing any property owned by the Colorado Land Board. The purpose of the legislation is designed to stop the U.S. Army from acquiring 100,000 acres of land in southeastern Colorado that is adjacent to the PiƱon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS). The Colorado Land Board has sections of land throughout the area that the Army wants to lease or purchase. " I´m a combat veteran with five overseas deployments, four of which have taken me to the Middle East, and I fully understand the Army´s need for this scaled down request. Today, the Governor sent a clear message to the U.S. Army that he doesn´t want them in Colorado and I think that the Department of Defense will respond accordingly," Coffman said. Coffman has served in both the U.S. Army and in the Marine Corps and now sits on the House Armed Services Committee...American Chronicle

Governor Ritter In The Line of Fire

Governor Bill Ritter's decision to make it harder for the army to expand the Pinon Canyon Manuever Site is not sitting well with Republicans. He has yet to sign the bill into law but his public support for prohibiting the sale of state land and option of blocking the sale of private land is drawing harsh criticism. GOP leaders believe discussion of the ban has already prompted the army to shift its training focus elsewhere. They cite the redirection of $17 million in federal funds to Louisiana and the decision to not create a 3,500-soldier infantry brigade at Fort Carson as reasons why the governor's impending signature is already hurting the state. "This bill is a job-killer and a slap in the face to our service men and women, who dedicate their lives for our country," said Glenn. The governor has also drawn criticism from Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, who says Fort Carson is a financial powerhouse for the entire state to the tune of $1.64 billion...News Channel 13

Remember just four years ago when both Senators from Colo. were Republican? Both seats are now filled by Democrats and you can see one of the reasons why. Republicans who care more about federal dollars and federal jobs than they do about individuals, families and small businesses are deservedly being retired.

Who's minding the forest?

While the Obama administration has been consumed with problems tied to the country's economic woes, it's left our national forests largely in the hands of appointees from the previous administration. Unless the White House sends a clear signal to its agencies to change course, we could be living with the consequences for a long time. Although the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the country's 193 million acres of national forests, is now headed by former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, he's insufficient company. About half of the agency's top posts remain unfilled, while other personnel in place, including the chief of the Forest Service, were hand-picked by the last administration. Similar vacancies exist at the Department of Justice, where the Senate has not yet confirmed an assistant attorney general responsible for litigation on environmental issues. Still minding the store are some of the same allies of the timber industry who failed to defend - and ultimately sought to replace - the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, the popular Clinton-era policy that protects roughly 60 million acres of undeveloped national forests from road-building and other industry incursion. For example, in early July, the Justice Department must answer a complaint filed by environmentalists in Idaho challenging the Bush administration's decision to toss out the original roadless policy and replace it with a voluntary, state-by-state rulemaking. It's also going to settle on what legal argument to make before a Wyoming federal district court judge who has twice struck down the roadless rule. A separate decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could also affect the measure's fate...Modesto Bee

Simpson optimistic about wilderness bill

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, gave an upbeat assessment Sunday about the chances his Boulder-White Clouds wilderness bill has in the current session of Congress. "I firmly believe it will be in the next lands bill," he said. Simpson, who was the original sponsor of the legislation, called the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), made his comments during the Idaho Conservation League's annual Wild Idaho conference at Redfish Lake over the weekend. Simpson has been attending the ICL conference for about a decade. This year, Simpson was joined at the Wild Idaho conference by his colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives, first-term Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho. Simpson and Minnick have reintroduced CIEDRA into Congress as co-sponsors. It seems likely that having a Democrat as a co-sponsor in the Democrat-controlled Congress may give the wilderness legislation better momentum, an observation the two legislators noted. So far, the new Congress has been more wilderness-friendly than previous ones, having already approved a package of land bills that designated just over 2.1 million acres of new wilderness across the country, including 517,000 acres in Idaho's Owyhee County...Idaho Mtn. Express

President Obama Invests in Connecting Children with Nature

President Obama’s fiscal 2010 budget proposal at the Department of Interior contains an historic $50 million in new investments to connect children and families to the great outdoors. The budget targets $30 million for educating young hunters and anglers, as well as $20 million in new funding for Youth Careers in Nature. This DOI initiative, dubbed the 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps, will bolster environmental education, recreation, and service programs throughout the Department, and engage thousands of youth in the outdoors. Kevin Coyle, Vice President for Education and Training at the National Wildlife Federation, said: “President Obama’s budget makes a bold and necessary investment to connect today’s children with the great outdoors...Fly Rod + Reel

If All We Get Is a Circus, Can’t We at Least Have Trained Seals

The Interior Department is directing more than $300 million in federal “economic stimulus” money to the Bureau of Land Management to update its facilities, roads and trails and jump-start renewable energy projects across the country, said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, honking and clapping like a trained seal here on Saturday, May 2. The largest chunk of the funding – roughly $143 million – will go toward new construction, deferred maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades on existing facilities. In Nevada, that will include $1.2 million to install solar panels at 16 remote fire stations, $6.8 million on abandoned mine cleanup, and $8 million to clear up a backlog in permit applications for people who want to install wind and solar projects – but not projects that could deliver substantial amounts of cheap power quickly by using coal or other proven technologies, mind you – on public lands. One line item in Mr. Salazar’s festival of fiscal frivolity calls for spending $800,000 in federal tax moneys to repair trails in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, near Henderson. Gosh, only a few months ago the concern was how to keep people from finding out where the old Indian pictographs in Sloan Canyon WERE, to prevent them being defaced. Now the federal government wants to pave the trail? Will they follow the example of the Japanese, who not only paved the hiking route up Mount Fuji, but also placed benches and cold-beer vending machines at convenient intervals? Pardon a little adult intervention into this zillion-dollar equivalent of a kids’ birthday party, but pony rides, paper hats, and hiring people to slap solar panels on the roofs of rural outhouses and fire stations only just barely qualify as “creating jobs.” Real jobs involve producing something that consumers – either here or abroad, among our trading partners – want and will voluntarily pay for. There’s no reason to believe one-time desert make-work schemes, building things no one would voluntarily buy, will “buoy” the economy any better now than when FDR tried the same thing with his 1930s “Civilian Conservation Corps” – keeping men dependent on the government and thus stretching the Great Depression by an extra seven years. What is any newly trained “outhouse solarizer” going to do when you run out of BLM outhouses?

Nonproducing lease definition needed, DOI's Salazar told

US House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee leaders asked Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar a basic question when he presented his department's fiscal 2010 budget request on May 13: How does Interior define a nonproducing lease? Salazar couldn't supply an answer, but promised to develop one soon and consult with subcommittee members about it. He's already under pressure because the Obama administration's proposed federal budget includes $122 million of annual revenue from fees on nonproducing leases starting Oct 1. Salazar doesn't question the idea behind the assessment. "I've practiced water law in the West. States' water laws have a similar use-it-or-lose-it feature. Oil and gas are similarly precious commodities," he told the subcommittee. But Salazar also couldn't answer the question when Rep. Michael K. Simpson (R-Ida.), the subcommittee's ranking minority member, asked what DOI considers a nonproducing lease eligible for collection of the proposed $4/acre fee. "I think this is important, particularly if someone could be penalized for bureaucratic or legal delays which aren't his fault," Simpson said. Officials from one of DOI's major agencies, the US Bureau of Land Management, told the subcommittee last year that it can take up to 4 years for a federal oil and gas lessee to simply get a drilling permit, he added...PennEnergy

Pesticides indicted in bee deaths

...Brandi discovered the watermelon farmer had irrigated his plants with imidacloprid, the world's best-selling insecticide created by Bayer CropScience Inc., one of the world's leading producers of pesticides and genetically modified vegetable seeds, with annual sales of $8.6 billion. Blended with water and applied to the soil, imidacloprid creates a moist mixture the bees likely drank from on a hot day. Stories like Brandi's have become so common that the National Honeybee Advisory Board, which represents the two biggest beekeeper associations in the U.S., recently asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the product. "We believe imidacloprid kills bees -- specifically, that it causes bee colonies to collapse," says Clint Walker, co-chairman of the board. Beekeepers have singled out imidacloprid and its chemical cousin clothianidin, also produced by Bayer CropScience, as a cause of bee die-offs around the world for over a decade. More recently, the same products have been blamed by American beekeepers, who claim the product is a cause of colony collapse disorder, which has cost many commercial U.S. beekeepers at least a third of their bees since 2006, and threatens the reliability of the world's food supply. Scientists have started to turn their attention to both products, which are receiving new scrutiny in the U.S., due to a disclosure in December 2007 by Bayer CropScience itself. Bayer scientists found imidacloprid in the nectar and pollen of flowering trees and shrubs at concentrations high enough to kill a honeybee in minutes. The disclosure recently set in motion product reviews by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the EPA. The tests are scheduled to wrap up in 2014, though environmentalists, including the Sierra Club, are petitioning the EPA to speed up the work...Salon

Californian Appointed to Lead Position in USDA

Congressman Dennis Cardoza announced that Rayne Pegg, of California, has been appointed to the USDA as Administrator of Agricultural Marketing Service. She is currently a deputy secretary of Legislation and Policy for the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture. "Rayne´s selection for this position helps bring California´s agriculture interests to Washington," said Congressman Cardoza, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture. In her current role, Pegg is the principle advisor to both the California Food and Agriculture Secretary and the cabinet of the Governor of California. She further represents the California Food and Agriculture Department before the California legislature, regulating bodies and other interested parties. Pegg has also served as a director of International Trade and Plant Health for the California Farm Bureau Federation. Her position with the USDA will take effect in July...American Chronicle

Ranchers still oppose animal ID

Five years after the federal government started a program to trace livestock in the event of a disease outbreak, just 36 percent of ranchers are taking part. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials found out why Monday, when 75 Western livestock producers gave them an earful during a meeting. The "listening session" was one of seven scheduled around the country in May and June to hear ranchers' concerns, with the goal of increasing participation in the program. Those concerns haven't changed much in five years: The cost is too high for small farmers. The regulations amount to bureaucratic suffocation. The program neither prevents nor controls disease. And what's in a farmer's pasture is nobody's business. "This is the last of your freedom, boys. Freedom restricted is freedom lost," said Bert Smith, a cattleman from Layton, Utah, who owns Ox Ranch in Ruby Valley, Nev. The nationwide tracking system, started in 2004, is intended to pinpoint an animal's location within 48 hours after a disease is discovered. Farmers were to have voluntarily registered their properties with their states by January 2008. Mandatory reporting of livestock movements was to begin one year later. Just 36 percent of the nation's estimated 1.4 million farm "premises," which includes farms' multiple locations, are registered for the program. The proposed system does nothing to prevent disease, and animal tracking would be better left for states to handle themselves, said Wade King, president of the Cattle Producers of Washington. "USDA should be focused on preventing the disease instead of tracing it," he said...Olympian

Drought Wilts Agricultural Credit Conditions - Dallas Fed

Drought continues to weaken both the agricultural production and farm credit environments, according to a first-quarter 2009 survey of agricultural credit conditions released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Poor production, volatile commodity prices and high feed costs are affecting lending activity in the 11th district, which includes all of Texas and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana, the bank said. In its report, the Dallas Fed said almost a quarter of respondents said loan extension requests increased from last year, and a third said loan demand was decreasing, with some naming the poor economic climate and inadequate agricultural conditions as factors. Land sales have also slowed, but land values are stable. Lease rates for irrigated land have increased as a consequence of the drought. Ranchers make up a sizable part of the district's agricultural community and bankers said many ranchers were unable to reach a break-even point, leading to herd liquidations. High input costs and low milk prices are hurting the dairy industry in the region as well...NASDAQ

Song Of The Day #041

Hank Penny (1918-1992)was born in Birmingham, Alabama and was influenced by his father, a disabled coal miner who played the guitar and did magic tricks. His favorite music was western swing and he formed his first group, the Radio Cowboys in 1938. The musicians that played with Penny over the years makes an impressive list: Noel Boggs, Roy Langham, Joaquin Murphy, Speedy West & Merle Travis, among others. One of his female singers was one Mary Morgan, later known as Jaye P. Morgan. Penny was invited to be on Dude Martin's show, where he eventually ended up stealing Martin's wife, singer Sue Thompson, and then started hosting his own show. Penny retired in the mid-70s.There are several collections of his music available, such as Flamin' Mamie 1938-1941, The Penny Opus #1,and King of Hillbilly Bebop .

Here at The Westerner we are all about equality and inclusion, so we've pulled out the Special Pink Player and are dedicating today's selection to any feminists out there.

Here is Hank Penny singing, "Catch 'Em Young, Treat 'Em Rough, Tell 'Em Nothin'".

Monday, May 18, 2009


My new computer is here. I've spent much of this evening downloading software, transferring files, etc., so this will be a shortened version of The Westerner. Tomorrow, or very soon, I'll be announcing some changes. Stay tuned...

Industry is warming up to Obama's climate plan

Sprawling across about 9,000 acres of rolling farmland in southwestern Indiana is one of the world's biggest aluminum smelters, operated by Alcoa Inc. The maze of rectangular buildings and giant smokestacks consumes enough electricity to supply a city of 200,000 -- power generated by burning more than 2 million tons of coal a year. So it may be surprising that company executives are pushing Congress to pass a version of President Obama's plan for combating global warming. After all, Obama wants to slap hefty fees on facilities like Alcoa's that pump millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air. Those fees could raise costs for the company and leave it vulnerable to foreign competitors. But a growing number of coal users have come to believe that, with the right tweaks, Obama's plan would not only help the environment but boost their profits. Politically, the decision to get behind the broad outlines of climate legislation mirrors the push by insurers and pharmaceutical companies to remake the nation's healthcare system: In both cases, corporate strategists concluded that some government action was likely, and they might fare better at the table than on the sidelines...LATimes

Nothing new here as history repeats itself. Big Business in cahoots with Big Government. BG increases their coffers and size, BB increases profits by limiting competition via BG's regulations.

Personally, I'm for the era of the Big Individual. I'd apply a cruel bit and cut the rations of BG. Limit BG to it's primary function: protecting the rights of the BI. Open up the pasture gate and make BB compete against all comers.

In summary: The unholy alliance of BB and BG reeks of BO. Saddle up, put some distance between you and the BO, and bring on the BI!

House OKs $6.4 billion to make schools greener

The House on Thursday passed a $6.4 billion school modernization bill that would commit funds for the construction and update of more energy-efficient school buildings. The measure passed 275-155 in a largely party-line vote, and will now move to the Senate for further review. The legislation, if signed into law, would also help to create new jobs -- around 136,000 positions, according to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute. [Make that union jobs] "It's about raising a new generation of leaders who inevitably are going to inherit the problems we will leave behind," she said. "So when you're actually able to use the school itself as a teaching tool, as an opportunity for learning, that's when the connections with curriculum really start to happen." [Make that greenies using federal bucks to take over the curriculum]...CNN

Cattle rancher wins Survivor tv show

The 18th season of outwitting, outlasting and outplaying came to a rousing end Sunday, showcasing the charm—and luck!—of everyone's favorite bright-eyed cowboy. Alabama cattle-rancher James "J.T." Thomas Jr. came out on top of the Survivor: Tocantins finale, chosen the unanimous winner at the final tribal council. The million-dollar prize came on the heels of a nailbiting finale that repeatedly played out in J.T.'s favor. As if a million bucks wasn't enough, Jeff Probst named the 24-year-old champ the fan-favorite and recipient of an extra $100,000. On top of all of his winnings, J.T. was seemingly untouchable throughout the entire finale, winning the immunity idol twice tonight and earning all seven votes in the final tribal council...E Online

SAF hails Ninth Circuit ruling in Glock lawsuit

Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that dismisses a lawsuit against Glock by the victims of a deranged gunman in Grenada Hills, CA was a proper decision under existing statute, the Second Amendment Foundation said today. In a 2-1 decision, a three- judge panel upheld a lower court’s ruling that the case, Ileto v. Glock, was nullified under the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). That federal statute was passed to prevent junk lawsuits against gun makers, and this specific case was cited during Congressional debate as precisely the kind of lawsuit the law would prohibit. “We are delighted that the Ninth Circuit panel not only affirmed the lower court ruling,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, “but also that the court upheld the constitutionality of the federal law prohibiting this kind of lawsuit. While we sympathize with the victims, it would be an egregious miscarriage of justice to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the acts of criminals over whom they have no control.” In August 1999, a deranged man named Buford Furrow opened fire at a Jewish Community Center summer camp in Granada Hills. The Glock pistol he used had once been owned by a police department in Washington State, but had been sold as surplus and passed through several hands before Furrow got it...Liberty For All

States' Gun Rights: The Next Constitutional Battlefield

The right to bear arms is famously and specifically referenced in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Alas, for advocates of the right, the language of the amendment gets tangled up in the regulating of militias and the interpretation of commas. Now a multistate movement is trying to find more robust constitutional support in another amendment, which makes no mention of weaponry at all. The 10th Amendment declares, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." It inspired the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion that swept the West three decades ago, preventing the federal takeover of public lands pushed by the Carter Administration and propelling the self-proclaimed Sagebrush Rebel, Ronald Reagan, to the presidency. Now the Amendment is being invoked by pro-gun advocates to press for state, rather than federal, regulation of gun manufacturers. Montana has passed a law allowing local gun manufacturers to sidestep federal regulations as long as the weapons they make are sold within the territory of the state. "It's a gun bill, but it's another way of demonstrating the sovereignty of the state of Montana," Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer said, according to the AP, as he signed the bill into law in mid-April. "I like big guns, I like little guns, I like pistols, I like rifles, and I would like to buy a gun that's made in Montana." In Texas (which recently saw Governor Rick Perry joking that the Lone Star State might take up the ultimate state right and secede from the Union), a similar bill is in committee as the legislative session winds down. Tennessee and Alaska "Firearms Freedom Acts" are working their way through the process. Utah may take up a bill next year...Time

Multiple New Mexico witnesses watch orange cigar-shaped object hover and fade

Word got out in this New Mexico town that something glowing orange was hanging in the sky on May 17. One witness grabbed her Nikon D40 and shot several images. She first described the object as "a big bright ball of fire or a bright orange ball, not sure which." Later after examining and enlarging some of the photos, she said that "in some of the pictures it looked like an orange cigar shaped object." When you review the witness photos, if this object was shot at the correct angle, it could appear as a ball, but in this shot pictured at the top of the page, it looks as though the object turned - where she was able to photograph its length. The following report and its headline is unedited...Examiner

The Valley Goes to War

To call Sam Fordyce a small Rio Grande Valley town may have been an overstatement. It was located near La Joya, and in late 1941 it wasn't much more than a collection of houses spawned by the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad. But it did have a rodeo arena. "My dad was putting on a rodeo there and I was riding in that rodeo," recalls Valley rancher Frank Yturria. "They interrupted the rodeo to announce that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor." It was Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, a day that shook the nation. "I went back to school on Monday morning and the entire class went into the auditorium. It was explained to us that we were at war." Such news had a profound impact on the Valley. But the Valley would have an equally profound effect on America's war effort...The Monitor

Town marshal had law-breaking past

There was plenty about Henry Brown's past that could be considered unsavory: He had ridden with Billy the Kid, stolen horses and fled New Mexico to avoid murder charges. But Brown didn't disclose his past to residents of Caldwell. They were looking for a lawman in June 1882 and were most impressed with the way he handled a gun. He was known throughout the Southwest as one of the quickest men on the trigger. And those were credentials enough for a rowdy Kansas cowtown that had seen four of its lawmen murdered shortly before his arrival. He was hired as an assistant marshal, then promoted to marshal. Town residents gave him a Winchester rifle on New Year's Day 1883. It was inlaid with gold and silver and inscribed: "Presented to City Marshall [sic] H.N. Brown for valuable services rendered in behalf of the Citizens of Caldwell, Kas." That was a stark contrast to his background. He was born in 1857 in Rolla, Mo., and raised by relatives after being orphaned. At age 17, he began drifting West. By the mid-1870s, he was in Lincoln County, N.M., where he met rancher John Tunstall and Billy the Kid and joined the Lincoln County War between ranchers and merchants accused of price gouging. The battle over local politics and economics escalated into cattle rustling, gunfights and court battles. Brown was one of the Regulators who fought on behalf of the ranchers against Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, owners of Murphy & Dolan Mercantile and Banking...Wichita Eagle

It's all Trew: Cheap labor helped build Thompson Park

While our economy continually slips, more talk about creating jobs for the unemployed keeps popping up. This is not a new idea. In fact, each time a recession appears creating jobs is placed on the front burner no matter which party is in power. The year I was born, 1933, was the bottom of the Great Depression plus the start of the Dust Bowl. Less than 10 inches of rain was recorded that year, eliminating almost all crops. The government was buying starving cattle to help the drought-stricken livestock owners. My father signed up to work for the WPA, which was building Highway 83 from Perryton to Canadian. He shared a car with Grant Westbrook, a neighbor, and both showed up promptly at sunup each morning at the site. All freshly signed workers were handed a sledgehammer and placed behind a rock plow pulled by a Caterpillar tractor. The orders were, "bust every rock bigger than a baseball." As your seniority increased you could move up to easier jobs. As the pay was from $1 per day starting and up to $3 a day top wages, there was a lot of turnover...Amarillo Globe

Song Of The Day #040

This is gonna be Hank Week on The Westerner: Hank Williams, Hank Penny, Hank Thompson, & Hank Locklin. I'll find another Hank by Friday.

We'll start with Hank Williams. It's hard to believe anyone reading this blog isn't familiar with Hank Williams, but just in case you can read about him here.

In 1946 Williams recorded two singles for Sterling Records, one of which is today's selection, "Never Again (Will I Knock On Your Door)." He later had many hits for MGM, but anyone listening to this early Williams can hear the greatness to come.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Decoration Day to Memorial Day

By Julie Carter

Memorial Day is all about remembering the fallen, the honored, those gone on to their great rewards, traditionally in the service of our country.

However, before life became complicated and I understood all those things, it was simply "Decoration Day" to me and we decorated all the graves of all the kinfolk, military or not.

Decoration Day was delightfully fun for my siblings and me. It was a much less organized family reunion of sorts. But, instead of meeting at some park or at a relative's house, we met at the cemetery.

My dad's side of the family was quite extensive. My grandmother was one of 12 children of a German homesteader and my grandfather was one of seven born and raised there.

Apparently, at the time, there was a large number of them still alive and living within a day's drive to the Colorado high mountain valley where it all began. There, where the roots of the family tree were first planted on homesteads, farms and ranches.

The cars and pickups of every age, size and color would pull up the hillside in the old pine tree-shaded cemetery where our clan had claimed resting ground since the 1870s.

Kids would roll out of the vehicles first and begin running up and down the pathways, seeking familiar faces and space to blow off the hot crowded car ride.

Trunk lids would raise and as chattering voices carried on the late May breezes, shovels, rakes and buckets and buckets of flowers would appear.

There were fresh-cut pine and spruce boughs, irises by the dozens and lilacs with a strong fragrance that wafted through the piney woods.

I don't know just how or who got it all done, but shortly, every grave would be clean, orderly and with a fresh bouquet. My grandmother would, as she did every year, explain to us who this person was or that name and how they were related.

She would laugh with me at the given names of the time - Hulda and George Washington Baker was just the funniest, I thought.

As we wandered through the many tiny tombstones that told a story, she told me about the flu epidemic that took so many children in 1880-82. Each marker bore the tale of the horrible loss of one, two and more children in the same family that died, sometimes within days of each other.

With history reviewed and duty done, we'd all pile back in the vehicles and travel off to have a huge picnic lunch; somewhere that allowed us to leave the propriety and reverence behind us while got reacquainted with kin folk that we might not see again until the next May.

Today, all I can do is recapture those moments in memories. Families have scattered far and wide and that tradition, at least for my immediate family, got lost in the miles and with my generation. Those same graves are now tended by an enduring uncle who faithfully looks after our history.

Quietly every year, I gather my son and we stop to pay our respects to his grandfather here in New Mexico. Along a little-traveled road in a quiet country cemetery, we chop back the weeds, reshape the dirt and place a new bouquet of bright flowers in remembrance.

His tradition is different but in keeping with mine, the reverence is the same - honoring those that came first, from a world they never could have imagined.

Julie can be reached for comment at