Friday, June 12, 2009

Artifact theft suspect found dead near Blanding

Anger and fear generated by federal charges of artifact looting in the vast deserts of southeastern Utah merged with sorrow Thursday when James Redd - a 60-year-old physician and defendant in the case - was found dead on his Blanding property. Townspeople gathered at the bottom of Redd's long private driveway Thursday evening, many of them weeping, the day after federal officials announced the indictments of 24 people in the theft and sale of more than 250 American Indian artifacts from the Four Corners area. The San Juan County Sheriff's Office did not return repeated calls for information on the cause of Redd's death Thursday, but law enforcement officials familiar with the circumstances and speaking on condition of anonymity said it appeared he took his own life. "He was one of the best guys I knew," said Paul Reay, a physician who worked with Redd at the Blanding Clinic. "He was a very competent physician, he was kind and always doing things for people. "I feel it's a waste of human life over pottery," Reay said. "The priorities of our federal government are badly misplaced."...SaltLakeTribune

Colorado landowners tell their story - Video

June 11, 2009---Fred Kelly Grant

Posted today on YouTube, on , and on, are interviews with two landowners who have been betrayed by the state of Colorado. Denise Kennedy and Deni Thompson tell the stories of how they have been trapped by the state’s breach of its commitment to them and other landowners in southcentral Colorado. These interviews will be followed by other first hand accounts by landowners as to how their financial futures are endangered by the state’s breach of its word. Just 8 days ago, Governor Ritter stated that “farmers and ranchers are…vital to Colorado’s future.” In his statement made during the public signing of a bill in opposition to military expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado, the Governor also said that the landowners in that area have been “understandably nervous about what the future holds” and that he was glad the bill “provides those farmers and ranchers with some level of stability and security.” Exactly the same can be said of the southcentral farmers and ranchers who relied in good faith on the state’s conservation easement commitments. But, the legislature, the Governor and his political appointees have refused to take action to honor the state’s commitment...

There are three interviews at the landowner site. Here are the two mentioned by Grant.

Dem mutiny on climate bill grows, says Peterson

More and more Democrats are ready to vote against Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s climate change bill, according to a congressional committee chairman who opposes his leader. The House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said Wednesday that he’s at an impasse with the lead sponsor of a climate change bill strongly backed by Pelosi (D-Calif.), and that his list of Democratic members who would join him in voting against the measure is growing rather than shrinking. “We’re stuck,” Peterson said regarding a clash he’s had with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) over a number of issues in the bill. “And there’s a lot of issues that haven’t even come up yet.” The two powerful chairmen are butting heads at the staff level, despite a deadline set by Pelosi for all committee action to be completed by June 19. But that may be the least of the trouble. Peterson has warned that the bill put together by Waxman and Energy and Environment subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.) will fail if agriculture-related provisions aren’t altered, and he’s said he has as many as 45 votes on his side. That number of Democratic defections would certainly doom the prospects of passing the bill in the House. And while the Agriculture chairman said he’s working to resolve those differences and not intentionally trying to torpedo the legislation, he noted that skepticism toward the bill is growing, not shrinking...TheHill

Obama picks Babbitt aide to run BLM

Bob Abbey, who helped former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt complete a Utah wilderness inventory 10 years ago, is President Barack Obama's nominee to head up the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the nomination Tuesday evening, calling Abbey a "consummate, professional natural-resource manager." Abbey has more than 32 years in state and federal public service, including eight years at the helm of the Nevada state BLM office until his retirement in 2005. Early reactions indicated general approval of Abbey's nomination from conservationists, off-roaders and oil and gas officials. "I think he'd be a good director," said Brian Hawthorne, public-lands policy director for the BlueRibbon Coalition, an OHV interest group. "He seemed to be well-liked by the [BLM] line officers and staff." Heidi McIntosh, an attorney and conservation director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said Abbey was known as "a good guy" and not ideological in any direction. "He's willing to listen. I think he's a good choice," McIntosh said. If the Senate confirms Abbey, she said, he ought to restore a balance to managing public lands after the Bush administration's eight years of focusing on oil and gas development...SaltLakeTribune

Sam Hamilton Nominated as Director of USFWS

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today praised President Obama’s announcement that he intends to nominate Sam D. Hamilton to be the next Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hamilton, a career senior biologist and manager with the Service, currently is director of the agency’s Southeast Region. The nomination requires Senate confirmation. Hamilton, who has been with the Service for 30 years, was appointed Southeast Regional Director in Atlanta, Georgia in 1997, serving as senior operating executive with full strategic planning and management responsibility for a $484 million budget and a 1,500-person work-force that operates in 10 states and the Caribbean. As regional director, Hamilton has been responsible for the oversight and management of more than 350 federally listed threatened and endangered species and 128 national wildlife refuges. He has provided leadership and oversight to the department’s restoration work in the Everglades, the largest ecosystem restoration project in the country, and oversaw recovery and restoration work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated coastal wetlands, wildlife refuges, and other wildlife habitat along the Gulf of Mexico...PressRelease

USDA undersecretary nominee withdraws

President Obama's nominee to lead the Forest Service and farmland conservation programs has withdrawn his name from consideration. Homer Lee Wilkes, the Mississippi state conservationist and a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was nominated in May as Agriculture undersecretary for natural resources and environment. The post directs the Forest Service and conservation projects at NRCS. But Wilkes withdrew his name for personal reasons, the White House confirmed today. Career administration officials said USDA had been trying to promote Wilkes to its headquarters for years but that Wilkes had been hesitant to uproot his family and move to Washington. Lobbyists who follow USDA said the withdrawal came after a bump in the road came up in Wilkes' background investigation...NYTimes

Bush adminstration targeted land near parks for drilling

A special report to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar details how officials in the final days of the Bush administration pushed aside the National Park Service and sought to lease public lands for drilling on the borders of Utah's most famous redrock parks. Salazar was condemned by the oil industry for scrapping 77 of the leases weeks after taking office, but all of the drilling parcels had already been delayed by a federal lawsuit that is yet to be resolved. Hayes said the Bureau of Land Management -- the agency responsible for leasing public lands for energy development -- set out to lease drilling parcels on the borders of Arches National Park without notifying the Park Service, violating a long-standing pact. The BLM also moved to lease other parcels close to Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument, and to open drilling around artifact-rich Nine Mile Canyon and along the high cliffs of whitewater sections of the wild Green River. Leasing parcels on or near the borders of national parks is highly unusual, Salazar said in a telephone interview Thursday. Hayes said the remaining 30 leases that Salazar rescinded in February could go up for sale again because they are in or next to existing oil and gas fields, but only after each parcel is carefully studied. "We're creating a SWAT team, basically, to look at parcels on an individual basis," Hayes said...AP

Biologists help rare fish flee New Mexico fire

As a lightning-sparked fire charred thousands of acres in southwestern New Mexico, biologists and firefighters used helicopters and trucks for an unusual evacuation. They captured 250 Gila trout — a threatened species — from a creek in southwestern New Mexico and are moving them to a hatchery in the opposite corner of the state. Ranger Al Koss of the Wilderness Ranger District said Wednesday was a perfect time to move the fish because the fire's intensity had diminished and the flames were still a couple of miles from the South Diamond Creek. Biologists rode to the creek on horseback, then used electroshocking devices to temporarily stun the trout so they could quickly scoop them into a net. "You've got to be pretty fast," said John Kramer, a staff member who has helped with two other fish relocations during his 20 years working on the Gila National Forest. The fish were loaded into a large bucket and taken out of the wilderness via helicopter to a special truck waiting to ferry them to a hatchery in northern New Mexico. The fire has blackened nearly six square miles — more than 3,600 acres — in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness north of Silver City. Forest officials decided to evacuate the trout when the fire started moving toward the creek. The fish can hide as the fire passes through the watershed, but Koss said the resulting ash could impact their habitat. Forest officials are concerned about the Gila trout because it is classified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened. The fish — the only native trout in the Gila River — is found in a handful of counties in New Mexico and Arizona...AP

Those fish must not have been in the wilderness, where no mechanical equipment or motorized vehicles are allowed. In other words, no stun guns or helicoptors.

Agency to reconsider wolverine status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to reconsider denial of Endangered Species Act protection for the wolverine, a snow-dwelling furbearer at the center of a lawsuit filed last year by Defenders of Wildlife and eight other groups. The reconsideration is in an agreement, filed Wednesday, to settle the case. The agreement requires the approval of U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula. The Fish and Wildlife Service said in March 2008 that even if wolverines disappeared from the contiguous 48 states, the species would survive because wolverines in the United States are connected to larger populations in Canada. Defenders of Wildlife said documents show the Fish and Wildlife Service supported protecting the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act, but the support was overridden by politically driven officials in the Interior Department. The settlement requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a determination of the wolverine's status by December 2010...AP

NYC To Gas 2,000 Geese In Bid To Protect Aircraft

New York City plans to trap and kill up to 2,000 Canada Geese this summer in an attempt to avoid the type of collision that caused an airliner to ditch in the Hudson River last winter. The hunt will take place on dozens of city properties located within five miles of Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. Aviation officials have culled the bird flocks on airport property for years, but this will mark a major expansion of the effort into other parts of the city, including about 40 public parks. The roundup is being timed with the molting season, when the geese can't fly. It is scheduled to begin within a week...CBS

Reward offered in death of Florida panther

Federal and state agencies are offering a reward of up to $15,200 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a suspect or suspects involved in the shooting death of a Florida panther. The panther was found April 21 near the Hendry Correctional Institute. It was on private property bordering the Big Cypress National Preserve. Authorities say the panther was shot within a week of being discovered. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are investigating. Whoever shot the panther committed a federal and state offense. A conviction carries up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The state penalty is up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine...TampaBayOnline

FBI charges 24 in American Indian artifact looting case

For two years, someone close to a large network of archaeological looters in southeastern Utah was wired with an audio-visual recorder when buying ancient baby blankets, stone pipes, seed jars, digging sticks, pots, even a pre-Columbian menstrual pad. This "Source," as he or she is identified in a search warrant affidavit unsealed Wednesday, is an insider who worked with U.S. Bureau of Land Management and FBI special agents to nab two dozen suspects in the theft and sale of more than 250 American Indian artifacts from the Four Corners area. Most of the suspects come from San Juan County, and some familiar names have emerged, including Blanding residents James and Jeanne Redd, who previously were prosecuted for stealing and dealing artifacts that lie scattered across remote public lands. The list also includes a 78-year-old man recently inducted into the Utah Tourism Hall of Fame. The undercover purchases cost $335,685, U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman announced Wednesday. But new Bureau of Indian Affairs head Larry EchoHawk, a former Brigham Young University law professor, said the artifacts were worth much, much more. "These articles are really priceless," EchoHawk said during a news conference in Salt Lake City. "You can't put a dollar figure on them." But that's what 55-year-old San Juan High teacher David Lacy of Blanding did, according to a search warrant that federal authorities said was representative of affidavits filed in cases against him and 23 others...SaltLakeTribune

County supervisor calls for Schwarzenegger's arrest

Blogriculture provides this link to Shasta County Supervisor Less Baugh's open letter. Here are some excerpts from the letter:

...Two years ago, we looked ahead and could clearly see that there were financial challenges on the horizon. We reduced our county work force by nearly 200 positions through a soft hiring freeze and by attrition. Anticipating shortages from the state and decreased revenue, we asked all departments to further reduce expenses by 10 percent...

While we were carefully limiting expenses and reducing our workforce, you were still discussing ways to spend even more money and increase your workforce. While we used our limited resources wisely and planned for the future, you ignored the obvious and continued spending and borrowing from our future...

What we cannot handle is your decision to take $6.3 million dollars right out of our bank account. You might as well hand us a lead life vest! You call it borrowing. You say that we (Shasta County) will be partially repaid with interest. I call it stealing. You don't have the ability to pay your bills now and I don't believe you will have the ability to repay this loan with interest. Meanwhile, Shasta County and all counties will be forced to pay the ultimate price for your mismanagement. So what do I want Governor? I want the Shasta County District Attorney to issue a warrant for your arrest. After all, grand theft is a crime...

We are working diligently to do our job, Governor. Man up and do yours...

I think he just called Arnold a Girly Boy.

Government Implemented Thousands of New Regulations Costing $1.17 Trillion in 2008

An annual report issued by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) shows that the U.S. government imposed $1.17 trillion in new regulatory costs in 2008. That almost equals the $1.2 trillion generated by individual income taxes, and amounts to $3,849 for every American citizen. According the 2009 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, the government issued 3,830 new rules last year, and The Federal Register, where such rules are listed, ballooned to a record 79,435 pages...

The Bushies last year, sigh...

Western Gov's - MOU - Wildlife Corridors

From: Ramona Morrison []
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 1:00 PM
Subject: FW: Western Governor's Association Wildlife Corridor MOU and Climate Change Policy Resolution

Dear western ranchers, farmers and interested parties:

As Vice Chairman of the Nevada Board of Agriculture, I am alerting you to the attached drafts of the Western Governors Association proposal for an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Western Governors, the Department of Interior (DOI)and the Department of Agriculture concerning (USDA) “wildlife corridors” and “crucial habitat”. Corridors are nothing short of a innocuous-sounding, back door attempt at a land grab. Dr. Tony Lesperance, Director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture, was provided a last minute version of the draft MOU and contacted Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons to express serious concerns about the implications of the “wildlife corridor” and “crucial habitat” language in this MOU. I fully concur.

Governor Gibbons has indicated that Nevada will not be signing on to either the climate change Policy Resolution introduced by Governor’s Schwarzenegger, CA and Richardson, NM (also attached) or the wildlife corridor MOU at the June 14-15 Western Governors meeting in Park City, Utah. If you read the email string below, you will see that a number of western governors are fully supportive of the wildlife corridor MOU. Unfortunately, as with so many of these environmental protection efforts, they sound great until they are actually implemented and directly impact our property rights. Also vague, undefined terms such as “wildlife corridors” and “crucial habitat” can easily be construed into their most destructive definitions by bureaucrats.

I urge you to make your opinions known to Governor Gibbons and Director Lesperance at regarding their stand for Nevada on these issues as well as to the other western governors before the June 14-15 meeting. Also, forward this to any contacts in other western states who may be unaware of these potentially dangerous policy changes. Right now it seems to be moving forward with very little resistance. The Western Governors Association website is

Arizona and Nevada rancher, Danny Martinez reminded me of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, New York v. United States, where in Justice O’Connor opined that state officials cannot consent to the enlargement of the powers of the Congress beyond those enumerated by the Constitution. It’s fair to say both of these potential policy changes by the Western States Governor’s go well beyond the enumerated powers of the Federal government as defined by the U.S. Constitution.

New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)
(Page 133) Justice O’Connor delivered the opinion of the Court. “Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate Branches of the Federal Government serves to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one Branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front.
Where Congress exceeds its authority relative to the States, therefore, the departure from the constitutional plan cannot be ratified by the “consent” of state officials. An analogy to the separation of powers among the Branches of the Federal Government clarifies this point. The Constitution’s division of power among the three branches is violated where one Branch invades the territory of another, whether or not the encroached upon Branch approves the encroachment….
The constitutional authority of Congress cannot be expanded by the “consent” of the governmental unit whose domain is thereby narrowed, whether that unit is the Executive Branch or the States.
State officials thus cannot consent to the enlargement of the powers of Congress beyond those enumerated in the Constitution.”[emphasis added]

Best Regards,
Ramona Morrison
Vice Chairman
Nevada Board of Agriculture

Killer Bees Attack California Rider, Horses

A California equestrian was attacked by a swarm of aggressive Africanized honeybees--also known as "killer bees"--while riding on a public trail in Rolling Hills, Calif., last week., The Daily Breeze reported. Jacquie Ball was riding one horse and ponying a yearling on the Upper Si's Canyon Trail when the bees attacked. According to the report, she released the yearling, jumped off her horse, and ran up the trail. She sustained stings on her back. "I never saw a hive or a colony or a swarm, or anything that was a warning," Ball told The Daily Breeze. "I just got hit in the face, hard and fast. "With all these years of riding on trails, I've been through honeybees. This is way out of the ordinary," she said. Steve Thoenes, PhD, a Tucson-based entomologist, told The Horse that horses are, "very attractive and vulnerable targets. Horses should never be stabled or corralled near honeybee colonies." He said most horse deaths caused by honeybees can be attributed to suffocation. "When a horse is subjected to multiple bee stings around, and in, the nose, the area swells and cuts off a horse's breathing," he explained...TheHorse

Song Of The Day #059

I'm playing today's selection because of my Dad. When we were talking about him batching at the ranch, or when discussing my music collection, he would always mention how much he liked "Sleepy Rio Grande" by Bud & Joe Billings. He had a 78rpm record of this song which he apparently played a lot when living alone, or "batching" at the DuBois ranch. Dad and I went out to the old shack he lived in, found some old 78s, but no "Sleepy Rio Grande." I finally found it a few years ago on Cattle CD 207 Bud & Joe Billings - Singing Pals from Kansas. It was issued in 1929 on Victor 40088 and was side A. Side B was "When Its Springtime In The Rockies." I also found out there was no Bud & Joe Billings. Both singers were from Kansas, but they were Frank Luther Crow and Carson Jay Robison. Carson Robison, paired with Vernon Dalhart, pioneered the recording of cowboy songs. They recorded from 1924 to 1928. Frank Luther (as he became known) also developed a following during this period for taking cowboy songs to city dwellers. Dalhart & Robison broke up in 1928 and Robison & Luther started singing together. They recorded under several names, including The Carson Robison Trio, when they added Luther's wife, Zora Layman. She was a Kansas singer and fiddler, recorded on her own, one song of note was her "Seven Years With The Wrong Man." Luther & Robison were most remembered, however, for their recordings as Bud & Joe Billings.

Anyway, I wish I'd found this song before Dad passed on.

I can still imagine him though, batchin' at the ranch, cranking up the Victrola, and listening to "Sleepy Rio Grande."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How To Handle Public Officials - A lesson from the ancient Greeks

...Most officials in Athens were appointed by lot and for one year only. They did not serve an elected parliament but the whole citizen body (Athenian males over 18), meeting roughly every week in Assembly. This body was sovereign, deciding every course of state action. The same people also had total control over the courts. Each official had to report regularly to the people, and could be arraigned at any time. At the end of his term, the people subjected him to a full audit. Within 30 days of laying down office, he presented his financial accounts (public funds received and expended), which were checked against documents in the state archives. That test passed, a board heard any charges of general misconduct. There were penalties for breaking the law, taking bribes, embezzlement, and so on. Punishments could range from fines through exile to execution. It never stopped Athenians putting themselves forward...The Spectator

Apply this to today's Politically Superior Ones and they'd be shakin' like a hound dog shittin' a loggin' chain and expecting a hook any minute.

Senate Panel OKs Expanded Oil and Gas Leasing in Eastern Gulf

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved expanded oil and gas leasing today in the eastern Gulf of Mexico in a bipartisan vote that would upend a 2006 compromise with Florida senators that provided their state at least a 125-mile buffer in most areas until mid-2022. The committee voted 13-10 in favor of Sen. Byron Dorgan's (D-N.D.) plan to allow leasing as close as 45 miles from Florida's coast. It also allows leasing in a gas-rich region called the Destin Dome off the Florida Panhandle that is even closer to shore. The drilling amendment vote was part of the committee's ongoing markup of a broad energy bill. Dorgan said the measure should be part of a bill that also addresses alternative energy and efficiency. "I am interested in doing this to increase production," Dorgan said...NYTimes

Gov. Perry Hates Climate-Change Bill, Loves Clean Energy

Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry took aim at the federal government, salting his critique with a dose of unabashed global-warming skepticism. He criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s April ruling that rising levels of carbon dioxide present a hazard to human health. The governor, a former West Texas rancher and Texas A&M University graduate, said: “The idea that CO2 is a toxic substance is a bit hard for this agricultural scientist to get his arms around when … Nobel laureates have talked CO2 in a very positive sense when you talk about the green revolution.” But he saved his sharpest barbs for the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill and its cap-and-trade provision to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. He said it amounted to “the largest tax increase in the history of our country.” It would devastate the Texas economy–and for what? He’s not sure there’s much to be worried about. “This is going to come down to this: Are the Democrats in Congress willing to stand up and say we are fixing to raise everyone’s cost of living in America on some science that still is yet to be solidified?” That’s not much difference than Gov. Perry’s earlier assault on federal ethanol mandates, which he said raised the price of corn and threatened another cherished Texas industry—cattle...WSJ

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Without Reducing Mobility

This year’s six-year reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program is likely to have far greater impact on our transportation future than anything since the launch of the Interstate highway program in 1956. Many organizations are calling for fundamental changes in the federal role, and while there is certainly much that is dysfunctional about the current federal program, some of the proposed changes could make things worse, not better. An example is the proposal released on May 15 by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) of the Senate Commerce Committee. The first item on their list of “Major Goals of the Federal Surface Transportation Policy and Planning Act of 2009” was this: “Reduce national per capita motor vehicle miles traveled [VMT] on an annual basis.” Many of their other goals were either laudable or innocuous, but this one is definitely harmful, as I will explain...When working through this logic chain with data and numbers, it starts falling apart. First, all of transportation (including trucking, airlines, barges, etc.) contributes 27.9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Personal vehicles (cars and light trucks) are 61 percent of that; hence, personal vehicles are the source of 17 percent of GHGs, not one-third, as you will often hear. Second, greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles are a function of speed. Stop-and-go driving (as in congestion) produces much greater GHG emissions than steady-speed driving between 30 and 60 miles per hour; above about 60 mph, GHGs increase fairly rapidly. Third, there is no hard data showing that people who live in higher densities drive significantly less than those who live in typical suburbia. Fourth, there is excellent data from the Australian Conservation Foundation showing that among housing types, townhouses have the lowest carbon footprint, single-family suburban houses the second-lowest, and high-rise condo-type dwellings the highest. This logic chain also ignores considerable evidence that traffic congestion increases with urban density—which of course increases GHG emissions...Reason Foundation

Just add water: Temporary river gets its test

A brand-new river sparkled to temporary life Monday as the Chelan County PUD's $15.9 million project to restore year-round flow to the Chelan River Gorge got is first "water test." The project adds about 3 acres of new spawning habitat for steelhead and chinook at the river's lowest reach, near the dam powerhouse in Chelan Falls. Seasonal dam spill to maintain the level of Lake Chelan began early Monday, sending water flowing down the normally dry, 4-mile Chelan River channel at a slow 240 cubic feet per second. The water reached the new habitat work — some five hours after the spill began — and turned what had previously been only a drawing on paper into reality. Water emerging from the Chelan River Gorge slowly pooled and then spilled into a carefully engineered river channel containing strategically placed boulders, log jams and rocks. The channel is lined with river gravel that fish seek for spawning. The new habitat could see its first spawning action this fall, Hays said, but it may not reach its maximum appeal for the migrating fish for decades. PUD officials in October will plant cottonwoods and native shrubs along the now stark and rocky stream to protect its banks and provide shade that appeals to fish, Hays said...WenatcheeWorld

As the Politically Superior Ones mess with Mother Nature and wisely spend your money...

Study: Shrinking gene pool among spotted owls contributing to their decline

When the northern spotted owl went on the endangered species list in 1990, it effectively brought federal lands logging to a halt in the Northwest. Nearly two decades later, the number of owls is still dropping, and their shrinking gene pool is part of the problem, a new study concludes. Fewer birds make for a genetic "bottleneck" that increases the potential for interbreeding and reducing the birds' ability to adapt, says the study published this month in the journal Conservation Genetics. "Our results provide independent evidence that northern spotted owls have recently declined, and suggest that loss of genetic variation is an emerging threat to the subspecies' persistence," said the reports' authors, including U.S. Forest Service biologist and longtime owl expert Eric Forsman. Despite the increase in federal forests set aside for the owl under the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan, their numbers continue to decline at a rate of about 3.7 percent per year, the study found...Oregonian

The whole thing has been an environment and economic disaster, brought to you courtesy of the Politically Superior Ones.

Man mauled by bear west of West Yellowstone

A Boise man was attacked by a grizzly bear Tuesday on a Forest Service road near West Yellowstone. A spokeswoman for the Gallatin National Forest says the 34-year-old man suffered bite wounds to his head, shoulders, arms, torso and one leg. Spokeswoman Marna Daley says the man was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Rexburg, Idaho. His name was not immediately released and no report on his condition was available Wednesday. Daley says the man was hiking alone when he stumbled upon a sow grizzly and her cub. The Gallatin County sheriff's office says deputies were dispatched at about 5 p.m. Tuesday to a Forest Service road west of West Yellowstone, where they found the victim. The Forest Service has temporarily closed the area pending an investigation by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. AP

Grizzly bear killed Sunday night

A grizzly bear was shot and killed at an elk ranch north of Interstate 90 near Rose Lake on Sunday night, according to information received from Idaho Fish and Game. The bear was harassing penned elk when a man discovered the bruin and shot it, reported Chip Corsi, IFG regional supervisor. Corsi went on to say he believes the incident was a case of mistaken identity, and the rancher fired at the grizzly thinking it was a black bear. “It was after dark when the bear was getting into the pen,” Corsi said. “I don’t think he had a good look at it.” IFG identified the dead bear as a grizzly — an endangered species under federal protection — and transported it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Spokane on Monday morning, Corsi said. While black bears are numerous in the forests surrounding the Silver Valley, grizzly bears are a definite rarity. Corsi said the animals do live to the north, in both Idaho and Montana, but finding one near Rose Lake was a surprise for Fish and Game personnel. “That’s probably the first grizzly [in the region] that has been positively identified in, and I’m just guessing here, half a century,” Corsi said. “Your chances of seeing a grizzly bear in the Rose Lake area are slim to none.”...SoshoneNewsPress

Veterinarian caught Army in a lie

D.A. Osguthorpe, a prominent veterinarian and rancher for six decades in Utah, was instrumental in solving one of the state's strangest mysteries --- how 6,000 seemingly healthy sheep dropped dead in western Utah's Skull Valley in 1968. Osguthorpe, who went by the nickname "Doc," died Monday at his Holladay home. He was 88. His 1968 investigation, which included autopsies of the sheep, led him to put the blame squarely on the U.S. Army, which eventually admitted it had conducted nerve gas tests from an airplane in the area. The federal government later paid thousands of dollars to the ranchers who had lost their sheep. Twenty years before his investigation into the sheep deaths, Osguthorpe had become a veterinarian in Utah, specializing in larger animals like horses, cattle and sheep. Among his many wards, Osguthorpe received the CSU Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999. "I know he got some flak from that Skull Valley thing, but he won out in the end," Vanderhoof said. In his report of the sheep deaths, Osguthorpe noted that the Army denied any involvement, but his investigation discovered that the nerve gas was discharged from the plane and carried away from the test area by the wind. Eventually, it was brought to the ground by rain and snow, contaminating the sheep's fodder...SaltLakeTribune

Wildlife whistleblower case

A former professional hunter for the U.S. government in Nevada claims in a whistleblower complaint he was fired in retaliation for reporting that two co-workers illegally shot two mountain lions from an airplane in 2006. Lawyers for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility tell The Associated Press they will file the administrative complaint Wednesday on behalf of Gary Strader of Wells. Strader worked for the Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services until April. He says two aerial gunners shot the lions in Elko County. He says he told his supervisor but nothing happened as a result. Strader, a former Montana rancher, says he was told last summer his job was secure. But after he reported the incident to the FBI three months ago, he says he suddenly was told he was out of work. AP

UI investigating researcher over bighorn study

The University of Idaho has opened an investigation into whether the head of its Caine Veterinary Teaching and Research Center suppressed information from a 1994 study that appears to show bighorn sheep can get deadly diseases directly from domestic sheep on the open range. The center's leader, Marie Bulgin, is a past president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association who has testified before Idaho lawmakers and in federal court that there is no evidence of such disease transmission. Disease transmission between bighorns and domestic sheep is a sore subject in Idaho, where Payette National Forest managers are considering reducing domestic sheep grazing allotments near Hell's Canyon to protect bighorns reintroduced there in 1971. Ranchers are fighting the proposed reductions in federal court. Bulgin has said there may be other factors, including stress, that result in bighorn sheep die-offs, such as ones where 300 sheep died in 1995 and 1996 in Hell's Canyon. Idaho bighorn numbers have dwindled by half since 1990, to about 3,500 animals. In interviews with The Associated Press and others, Bulgin said she was unaware of the 1994 study conducted by Caine center scientists on two dead bighorns that showed a possible link. The research never resulted in a paper being published...Olympian

NM panel votes to protect Mount Taylor

The cultural and natural resources of New Mexico's Mount Taylor will now be protected by the state, ending a yearlong battle between American Indians and landowners all concerned about preserving their rights to use the mountain without interference. A state committee voted unanimously Friday to list the mountain on the State Register of Cultural Properties, a state spokesman said. The mountain, which as many as 30 Indian tribes consider sacred, is threatened by exploration and proposals for uranium mining. The protected area includes nearly 540 square miles around the 11,301-foot summit of the western New Mexico mountain down to surrounding mesa tops. Five tribes — the pueblos of Acoma, Zuni and Laguna, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe in Arizona — nominated the protected area and worked to show why it should be preserved. But landowners and other residents of Grants, N.M., who fought the designation feared it would inhibit their ability to visit the mountain and limit what private landowners could do on their property. "It's a huge blow to private property rights and owners," said Marron Lee Nelson, whose family owns the largest piece of private property on Mount Taylor. "I do think lawsuits will be coming."...AP

Mount Taylor decision came while we were sleeping

June 5, 2009 was the culmination of a 17-month battle for Mount Taylor where the decision to make the temporary Traditional Cultural Property designation (TCP) permanent was announced -- New Mexico’s 1 million acre land grab. An opponent to the decision said, “I could hear the jobs, stability and growth in our community suck right out of our town as the vote was cast. Corporate dollars will be spent in other communities where progress is encouraged and growth is a way of life.”...The Mount Taylor TCP decision has far-reaching ramifications. The nomination had many technical and procedural flaws, as noted by New Mexico Secretary of Cultural Affairs Stuart Ashman in his presentation to the committee on May 15 -- but it was unanimously passed. While it was repeatedly stated throughout the multi-month process that private property was “non-contributing,” at the 11th hour, the historic preservation officer, Katherine Slick, did acknowledge that the decision will impact private property owners. And it will hurt the economy and take money out of America. An international partner in a mining project is now expected to pull out. Potential mining projects will be delayed and have increased costs. Many will never happen. Some companies have already given up and pulled out -- giving environmental extremists another victory...HeathHaussamen

State confirms third human plague case from Santa Fe County

The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed today a third case of bubonic plague in Santa Fe County so far this year. A 56-year-old man was hospitalized and is back home recovering. The Department of Health is conducting an environmental investigation at the man’s residence to determine if there is any ongoing risk to people. The Department also confirmed a plague case in a dog from north of the city of Taos and a cat case from the Arroyo Hondo area southeast of the city of Santa Fe. Earlier this month the Department reported a fatal case in an 8-year-old Santa Fe County boy and a case in his 10-year-old sister who recovered. There have been a total of three human cases in New Mexico, all in Santa Fe County, so far this year...PressRelease

NAIS should be fixed or forgotten

Four days before the seventh and final “listening session” June 1 to gather producer comments on NAIS, the National Animal Identification System, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced USDA would host six additional meetings for the public “to voice their concerns about the current NAIS system and offer potential solutions.” The extra meetings are either a master stroke by a shrewd political operator or a bureaucratic blunder by a Washington, D.C. rookie. Master stroke because Vilsack, an early and ardent supporter of NAIS, heard nothing good about national animal ID since taking his (presumably ear-tagged and registered) dog-and-pony show on the road May 14. Wherever it went—Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Washington State, Texas—producer after producer greeted it with anger and derision. Most used their three minutes of microphone fame to condemn NAIS as unnecessary, unworkable and un-American. Detractors easily outnumbered backers—mostly masters of the vertical integration universe: meatpackers and their lackeys—10-, 15- even 20-to-1...While mandatory animal identification is endlessly sold to lawmakers and consumers as a key element in new food safety regulations, producers have repeatedly pointed out that NAIS only tracks trouble after it occurs; it doesn’t prevent it. As such, it is not a food safety tool as much as a liability-assigning tool and no farmer wants a new expressway built between him and the federal courthouse...DailyRepublic

Cowboy roams Idaho, planting churches

Wearing a hat like the one cowboy actor Tom Mix made famous in westerns in the '20s and '30s along with a vest, brown cowboy boots and a full gray beard, Jim Ballard looks like he just stepped out of a Hollywood studio. But unlike the silver screen cowboys of old, Ballard spends his long Idaho days recruiting church planters and helping plant churches as director of missions for the Eastern Idaho Southern Baptist Association. He also has served as a North American Mission Board worker for the past seven of his 37 years in ministry. "Probably the greatest challenge I face is the distances I have to cover," said Ballard, whose association is made up of 13 counties and surrounded by three states -- Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. "There's a lot of distance between places up here." With his home in Blackfoot, Idaho -- midway between Pocatello and Idaho Falls -- Ballard, 57, says he puts an average of 75,000-80,000 miles a year on his vehicle as he covers his assigned territory. Ballard preaches at a different church every Sunday in his association, which includes 13 churches and two missions. Some are without pastors or are church plants which haven't yet called a pastor, so Ballard often fills in. He may preach in as many as three churches on a given Sunday, some three hours or 200 miles apart...AP

Golf’s a Hobby, Bull Riding Is Adam Phillips’s Career

When talking of his recent state high school bull-riding and bareback-riding championships, Adam Phillips, a Ross School junior who shares Shinnecock and Navajo heritage, said the other day that he was the fourth generation in his family to pursue rodeo sports. His maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were ranchers and cowboys in New Mexico, he said. And it is in New Mexico where the national high school-age championships are to be held, in Farmington, from July 18 to July 26. To help raise money to pay for his trip and expenses, a chicken barbecue is to be held at the Shinnecock Nation reservation in Southampton this Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with tickets priced at $10 for adults and $8 for children. Asked at Ross’s Wellness Center how he came to be a bull rider, Phillips, who also was the state’s highest point-getter in his division and won rookie-of-the-year honors, said, “I got on a sheep when I was 5.” Had he been bucked off? “Yes, but I got back on.” He then “took a break,” he said, until the age of 8, when he “got on a calf at the reservation. A year later, I started with steers, and at 9 I was competing.” He is 17 now, and has been traveling widely to compete in various rodeos during his years at Ross, which he entered as a ninth grader...EastHamptonStar

Song Of The Day #058

Meet the Massey family. Raised on a ranch near Roswell, NM the group included Louise, her husband Milt Barbie, and her brothers Curt and Allen. They were stars of the WLS Barn Dance and the b&w photo was their promo picture put out by WLS. Beneath the picture it states:

Meet the music-making Westerners, newest members of the WLS staff. The dangerous looking man on the left with the bass "fiddle" is Milt Mabie. Next to him is Larry Wellington with his accordion. Then Dott Massey who plays violin and trumpet; Louise Massey Mabie, singer and pianist, and Allen Massey, guitar and banjo specialist. Louise, Dott and Allen are sister and brothers. Milt was "adopted" bt Louise several years ago, while Larry joined the group more recently. Reared on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, the Massey's took to music rather than "cow punching", so their father, an old-time fiddler, led them in Chautaqua and Lyceum appearances for three or four years, after which they entered radio.

In addition to their singing, they appeared in a Tex Ritter movie, and years later Curt wrote the theme music for the TV shows "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction." In addition, Louise wrote the beautiful and much recorded classic "My Adobe Hacienda."

The group disbanded in 1950.

Today's selection is taken from their Bronco Buster CD (9026) release "Swing West." The British Archives of Country Music has also released a compilation, Louise Massey and the Westerners, Ridin' High 1933-1941.

Here they are doing My Adobe Hacienda.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NM Rancher: Fighting dogs slaughter cattle

A Valencia County rancher who lost 15 head of cattle to wild dogs has shot and killed 21 of the wild-running animals but says he's quickly becoming outnumbered. Rancher Peter Córdova said he has lost 11 calves and four full grown cows over the course of 11 days. All had their necks punctured although in one sad case a small calf was left alive with both earns gnawed off. The dogs are pit bulls and Rottweilers, according to Córdova who said none of the dogs are eating the meat. "They are just killing to kill," he told KRQE News 13. The dogs roam along and in packs as large as nine, he added. Córdova said he believes the dogs could be dogs trained to fight and coming from nearby El Cerro Mission and Meadow Lake. "What I understand they fight them and when lose a fight they don't want to kill them so they just turn them loose," Córdova said...KRQE-TV

Here's a video of the TV report. You'll see the damage these dogs can do:

Behind the Cap-and-Trade Curtain

Proponents of a cap-and-trade program to combat global warming face an uphill fight. For all their attempts to spin it as a solely environmental issue about saving the planet from extinction, the reality is that it’s a political question that ultimately comes down to economic tradeoffs. That reality explains why a cap-and-trade proposal similar to the one presently being considered crashed and burned in Washington last year, despite Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Voters got a sense that a new regulatory regime to limit carbon-dioxide emissions would impose huge costs across the economy, and they let their representatives know that was unacceptable. The irony is that the Democrats beating the drums for a global-warming bill understand — and even embrace — the economics of carbon-dioxide regulation. In an exceptionally candid interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board last year, then-senator Barack Obama talked about bankrupting the coal industry and said, “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Raise the price of coal- and petroleum-based energy so people use less, or force consumers to employ energy technologies that cost vastly more. Either way, higher prices are inherent to cutting emissions...NRO

Tribes lose Snowbowl battle

Would artificial snow made from purified wastewater defile a mountain Native Americans hold sacred? The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider that question, essentially ending a five-year court battle over the future of Arizona Snowbowl on Flagstaff's San Francisco Peaks. The decision lets stand a lower court ruling allowing development and snowmaking at the 70-year-old ski area. Manmade snow could arrive in time for the 2010-11 season. The Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai, Havasupai and Apache tribes hold the peaks to be sacred sites and contend that plans to make artificial snow out of reclaimed wastewater will infringe on their religious freedom. The coalition of Native Americans and environmentalists including the Sierra Club that took Snowbowl's landlord, the U.S. Forest Service, to federal court in 2006, vowed to take other action, including congressional action or a direct appeal to President Barack Obama...ArizonaRepublic

Wash. family to keep endangered turtle

Washington state officials say a family will be allowed to keep their pet, a rare western pond turtle, but the animal will be owned by the state of California. Barry Mason of Ridgefield and his wife Chae Yon said their family adopted the turtle when they encountered it as a baby 21 years ago while camping in Northern California. They said the turtle apparently was taken from their home during a birthday party for their son, Shon, in April, The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian reported Monday. The reptile turned up in May at a pet store in Hazel Dell, Wash., but the family ran into an obstacle while reclaiming their beloved Mr. Turtle -- his species is endangered. Washington wildlife officials wrote Mason that it has decided to allow the family to keep the turtle under a few strict conditions: The animal will belong to the state of California, it cannot be transferred to another family without the department's approval, and its final resting spot after its death will be determined by California and Washington wildlife officials...UPI

Bureaucrats will determine the turtle's "final resting spot"? I'm surprised they didn't require the turtle to be tracked by the NAIS.

$50 Tax Bill Leads to Foreclosure for Connecticut Man

A man in Connecticut says he's losing his home because he owes $50 in back taxes. The city of Bridgeport is foreclosing on Jean Castro's home because of the unpaid taxes, which total $51.69. A judge last week approved the foreclosure and ordered the home to be sold in December. Castro says the city sent him a notice that he owed back taxes and he forwarded it to his mortgage company. The mortgage company ended up paying $3,000 in back taxes, leaving the small balance. The city's lawyer says by the time he learned about the payment it was too late, because the foreclosure had started...AP

Build it and they will...take it. Another episode.

They think reading the bills is a joke

Henry Waxman hired a speed-reader in case Republicans demanded that the cap & trade bill be read to the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Republicans decided not to deploy this "stalling" tactic, so the reader was used only for a couple of minutes, as a joke. Not only are bills never read before a quorum in Congress, they aren't read in committee either. Our supposed representatives think it's a joke to believe they should know what they're inflicting on us. But we don't think it's funny...DownsizeDC

Producers oppose animal-tracking plan

Several southern Missouri livestock farmers voiced concerns Tuesday about a proposed National Animal Identification System at a U.S. Department of Agriculture listening session. Critics said the federal government wants to control the food system and regulate how they raise animals. Many at the hearing expressed anti-government sentiments and said they want to be left alone to live off the land, like generations before them, without bureaucratic meddling. "It is entirely too dangerous to freedom, to the God-given rights that we hold, to have anyone to espouse total control of the food system," said Doreen Hannes, a Mountain Grove livestock farmer. "There is no way I will comply. I will die before I comply." Some dairy farmers use the devices for herd management, Wiemers said. But many producers at Tuesday's forum said they don't want the government to have access to their proprietary information. USDA officials have no exact estimate on the cost to tag and track every animal raised for commercial consumption, but some estimates put it as much as a $65 per newborn calf. Each farm would have to purchase tagging equipment and expensive tracking devices, critics said. "It's going to be a cost greater than any cattleman can bear," said Bill Stancer, 70, a semi-retired rancher from Cabool. "That cost is not going to be recovered at the marketplace." Small producers who often raise 30 to 40 head of cattle and a few other animals to live off of accuse the nation's largest meat companies of pushing for NAIS. They say electronic microchips with biometric technology -- which could track health history of any given animal -- would give producers a financial advantage at the marketplace. It would allow them to pick and choose among a herd based on information from a federal database, potentially lowering the price for some animals, critics say...News-Leader

Veterinary group rethinks fish toss in Seattle

Seattle's famed fishmongers may be tossing rubber fish instead of real ones at a national veterinary association's convention next month following complaints from an animal-rights group. American Veterinary Medical Association chief executive Ron DeHaven said the Schaumburg, Ill.-based organization had thought inviting one of Seattle's top tourist attractions - the fish-throwers at the Pike Place Fish Market - to the event would be a great "team-building experience." But after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals raised concerns about the ethics of using dead fish as props at a veterinary event, DeHaven said the AVMA would explore other options, including an alternative PETA suggested: using rubber fish...AP

Good. That would match their rubber spines.

Documentary offers troubling view of U.S. food industry

The new documentary "Food, Inc." begins with idyllic scenes of American farmland, panning from golden fields of hay to a solitary cowboy rounding up a herd of cattle. Then the camera zooms in on a grocery cart overflowing with packaged food and rolling down the aisles of a gaudily lit supermarket. Eerie, horror movie-style music swells in the background. It's meant to signal the audience that the pastoral fantasy of agrarian America on everything from packages of breakfast sausage to cereal boxes is not what it seems, that great danger lurks behind the cheery images of 1930s-era red barns and white picket fences. Director Robert Kenner is bent on showing us a far grimmer reality. He tells of dust-choked poultry houses where chickens never see the light of day and are pumped so full of chemicals they produce more meat than their organs can support. Eventually they collapse under the weight of their abnormally large breasts and die before reaching the slaughterhouse. He shows us industrial feed lots where cows are fattened on chemical-enhanced feed and forced to spend their days standing ankle-deep in manure. Kenner relates the heart-wrenching story of Republican-turned-activist Barbara Kowalcyk, who prowls the halls of Congress with her mother to try to force lawmakers to enact food safety legislation that she believes could have saved the life of her 2 1/2-year-old son Kevin, who died of E. coli poisoning 12 days after eating contaminated hamburgers...SouthCoast

Song Of The Day #057

One of the originators of commercial western music was the Sons Of The Pioneers. The group was formed in 1933 and they signed a recording contract with Decca in 1934. The group at that time was Leonard Slye (Roy Rogers), Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer and Hugh Farr (they later added Hugh Farr's brother Karl). Slye, Nolan & Spencer handled vocals and Slye played rhythm guitar, Nolan standup Bass and Farr the fiddle.

I once heard Rogers interviewed on the radio and I remember two stories from it.

Rogers said Nolan was scheduled for an audition and when Rogers opened the door Nolan was standing there barefooted with his shoes in his hand. Nolan had a job as a lifeguard and didn't wear shoes very often, but he had bought a new pair for the audition. He also didn't have enough money to pay for all of the bus ride to the audition site. Nolan rode the bus as far as his money would take him and then had to walk the rest of the way. The new shoes were killing his feet and he had to remove them. That's why he was standing there all dressed up for the audition, but barefooted with his shoes in his hand.

Rogers also said that at a low point in their career they found themselves completely broke and stuck in Roswell, NM. They played on the local radio station and soon learned that if they mentioned their favorite food on the program, the local folks would make sure they got some by delivering it to the radio station.

I guess we can thank the good folks in Chavez County for not letting the boys starve out early in their career.

Today's selection on the Radio Ranch is their 1934 recording Hold Them Down. It can be found on their 5 CD collection Songs of the Prairie.

Pilot Protests Customs 'Check'

Baja Bush Pilots, a group representing pilots who frequently fly to Mexico, is polling members to see if any have had an encounter with Customs and Border Protection agents similar to the experience of Long Beach, Calif. pilot David Perry and his three passengers a couple of weeks ago. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Perry says he was going through his pre-start checklist for a flight to Loreto, Mexico on May 22 when his Cessna 210 was suddenly surrounded by yelling CBP agents and local airport police, weapons drawn (the Customs agents had M-16s) who ordered them out of the airplane. "They were yelling at us to put our hands on our heads," said Perry, a retired military officer who said he makes frequent flights to his second home in Loreto. What followed was almost an hour of interrogation and searches for what was apparently a "random check" according to the senior agent in charge of the operation Perry said. "I couldn't believe I was in the United States," Perry said...Perry said he's since heard from another pilot who told him armed CBP agents in cars and a helicopter surrounded his aircraft on arrival at Long Beach on a flight from Texas. Perry said he's not opposed to security checks but he considered the agents unnecessarily threatening and aggressive for a random check. He also said the drawn weapons, besides terrifying him and his passengers, needlessly put them at risk. After the incident, he was cleared to resume the flight. It seems likely the agents knew when to intercept the flight based on the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) which, under recently adopted regulations, requires pilots of all cross-border flights to provide detailed information on the flight and the identities of passengers...AVweb

Seventy Percent of Americans Can't Leave the Country, Clinton & Bush Unaware

Do you feel safer today? Let's hope so, since you're certainly less free to travel about the Northern Hemisphere. Beginning just after midnight, every American returning from Canada, Mexico, and various island paradises now have to flash a U.S. passport to get back in the country. For the 70 percent of citizens who don't have passports, that means a minimum four to six weeks waiting time (and probably more, given the new filing rush) to legally escape the national boundaries...Matt Welch

What passport? Rule surprises Bush, Clinton
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush admitted yesterday they had no idea the U.S. was implementing a new rule Monday that would require Canadians and Americans to have passports to cross the border. The former presidents were caught off guard during a 90-minute joint appearance in Toronto when moderator Frank McKenna, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., spoke about how Canadians feel slighted by the new rule. "I'll be frank with you Frank, I don't know about the passport issue," Bush told the crowd of 6,000. "I thought we were making good progress on using a driver's licence to cross the border. What happened to the E-Z card?" Clinton said he'd only heard about the passport requirement a day earlier, adding that in all likelihood most Americans were completely unaware of it as well...

House curbs 'virtual strip searches' at airports

The Transportation Security Agency's plans to use X-rays to peek under air travelers' clothes may soon be shelved. In a 310-118 vote on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that curbs the growing use of what critics call "virtual strip searches" at airport checkpoints. Privacy groups say that the low-energy backscatter X-rays allow "a highly realistic image to be reconstructed... of the traveler's nude form" that's "detailed enough to show genitalia." The TSA, on the other hand, says it has made improvements to its scanning technology including a "privacy algorithm" that will provide the operator with vaguer outlines of body parts. The House vote attached an amendment drafted by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, to a broader TSA bill. Chaffetz's amendment says that whole body imaging "may not be used" as the primary method of passenger screening, and that passengers have the right to refuse it and "shall be offered a pat-down search" as an alternative. It also prohibits the storage or transmission of the whole-body images after they're no longer necessary for screening...cnetnews

Obama attacks online poker, freezes accounts

Widespread but previously unverified reports of a Department of Justice-ordered seizure against three bank accounts operated by online poker sites servicing US players have now been confirmed, with the Poker Players Alliance announcing that as much as $33 million in temporarily frozen funds may be involved. The seizure centers on a rumored 24,000 accounts involving customers of Full Tilt, PokerStars and one other site. Three separate banks were involved in the seizure, with the order emanating from the United States District Court of Southern New York. That U.S. district court has been at the focal point of Department of Justice efforts against various online gambling concerns and online-poker sites, which the DoJ maintains are illegal, though no case involving online poker has ever been tried. While the DoJ based its seizures here under the 1961 Wire Act , poker-only sites such as those affected by this latest order have long maintained that online poker is not covered by the cited laws. In fact, the latest seizures represent the first time that the United States' DoJ has attempted an action against entities associated only with online poker, as opposed to sportsbetting or casino gaming concerns...pokernews

Damn, you can't play poker, you can't bury your pet turtle, what's next?

Man Hopes to Cash In On Speed Camera Law

Steven Forage, a software salesman who spends at least five hours a day in his car, juggles a lot on the road: finalizing deals over the phone, sipping coffee, checking e-mail. One thing he no longer worries about, though, is speed cameras. "Fuzz alert," an electronic voice called out from the console of his Cadillac recently as it approached a speed enforcement camera in Montgomery County. At 300 feet, another warning: "Ding, ding. Ding, ding. Fuzz alert." "It helps you conform," Forage said of the warning system. "If you've forgotten where the cameras are, or get distracted, it refocuses you." The system, known as PhantomAlert, feeds the locations of speed cameras and red-light cameras into standard Global Positioning System devices and prompts the devices to warn drivers when they are near one. PhantomAlert has subscribers throughout the nation, including more than 2,000 in the Washington region, said the company's owner, District resident Joseph Scott. Scott said he expects that number to rise because of a new Maryland law that permits cameras, now allowed only in Montgomery, to be installed in work zones and near schools throughout the state. "It's going to be very good for us," he said. Scott said police should be thrilled by PhantomAlert, particularly because officials say speed cameras are designed not to generate money but to slow drivers...WPost

Reckon he'll get any "stimulus" money to expand his business and create jobs?

Justice Department Admits New Mistakes in Evidence Handling

Attorney General Eric Holder asked a court Thursday to release two imprisoned former Alaska state lawmakers after the Justice Department found prosecutors improperly handled evidence in their trials on corruption charges. The move is the second embarrassing retreat for Justice Department prosecutors since the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was tossed out of court in April. That prompted an internal inquiry into the government lawyers who handled the Stevens case, and officials said Thursday there also would be an investigation of how the cases of the two Alaska state lawmakers were handled. Most of the prosecution team is the same for all three cases.
Now, Holder is asking a federal appeals court to send the cases of former Alaska House Speaker Peter Kott and former state Rep. Victor Kohring back to the trial judge. The attorney general made the request after finding prosecutors had failed to turn over evidence to the defense...AP

Some Colleges Bar Even Talking About Right to Bear Arms, Gun Advocates Say

The First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to free speech. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to possess firearms. Now the first two clauses in the Bill of Rights have come together in an ongoing debate over the right of college students to advocate that they be allowed to carry guns on campus. The bloody massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, as well as smaller campus shootings across the country in the last decade, have fomented a lively debate over whether citizens should be allowed to carry concealed weapons to defend themselves on campus. But that debate has hit a wall of resistance from school officials in some places, bringing into focus the dual issues of gun rights and free speech. Many gun-rights advocates are arguing that college campuses, which are supposed to be open to diversity of thought, provocative dialogue, politics and protest, are hardly bastions of free speech when it comes to discussing firearms. "The fact is, the topic is so explosive," said Robert Shibley, spokesman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which tracks discriminatory practices against students involved in conservative issues on campus. They've been dealing with "more and more" complaints about efforts to "squelch gun speech," he said...FoxNews

Tenn. Lawmakers Approve Allowing Guns in Bars

Handguns will soon be allowed in bars and restaurants in Tennessee under a new law passed by state legislators who voted to override the governor's veto. The legislation that takes effect July 14 retains an existing ban on consuming alcohol while carrying a handgun, and restaurant owners can still opt to ban weapons from their establishments. Thirty-seven other states have similar laws. The state Senate voted 21-9 on Thursday against Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen's veto, a day after the House also voted 69-27 to override...AP

Kentucky pastor holding bring your guns to church day

A Kentucky pastor is inviting his flock to bring guns to church to celebrate Independence Day and the Second Amendment. New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church June 27, a Saturday. An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety. "We're just going to celebrate the upcoming theme of the birth of our nation," Pastor Ken Pagano said. "We're not ashamed to say that there was a strong belief in God and firearms - without that this country wouldn't be here." The guns must be unloaded and private security will check visitors at the door, Mr. Pagano said. Kentucky allows residents to openly carry guns in public with some restrictions. Gun owners carrying concealed weapons must have state-issued permits and can't take them to schools, jails or bars, among other exceptions. Mr. Pagano's Protestant church, which attracts up to 150 people to Sunday services, is a member of the Assemblies of God. The former Marine and handgun instructor said he expected some backlash, but has heard only a "little bit" of criticism of the gun event...AP

'Unabomber' fights plans to auction his possessions

Convicted "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, who terrorized the country with a series of mail bombs over nearly two decades, is fighting to stop a public auction of his diaries and other personal possessions. But Kaczynski's five-year legal battle will come to an end soon unless he can convince the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. "I regard him as the essence of evil. He's evil and amoral. He has no compassion," said Dr. Charles Epstein, who was seriously injured in 1993 when a bomb went off in a piece of mail he opened at his home. The blast destroyed both of Epstein's eardrums, and he lost parts of three of his fingers. Epstein, 75, is a world-renowned geneticist and retired professor at the University of California at San Francisco. He is one of four victims who are owed $15 million in court-ordered restitution from Kaczynski, and he told CNN the auction was important to victims. "Who would think that we would still be sitting, this many years later, still having dealings ... with the man who tried to kill us?" Epstein said...CNN

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

High-Stakes Quest for Permission to Pollute

During the final days of the drafting of a 946-page climate bill, Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.) won support for an amendment that deleted a single word and inserted two others. The words could be worth millions of dollars to U.S. oil refiners. The Green amendment deleted the word "sources" and inserted "emission points." In the arcane world of climate legislation, that tiny bit of editing might one day give petroleum refiners valuable rights to emit carbon dioxide when it otherwise might not have been allowed. Refiners could get the extra allowances in return for cutting carbon emissions by 50 percent at a single point of a vast refinery complex instead of slashing emissions by 50 percent for the entire facility. The tweak was just one of many in a complex cap-and-trade bill designed to limit U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. An item inserted at the behest of Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) would give the auto industry $1.4 billion worth of extra allowances starting in 2012 when the cap-and-trade system takes effect, according to an estimate by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Center for Public Integrity said its review of Senate disclosure records showed that more than 880 businesses and interest groups have registered to lobby on climate change in the first quarter of 2009..WPost

There was a lot of hype about "change" coming to D.C. This looks like the same old stuff to me.

Conoco’s Mulva: Waxman-Markey ‘Unfair’ to Refiners

ConocoPhillips, unlike some of its peers in the oil patch, tried to play ball and help shape U.S. climate policy. Conoco, a charter member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, publicly called for the type of cap-and-trade program Congress has just produced. “It’s important to have a seat at the table,” Conoco chief executive James Mulva said in an interview, defending his company’s decision to lobby for federal action on climate change. The problem is, Mr. Mulva’s not happy with what’s being served. The oil industry and plenty of outside observers figure the Waxman-Markey climate bill gives the electricity industry too much and the transportation sector too little. In other words, for all its 1,000 complicated pages, the bill boils down to a glorified gas tax. That’s got Mr. Mulva and other oil executives steaming. Waxman-Markey would give oil refiners just 2% of the free emissions permits being handed out; the electricity sector, in contrast, would receive 35% of the permits...WSJ

States or Feds: Who gets to regulate hydraulic fracturing?

A controversial process used in natural gas drilling, and crucial to the Barnett Shale’s development, is at the center of a tug-of-war dispute between the energy industry and some legislators over whether hydraulic fracturing should be regulated by the state or the federal government. A recent push by federal legislators to repeal the Energy Policy Act of 2005 could mean companies that employ hydraulic fracturing, a means of stimulating and opening up a well, would have to answer to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act about the chemicals they use in the injection process. Legislators and other concerned parties, including environmental groups, are worried the chemicals used – many of which are harmful to humans and other species – could seep into underground water tables and contaminate water supply. The industry argues there haven’t been any instances of contamination to date and federal oversight would impede natural gas and oil development by adding increased permitting requirements and economic burdens...Fort Worth Business Press

GHG lawsuit involving BLM oil and gas leases moves forward

A lawsuit challenging four Bureau of Land Management lease sales in Montana on climate change grounds will go forward after a federal judge last week rejected the agency's arguments that climate impacts should not be considered in leasing decisions. Two environmental groups -- WildEarth Guardians and Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project -- are challenging BLM's leasing of 40,000 acres of federal lands, saying the agency ignored a 2001 order from then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt requiring the agency to examine effects associated with climate. Specifically, the groups say BLM failed to consider releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Although Babbitt's successor, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, modified the order during the waning days of the Bush administration, plaintiffs argued that the rule was still in effect when the four Montana leases targeted in the lawsuit were issued in 2008. BLM argued that the 2001 order could not be judicially reviewed or enforced in federal court. But last week, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Montana rejected BLM's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, clearing the way for the lawsuit to proceed...WBR

Big cut in emission credits to farmers and landowners could hinder climate bill

Plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions have been sold to farm groups as a potential cash cow for growers, but new government estimates suggest farmers would make a lot less money than previously believed. Citing changes in farm practices and energy policy, analysts at the Environmental Protection Agency have sharply lowered their estimates of the potential carbon credits for which farmers and landowners would likely qualify. That could make it more difficult than it already is for Democrats and the Obama administration to sell a climate bill to farm-state members of the House and Senate. The bill Democrats are pushing through the House would allow farmers, landowners and others to get payments for up to a billion tons worth of annual reductions of carbon emissions through measures such as planting trees, leaving crop residue in the soil or using manure gas to generate electricity. The credits would be sold to utilities, refiners and others that would be required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, in an analysis of the bill's impact, the Environmental Protection Agency said the billion-ton cap won't be reached, and that there will be very few emission credits at all for agricultural practices...DesMoinesRegister

Save a Tree Hug a Capitalist

I don’t think there is anything that pisses off eco-socialists more than a free market answer to their problem of climate change. They simply don’t know how to respond. Since capitalism is their true antichrist it certainly can’t be the answer to their ostensible reason for whining. Take for example CEI adjunct scholar Dan Sutter’s proposed plan of action which is both free market and would achieve some of the environmentalists’ stated goals. In his recently released paper, Sutter argues that allowing insurance companies to charge actuarially adequate rates (meaning people pay more for riskier decisions such as living on a beach) will encourage people to make safer choices and discourage development of environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands, riversides, and beachfronts. It would simply cost too much money for people to build there. This would reverse the decades long policy of government “helping” people who choose to live in these areas by subsidizing them and forcing insurers to keep rates low for those people (which ironically means that insurers have to charge everyone else more in order make sure they can pay claims when the time comes). These subsidies and low rates encouraged people to keep putting their homes and families directly in harms way and keep damaging the areas environmentalists claim should remain undeveloped...Open Market

Forest Service cuts grazing

Cattle grazing on Lower Hermosa Creek will have fewer days to fatten up under new rules adopted by the San Juan Public Lands Center. The new adaptive management strategies that restrict cattle grazing - announced May 28 - were not made lightly, said Rowdy Wood, range land management specialist for the Columbine Ranger district. The 122,000-acre area north of Durango includes the Dutch Creek, Elbert Creek and Upper Hermosa grazing allotments. About 900 cattle are permitted to graze on the three allotments annually, Wood said. According to the report, it found the effect of cattle grazing on the landscape hurt the natural resources of the area and was affecting the Canadian lynx habitat and other wildlife. The ranchers who use the land plan to appeal the final decision, said Phil Craig, whose cattle graze in the Dutch Creek area. He said the 25-day cut won't make a difference about how it affects the land, but even a 10-day cut at the beginning of the season hurts the summer hay production. "The reason the permits are there is so we can raise the hay in the summertime," he said. The earlier you start growing, the more production of hay you get for the winter, he said. "If you graze those fields off for a week to 10 days, you really won't get the quantity of hay you need for the winter," Craig said...DurangoHeraldNews

Idaho Court Grazing Decision Adds To Economic Woes, Fails To See Whole Picture

In an ongoing effort to eliminate grazing and other uses of public lands, Western Watersheds Project (WWP) challenged 18 Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) prepared by 18 separate Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices in six different Western states. The BLM and stakeholders immediately filed a motion to dismiss parts of the complaint and asked that the case be handled separately in U.S. Courts in each of the affected states, rather than as one large lawsuit. In early May, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Judge, ordered that the motion be granted in part and denied in part in a decision that ultimately unfairly favors the original complaint. “The judge looked at this as a decision simply about sage grouse and failed to see the whole picture, that this is a range resource and habitat issue,” said Dan Gralian, President of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association. “As ranchers, we work with agencies like the BLM to manage our public lands responsibly. Sweeping attacks and generalizations like this case misuse stakeholders’ time, take our agency folks away from their real jobs of managing the land and wastes taxpayers’ money.” “You simply can’t paint 25 million acres of the Western United States with the same broad brush as Judge Winmill has in this case,” said John O’Keeffe, Chair of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Public Lands Committee. Making the BLM waste federal resources on paperwork, legal fees and defending their efforts to protect threatened species ultimately does not protect the environment, sage grouse or rangelands.”...cattlenetwork

U.S. wildfire effort faulted for leaving communities unprotected

While more than 1,000 homes across the West burn each year in forest and brush fires, only a fraction of federal efforts to reduce fire danger in the region has been concentrated in the communities at greatest risk, a group of scientists found. The scientists analyzed a database containing the locations of all 44,613 fuel-reduction projects undertaken in Western states by various federal agencies under the National Fire Plan from its start in 2000 through 2008. They found that only 3 percent of those projects were within what is known as the wildland-urban interface -- areas where suburban and rural homes meet forests and rangelands. The National Fire Plan is a program that is intended to reduce the risk of wildfire to communities. The scientists found that 11 percent of those fuel-reduction projects were within an area that includes the wildland-urban interface plus a 1.5-mile buffer strip around it. That is far short of the 50 percent goal set by the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, which was supposed to help control the $1 billion regularly spent each year fighting wildfires. Wildfires burned 5.3 million acres in the U.S. in 2008...AP

Energy Department Fails its Own Energy Audit

Promoting energy efficiency is atop the Department of Energy’s charge for spending $38.7 billion of stimulus funds. Too bad the department has had trouble promoting energy efficiency within its own walls. The department’s inspector general recently released the results of an audit showing that the DOE has failed to run its own computer systems in an environmentally responsible manner. Apparently, some of the folks at the national labs dreaming up new ways to save energy in the future are really bad at turning off their computer monitors in the present...All told, the auditors estimated that DOE could save more than $1.5 million annually on energy bills if the staff just implemented the government’s own power-saving guidelines. And that’s just at the seven facilities surveyed, the report noted. Department-wide the savings could be greater...WSJ

FAA Official Charged $3,700 Eye Surgery to His Government Credit Card

An employee of the Federal Aviation Administration charged a $3,700 eye surgery on his government credit card, according to a report on government credit card usage completed last month by the Congressional Research Service. This FAA official may have been outdone, however, by a Defense Department official who sought and received reimbursement for thirteen airline tickets worth almost $10,000 that he never purchased, or the State Department official who bought an unauthorized first-class ticket to Hawaii on his government charge card. State Department officials, in fact, have become accustomed to travelling in relative luxury on tickets charged on government credit cards. According to the Congressional Research Service report, almost half of the airline tickets purchased by the State Department, an audit discovered, were for first-class or business-class seats. Government protocol, however, strictly limits when such seats can be legitimately purchased by department personnel...CNSNews

Greening the Herds: A New Diet to Cap Gas

Chewing her cud on a recent sunny morning, Libby, a 1,400-pound Holstein, paused to do her part in the battle against global warming, emitting a fragrant burp. Libby, age 6, and the 74 other dairy cows on Guy Choiniere’s farm here are at the heart of an experiment to determine whether a change in diet will help them belch less methane, a potent heat-trapping gas that has been linked to climate change. Since January, cows at 15 farms across Vermont have had their grain feed adjusted to include more plants like alfalfa and flaxseed — substances that, unlike corn or soy, mimic the spring grasses that the animals evolved long ago to eat. As of the last reading in mid-May, the methane output of Mr. Choiniere’s herd had dropped 18 percent. Meanwhile, milk production has held its own. Sweetening cow breath is a matter of some urgency, climate scientists say. Cows have digestive bacteria in their stomachs that cause them to belch methane, the second-most-significant heat-trapping emission associated with global warming after carbon dioxide. Although it is far less common in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it has 20 times the heat-trapping ability. Frank Mitloehner, a University of California, Davis, professor who places cows in air-tight tent enclosures and measures what he calls their “eruptions,” says the average cow expels — through burps mostly, but some flatulence — 200 to 400 pounds of methane a year. More broadly, with worldwide production of milk and beef expected to double in the next 30 years, the United Nations has called livestock one of the most serious near-term threats to the global climate...NYTimes

Denver Post: Put off plan to track U.S. meat

The Obama administration wants to create a federally mandated system of tracking the nation's meat supply, but producers say such a requirement would swell food costs and cut profits. It's an important debate, but we question its timing. The middle of a recession seems a poor time to implement a system that could raise food prices for shoppers and cuts profits and salaries for American ranchers and their employees. Presently, cattle ranchers, sheepherders and hog farmers voluntarily tag their animals and keep track of the animals' immunizations through a unique identification number. The ID number is recorded at the feedlots, slaughterhouses and within the batch numbers of the boxes of steaks, shanks and slabs of bacon sent to market. We think market-savvy ranchers ought to start implementing computer tracking on their own. Growers say the cost of the registration and tracking gear would add $10 to $20 to each head of cattle, according to The Post's Michael Booth. That's huge compared to the $40 to $50 per-cow profit margin growers hope to reap...DenverPost