Saturday, August 22, 2009

Elmer Kelton dies at 83

Elmer Stephen Kelton, 83, died Saturday. He was born April 29, 1926, at Horse Camp in Andrews County to Mr. and Mrs. R.W. “Buck” Kelton, and grew up on the McElroy Ranch in Upton and Crane counties. He completed his education at the University of Texas after serving in Europe during World War II.

Kelton married Anna Lipp of Ebensee, Austria in 1947 and began a career in agriculture journalism at the San Angelo Standard-Times in 1949. He became editor of the Sheep & Goat Raiser magazine in 1963 and associate editor of Livestock Weekly in 1968, retiring in 1990. Kelton maintained a parallel career as a freelance writer, beginning with short stories in the post-war pulp magazine trade, progressing to novels, non-fiction books and countless magazine articles. In all, he wrote more than 40 books, including “The Time it Never Rained,” “The Wolf and the Buffalo,” “The Day the Cowboys Quit,” and “The Good Old Boys,” which became a Turner Network movie directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones. Kelton was named the number-one Western writer of all time by the Western Writers of America. The WWA voted him seven Spur awards for best Western novel of the year and the career Saddleman Award, and he received four Western Heritage Wrangler awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ann Kelton of San Angelo, sons Gary Kelton of Plainview and Steve Kelton of San Angelo, with wife Karen McGinnis, and daughter Kathy Kelton, also of San Angelo and companion Pat Hennigan. He and Ann have four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the giver’s favorite charity or the Tom Green County Library’s Elmer Kelton statue fund through the San Angelo Area Foundation at 2201 Sherwood Way, Suite 205. Arrangements are pending at Johnson’s Funeral Home.

Fla. court OKs force against retreating attackers

Florida's "stand-your-ground" law allows the use of deadly force for self-protection even if an attacker or intruder is in retreat, an appellate court said Wednesday. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal issued that explanation for last month releasing Jimmy Hair from jail, where he had spent two years awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge. A trial judge had refused to grant Hair "stand-your-ground" immunity due to conflicting testimony on whether Harper was being pulled out of the car by a friend when he was shot, but the appellate court said that didn't matter. "The statute makes no exception from immunity when the victim is in retreat," the panel wrote in an unsigned, unanimous opinion. The new law amended Florida's existing "Castle Doctrine" that allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves and others in their homes against the threat of death or great bodily harm. It extends that right to public spaces including the street or a business and removes a duty to retreat before using deadly force...AP

Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession

Mexico enacted a controversial law Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency. The law sets out maximum "personal use" amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect Friday. Anyone caught with drug amounts under the personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory -- although the law does not specify penalties for noncompliance...AP

Friday, August 21, 2009

Feds gather vast collection of artifacts dealer

With a shovel, garden rake and a tarp, the artifacts dealer explained while digging how the government valued the damage to ancient burial sites by the cubic inch. By that measure, Vern Crites calculated, he was doing $9,000 worth of damage, according to a secret recording made by a government informant. Crites, a 74-year-old antiquities dealer from Durango, Colo., surrendered his vast collection Wednesday, the second defendant to do so in a sweeping federal investigation of looting and grave-robbing in the Four Corners region. The case peeled open the murky world of American Indian artifacts trafficking. Crites was recorded discussing exploits of digging by moonlight or in camouflage, and tagging items with a code of origin only he could decipher. In June, Crites and his wife were among 25 people arrested in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Along with others, the couple has pleaded not guilty. "It's enormously traumatic for them," said Wally Bugden, a Salt Lake City lawyer representing Vern Crites. "He's collected artifacts for 50-plus years, as have many people in the Four Corners area. Whether they were legally obtained or not is obviously the issue." Under indictment for trafficking, theft and grave desecration, Crites agreed to turn over his entire collection without the promise of a plea deal, federal authorities said Wednesday as agents, archaeologists and curators worked into the night to photograph, wrap and box up the artifacts. The government brought in two moving vans to haul them away...AP

U.S. State Department Signs off on Controversial Tar Sands Pipeline

The U.S. State Department approved a controversial pipeline project today that, once built, will carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, into the northern United States. Environmental groups and Native Americans who have been fighting the Alberta Clipper pipeline plan are already preparing a legal challenge. "The State Department has rubber-stamped a project that will mean more air, water and global warming pollution, particularly in the communities near refineries that will process this dirty oil," said Earthjustice attorney Sarah Burt. The pipeline will run from Canada, across northern Minnesota, through the Chippewa National Forest, to Superior, Wis., a Great Lakes port and terminus for other U.S. pipelines bounds for Chicago and elsewhere. The groups planning legal action — Earthjustice, Indigenous Environmental Network, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Sierra Club — say the permit decision for the pipeline contradicts Obama's promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to cut the nation's addiction to oil while investing in a clean energy future...SolveClimate

Drop in world temperatures fuels global warming debate

Has Earth's fever broken? Official government measurements show that the world's temperature has cooled a bit since reaching its most recent peak in 1998. That's given global warming skeptics new ammunition to attack the prevailing theory of climate change. The skeptics argue that the current stretch of slightly cooler temperatures means that costly measures to limit carbon dioxide emissions are ill-founded and unnecessary. Proposals to combat global warming are "crazy" and will "destroy more than a million good American jobs and increase the average family's annual energy bill by at least $1,500 a year," the Heartland Institute, a conservative research organization based in Chicago, declared in full-page newspaper ads earlier this summer. "High levels of carbon dioxide actually benefit wildlife and human health," the ads asserted. Many scientists agree, however, that hotter times are ahead. A decade of level or slightly lower temperatures is only a temporary dip to be expected as a result of natural, short-term variations in the enormously complex climate system, they say...McClatchy

Montana grizzly ‘Maximus’ found shot dead

He was one of Montana's greatest grizzlies, a behemoth towering 7 1/2 feet and tipping the scales at more than 800 pounds, "a big, beautiful, wild bear," said Mike Madel, who recently found the mighty "Maximus" shot dead near Dupuyer. Madel is a grizzly bear specialist with the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and he wants to know why this bear was killed. "He wasn't a problem bear in any way," Madel said. "He kept to himself, stayed out of trouble. It seems someone just indiscriminately shot him." Such killings are rare, Madel said, adding that "we almost never see this kind of thing here." The occasional bear is killed in self-defense, he said, or by a hunter who mistakes a grizzer for a black bear. But Maximus steered clear of people, and it's not even bear season...Missoulian

Cougar Terrifying Hikers Shot

A cougar that had been terrifying residents and hikers near Leavenworth was shot and killed over the weekend, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Craig Bartlett, a spokesman for the department, said a rancher shot the cougar Saturday after he caught it in his pigpen with part of a pig in his mouth. Bartlett said the rancher was within his rights to shoot the cougar because he was protecting his family and his livestock and the cougar was on his property. Fish and Wildlife Services had been trying to track the cougar for months after mountain bikers on the Freund Trail began reporting that the cougar was confronting them and being aggressive. One biker even had to hit the cougar to get away from it. The Forest Service had closed the trail after a hound tracker was unable to locate the cougar, but they were able to reopen the trail Tuesday...KIRO-TV

No end in sight for bear issues

In the 40 minutes that Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) spokesman Randy Hampton spent talking to Aspen police officers after Monday night’s bear attack, he said he heard at least eight more 911 calls about bears come over the officers’ walkie-talkies. That’s par for the course this August, it seems, as Aspen-area bears have broken into a host of homes, countless trash cans and Dumpsters, a television studio and even a fur shop. Despite massive public outreach efforts from the DOW and local law enforcement, as well as ordinances passed in 2007 mandating people bear-proof their trash, the problem persists. And Hampton says his agency is overwhelmed by Aspen. “We are at a point now where we don’t know if anything can be done to alleviate this on the human side,” he said Tuesday. “We are at the end of our rope.”...AspenDailyNews

Contagious Disease Affecting Wild Animals in South Texas

There are a growing number of cases of Sarcoptic Mange being discovered in the wild. It all has to do with a mite that gets under the skin of animals. And in Cuero, world wide attention was called to the animal that had no hair on it's body. Now they are discovering more animals in our hometown countryside with similar conditions. A warning -- the graphic images in this story may be disturbing to some viewers. Called Sarcoptic Mange.......the mite attacks the skin of an animal, causing irritation and in most cases, the fur or hair falls off. The condition is highly contagious, and can spread to not only other animals. It is similar to scabies ......the extremely itchy condition caused by mites. "This condition, it's Admemal mites basically, and it gets underneath the skin. And it does cause total hair loss. Then after the hair is gone, the skin is exposed to UV and begins to wrinkle. Wrinkle on top of wrinkle. And the animal almost gets un-recognizable." says Scott Mitchell, Biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife. And although this animal looks like a wild pig, it's actually a raccoon without hair....In addition to wrinkling the can cause the animals mouth to fold up toward the teeth. Typically.....wolves.....foxes and coyotes as well as other animals found with the mange are separated from the packs of other animals in the wildlife population...KAVU-TV

The video referred to is available at the link.

Officers swarm home

In the latest drug bust, officers from the Rolla Police Department, Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, South-Central Drug Task Force and the U.S. Forest Service arrested a man suspected of running a meth lab in his home. Thomas E. Bradley was arrested and transported to the Phelps County Jail, where he is being held on a charge of manufacturing a controlled substance, according to RPD Lt. Jason Smith. Bradley, 48, of St. James, was the only person officers found in the home Wednesday. The initial sweep of the house on County Road 1130 by the RPD SWAT team took only a matter of minutes...RollaDailyNews

Remember this the next time the Forest Service says they don't have enough officers to police federal lands. They're too busy "swarming" a private residence on private property.

Grasshopper infestation forces livestock sales

Grasshoppers are eating grass and other forage grown for livestock in such proportions that some U.S. ranchers are selling cattle because they won't have feed for the animals this winter. Mark Tubbs, who ranches in southwest South Dakota and inside the Wyoming border, plans to sell about a third of his cows this fall after putting up a sixth of the hay he usually does. He had been expecting a decent cutting — until the grasshoppers started chomping. "This year we had a good start but they just took it," said Tubbs, 57. "The grasshoppers have taken it down to the dirt. They've eaten everything but the cactus." Much of Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have the worst infestations of grasshoppers this year, but large populations also have been found in North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "It's just off the charts," said Bruce Helbig, state plant health director with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Pierre. In far southwest South Dakota, there are more than 60 grasshoppers per square yard...AP

Closing arguments begin in lost crop lawsuit - BLM & herbicides

After nearly 70 days of testimony, a federal case involving thousands of acres of herbicide-damaged farmland neared an end Wednesday as attorneys gave closing arguments over who was to blame for the damage. More than 100 people packed the courtroom and overflowed into the hallway as the arguments began in Boise's U.S. District Courthouse. The six-year-old case pits more than 130 farmers against the Bureau of Land Management and the maker of the powerful herbicide Oust, E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. Among the questions posed in the case: Was Oust labeled and promoted correctly by DuPont, did the BLM apply it properly, did the agency know that the application would put nearby crops at risk, and was the federal government negligent when it decided to use the herbicide? In an agriculture-driven state - where many lawmakers are ranchers and farmers, and where some of the most prominent residents rose to power from potato fields - the emotions behind the lawsuit were high. The lawsuit arose after range fires burned across southern Idaho in 1999 and 2000 and federal land managers decided to combat invasive weeds by spreading Oust on scorched public land. But the winds picked up, the powdery herbicide blew across nearby crops, and farmers watched as seasons of work wilted and died...AP

Time attacks ag

If you are in the mood to read a scaremongering article about how our food is produced, then mosey on over to Time magazine and read this diatribe.

It's a lengthy call for people to "radically rethink the way they grow and consume food."

Ranchers indicted on fraud charges

A group of ranchers are accused by federal prosecutors of falsely claiming that more than 500 head of cattle they owned on Bolivar Peninsula were washed away three years ago by Hurricane Rita. In an indictment unsealed Wednesday, the six members of the High Island Cattle Association and another rancher were accused of supporting each others’ claims of cattle losses in affidavits that the U.S. Attorney’s Office said were false. The ranchers sought federal money to cover their losses through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Indemnity Program. Prosecutors allege the cattle claimed to have been swept into the Gulf of Mexico or to have drowned never existed. None of those indicted actually live on the peninsula...DailyNews

Unusual cow death likely natural: expert

An expert pathologist says a dead cow discovered Wednesday by a cattle rancher north of Saskatoon might have suffered its unusual looking injuries from perfectly natural causes. The owner of the cow, Neil Bartsch, had described the cut wounds as appearing very smooth and worried that the animal had suffered a cruel mutilation. But the pathologist, who's familiar with unusual animal deaths, said there may be a less malicious explanation. "Scavengers like coyotes, magpies [and] crows will come along to a carcass and attack the soft tissue first because that's the easiest part for them to ingest," Brendan O'Connor, the chief pathologist at Prairie Diagnostic Services in Saskatoon, told CBC News on Thursday. “So they'll chew off the teats. Especially coyotes would do that. Magpies or crows might remove the eyes." O'Connor added that cut marks on an animal may appear smooth because an initial jagged tear was pulled taut by the carcass bloating. As a result, an injury from a predator's or scavenger's teeth may look like it was done by a sharp instrument. "The carcass bloats up and the gas builds up under the skin and the tissues stretch,” O’Connor explained. “So those bite wounds will no longer be apparent." The man who owned the cow told CBC News on Thursday that he doesn't buy the natural-causes theory. "I don't think so. I'm positive it's somebody did it with a knife," Bartsch said. "I mean, I'm just totally convinced it's not predators that did that." Bartsch said he heard that a steer belonging to a neighbour had also died under mysterious circumstances...CBCNews

Song Of The Day #113

Floyd Tillman (1914-2003) was a sharecroppers son raised around Post, Texas. In addition to his singing Tillman also wrote such hits as "It Makes No Difference Now", "Each Night At Nine", "I Love You So Much It Hurts" and "Slipping Around." He was inducted into the Songwriter's HOF and the Country Music HOF.

Tillman's music is still widely available, as in his Country Music Hall of Fame disc. Real Tillman fans will want the 6 disc box set I Love You So Much It Hurts - His Recordings 1936-62 & 1981.

Today's selection is his 1949 recording Gals Are Funny That Way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ethanol undermines Canada hog farm rescue

Canada's rescue plan of the hog industry will fail to save it because the government continues to support ethanol production, the industry's rival for feed grain supplies, a report by an independent farm research centre said on Wednesday. The Canadian government said on Saturday it will pay some farmers to stop raising hogs and offer loans to help others restructure. Canada's hog industry is in crisis, with high feed prices, a buoyant Canadian dollar, fears about H1N1 flu and a U.S. food labelling law making pig farming unprofitable. A mandate from the Canadian government, starting next year, that oil companies must market fuel with 5 percent renewable content, has spurred rapid expansion of ethanol production. That's driving up prices of corn and feed wheat, from which ethanol is produced and which farmers feed to cattle and pigs. "Rarely have two elements of Canadian public policy been so profoundly at odds with one another," the report from the George Morris Centre said. "...There is something singularly perverse about giving false hope and setting an industry up to fail."...Reuters

Study: Global warming sparked by ancient farming methods

Ancient man may have started global warming through massive deforestation and burning that could have permanently altered the Earth's climate, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. The study, published in the scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews and reported on the University of Virginia's Web site, says over thousands of years, farmers burned down so many forests on such a large scale that huge amounts of carbon dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere. That possibly caused the Earth to warm up and forever changed the climate. Lead study author William Ruddiman is a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and a climate scientist. "It seems like a common-sense idea that there weren't enough people around 5, 6, 7,000 years ago to have any significant impact on climate. But if you allow for the fact that those people, person by person, had something like 10 times as much of an effect or cleared 10 times as much land as people do today on average, that bumps up the effect of those earlier farmers considerably, and it does make them a factor in contributing to the rise of greenhouse gasses," Ruddiman said. Ruddiman said that starting thousands of years ago, people would burn down a forest, poke a hole in the soil between the stumps, drop seeds in the holes and grow a crop on that land until the nutrients were tapped out of the soil. Then they would move on. "And they'd burn down another patch of forest and another and another. They might do that five times in a 20-year period," he said. That slashing and burning on such a large scale spewed enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and warmed the planet, the study says...CNN

I wonder how our EPA would have handled these folks? Would be fun watching.

Group: Coal-bed methane responsible for drop in water table

Some areas of the Powder River Basin have experienced significant groundwater drawdown -- as much as 625 feet between 1993 and 2006 in some areas, according to a new report. What the report is missing is analysis to determine whether the impact is in line with federal modeling conducted in 2002. However, some say the raw data reveal obvious impacts to groundwater supplies. The Powder River Basin Resource Council issued a statement Tuesday suggesting the monitoring data proves the actual groundwater drawdown -- largely from the development of coal-bed methane gas -- far exceeds predictions made by federal officials in 2002. "Many of these aquifers in the arid West take 10,000 years to recharge to the levels they had before (coal-bed methane) depletion, according to some hydrologists," PRBRC Chairman Bob LeResche said. About 600 million barrels of water are pumped from coal aquifers in the Powder River Basin each year in the production of coal-bed methane, according to the state. Some of the water is used in irrigation and to water livestock, but a majority of the water -- which belongs to the state -- is not put to a specific beneficial use...CasperStarTribune

The California Coastal Commission vs. Its Critics

Richard Oshen has spent the past four years making a documentary about the California Coastal Commission (CCC), a state agency too obscure to have gathered any previous documentarian's attention. It is, however, well known enough in the world of land-use policy to have been called, in a 2008 New York Times story, "the most formidable player of all" when it comes to land use decisions in California. As Oshen learned, the CCC's powers extend far beyond what anyone would reasonably think of as either land use or the protection of California's coast. Coastal protection was the ostensible reason a four-year "Coastal Commission" was first invented for California after 1972's Proposition 20. The CCC was given permanent life by the California Coastal Act of 1976. Its current executive director, Peter Douglas, who is now serving his 29th year, helped agitate for and then draft the very statewide proposition that gave him his job. Oshen, meanwhile, finds himself in a legal battle with the very government agency he's investigating. The CCC is trying to legally seize copies of much of the raw footage Oshen has shot, as well as a version of the finished product, titled Sins of Commission, prior to its official release...Reason

Comment deadline on Million pipeline extended

For the second time, federal officials have extended the comment period for the controversial Million pipeline project proposed for southwest Wyoming. The scoping comment period for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' environmental impact statement will now close Sept. 28, Corps project leader Rena Brand said Tuesday in a media release. Colorado entrepreneur Aaron Million is seeking a Corps permit to construct a private pipeline to divert water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Sweetwater County and move it to eastern Wyoming and then on to Colorado's bustling Front Range. The pipeline would deliver about 250,000 acre-feet of water each year, according to plans for the estimated $3 billion project. The states, not the Army Corps, grants water rights. The Million Conservation Resource Group applied to the Corps for a permit under the terms of the Clean Water Act, which triggers the federal EIS process. Million's proposed Regional Watershed Supply Project would make a new water supply available for use by municipalities, agriculture and industries in southeast Wyoming and on Colorado's Front Range...BillingsGazette

The shifting nature of earth artists

Fifty years later, the form has evolved into one with quieter, more ephemeral aspirations. Far from the macho, heroic projects that were the hallmark of the first generation of earth artists -- some of whom, like Michael Heizer, have spent close to 40 years moving tons of dirt to create massive, remote sculptural environments -- "leave no trace," or at least, leave an ecologically enhancing trace, are the watchwords of many artists working in the field. Not surprisingly, New Mexico, with its near mystical natural beauty and vast open spaces, has become a hub of activity. This summer and fall, visitors will get to survey a wide swath of new work by this younger generation of artists, which has been brought together in "LAND/ART," a festival of coordinated exhibitions, lectures, symposia, film screenings (such as Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson's "Mono Lake"), blogs, public installations and site-specific sculptures organized by the 516 Arts gallery in Albuquerque. Current projects include visits to Charles Ross' monumental "Star Axis" -- a 30-year earth-moving project to erect an 11-story star-gazing apparatus in a remote location 125 miles north of Albuquerque -- and Matthew McConville's small, contemplative Hudson River School-style oil paintings at Richard Levy Gallery that memorialize the great earthworks of the 1960s and '70s...LATimes

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank™ is a nonprofit foundation developed to address the growing challenge associated with feeding Colorado horses whose owners have been impacted by the current economic environment. Horse owners face dire circumstances when they can no longer afford to buy food for their beloved animals and are taking desperate measures – abandoning horses and letting them forage for food or cutting back food to near starvation levels. Colorado’s rescue facilities are at capacity and the reports to humane societies are at the highest levels ever. Colorado Horsecare Foodbank was formed to keep people and their horses together during these difficult times, by providing food grants and locating facilities that can provide interim help during this crisis...CHF

Do-It-Yourself Cigarettes? Virginia Smokers Start Growing Tobacco

Something unusual is cropping up alongside the tomatoes, eggplant and okra in Scott Byars' vegetable garden — the elephantine leaves of 30 tobacco plants. Driven largely by ever-rising tobacco prices, he's among a growing number of smokers who have turned to their green thumbs to cultivate tobacco plants to blend their own cigarettes, cigars and chew. Byars normally pays $5 for a five-pack of cigars and $3 for a tin of snuff; the seed cost him $9. "I want to get to where I don't have to go to the store and buy tobacco, but I'll just be able to supply my own from one year to the next," Byars said. In urban lots and on rural acres, smokers and smokeless tobacco users are planting Virginia Gold, Goose Creek Red, Yellow Twist Bud and dozens of other tobacco varieties. Although most people still buy from big tobacco, the movement took off in April when the tax on cigarettes went up 62 cents to $1.01 a pack. Large tax increases were also imposed on other tobacco products, and tobacco companies upped prices even more to compensate for lost sales...FoxNews

A few years ago, you couldn't even grow tobacco unless you had an allotment from USDA.

This could bring a big change to farmers markets, roadside markets and pick-your-own operations.

I can get my tobacco from Chewy down the road.

Hatch tobacco anyone?

It's amazing how Americans will seek out little pockets of freedom, and a shame that they have to.

Billy the Kid Letters Found

The originals of two Billy the Kid's letters to Gov. Lew Wallace have been located and now are on display at the state History Library in Santa Fe. The Kid wrote the first letter, probably in 1879, proposing to trade testimony for freedom and the second asking the governor to uphold his end of the bargain, as Billy lay manacled in a Santa Fe jail cell three blocks from the Palace of the Governors. Not much survives from The Kid's era 130 years ago. These letters reveal more about the real Billy than anything else we have. They reveal that he was not a homicidal moron as he is often envisioned. The letters are polite, literate and well reasoned. The penmanship was the flowing and formal Spenserian style of that era. The two letters were purchased by the Lincoln County Heritage Trust from the Wallace family many years ago. The letters were displayed in the Trust's museum in Lincoln until the Trust went out of business in 1999 and R.D. Hubbard, of Ruidoso Downs, took over the property, including the two letters. Evidently they were put in a safe and not were displayed after that. By the time Hubbard turned all the Lincoln property over to the state, in 2006, the letters had been forgotten. A chance conversation between noted Western collector Bob McCubbin, of Santa Fe, and head librarian Tomas Juehn indicated the new History Museum was trying to get a Billy letter from Indiana to display. McCubbin suggested the state use its own letters that should still be in Lincoln. A search was made and the letters were found, still in good condition. By the way, McCubbin's impressive collection includes the kitchen knife Billy was carrying when Sheriff Pat Garrett shot him...InsideTheCapitol

Song Of The Day #112

Today Ranch Radio will feature The Singing Sheriff, Faron Young.

Here he is from 1954, singing They Made Me Fall In Love With You.

All of his good early stuff is on the 5 disc box set The Classic Years 1952-62.

CIA assassination program had been outsourced to Blackwater, ex-officials say

The secret CIA program to assassinate top Al Qaeda leaders was outsourced in 2004 to Blackwater USA, the private security contractor whose operations in Iraq prompted intense scrutiny, according to two former intelligence officials familiar with the events. The North Carolina-based company was given operational responsibility for targeting suspected terrorist commanders and was awarded millions of dollars for training and weaponry, but the program was canceled before any missions were conducted, the two officials said. The assassination program -- revealed to Congress in June by CIA Director Leon E. Panetta -- was initially launched in 2001 as a CIA-led effort. But in 2004, after briefly terminating the program, agency officials revived it under a different code name, using outside contractors, the officials said. "Outsourcing gave the agency more protection in case something went wrong," said a retired intelligence officer intimately familiar with the program. The contract was awarded to Blackwater, now known as Xe Services LLC, in part because of its close ties to the CIA and because of its record for carrying out covert assignments overseas, officials said. Blackwater's reputation was later tarnished after unrelated deadly shootings in Iraq...LATimes

FBI trained NJ blogger to incite others

A New Jersey blogger facing charges in two states for allegedly making threats against lawmakers and judges was trained by the FBI on how to be deliberately provocative, his attorney said Tuesday. Hal Turner worked for the FBI from 2002 to 2007 as an "agent provocateur" and was taught by the agency "what he could say that wouldn't be crossing the line," defense attorney Michael Orozco said. "His job was basically to publish information which would cause other parties to act in a manner which would lead to their arrest," Orozco said. Prosecutors have acknowledged that Turner was an informant who spied on radical right-wing organizations, but the defense has said Turner was not working for the FBI when he allegedly made threats against Connecticut legislators and wrote that three federal judges in Illinois deserved to die...AP

Judge: US wrong to freeze Ohio charity's assets

The federal government must have probable cause to seize an organization's assets even when it involves national security, a federal judge ruled in a case involving an Ohio-based charity accused of having ties to the militant Islamic group Hamas. U.S. District Judge James Carr said Tuesday the government has an obligation to tell an organization why it is freezing its assets and to give it a chance to respond. Attorneys for KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development sued the government after it refused to say why the charity was essentially shut down three years ago. The U.S. Treasury Department in 2006 ordered U.S. banks to freeze the Toledo charity's assets, saying it was funneling money to a terrorist organization. KindHearts officials have denied being connected to any terrorist group. The judge said the treasury department wrongly froze KindHearts' assets because it failed to first get a probable cause warrant...AP

DNA evidence can be faked and planted at crime scenes, researchers find

Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person. “You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”...NYTimes

"Secure Flight," Insecure Travel Rights

Starting this year, Americans will have to get government approval to travel by air. As Privacy Journal revealed last fall, henceforth "Permission Now Needed to Travel Within U.S." Getting a reservation and checking-in for air travel will soon require Transportation Security Administration authorization. That permission is by no means assured: For example, if your name matches a "no-fly" list, even mistakenly, you can be denied the right to a reserve a seat on a flight. If your name is on a "selectee" list, you and your possessions will be searched more thoroughly before you can board. What is going on here? Protecting air safety is essential, but professional screening at airports already provides for it. Giving the TSA as an official agency the additional authority to decide who gets to go where reaches beyond safety into overextended governmental power. This newly minted "Secure Flight" rule fundamentally imbalances long-standing citizens' rights both to travel and to be left alone. If your name appears among hundreds of thousands on "watchlists," you assert that the government should not require ID to fly, you don't want to reveal your date of birth for concern about identity theft, or you don't choose to declare your gender, you can stay home. By combining the requirement for government photo IDs in order to fly with checking government watchlists including potentially every passenger, "Secure Flight" puts the federal government into the business of licensing travel. All travelers will need government OK in order to board a flight, or take a cruise...CampaignForLiberty

Appeals Court: Government Can Require Gun Registration

An appeals court in Chicago has ruled that the federal, state or local government can require all citizens to register their firearms under penalty of law. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that, even after the Supreme Court's high-profile gun rights decision last year, the Second Amendment is no obstacle to mandatory gun registration. The case arose out of the Chicago-area town of Cicero's mandatory registration requirement for firearms. A local man named John Justice was raided by the Cicero police on suspicion of violating business ordinances including improper storage of chemicals; the police discovered six unregistered handguns during the raid...CBSNews

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stealing New Mexico's Past

The haul included everything from arrowheads to pots and pendants. There were woven sandals and ceramic figures. There was even a rare turkey-feather blanket and a female loin cloth. All told, undercover investigators purchased 256 artifacts worth more than $335,000. All were illegal. Using an undercover source, agents from the FBI and the US Bureau of Land Management had spent since November 2006 infiltrating a tight-knit community of looters in the Four Corners area who dig up graves and pillage archaeological sites on public lands, then sell the items they find to dealers and collectors. But it wasn’t until early June of this year that agents announced their take: Thus far, a total of 24 people have been indicted, 23 arrested and 12 homes searched—including four in Santa Fe. According to Phil Young, an archaeologist and retired National Park Service special agent, Santa Fe is the “hub of the wheel of the black-market trade” when it comes to illegal artifacts. Of late, looters have become increasingly sophisticated, Young says, using GPS units and Google Earth to locate archaeological sites, and employing front-end loaders and backhoes to unearth remains...SantaFeReporter

Gun law complaints trail Obama during park tours

Family in tow for a tour of national treasures far from Washington, President Barack Obama is trailed by criticism from gun opponents and parks advocates for allowing firearms into such majestic places as this. "There is still time for Congress and the president to take steps to keep loaded firearms away from the valleys of Yellowstone, the cliffs of Yosemite, and the Statue of Liberty -- but they need to act quickly," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. A bill that Obama signed in May permits licensed gun owners to bring firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges as long as state law allows it. The new law, which takes effect in February, will replace rules from the Reagan administration that generally require that guns in national parks be locked or stored in a glove compartment or trunk. "If they wanted to fight that, they could have," said Jonathan Dorn, editorial director of and editor-in-chief of Backpacker magazine. "That one just felt like a very political decision that was maybe more about politics than about maybe paying attention to the preferences of the vast majority of people who are frequent park users."...AP

BLM's new director appoints deputy director for policy

US Bureau of Land Management Director Robert V. Abbey on Aug. 17 named Marcilynn Burke, an attorney and professor at the University of Houston Law Center, BLM’s deputy director for policy. Burke most recently taught environmental law courses on land use and its management, natural resources, and property at the University of Houston Law Center in Texas. She has also been a visiting assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Law in Camden, NJ, and at Seattle University School of Law, according to BLM. She previously was with the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in Washington, where she focused on environmental law, antitrust, and civil and criminal litigation, the US Department of the Interior agency said. It added that Burke received her bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her law degree from Yale Law School. She also was a law clerk for federal district judge Raymond A. Jackson in Virginia’s eastern district. Oil&GasJournal

I'm sure that Texas, New Jersey & North Carolina are great training grounds for public land policy.

Climate plan calls for forest expansion

New forests would spread across the American landscape, replacing both pasture and farm fields, under a congressional plan to confront climate change, an Environmental Protection Agency analysis shows. About 18 million acres of new trees — roughly the size of West Virginia — would be planted by 2020, according to an EPA analysis of a climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June. That's because the House bill gives financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to plant trees, which suck in large amounts of the key global-warming gas: carbon dioxide. The forestation effort would be even larger than one carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, says the U.S. Forest Service's Ralph Alig. The CCC, which lasted from 1933 to 1942, planted 3 billion trees, says the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy, an alumni group for workers and family members. The plan would, however, be hard on ranchers and farmers and potentially food prices, says American Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young. In the Senate, which is likely to consider a similar bill this fall, there are some who worry the loss of farmland would lead to increases in food prices worse than those seen in mid-2007, when costs spiked 7% to 8% above 2006 levels. If those food prices seemed high, "wait till you start moving agricultural acres into climate-change areas," warns Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Agriculture secretary for President George W. Bush...USAToday

Energy workers rally against climate plan

Local energy workers jammed a downtown Houston theater today to protest climate change legislation that the U.S. Senate will take up in the coming weeks. The Energy Citizens rally, promoted by some major energy companies and business organizations as well as the Greater Houston Partnership, is the first of several such events planned in 19 states in the coming weeks. About 3,500 people, or 1,500 more than expected, filed into the facility, many donning yellow T-shirts that were being handed out that read "I'm an energy citizen." Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. was the keynote speaker. Organizers of the event, billed as a dialogue on energy and the environment, told the Chronicle on Monday that legislation the U.S. House passed last spring will destroy millions of U.S. jobs and raise costs without reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change...HoustonChronicle

Another Forest Service Bogus 'Emergency,' Groups Say

For the second time this week, the U.S. Forest Service is accused of declaring a bogus "emergency situation" to push through salvage timber sales, this time clear-cutting in Northern California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center says such declaration is justified only when a project threatens imminent economic loss to the government, not to a private, third-party timber auction bidder, as in this case. Before 2003, the rule did not include even this economic provision; it was intended for true emergencies such as forest fires. A 2008 lightning storm burned about 3,600 acres in the Upper South Fork Trinity River Watershed in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. After declaring an emergency to exclude the project from administrative appeal and environmental review, the Forest Service now seeks to log about 200 acres there. A biological assessment that claims the threatened northern spotted owl does not use the burned areas is inaccurate, as the owl uses post-fire areas for forage and roosting, the Wildlands Center says...CourthouseNews

Earthjustice: Salazar has authority to withdraw Roan Plateau leases

An attorney for Earthjustice Tuesday told the Associated Press that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could deem nearly 55,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases on the Roan Plateau illegal and invalidate them. Last week Salazar ruled that out in an interview with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, saying the leases sold in a record-setting auction last year that netted $114 million were too far along to withdraw. But Michael Freeman, an attorney with Earthjustice, which represents a coalition of environmental groups challenging the leases, told the AP, “[Salazar] has the authority to recognize when his department has legal vulnerability.”...Colo.Independent

Feds reach out to off-roaders

Federal land managers in Nevada have launched a publicity campaign designed to persuade off-highway vehicle riders to stick to designated trails and protect a delicate landscape. And if a recent report by congressional investigators is correct, asking nicely may be one of the best ways to control problems posed by some OHV riders. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management often lack adequate strategies, money and resources to control off-highway activity, the Government Accountability Office concluded. Both developments come as the government strives to control impacts from a fast-growing recreational activity — an issue that has environmentalists insisting too little has been done to protect the land and many riders arguing they are being improperly restricted from public property. Early this month, the Forest Service and BLM launched a “stay on trails” advertising campaign with highway billboards in Reno, Carson City, near Fernley, Lake Tahoe and Wells. The effort will continue with radio spots commencing in mid-September to coincide with hunting season...RenoGJ

Wolves at carcasses won’t be shot by feds

Carcasses left after an illness killed cattle on a grazing allotment in Sublette County drew predators to the area, prompting federal wolf managers to work with ranchers to remove the dead animals rather than the wolves. Federal wolf workers investigated seven cattle carcasses in the Upper Green River Drainage on Aug. 1, said Mike Jimenez, Wyoming wolf recovery project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They determined that one cow was killed by wolves, two were killed by bears, and the remaining four died of a disease called brisket, which can cause congestive heart failure in cattle when they’ve been moved to high altitudes. A week later, nine more carcasses were reported, two of which were killed by bears. The remaining cattle died from brisket. Wildlife managers can tell what kind of predator killed livestock by looking at the bite marks on the carcasses or the inside of the dead animal’s hide, Jimenez said. “Bears and wolves kill things very distinctly,” he said. “Bears tend to bite along the back; sometimes skulls are crushed.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they refrained from killing wolves in a nearby pack because the predators were likely attracted to the area by the carcasses. Also, wolves killed only one head of stock. “If wolves are drawn into an area by attractants, we’re not going to kill wolves until [the situation] is rectified and cleaned up,” Jimenez said...JHNewsGuide

Clash over rebirth of Mt. St. Helens

When Mount St. Helens erupted nearly 30 years ago, it flattened more than 150 square miles of forest, sent millions of tons of mud and debris, filled the sky with ash and left at least 57 people dead. In the process, it also created an unusual outdoor laboratory where researchers have worked ever since to answer an increasingly urgent question: How do landscapes recover after violent disturbance? It has long been "one of the most fundamental questions in ecology," said Charles M. Crisafulli, an ecologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, an agency of the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the mountain. And if, as seems likely, a warming world brings more storms, fires, droughts and floods, the research on the mountain will only grow in importance. "Mount St. Helens allows us to evaluate things we could not evaluate anywhere else," Crisafulli said. But now the work is caught up in a debate over management of the mountain, designated after the eruption as the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Some say the 110,000-acre monument should be a national park. Some say the Forest Service should manage it differently. "There is a certain segment of the population who would say, 'It's been 30 years, and it's over,"' said Peter Frenzen, whose job title with the Forest Service is monument scientist. As one local resident put it in a letter to the Mount St. Helens Citizen Advisory Committee, appointed to make recommendations on the mountain's fate, "throw out the study zone and let people recreate."...PostBulletin

BLM issues temporary closures for Burning Man

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca District Office announced in the Federal Register on August 5 temporary closures and the prohibition of certain activities on public lands immediately surrounding the site of the 2009 Burning Man event. The closures and prohibitions are necessary to provide for public safety and to protect public resources. The closures affect a small part of the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area (NCA) Black Rock Desert playa between August 3 and September 18. According to Black Rock Field Office Manager Dave Hays, "Similar closures for the Burning Man event in past years have been implemented with minimal disruption to other public uses."...RenoGJ

FWP bighorn plan spooks woolgrowers

Sheep herders in the state fear that a plan to conserve bighorn sheep in Montana could lead public agencies to kick their flocks off public land that’s vital to their livelihoods. But groups already fighting to get domestic sheep off public land complain that the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Park’s first-ever bighorn sheep conservation strategy keeps woolgrowers in the drivers’ seat when it comes to determining where bighorn sheep can and can’t roam. The plan recommends that bighorns not be transplanted within 13 miles of grazing allotments and that changes to existing allotments are agreed upon by ranchers and wildlife agencies. There are now 45 populations of bighorns across Montana with 36 sustaining limited hunting. Officials estimate that 5,700 bighorn sheep inhabit Montana, excluding Yellowstone and Glacier national parks...DailyChronicle

Official Upholds Bighorn Forest Grazing Reduction

A regional U.S. Forest Service official has upheld a decision by the Bighorn National Forest to reduce cattle grazing capacity on six allotments in the Tongue River watershed. A dozen ranchers had appealed decisions by a district ranger and a forest supervisor to reduce grazing capacity on the allotments by 43 percent over two years. Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Rick Cables recently sided with local forest officials. David Kane of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association says Cables' decision is frustrating for the permittees but they don't plan to sue over it. Forest officials say the reduction comes after years of monitoring the health of forage and vegetation in the forest. AP

Moving prairie dogs

The Utah prairie dog has been winning the battle against landowners in Iron County thanks to the animal's federal protection under the Endangered Species Act since 1973. However, the county is now in the position to implement a strategy in its Habitat Conservation Plan intended to keep the threatened mammal alive and thriving while moving previously stalled development forward. The Iron County Commission is in the final stages of solidifying a deed of conservation easement and memorandum of understanding with the Division of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife for 220 acres in Little Horse Valley, near Minserville. The property, purchased in 2008 from the state of Utah Schools and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, will be designated as prairie dog habitat with grazing permits available for ranchers. Property owners kept from developing their lands because of the dog presence will have the opportunity to purchase 10 acres of the conservation easement to clear one acre of land from the prairie dogs at $1,000 per acre...Spectrum

Wild dogs killed woman, then husband

An elderly woman killed by a pack of wild dogs had been out for a walk when she was attacked, and her husband died trying to fight off the mauling animals when he discovered the bloody scene near their rural Georgia home, authorities said Tuesday. Preliminary autopsy results showed Lothar Karl Schweder, 77, and his 65-year-old wife, Sherry, died from multiple animal bites. Authorities have rounded up about 11 dogs suspected in the rare attack and returned to the area Tuesday to find four more spotted by a deputy. The dogs were being held by animal control officials while authorities decide what to do with them, said Jim Fullington, special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation...AP

Groups push to restart horse slaughter in US

Several groups are pushing to renew the slaughter of horses in the U.S., possibly starting in Oregon. Proponents are pushing Congress to introduce a bill to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to resume inspecting horse meat for human consumption. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs also are considering building a slaughter and processing facility – possibly for pet food – on their reservation north of Madras. The project was recommended last spring by a coalition of Northwest tribes. The success of either idea is far from a done deal, however. A congressional spokesman says bills that favor the slaughtering of horses face a chilly reception. And a tribal spokesman says it’s too early to say much about a reservation slaughter facility. Supporters of horse slaughters say it’s a way to deal with tens of thousands of unwanted horses. Factors in the glut include uncontrolled breeding, closure of the last U.S. horse-processing plants and an economy that left many owners unable to pay for feed and care. “We think it is very fair and accurate to say there are probably 100,000 horses that would go to processing today” if a plant were available, said Wyoming state Rep. Sue Wallis, a rancher in favor if reinstating horse slaughtering...IndianCountryToday

Argentina May Import Beef First Time as Herds Die

Argentina, the biggest beef- consuming nation, may resort to imports for the first time within two years as a drought kills cattle and export controls prompt ranchers to quit the business. Pastures have dried up and forage prices gained so much that farmers are allowing livestock to die in the fields, said Arturo Llavallol, a director of Buenos Aires-based farm group The Rural Society. Ranchers are killing higher than usual numbers of breeding stock, compromising future output, he said. The nation’s herd has dwindled 7 percent since 2006, when the government restricted beef exports to boost supplies in the local market, Llavallol said in a telephone interview from his farm in Saavedra, southwest Buenos Aires province. The country may need imports within a couple of years, he said...Bloomberg

Song Of The Day #111

Ranch Radio has done run out of time, so here's a good Ray Price tune.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Idaho’s wolf hunt is on

Idaho will start selling tags next Monday for its first-ever public wolf hunt, to give hunters from both inside and outside the state a shot at up to 220 of Idaho’s wolves - a quarter of the wolf population. Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission voted 4-3 for the wolf-hunt plan, with the three dissenters holding out for an even more aggressive hunt to target 49 percent, or up to 430, of Idaho’s wolves. Chairman Wayne Wright, one of the dissenters, declared, “Now’s the time to do the right thing. … Neither our state’s economy, our ranchers, our sportsmen or our elk herds can wait any longer.” The decision was closely watched both by hunters who’ve been deluging Fish and Game with inquiries about the hunt, and by wolf advocates who maintain the state’s going too far to target a species that until May was considered endangered...SpokesmanReview

Environmental movies have a green problem: money

Interest in the environment is heating up as fast as global warming. Contributions to the Sierra Club soared 33% last year, homeowners are installing solar panels, and even preschool children are recycling. At the same time, nonfiction filmmakers are trying to shape the ecological conversation, turning out an abundance of critically acclaimed, Earth-friendly documentaries. But three years after "An Inconvenient Truth" won over moviegoers and Oscar voters, many new works are suffering the same fate plaguing other intellectually engaging films: moviegoers would rather hug Transformers than trees. “Food, Inc.,” a documentary about the dangers of the food supply, has done remarkably well since its June 12 premiere, grossing $3.6 million to date. Some upcoming documentaries -- including Sept. 11's “No Impact Man," about one man's obsessive yearlong quest to live sustainably -- could well leave an equally impressive box-office mark. But because ticket buyers prefer escapist fare these days, it's not easy being green. Just as audiences have shied away from highbrow dramas, ticket buyers have been reluctant to swim to “The Cove,” a documentary on Japanese dolphin killing that has some of the year's best reviews. "The Cove's" struggles are not unique; there's a sharp divide among nature and science documentaries depending on the message. The largely feel-good, family-friendly Imax movies play forever: “Space Station 3D” has grossed nearly $80 million since premiering more than seven years ago. But “The Garden,” an Oscar-nominated feature documentary about the battle over a community garden in South Los Angeles, sold only $26,931 in tickets after its April release...LATimes

Gloomy Negotiators End Bonn Climate Talks

The latest round of preparatory talks for the U.N. climate conference concluded today with negotiators lamenting that the languid pace of talks could mean there won't be a deal on emissions in Copenhagen this December. "It would be incomprehensible if this opportunity were lost," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. For any hope of a deal, he said, "the speed of the negotiations must be considerably accelerated at the [next] meeting in Bangkok." The United States' lead climate negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, added to the warnings. "If we don't have more movement and more consensus than we saw here, we won't have an agreement," Pershing said. Though the problems were many, there were also glimmers of hope in the current round, such as a collective agreement on what should be done, said Anders Turesson, Sweden's lead climate negotiator and chairman of the E.U. working group. "What we're talking about is a profound change of industrial civilization," Turesson said. "It would be surprising if there weren't stumbling blocks."...NYTimes

California employees face quandary over carbon offsets

Al Gore buys them. So do the Grateful Dead, Hollywood celebrities and, increasingly, many climate-conscious executives and consumers. For those who travel the world by air but don't want to contribute to global warming in the process, compensating with so-called carbon offsets has become a fashionable solution. The sale of these credits for environmentally friendly activities, investments in everything from wind energy to carbon stored in forests, jumped from $97 million in 2006 to $331 million worldwide in 2007 – about a quarter of it in the United States. But one global green leader does not offset its travel, even though its employees regularly fly around the world warning about the dangers of climate change and devising strategies to combat it. That leader is the state of California. "As a state employee, you are put in an awkward situation," said Tony Brunello, deputy secretary of climate change and energy at the Natural Resources Agency who has traveled to Europe, South America and Indonesia. In all, more than two dozen top state officials and 19 legislators have logged more than a million air miles flying around the world on climate-related business since 2006, a recent Sacramento Bee investigation found. In the process, they emitted roughly 400,000 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere...SacramentoBee

There's no need for a quandary...just stay home.

Climate bill would bloat federal agencies

The House-passed climate change bill, if enacted, would expand the federal government so much that it would take billions of dollars and thousands of new employees to implement. Now-obscure federal agencies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to become mini-behemoths in order to handle their expanded responsibilities. Congress would have to appropriate billions of dollars for more bureaucrats, much of which is not reflected in the House bill. "The problem is that there's a mismatch between the government's capacity and its mission," said Darrell M. West, vice president and director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the government's expansion would cost $8 billion over a 10-year period. For the bill to operate effectively, nearly 1,500 regulations and mandates would have to be approved for at least 21 federal agencies. The rule-making process alone would take years...WashingtonTimes

War On Drugs Causes California Wildfire

A large wildfire in Santa Barbara County spread from a campfire set by illegal marijuana growers last week, according to the police and fire officials. The blaze, known as the La Brea Fire, burned more than 85,000 acres, fire officials said. The United States Forest Service said in a statement that Mexican drug cartels were suspected of being behind the marijuana operation. Cartel operatives plant marijuana crops in remote fields camouflaged by protected wilderness, drug enforcement officials said. The growers often camp for long periods near their crops and use pesticides and fertilizers, many of which are restricted in the United States and banned in protected forests. They also clear protected forests in order to plant marijuana...NYTimes

Fundamental Ingredient for Life Discovered in Comet

A fundamental ingredient for life has been discovered in a comet sample, supporting the idea that such icy objects seeded early Earth with the stuff needed to whip up living organisms. New research firms up past suggestions of glycine, the simplest amino acid used to make proteins, inside samples from the comet Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt 2"). "This is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet," said lead researcher Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts." How life arose on Earth has long puzzled scientists and philosophers alike, with possible evidence for such building blocks showing up floating about in the cosmos and even inside the mouths of volcanoes. The new finding, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, also has implications for finding alien life. "The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare," said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which co-funded the research...FoxNews

School lunches go vegetarian

Almost 2 out of 3 U.S. schools now offer vegetarian fare for lunch on a regular basis, according to a new nationwide survey by the School Nutrition Association. That's a nearly 40 percent increase since 2003, the first year veggie meals were tallied. And we're not talking succotash and carrot and raisin salad, either. Most common vegetarian lunches include entree salads, veggie pizza with whole grain crust, rice and beans, vegetable hoagies, and lentil sauce with pasta, according to the nutrition group. ChicagoSunTimes

Colorado State University Veterinarians Issue Warning to Horse Owners to be on the Lookout for Signs of Pigeon Fever

Equine owners should be extra vigilant for signs of pigeon fever in their horses, according to Colorado State University veterinarians at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. A spike in reported cases of this infectious disease has been reported in the northern Front Range of Colorado. This highly contagious disease is also called pigeon breast, breastbone fever, false strangles, dryland strangles or dryland distemper. Signs of pigeon fever can initially resemble those of other diseases such as strangles. Sometimes the only initial signs are lameness and a reluctance to move. Other signs include lameness, fever, lethargy and weight loss. There may also be very deep abscesses and multiple sores along the horses’ chest, midline and groin area. Abscesses in other areas such as the back, flank or ears have been seen but internal abscesses are rare. Horses can be infected for several weeks before developing signs of the disease, especially abscesses. The disease, which can be fatal, is caused by bacteria called Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. The bacteria live in the soil and can enter the animal’s body through wounds, broken skin or mucous membranes. Research also indicates that the disease may be spread through flies, especially cattle horn flies. These are biting flies that tend to feed under the belly of the horse. The flies transmit the bacteria from horse to horse when they have been in contact with pus draining from abscesses. Bacteria in drained puss can survive up to 55 days in the environment. Pigeon fever can affect a horse of any age, sex or breed, but it usually attacks young adult animals. Humans cannot catch pigeon fever, but they can spread it from horse to horse because the bacteria can be carried on shoes, clothing, hands or barn tools...PressRelease

Studies of Hereditary Traits in Horses Using New Tools

The horse industry in the United States is diverse. Horses are used for racing, competitive riding, showing, recreational riding, and working cattle. Today the number of horses in the United States is estimated at 9.2 million, down from 21 million around 1900, when horses were a primary source of power and transportation, but up from 4.5 million in 1959 (the last time the United States Department of Agriculture counted horses). According to an American Horse Council study, in 2004 the horse industry had a $102-billion impact on the U.S. economy and provided 1.4 million jobs. The horse industry is growing and important. More than ever, we need each horse to be athletically sound and healthy. Consequently, the thrust of equine genetics research on horses during the last half century has been related to health and physiology...TheHorse

Song Of The Day #110

We'll dip into the old stack of 78rpm records again this morning.

The Tune Wranglers were a San Antonio based western swing band formed in the mid-thirties. Their front man, singer and guitarist was Buster Coward. Over the course of their career they cut 80 sides, with their most famous song being Texas Sand.

Their music is available in the CD format on the 27 track Tune Wranglers: 1936-1938.

The two selections for today though are from the original 78s, and are They Go Wild Over Me (B-6301B) and Sarah Jane (B-6397B).

A huge majority of the listening public believes the first tune could have been written about me, and the second about Sharon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mexican gray wolf advocates celebrate release of data

Conservationists have won a battle with the federal government over information they say will help improve a troubled program aimed at returning North America's rarest gray wolf to the Southwest. A federal judge last week ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services to release specific information on the locations of conflicts between livestock and the Mexican gray wolves that are roaming New Mexico and Arizona as part of a reintroduction effort. Conservationists applauded the decision, saying the coordinates will help determine if there are any problem areas and whether steps can be taken to limit wolf contact with livestock in those areas...AP

Predators continue to take toll on the outskirts of cities

Pets are disappearing on the ridges of Sutter Creek, along with barn animals and livestock that have been picked off in broad daylight. Living in the foothills means living with predators, but some neighborhoods claim mountain lions and coyotes have become alarmingly brazen in the past year. "Fifteen cats, one dog and two sheep disappeared just weeks ago," observed Sharolyn Bullock, who lives on Paine Road between Ione and Sutter Creek. "No one would have even realized how large the number was if all the neighbors hadn't got to talking with one another. That's when I started going door to door and put it all together. I think it's a lot of animals to have been grabbed so quickly." One couple who lost a cat in the mass disappearance was Leo and Sally Ott. "Everybody knows when you live up here you live with predators," Leo admitted. "But we've been here 10 years now. I feel like we're seeing three times more activity than we've ever seen before." What troubles Leo are two recent sightings of a large mountain lion near his house. Ranchers in South Jackson have also repeatedly told the Ledger Dispatch in 2009 that the mountain lion problem is getting out of control. "Most of us won't even bother having goats or sheep anymore," said a rancher who wished to remain anonymous. "They just get eaten too quickly now."...Ledger-Dispatch

Researchers: shrinking Teton glaciers will affect water supply

Glaciers on the iconic Teton Range are shrinking, researchers say, joining a growing list of glaciers in North America and beyond that are losing their surface area and potentially reducing the water supply for nearby regions. Two of the Tetons' biggest glaciers have lost more than 20 percent of their surface area since the late 1960s, three University of Wyoming researchers concluded after comparing old and new aerial photographs of the glaciers. The glaciers are a fairly substantial source of irrigation water, meaning the findings have wider implications than simply what the mountains look like to tourists by late summer. People in Wyoming and Idaho and to a lesser extent Utah use water from the glaciers. "From an engineering-water supply perspective, we look at them as frozen reservoirs," said Glenn Tootle, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville assistant professor and co-principal investigator of the study funded by the Wyoming Water Development Commission. The Wyoming Legislature appropriated $225,000 for the study in 2006, one of several water projects or studies lawmakers funded that year in the nation's fifth-driest state...AP

NEVADA-UTAH TRUCE: States strike water deal

A potential water war between Nevada and Utah might end in a truce before a single shot is fired. Water officials from the two states have reached an unprecedented agreement over a vast groundwater basin that is split by the border and targeted as a water source for thirsty Las Vegas. The agreement divides groundwater in Snake Valley between the states and provides protections for farmers, ranchers and other residents. It also could clear the way for the Southern Nevada Water Authority to tap the basin, though the agency will have to wait another decade for approval of its plans there. As part of the pact, Nevada agreed to delay a hearing on the authority's water applications in Snake Valley until September 2019 to allow time for additional environmental studies. Roughly two-thirds of the basin is in Utah, which is where most of the water use now occurs. Nearly all of the basin's recharge comes from the Nevada side of the line, where the north-south ridge of the Snake Range rises above 13,000 feet to comb rain and snow from the desert air...LasVegasReviewJournal

Western Utah ranchers call water deal a ‘death sentence'

Thursday's decision to split underground water in an aquifer that straddles the Utah-Nevada border might seem like a compromise between the two states, but many people who live in the Snake Valley call it a "death sentence." Residents feel any water taken out of their valley will destroy farms, ranches and their way of life. "This is an unmitigated disaster in the making," said rancher Cecil Garland. "It's a moral issue, and it's morally wrong to do what they're doing." Garland is a rancher in the remote town of Callo, Utah, in the middle of the Snake Valley. He says any water taken out as part of the proposed agreement will ruin the valley. "By what incredible right in this so-called ‘land of the free and home of the brave' do huge metropolitan areas feel that they have the right to walk in and take the most sacred commodity? They call it a commodity, we call it a way of life," Garland said. Terry Marasco agrees. He's a businessman who lives in Baker, Nev., and has been fighting for water rights in this valley for years. He doesn't want it to go anywhere but here. They should lock the basin and not destroy a huge, huge aquifer," Marasco said. "This is not an opinion pulled out of the air. It's pulled out of thousands of scientific references."...KSL-TV

The Clean Water Act

Imagine that the puddle which formed in your yard during the last heavy rain could be regulated by federal agencies, like the Army Corps of Engineers. Or if you were a landowner working with federal agencies to restore wetlands or improve fish habitat, and found that the already daunting set of regulatory hurdles had been doubled or tripled. Imagine you are responsible for bringing clean water to a city like Denver, and found that your facilities couldn't be operated under new law. Under proposed legislation "clarifying" the Clean Water Act, these scenarios will be real. The Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) is currently before Congress. A key change brings all waters of the U.S under regulation by federal agencies like the Corps. This legislation is sure to further muddle the regulatory landscape. The current Act has kept courtrooms busy, despite recent U.S. Supreme court decisions and guidance from federal agencies. The reality is that an expansion of the Act will restrict the ability of states, municipalities and individuals to adjust to such variables as changing snowpack and runoff due to climate change. The dying forests of the West present another watershed challenge that we must be prepared to address, post haste. We live in a time in which people in the water community need more flexibility, not less...DenverPost

Baxter Black's humor helps serious cause in La Junta

Nearly 400 people packed the Koshare Kiva Saturday to hear Baxter Black, America’s most recognizable cowboy poet and storyteller, perform a benefit for the Not 1 More Acre organization. Not 1 More Acre has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Denver to stop the U.S. Army from expanding Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. Briefs have been filed in district court and are being reviewed by Judge Richard Matsch, who hasn’t issued a statement on how he might let the case proceed. The event Saturday night, though, was to help the threesome who started Not 1 More Acre – rancher Mack Louden, Jim Herrwll from Otero Junior College, and Jean Aguerre from the Trinidad area – offset the tremendous costs in fighting the legal battles in court. Louden, Aguerre and Herrell got a standing ovation when they were introduced by Black, who spent nearly two hours on stage telling his hilarious stories, all in poetic format, and making people laugh until they had tears in their eyes...AgJournal

Drought Hits Historic Levels In Parts of Texas

New information shows that at least nine Texas counties are experiencing their worst drought in history, and much of the state is facing the worst drought conditions in the United States, according to information compiled by Texas A&M University researchers. Contributing to the problem is the heat – Texas is having one of its hottest summers ever. John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences who also serves as the Texas State Climatologist, notes that areas in South Central Texas are experiencing their driest period ever. These include the counties of Bastrop, Caldwell and Lee in Central Texas and Victoria, Bee, San Patricio, Live Oak, Jim Wells and Duval in South Central Texas. “These core drought areas are experiencing their most severe drought on record, at least since 1895 when modern record-keeping began,” Nielsen-Gammon says. “About 26 percent of the state is in ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor...PressRelease

Program matches aging farmers with their replacements

How did this thirtysomething Garth-Brooks look-alike, who had the drive but not the dollars, get started farming in Iowa? He had an instant mentor here: John Adam, who planted his boots in this rich black earth as a 19-year-old newlywed and over the next five decades, helped raise four children, harvested corn and beans, bred sows and collected a wall of plaques, honors — and seed caps. Now, the two men are working together on Adam's farm. One day, if all goes well, Phillips hopes to call part of this land his own. This is farm matchmaking, a down payment on the future of rural America. It's an increasingly popular idea across the country as a growing number of states try to pump fresh blood into graying fields. Farmers are getting older and working later in life: The average age rose to 57 (from 55) and the ranks of the 75-and-up set increased by 20 percent from 2002 to 2007, according to a recent survey. Meanwhile, the number of those younger than 25 has dropped by nearly a third. The high cost of getting started is intimidating, even for farming enthusiasts such as Phillips. So what to do? Pair the two generations in special programs. Aspiring farmers then don't have to dig themselves into a half-million dollar hole to launch their careers and can hook up with a farmer in his 50s, 60s, or 70s who can plan ahead. If their personalities mesh, the two can become partners. Later, the hope is the established farmer will sell, rent or make some other arrangement that keeps the younger one on the land. There's a broader goal, too: Save the family farm. And a bonus: Put more kids in rural schools, pour more money into Main Street, preserve small towns...AP

Decomposing Cows in Fresno River

Three dozen stampeding cows plunged about 50 feet into a granite canyon just below Bob Keith's mountainside home outside Coarsegold. Kirsten Gross, the Director of Madera County's Animal Shelter said, "It appears something scared and startled them and they went off a cliffside." Nearly a dozen cows survived the fall but couldn't climb out of the rocky hole. The impact killed the others and authorities believe they've been decomposing in mid 90 degree temperatures for a week. Gross said, "Obviously we have some health and safety issues with carcasses in the Fresno River." The rugged area is normally submerged by the roaring Fresno River. Only every summer the Madera County Irrigation District cuts off the flow. Keith said the farmer was upset because, "He thinks he could have probably saved 10 or 11 of them." Keith himself said he was disturbed. That Madera County Sheriff Deputies didn't give the farmer a chance to save the pricey animals that did survive. "The Sheriff's Department told him that they didn't have time to stand around all day for him to make a decision. And he says well, you do what you have to do and so they shot em all."

Tall Tales & Stories from Texas

Bert Wall couldn’t wait to actually get his hands on the novel he just completed, “Seminole Bill.” The only problem seemed to be actually tracking the book down. Late last week, the first 100 or so copies were due to arrive at the local author’s house, but the best Wall knew, they were wandering around lost on a UPS truck that very moment. With a tooth pick pinned between his teeth and a pair of cowboy boots beneath him at the foot of his couch, Wall phoned an employee of his publishing company, speaking with “a little lady from Chicago” to try and get the books down to Texas. “Seminole Bill” — based on a real-life Colt-carryin’ African American cowboy — is no exception. “In this new book, to me this is the way Texas was and the way Texas should be today,” Wall said. “We were freaking renegades. Texas was born from nothing but hell raisers and renegades and look where we got... Pretty good ‘til lately.” The rancher, author and real estate broker ran across the main character for his new book, Seminole Bill, more than 20 years ago in a local newspaper. The short article explained how Seminole Bill was found alongside a burned out wagon by two cowboys crossing the West Texas plains. They take him back to their ranch, and with the help of a Seminole woman, raise him as their own. “This book takes Seminole Bill through where he’s learning to be a cowboy, where he’s learning to be a gun fighter, where he finally sees and learns about black people. He doesn’t know black people for a long time, you have to remember,” Wall said...SanMarcosRecord

On the edge of common sense: Home gardens good for this nation

Mrs. first lady Michelle Obama's organic gardening is good for all of us involved in agriculture. So few have the time or interest or space to grow anything they eat, that they have no way to relate to the land and what it takes to make it fruitful. Even fewer know how to can or preserve their homegrown produce for winter's larder. She, the first lady, is a modern suburban dweller and has adopted the banner of "organic," which has now morphed into a brand name like NAVY or Danish Ham. I doubt she could explain the difference except to say, "no hormones or chemicals," but it doesn't make any difference. Organic has become a great niche market for "real" farmers too. It is a high-end product like prime beef, wild salmon or Roquefort cheese. However, home gardening may be making a comeback, whether you choose to use chemical fertilizer or fresh chicken manure. People out of work have more time on their hands and are on a budget. As Steve said, "When you've got enough to eat, you've got lots of problems. When you don't have enough to eat, you have one problem."And yes, I do have a garden. It looks like the solitary confinement cell in "Cool Hand Luke!" It is javelina, jack rabbit, locust, bird, rattlesnake, rat, cottontail and cowdog proof! Good enough for six rows of jalapenos and tomatoes. You'd think I'd have an abundant crop; alas, this morning I called the extension service Master Gardner. DIAGNOSIS: Blossom end rot. ETIOLOGY: Too much water. TREATMENT: Stop it!

Song Of The Day #109

To get your blood flowing and you in the swing of things on this Monday morning, Ranch Radio is offering two tunes by Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers.

I've written before here about this artist.

The first tune, from the original 78rpm (Bluebird-7128B), is Fan It. If you can listen to this tune and sit still in your chair, you better call the doctor quick.

The second selection, also from the original 78rpm (Bluebird-5788A), is the upbeat fiddle tune The Lost Wagon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Go West, Mr. President, to America's wilderness

President Barack Obama is hardly the consummate Western outdoorsman. The Marlboro Man he's not. He's spent his adult life in big cities — New York, Chicago and, now, Washington. Basketball, golf, and bodysurfing are how this jock rolls. Indoor daily gym workouts are the norm. Hunting, climbing, rafting — not so much. Yet there he was on a summer weekend, enthusiastically soaking in America's vast wilderness. He toured Yellowstone National Park, checking out Old Faithful. He strolled trails along the Grand Canyon's rim. He cast a fly while fishing in a Montana river and spent a night in a mountainside lodge. "Pretty nice, eh," Obama said Sunday as the family took in the breathtaking view from the Grand Canyon's Hopi Point under a magnificent blue sky and overlooking a 5,000-foot drop to the Colorado River. "Last time I was here was when I was 11 years old." Asked by a ranger if it looked the same, he said, "It does!" Obama, aides say, had pressed them for a while to schedule a parks trip. The last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, often vacationed in the West; his pollster used surveys to decide the best place for him to spend his leisure time, politically. As Obama tended to presidential duties this weekend, his wife and daughters spent 90 minutes whitewater rafting in rain and, at times, hail in Montana and went peach-picking in Colorado, bringing some back for travelers on Air Force One...AP

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

You Cain’t Miss It

Julie Carter

Whether its dark or light, day or night, cowboys have an unerring sense of direction.

Seldom to walk, their inner GPS serves them well as they navigate by horse or by pickup.

Not long ago, one cowboy was set to go to a roping in a town about 400 miles from home.

He called a friend in that same town to get directions to the arena.

"No problem," was the response, "You just take one of them roads out of town, go down couple miles, and it's right there. You cain't miss it."

There is no telling how many miles, for decades, have been traveled on just such reliable information.

The topography of the land is always figured into the information given and is clearly thought to be helpful.

In the Texas Panhandle, where there are miles and miles of flat country and endless wheat pasture, the driving instruction will almost always include: "You just go down to that wheat field, turn west, and it's right there. You cain't miss it."

In that same part of the world, directions could include, "You go down past the elevator, down to where that feller was changing a tire last time I went by that way, and then take a hard left. You cain't miss it."

Rodeo cowboys are no exception to this phenomenon.

One set of ropers had a plan to go to the million-dollar roping in Las Vegas. Their directions were to head to El Paso and take a right, with the guarantee of their arrival in Vegas. "You cain't miss it."

Then there was the time Jess and Dan went to a roping down the road a ways.

They had gotten safely to the correct town, but they had no clue as to the whereabouts of the arena.

They, collectively, as it took both of them to form a reasonably intelligent thought if it involved anything except roping, hit on an idea.

Their simple plan was to find a pickup and horse trailer on the move in town and follow it to the arena where the roping was to take place.

It didn't take long until a suspiciously authentic-looking rig with just the right specifications came by. The semi-lost duo pulled out from the local Dairy Queen parking lot and fell in behind the suspiciously authentic-looking cowboy that was driving.

The targeted rig stopped at the Quik Stop, stopped at the tire store, stopped at the feed store, the bank, the Co-op, and then finally headed out of town.

The trailing ropers were quite relieved at this progress because it was nearing time for the roping to start. They followed him along until he pulled into a ranch gate.

When they walked up to his truck and asked him if he was headed to the roping, the man advised them he had just taken his horse to the vet and was now on his way home.

However, he did give them directions to the arena. "You just go on back up this here road a ways, take that left by that big oak tree, and go on down a couple miles. You cain't miss it."

Do you think the fellas at NASA in Houston tell the astronauts something similar?
"You just strap this rocket to the backside of your spacecraft, and just point that sucker toward Mars. It's right up there a ways. You cain't miss it."

Julie cain't be missed with a note at

Video: Redneck Art - BBQ Ribs

Song Of The Day #108

Our gospel tune this Sunday will be Randy Travis singing This Train.

It's available on his 2005 CD Glory Train.

White House proposal to track government website users stirs fears

A White House proposal to end a long-standing policy forbidding government websites from tracking users could lead to "the mass collection of personal information of every user of a federal government website," says the ACLU. Civil liberties groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Privacy Information Center are lining up against a plan, proposed by the Obama administration, to end a policy that has been in place since 2000 preventing government websites from installing tracking cookies on users' computers. “This is a sea change in government privacy policy,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a statement. “Without explaining this reversal of policy, the [White House Office of Management and Budget] is seeking to allow the mass collection of personal information of every user of a federal government website. Until the OMB answers the multitude of questions surrounding this policy shift, we will continue to raise our strenuous objections.” Opponents of the proposal point out that tracking cookies can be used not only to keep track of what an individual has done or seen on the website in question, but also to track what other websites that person has visited, and what personal information they have handed over to the website. Thus, it is often possible to identify a computer user based on data stored in tracking cookies...RawStory