Friday, September 04, 2009

White House hiring contractor to collect e-mail, comments from social networks

The White House is hiring a contractor to harvest information about Americans from its pages on social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. The National Legal and Policy Center, or NLPC, revealed the White House New Media team is seeking to hire a technology vendor to collect data such as comments, tag lines, e-mail, audio and video from any place where the White House "maintains a presence" – for a period of up to eight years. "The contractor shall provide the necessary services to capture, store, extract to approved formats, and transfer content published by EOP (Executive Office of the President) on publicly-accessible web sites, along with information posted by non-EOP persons on publicly-accessible web sites where the EOP offices under PRA (Presidential Records Act) maintains a presence," the posting states. According to the 51-page solicitation of bids posted Aug. 21, the purpose of the mining and archiving project is to "comply with the Presidential Records Act," though the listing does not specify how the information will be used. It states that the government is currently collecting data from social networks both programmatically and by use of daily screenshots. Contractors must agree to keep information disclosed by the EOP in the "strictest confidence" and restrict access "to those employees who must have the information to perform the work provided herein on a 'need-to-know' basis."...WND

Wolves Shot, Boycotts Called, Fur Flies

Game officials and wolf hunt fans often say the same thing when it comes to the wolf hunt in Idaho and the upcoming one in Montana. Don’t worry, they say. Wolves are fast, nocturnal and darn hard to draw a bead on. The question of just how tough they are to shoot even came up in federal court, where U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Monday heard a plea by environmental groups for an injunction to stop the wolf hunt seasons. “Isn’t there evidence ... that with fair-chase hunting, not many wolves will be killed?” Molloy asked. Yes, that’s right, as Steven Strack, attorney for the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, explained during the hearing. “There are nine million acres of wilderness areas in Idaho,” Strack said. It’s hard to even spot a wolf without using a helicopter, traps, baits or motor vehicles like ATVs (which are not legally allowed in the hunts), he noted. The news from Idaho this week seemed to, well, blow a hole in that theory. On the very first day of the first wolf hunt ever in the Lower 48, two Idaho men shot and bagged wolves. Robert Millage of Kamiah told longtime outdoor writer Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman that he was surrounded by a pack of wolves before dawn. He used a hand call that “sounded like a wounded coyote,” and when an 80-pound female came running, he shot her, Barker reports. (To see the story in full, click here.) “The whole area is lousy with them,” Millage told Barker. Archery hunter Jay Mize of Emmet, Idaho saw a wolf spooking his horse at a lake near Stanley, Idaho. “He walked back into his tent, put his rifle together and shot the wolf,” Barker’s story continues. Those and other tales are going viral this week as the sporting world—and beyond—waits to hear whether Judge Molloy will issue the injunction sought by the coalition of 13 environmental groups trying to halt the hunts...NewWest

Video - Actress Ashley Judd Opposes Wolf Hunts

Wolf Lovers Rip Into Lewiston Hunter

Robert Millage’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing Wednesday and his e-mail in-box was choked with messages. Most of the people contacting Millage are not happy with him, and they are not shy about letting him know. He’s been called a wolf murderer and every dirty name in the book. I have a thick skin and a good sense of humor. What am I going to do, yell back at them?” he said. “I obeyed the law and did what (Idaho Department of) Fish and Game wanted us to do. I can sleep well.” On Tuesday, Millage, of Kamiah, became one of the first hunters in Idaho to legally kill a wolf. He was featured in several news stories that quickly went around the globe via the World Wide Web. Before long, some people opposed to wolf hunting posted Millage’s contact information on Web sites like Craigslist and Facebook. He received about 50 phone calls and hundreds of e-mails...SpokesmanReview

Oregon tried to deter wolves for months

Federal hunters prepared to resume hunting Friday for two wolves responsible for killing more than two-dozen head of livestock at eastern Oregon ranches. Federal hunters will resume the hunt today for wolves responsible for killing more than two dozen head of livestock at eastern Oregon ranches. Coupled with controversial wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana, Oregon's decision to kill the two wolves, a male and a female, has produced an uproar among conservation, ranching and farming groups. Meanwhile, state reports show the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife tried a series of nonlethal tactics after wolves killed 24 lambs and a calf at two Keating Valley ranches in April. The efforts succeeded for several months, but new attacks in late August, on three more lambs and a goat, resulted in the state issuing permits to kill the wolves. Capturing and relocating the wolves is not an option under Oregon's wolf management plan because they've repeatedly attacked livestock, said Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the department...TheOregonian

Paperwork blamed for misdirected Canadian cattle

A Pacific Northwest beef processor says a paperwork error resulted in a herd of 402 cattle imported from Canada being incorrectly shipped to a Washington ranch without being tested for disease. According to Agri Beef Co., documentation related to 198 spayed heifers and 204 steers incorrectly stated the destination to be the Agri Beef-owned El Oro feedlot in Moses Lake, Wash., rather than the ranch near Northport, Wash., where they currently are. State regulations don't require the testing of cattle headed directly for a feedlot. Agri Beef Executive Vice President Rick Stott told the Capital Press the Boise, Idaho-based company is working with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to resolve the issue. The cattle should have been tested for bovine tuberculosis and were not, Stott said. They have been isolated by the rancher who has the cattle. He will bring them to a quarantined feedlot area for testing, escorted by representatives of the WSDA. "All of those cattle are electronically, individually ID'd," Stott said. "The fact we have individual electronic identification tags provides the highest level of integrity that every one of those animals will be accounted for and tested." Brucellosis testing is not required for spayed heifers, according to an Agri Beef press release. In the meantime, a U.S. cattle producer organization has asked the USDA to investigate the processor, alleging anticompetitive practices. R-CALF USA Chief Executive Officer Bill Bullard sent a memo to the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. In it, he claimed Agri Beef's cattle commingled with domestic cattle owned by U.S. ranchers who lawfully grazed their cattle...CapitalPress

Governor vetoes card check for farmworkers

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a union-backed bill that would have required farmers to negotiate with a labor union if a majority of their employees signed membership agreements. It marks the fourth time the governor has rejected requiring farm owners to abide by what are known as card-check provisions. The bill he vetoed Wednesday, SB789 by State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, was similar to federal legislation for nonfarm employees that is the subject of an intense battle between business and labor forces in Congress. Unions now must win a secret-ballot election to represent private-sector employees. Both the federal and state measures would allow unions to gain the same status by signing up more than half an employer's workforce...SFChronicle

New Whiskey Row bar top conjures up plenty of history

The bar top at Matt's Saloon on Whiskey Row may be new, but it's branded with a whole lot of history. Dozens of longtime ranchers and their families showed up Tuesday for the unveiling of the bar top that showcases their cattle brands and family names. Saloon owners Matt Brassard and Marco Espitia raised a shot glass with Matt Butitta, who gave the two young men a chance to run a saloon eight years ago just like Butitta got the chance as a young man in 1962. Then all the ranching families surged toward the bar to find their brands. "I haven't seen that many cowboys in that bar for I don't know how long," Espitia said. "I know it's just a bar top, but it's more than that," Brassard said. "Their kids and grandkids will be able to come in someday and say, 'Hey, that's my granddad's brand.'" The sight of so many of their old friends got the ranchers to reminiscing about some of their early days on Whiskey Row and out on the range...DailyCourier

WhereverTV Develops The Cowboys Network Widget With Retro Films.HD

WhereverTV today announced development of The Cowboys Network widget by Retro Films.HD for the Yahoo! Widget Engine. The Cowboys Network widget will be on display at Samsung's Internet@TV booth area in Hall 20 at IFA 2009 being held in Berlin September 4-9, 2009. Soon consumers with Internet-connected televisions powered by the Yahoo! Widget Engine will be able to access more than 1,000 digitally re-mastered Cowboy Western films featuring John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Slim Pickens, Rex Allen, Sr. and many other legends of their time via The Cowboys Network Widget. TV Widgets enable popular Internet services and online media to reach viewers with applications specifically tailored to meet the needs of the television watcher. During the 1930's, 40's and 50's approximately 400 "Singing Cowboy" films and 1,000 "B" Westerns were made. Those films represent not only a very special time in American history but helped set values for generations to come. The Cowboys Network is dedicated to bringing this special slice of Americana to Cowboy and Western fans world-wide through its Yahoo! TV Widget...PressRelease

Song Of The Day #125

Jim & Jesse McReynolds were two brothers from Coeburn, Virginia. Jim sang and played guitar, Jesse sang and played mandolin in a unique "crosspicking" method he invented. They signed their first recording contract in 1952 with Capitol Records.

Today's selection is their 1952 recording Are You Missing Me and it's available on the 20 track CD Jim & Jesse 1952-1955

'Green Jobs' Adviser's Past Could Stir Trouble for White House at Critical Time

President Obama's "green jobs" adviser could become a mounting liability for the Obama administration, as the latest revelation about Van Jones shows his apparent belief that the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks may have been an inside job. Jones joined the "9/11 truther" movement by signing a statement in 2004 calling for then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and others to launch an investigation into evidence that suggests "people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." The statement asked a series of critical questions hinting at Bush administration involvement in the attacks and called for "deeper inquiry." It was also signed by former Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans. But on Thursday, Jones tried to distance himself from the position, saying "In recent days some in the news media have reported on past statements I made before I joined the administration – some of which were made years ago. If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize. As for the petition [9/11 statement] that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever."...FoxNews

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Feds didn't clear brush in wildfire area

Federal authorities failed to follow through on plans earlier this year to burn away highly flammable brush in a forest on the edge of Los Angeles to avoid the very kind of wildfire now raging there, The Associated Press has learned. Months before the huge blaze erupted, the U.S. Forest Service obtained permits to burn away the undergrowth and brush on more than 1,700 acres of the Angeles National Forest. But just 193 acres had been cleared by the time the fire broke out, Forest Service resource officer Steve Bear said. Could more have been done to clear tinder-dry hillsides and canyons? "We don't necessarily disagree with that," Bear said. "We weren't able to complete what we wanted to do." Some critics suggested that protests from environmentalists over prescribed burns contributed to the disaster, which came after the brush was allowed to build up for as much as 40 years. "This brush was ready to explode," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district overlaps the forest. "The environmentalists have gone to the extreme to prevent controlled burns, and as a result we have this catastrophe today."...AP

As hybrid cars gobble rare metals, shortage looms

The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods. That makes Toyota's market-leading gasoline-electric hybrid car and other similar vehicles vulnerable to a supply crunch predicted by experts as China, the world's dominant rare earths producer, limits exports while global demand swells. Worldwide demand for rare earths, covering 15 entries on the periodic table of elements, is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tonnes annually in several years unless major new production sources are developed. One promising U.S. source is a rare earths mine slated to reopen in California by 2012. Among the rare earths that would be most affected in a shortage is neodymium, the key component of an alloy used to make the high-power, lightweight magnets for electric motors of hybrid cars, such as the Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Focus, as well as in generators for wind turbines...Reuters

Also see China Tightens Grip on Rare Minerals.

Will Support for Cap-and-Trade Energy Tax Melt Away?

People aren’t willing to pay much to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases to fight global warming, according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll. 52 percent said they would support a law that “significantly lowered greenhouse gas emissions” — but only if it cost them less than $10 a month. Only 39 percent said they would support such a law if it cost them $25 a month — which is vastly less than it would actually cost. In the name of cutting greenhouse gases, the House passed a cap-and-trade carbon tax scheme backed by the Obama Administration in June. But the bill won’t significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions even in the U.S. One reason is that the bill was larded up with corporate welfare. 85 percent of its carbon allowances were given away to special interests free of charge, thanks to lobbying that turned the bill into an orgy of corporate welfare. The bill also contains environmentally-harmful provisions, such as massive ethanol subsidies, which will result in “damage to water supplies, soil health and air quality.” Ethanol subsidies have resulted in forests being destroyed in the Third World, and caused famines that have killed countless people in places like Haiti. Worse, the cap-and-trade tax will cost much, much more than $25 a month — with politically connected businesses like GE profiting at the expense of the taxpayer, as the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney has chronicled in story after story. Carney calls the bill a “hidden bailout” for GE and other well-connected businesses...OpenMarket

Three Wolves Killed Since Season Opened Tuesday

Few hunters turned out for the first day of Idaho's first wolf hunt Tuesday. Yet Wednesday morning, word started spreading that Robert Millage, of Kamiah, snagged the first wolf kill for the state. By his fellow hunters, Millage is congratulated. However, he says he has received some hate calls and messages. Idaho Fish and Game's tracking website showed three wolves were harvested, two in the Lolo zone and the third in the Sawtooth area. Elk herds in these two areas are considered to be impacted the most by wolves. Two more zones are scheduled to open Sept. 15. The rest, including the zones covering Eastern Idaho, will begin Oct. 1. Idaho set a quota of 220 wolves this season as part of its plan for managing the population, now estimated at more than 800...LocalNews8

Global forest destruction seen overestimated

The amount of carbon emissions caused by world forest destruction is likely far less than the 20 percent figure being widely used before global climate talks in December, said the head of the Brazilian institute that measures Amazon deforestation. Gilberto Camara, the director of Brazil's respected National Institute for Space Research, said the 20 percent tally was based on poor science but that rich countries had no interest in questioning it because the number put more pressure on developing countries to stem greenhouse gases. A lower estimate for carbon emissions from deforestation would have an impact on the Copenhagen talks, where preserving forests is a top item on the agenda. Given that the Amazon accounts for about a quarter of deforestation globally, a figure of about 10 percent for total emissions caused by forest destruction is likely to be more accurate, Camara said. The 20 percent figure used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was based on calculations from sampling of forests by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he said. The FAO method came up with an average annual figure of 31,000 sq km (12,000 sq miles) deforested in the Amazon from 2000-2005. But Brazil's method of using satellite images to measure deforestation "pixel by pixel" was far more accurate and showed a figure of 21,500 sq km for the period, Camara said. For 2005-2009, the FAO estimate was double the correct figure, Camara said. "The FAO grossly overestimated deforestation in Brazil and there are papers that show that such overestimation is also true for many other countries, including of course Indonesia."...Reuters

Vast shift in bird species expected from warming

Birds of a feather will no longer flock together, and some California species will face extinction as a result of global warming, according to a study released Tuesday by PRBO Conservation Science. The study, which predicts how birds in California will adapt to changing climatic conditions, says there will be a dramatic change in the pecking order of the avian world over the next 60 years. In one fell swoop, the changes in bird habitats and behavior between now and 2070 will equal the evolutionary and adaptive shifts that normally occur over tens of thousands of years, according to researchers with PRBO, also known as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. "What we found is that not only will species shift and communities change, but the composition of communities in certain places will not resemble anything we see today," said Diana Stralberg, a landscape ecologist and the lead author of the report, "Reshuffling of Species With Climate Disruption: A No-Analog Future for California Birds?" "Species will exist in different and unusual combinations," she said. "Food and prey might not be available, and there may be unanticipated interactions with other species, including predators."...SFChronicle

View the report here.

Vet dies of rare virus from horse

QUEENSLAND vet Alister Rodgers lost his battle with the lethal Hendra virus overnight, dying after two weeks in a coma. Dr Rodgers, of the Rockhampton Veterinary Clinic, was infected with the virus when he treated a sick filly - thought at the time to be suffering from snakebite - at the J4S stud in central Queensland on July 28. Despite an experimental treatment with anti-viral drugs, he fell into a coma three weeks later. The Australian Veterinary Association today paid tribute to Dr Rodgers. “We extend the sympathy of veterinarians around the country to Alister's family, friends and workmates,” AVA president Mark Lawrie said. “Unfortunately this problem is not going to go away. “We hope that answers can be found so that we never have to mourn the loss of another colleague to Hendra.”...The Australian.

BP Finds Giant Oil Field Deep in Gulf of Mexico

BP announced on Wednesday the discovery of what it characterized as a giant oil field several miles under the Gulf of Mexico, but it may take years to assess how much crude can actually be recovered. The discovery should have no immediate effect on world oil or gasoline prices because it could take three years or more to begin extracting oil. Because the oil is so deep underwater and difficult to extract, the price of oil will need to be above $70 a barrel to make drilling profitable, energy analysts said. Nevertheless, the discovery was another indication that the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico are probably the most promising area in United States-controlled territory to bolster domestic oil production. The rise in gulf production in recent years, in large part because of BP’s deep-water giant Thunder Horse field, has stabilized domestic production after almost two decades of yearly declines. “This is big,” said Chris Ruppel, a senior energy analyst at Execution L.L.C., a London investment bank. “It says we’re seeing that improved technology is unlocking resources that were before either undiscovered or too costly to exploit because of economics.” The discovery, called the Tiber well, is about 250 miles southeast of Houston at a depth of more than 35,000 feet — greater than the height of Mount Everest — and well below the gulf floor...NYTimes

EPA proposes illegal rule

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a draft proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that would exempt small emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2) from Clean Air Act (CAA) pre-construction permitting requirement, Greenwire reports. The proposed rule, as described in Greenwire, is blatantly illegal. It is a tacit admission that the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA set the stage for an economic disaster. It is additional evidence that Mass v. EPA was wrongly decided. It confirms CEI’s warning that the Court’s ruling imperils a core constitutional principle — the separation of powers. In Mass. v. EPA, the Supreme Court, by a narrow 5-4 majority, decided that CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) are “air pollutants” within the meaning of CAA, and gave EPA three options: (1) issue a finding that GHG-related “air pollution” “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare,” (2) issue a finding of no endangerment, or (3) provide a “reasonable explanation” why the agency cannot or will not exercise its discretion to make such a determination. The Court further held that if EPA makes a finding of endangerment, then it has a duty, under CAA Sec. 202, to develop and adopt GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles. EPA picked option (1), and last month, it sent OMB a draft proposed rule to establish GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles...OpenMarket

Actress removing illegal rock work on Rogue River

Actress Kim Novak and her husband have begun removing large rocks illegally placed along the banks of the Rogue River to control erosion on their ranch in southern Oregon. Environmental Protection Agency officials told the Mail Tribune newspaper that Novak and her husband, Robert Malloy, had the rocks installed three years ago along a 345-foot stretch of the river in Eagle Point without the proper federal permits. EPA aquatic ecologist Yvonne Vallette says the river is regulated under the Endangered Species Act as critical habitat for salmon, and the rock work was changing the natural function of the river. She adds that authorities were willing to grant a permit after the fact, but negotiations broke down. AP

Whose Valles Caldera is it?

But unlike Yellowstone, which is managed by the National Park Service, the preserve has a radically different management structure. It is not managed by any federal agency; instead, it is run by a federal corporation known as the Valles Caldera Trust and its board of politically appointed trusties. Congress passed the Valles Caldera Preservation Act to establish the preserve and trust, and also gave it the unusual mandate that it must be operated as a working ranch and become financially self-sustaining. Anyone who read the Preservation Act couldn’t fail to see its conflicting goals: preservation of the land, the former Baca Ranch, along with exploitation of the land in order to make a profit and sustain the trust. Tom Ribe of the Valles Caldera Action organization, a watchdog group, is one of the disappointed conservationists who formerly supported the preserve. "We worked hard in 2000 to get the Valles Caldera in public hands," he said, “but it was a deeply troubled idea from the start, and we gave up on it entirely sometime in 2007." Now, he says, “the trust model has no constituency and offers no advantage and many drawbacks over traditional land management." The wheels in Washington turn slowly, but there is hope for change. Both New Mexico Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall say they want the National Park Service to study brin ging the preserve under federal management. That indicates there’s still hope we can do something right for this wonderful land...HCN

Writers of the Native American Renaissance

In Beauty I Walk: The Literary Roots of Native American Writing Edited by Jarod Ramsey and Lori Burlingame 395 pages, softcover: $27.95. University of New Mexico Press, 2008. "Appreciation" is a slippery word, especially when applied to culture. More shallow than understanding, but deeper than mere pleasure, you might describe it as knowledge lite. Perhaps that's why In Beauty I Walk: The Literary Roots of Native American Writing, which emphasizes the "appreciation" of Native texts, leaves you feeling like you've brushed against something far more tangled and complex than the soothing, earth-toned cover would suggest. The selections range from traditional creation myths, stories, songs and poetry to modern short stories and plays. Contributors, including Sarah Winnemucca, Mourning Dove and Lynn Riggs, address themes many people are familiar with as history but not necessarily as narrative -- betrayals of trust between white settlers and Indians, assimilationist boarding schools, failed interracial marriages. Editors Jarold Ramsey and Lori Burlingame provide background for and analysis of most of the writings, even while noting the controversies involved...HCN

Homeland Security’s Goal: Allow 70 percent of Bad Guys Through Ports of Entry

According to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Border Patrol, the vast majority of illegal aliens and contraband attempting to move across our border through official ports of entry will succeed. In other words, our border security fails most of the time—not out in remote desert areas, but at official ports of entry where people and vehicles can be stopped and screened. “At the ports of entry,” reports GAO, “CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) has both increased training for agents and enhanced technology. However, the DHS Annual Performance Report for fiscal years 2008-2010 sets a goal for detecting and apprehending about 30 percent of major illegal activity at ports of entry in 2009, indicating that 70 percent of criminals and contraband may pass through the ports and continue on interstates and major roads to the interior of the United States.” Homeland Security’s in-house performance review paints a devastating picture of an agency failing dismally in carrying out a vital national security function of the federal government...CNSNews

Could The Feds Seize The Internet?

A Senate bill lets the president "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "nongovernmental" computer networks and do what's needed to respond to the threat. Didn't they just collect our e-mail addresses? Senate Bill 773 would grant the administration emergency powers (where have we heard that before?) in the event of a cyberemergency that the president would have the power to define and declare. Have we already forgotten the administration wanting Americans to spy on their neighbors and report "fishy" communications opposing health care to Didn't oodles of our e-mail addresses wind up in the White House from which then came unsolicited e-mails supporting ObamaCare? A working draft of the legislation, which is in its second incarnation, obtained by an Internet privacy group, would grant the secretary of commerce access to all privately owned information networks deemed critical to the nation's infrastructure "without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule or policy restricting such access."...IBD

Song Of The Day #124

What's The Matter With The Mill by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys is our tune today. Tommy Duncan and Bob Wills both do some singing on this number.

The song was recorded on Sept. 29, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois

In addition to Wills & Duncan, there were 12 musicians in the recording session and some of the greats were there: Herman Arnspiger - guitar, Jesse Ashlock - fiddle, Leon McAuliffe - steel and Al Stricklin - piano.

Will's music is widely available as you can see here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Trading Jobs For Bugs In Coal Country

Interestingly, other research suggests that the total number of insects in affected streams is not substantially reduced. Hardier insect populations thrive in the absence of mayflies. Yet the EPA alleges that smaller mayfly populations are an "impairment" of "water quality." In the past, decisions as to whether discharges from a proposed surface coal mine affect "water quality" were delegated to state regulators pursuant to the state primacy process developed by Congress. Since Obama took office, however, the EPA has seized control of the permitting process so it can reinterpret the definition of "water quality" to better accommodate the mayfly. Citing its concern for "macroinvertebrates" (i.e., bugs), the EPA in March and April objected to Clean Water Act permits in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. In July, at the behest of environmental groups like Earthjustice, EPA revoked West Virginia's waiver to issue water quality permits without review. It's only a matter of time before the EPA challenges the authority of other Appalachian states to regulate their own industries. The permitting process for surface mining in Appalachia has ground to a halt. There's a backlog of hundreds of permits and the National Mining Association says the process has become a "regulatory black hole."...IBD

UK to get 'motorways for animals'

Some of England's most endangered species could be brought back from the brink of extinction as the result of a year-long government wildlife review to be launched tomorrow, which will focus on "rewilding" – returning land to its natural state – and extending habitats. The review, to be announced this week by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, is aimed at expanding "ecological corridors". These will allow animals to migrate across the country when climate change threatens their existing homes, and will slow the dramatic loss of species caused by decades of intensive farming and urban development...Independent

U.S. flooded with endangered species requests

When WildEarth Guardians filed two petitions in the space of a month to list 681 species under the Endangered Species Act, it came as a shock to biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Organizations normally seek protection for just one animal or plant at a time. The Center for Native Ecosystems, another group active in petitioning under the Endangered Species Act, has filed requests involving 27 species over the last 10 years. So the filing of nearly 700 offerings at once struck federal officials as excessive. The Endangered Species Act requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to make and publish specific findings for petitioned species within 90 days, to the extent practicable. "This was not envisioned by the [act] and it's not helpful to us at all because it takes an enormous amount of resources to look at this," said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Ann Carlson. "Very few of those [in the petition] need our help, and it's taking away from the species that do need our help." "It's a big deal, a very big deal for us," said Ms. Carlson, who was in charge of conducting administrative reviews on 206 of the species filed in July 2007 with the agency's Mountain-Prairie regional office in Denver. Petitions on behalf of 475 other species had been filed a month earlier with the Southwest regional office in New Mexico. The agency in August approved 29 of the 206 species for further comment and review, which ultimately could result in threatened or endangered listings. The 475-species petition is still under review...WashingtonTimes

What Makes California Wildfires So Devastating?

California’s struggle with wildfires has been attributed to global warming but it’s time to take a realistic approach and review the poorly designed environmental rules and regulations that contribute to the annual infernos that rage across my state. Protecting human habitats is a secondary concern for many environmentalists who zealously push to protect any animal on the “endangered species” list without an eye for the broader implications of their policies. One animal in particular is the kangaroo rat. Because of it’s endangered status farmers, ranchers, and property owners are forbidden from clearing shrubbery where the rodent lives. This shrubbery and undergrowth on California’s hills and back country is allowed to slowly build until it becomes a tinder box waiting for ignition. For example, San Diego has protected over 170,000 acres of habitat for more than 1,000 plant species and 380 animal species. The urge to protect endangered species is admirable, but the resulting fires burn with such intensity that it actually makes it harder for the animals and the habitat to recover. California, and the federal government, need to loosen environmental regulations and make way for common sense. “The core problem is that species protection prohibits many ordinary fire precautions,” wrote Hugh Hewitt, a California radio talk show host. “You cannot clear coastal sage scrub, no matter how dense, if a gnatcatcher nests within it – unless the federal government provides a written permission slip which is extraordinarily difficult to obtain.”...DCWriteUp

Secretary Salazar could take a wildlife management lesson from NM Governor Bill Richardson

Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, has made some popular decisions on restricting oil leases, but has made some very controversial decisions on wildlife management. Governor Bill Richardson (NM-D) is making a valiant effort to protect both, but he has to file a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, to get it done. According to Court House News, August 28, 2009, Governor Richardson, says the Bush-era BLM violated environmental law by approving oil and gas development on rare and sensitive grasslands in Southern New Mexico. The state of New Mexico claims that a January 2005 decision on Otero Mesa violates several federal laws, as well as state environmental and water regulations. After natural gas was discovered on Otero Mesa in 1998, the BLM released development options in 2000 that advanced "significant protections" for the rare grasslands area. Then in, 2003, under the Bush administration, the proposal emerged with a substantially different plan that greatly reduced the previous environmental protection. Furthermore, Richardson’s office said they were forced to sue the feds after the BLM rejected the state’s recommendation in April, 2009, for stricter environmental protection for Otero Mesa. The complaint states that after the 2003 decision that buckled to the oil industry, the state responded with a report the following year, outlining violation of local policies. The state’s report showed that the BLM decision violated New Mexico environmental protection policies, water quality regulations, regulations governing cultural and archeological resources, and planning for alternative energy development...Examiner

Kill Order Made On Wolves Killing Livestock

A kill order has been put out on the first wolves caught killing livestock in Oregon since they began moving to the state. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said Tuesday that extensive efforts were made to convince the wolves to leave livestock alone, but haven't worked. She says federal hunters have been given a permit to kill the pair, and the rancher has permission to shoot them to protect his stock. The two wolves were wolves caught on camera last April standing over the carcasses of dead sheep...KPTV

World's 1st Cloned Wolf Dies of Unknown Cause

A scientist in South Korea says one of the world's first cloned wolves has died for unknown reasons. Seoul National University professor Shin Nam-sik says the wolf, named Snuwolf, was found dead at its zoo on Aug. 26. Shin, who was involved in the project that produced the two first cloned wolves in 2005, said Tuesday that autopsy results will be released in about a week. Shin said the other cloned wolf remains healthy...FoxNews

Mustang Training Competition Offers $300K in Prize Money

The Extreme Mustang Makeover will offer an estimated $300,000 in prize money as it enters its third year of competition. "We've been very fortunate in this economy to be able to sell out all of our events with the average adoption of the mustangs holding at about $1,000 per head," said Mustang Heritage Foundation Executive Director Patti Colbert. "Our goal each year has been to place 1,000 mustangs in good homes through the Extreme Mustang Makeover and our Trainers Incentive Program and the American public has responded. We will close out 2009 with 1,000 of our nation's wild horses gentled and starting new relationships with their adopters." Trainer applications are available for events taking place in Oregon, California, and Colorado, with more events planned for Tennessee and Nebraska. First up in the "regular season" will be the $10,000 estimated Northwest Extreme Mustang Makeover March 19-21 held in conjunction with the Northwest Horse Fair and Expo in Albany, Ore. Trainer applications are due November 1 and are available though the event Web site. Forty geldings will be gentled for this competition with up to 40 trainers accepted to participate in the event. Trainers can apply for more than one horse to train. The 2010 season will begin with a return engagement to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo January 22-23 as Mustang Magic brings 15 of the 2009 season's top trainers in an invitational competition featuring horses they picked by draw in September during the Extreme Mustang Makeover Western Stampede in Fort Worth. Trainers competing in this event were among the top three contenders during 2009 events...TheHorse

Rise and fall of the sheep and wool era in South Texas

Like the cowboy and vaquero, the shepherd was at home in South Texas. Flocks of sheep grazed the range from Corpus Christi to Laredo, making this one of the top wool-producing places in the country. Carretas loaded with wool, from as far away as Mexico, rolled into Corpus Christi, one of the world’s great wool markets. The sheep era began about 1850 when W. W. Chapman, an Army officer, was transferred to Corpus Christi to head the Army’s new 8th Military District depot. Chapman realized that the area’s rich grasslands made ideal sheep country. He set up a sheep camp on Santa Gertrudis Creek and brought in purebred Merinos from Pennsylvania. The Merino, unmatched for the quality of its wool, was too delicate for this climate. While Mexican sheep could take the heat, they had a coarse wool. Chapman figured that fine-wooled Merinos bred with tough Mexican sheep would produce a hardy breed with a fine fleece. Merino cross-breeds became the golden fleece of South Texas. James Bryden, a sheepman from Scotland, was among immigrants attracted here by Henry Kinney’s land promotion efforts. Chapman hired Bryden to handle his sheep. In payment for watching the flock, Bryden was given part of the natural increase and a share in the wool profits. Bryden grazed the sheep along Santa Gertrudis Creek. The following year, in 1853, Richard King bought 15,000 acres to begin his ranch near the Chapman sheep camp. King purchased 10 Merino bucks and 42 Mexican ewes; within a decade, he had some 40,000 sheep. His main sheep camp was called Borregas...CallerTimes

Oil & Milk

We will stick with oil as long as oil is cheaper than milk. Oil $74.16 a barrel, milk $168 a barrel.

From OzoneSky and based on this Bloomberg article.

Song Of The Day #123

Ranch Radio says let's have a double doss of Al Dexter and His Troopers this morning.

We'll start with his #1 hit from 1943 Pistol Packin' Mama. Republic Pictures made a movie with the same title and based on the song, and the tune became the marching chorus for the 1943 New York Yankess. We'll follow that with I Learned About Love.

Dexter was another one of those early country singers who seemed to have heck with women. Poor ol' Al, they were either packin' a gun or hangin' around cocktail bars.

Go here to check out his music.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

EPA should set nutrient limits to block dead zones, agency's inspector general says

The Environmental Protection Agency should move immediately to adopt enforceable limits on the release of nutrient pollutants -- such as fertilizer and sewage -- into rivers and streams to halt the creation of dangerously low oxygen areas in water bodies, and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico should be one of its first targets, the agency's Office of Inspector General said in a report made public today. "We believe selecting nationally significant waters and acting to set standards for nutrients in them is a minimal first step if EPA is to meet the requirements of the (Clean Water Act)," the report said. "Critical national waters such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River require standards that, once set, will affect multiple upstream states," the report said. "These states have not yet set nutrient standards for themselves; consequently it is EPA's responsibility to act." Nutrient pollution is regulated under the federal Clean Water Act, which requires federal and state governments to assure that rivers, streams, estuaries and coastal waters are "fishable and swimmable."

Environmentalists Slow to Adjust in Climate Debate

The oil lobby was sponsoring rallies with free lunches, free concerts and speeches warning that a climate-change bill could ravage the U.S. economy. Professional "campaigners" hired by the coal industry were giving away T-shirts praising coal-fired power. But when environmentalists showed up in this college town -- closer than ever to congressional passage of a climate-change bill, in the middle of the green movement's biggest political test in a generation -- they provided . . . a sedate panel discussion. And they gave away stickers. It seems that environmentalists are struggling in a fight they have spent years setting up. They are making slow progress adapting a movement built for other goals -- building alarm over climate change, encouraging people to "green" their lives -- into a political hammer, pushing a complex proposal the last mile through a skeptical Senate. Even now, these groups differ on whether to scare the public with predictions of heat waves or woo it with promises of green jobs. And they are facing an opposition with tycoon money and a gift for political stagecraft...WPost

Naturally Occurring Methane Vents May Spell Climate Trouble

Only a squawk from a sandhill crane broke the Arctic silence -- and a low gurgle of bubbles, a watery whisper of trouble repeated in countless spots around the polar world. "On a calm day, you can see 20 or more ‘seeps’ out across this lake," said Canadian researcher Rob Bowen, sidling his small rubber boat up beside one of them. A tossed match would have set it ablaze. "It's essentially pure methane." Pure methane, gas bubbling up from underwater vents, escaping into northern skies, adds to the global-warming gases accumulating in the atmosphere. And pure methane escaping in the massive amounts known to be locked in the Arctic permafrost and seabed would spell a climate catastrophe. Is such an unlocking under way?. In 2007, air monitors detected a rise in methane concentrations in the atmosphere, apparently from far northern sources. Russian researchers in Siberia expressed alarm, warning of a potential surge in the powerful greenhouse gas, additional warming of several degrees, and unpredictable consequences for Earth's climate...AP

New Culprit Seen in Ozone Depletion

Government scientists who study the depletion of Earth’s protective ozone layer are pointing to a previously unheralded culprit: nitrous oxide. Most of the nitrous oxide in the atmosphere emerges naturally, through the action of bacteria in the soil, the researchers say. But the gas is also produced by human activity, through the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, the application of livestock manure to fields, the burning of biofuels and in other ways. Though nitrous oxide is not regulated under the Montreal Protocol, the 1987 agreement to limit emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals, the researchers say it is emerging as the leading artificial cause of ozone loss. The researchers, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, report their findings in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. The Environmental Protection Agency is already contemplating action on nitrous oxide because it is a heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. In April, the agency declared it and five other gases, including carbon dioxide, to be pollutants that endanger public health, making them subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. In a statement, the agency said Thursday that work on a reporting system for emissions of nitrous oxide and the five gases was under way...NYTimes

Feds to consider protections for Sonoran desert tortoise

The federal government has agreed to consider whether the Sonoran desert tortoise, a Southwest icon whose population has declined by half in the past 20 years, warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. Two environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the tortoise, found in southwest Arizona and northern Mexico, as a distinct population. The agency said Friday it would review the status of the tortoise and any threats to its habitat. "We expect that the service's detailed scientific review will show that listing is required to conserve these icons of the desert Southwest," said Michael Connor of the Western Watersheds Project, which along with WildEarth Guardians filed the petition. The tortoise is among 13 species and plants that environmentalists sought protection for with a series of petitions filed last fall as part of their "Western Ark" project. Lawsuits followed in many of the cases for the species, whose ranges span more than a dozen states and stretch into Mexico and Canada. The latest was filed in Texas this week over six freshwater mussels found in the U.S. southeast...AP

EPA seeks reduced emissions at Four Corners plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working to improve regional air visibility, has requested reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions at the Four Corners Power Plant, a coal-fired facility that emits the nation's highest levels of the pollutant. Regulators on Friday initiated a 30-day public comment period on the proposed plan to require the Arizona Pubic Service Co. facility to install the most efficient available technology to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, pollutants believed to cause haze throughout the Four Corners region. The action is being taken through the EPA Regional Haze Program, designated by Congress in 1999 to improve visibility in all national parks, national monuments and wilderness areas. The EPA has cited 16 protected locations within a 300 kilometer radius where air visibility is reportedly hindered by the Four Corners Power Plant, including the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park and Mesa Verde National Park. The proposed projects are estimated to cost between $435 million and $917 million to install, depending on which technologies the EPA requires at the Four Corners Power Plant, according to APS. Although the proposed emission cuts to improve regional air visibility was not a surprise requirement for the facility that provides electricity across Arizona, Utah and California, the continued expense for this and other proposed air quality regulation programs could test whether coal-generated power will continue to be an affordable energy source...FarmingtonDailyTimes

Cloud seeding

When Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager Pat Mulroy suggested the agency fund a shuttering Desert Research Institute cloud seeding program, it turned more than a few heads. The project is vital to a stable water supply in Northern Nevada, but what does it have to do with Southern Nevada? The authority has been involved in the institute’s cloud-seeding program for years — but not in Nevada. It has paid the research institute $121,000 over the past three years to conduct cloud-seeding research and spur precipitation in the mountains between Denver and Grand Junction, Colo. The bill went to the authority’s Enterprise Fund, which gets most of its money from wholesale delivery charges to municipal water agencies. Because 90 percent of Las Vegas’ drinking water comes from the Colorado River, and because snowmelt from the upper basin has dropped amid the drought, paying for cloud seeding there made sense. In that case, the authority was effectively trying to create its own water. Desert Research Institute has 23 cloud-seeding stations in Nevada and six in the Sierra Nevada range along the California-Nevada border. They create about 65,000 acre-feet of precipitation each year in Nevada, mostly in the form of snow, according to institute data...LasVegasSun

Mexico City - A looming water disaster

As it has in much of Texas, drought has clobbered great swaths of Mexico this year, killing crops and livestock and threatening to dehydrate major cities. Among the harder hit is Mexico City and its sprawling suburbs, thirsty home to some 22 million people. Taps already are running dry for weeks at a time in large sections of the metroplex, especially in poorer neighborhoods. Officials warn that without extraordinary deluges in the coming weeks, extreme scarcity will stalk the area once the dry season begins in late October. The sierra-encircled basin that holds the Mexican capital was a vast lake bed when the Spaniards took it from the Aztecs nearly 500 years ago. Planners have been draining it ever since to make way for humans, treating the area's water more as a nuisance than a necessity. That worked pretty well for a very long time. It doesn't any more. In one indication of the stress, “fossil water” that's 2,000 years old is being pumped up from an aquifer beneath one parched section of Mexico City this summer. “The problem in the Valley of Mexico is the over-exploitation of the aquifers,” said Jose Luis Luege, director of the National Water Commission. “That is problem number one.” Cutzamala and other systems that supply the Mexico City basin now hold but a fraction of their normal volumes. To assure a supply of water during the coming dry season, local officials this month ordered a 30 percent cutback in the supply from those reservoirs to the city...HoustonChronicle

Grizzly kills 13 sheep on grazing allotment

Wildlife managers say a grizzly bear killed 13 sheep last month on a grazing allotment in Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Mark Bruscino, bear management program supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said the bear killed eight ewes and five lambs Aug. 15. Bruscino estimates grizzlies have killed 35 cattle and 45 sheep statewide so far this year. “[Livestock losses] are not unusual where grizzly bears and domestic sheep overlap,” Bruscino said. “That applies to some degree with black bears.” Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, responded to the scene and said the sheep were killed by a grizzly bear based on the tracks, Bruscino said. Officials have not attempted to relocate or kill the grizzly, in part because of the remote location where the incident occurred...JacksonHoleDaily

Idaho wildlife manager talks about elk herds and wolf packs

Fewer North Idaho families will have elk steaks in their freezers this fall. Two severe winters, plus a growing wolf population, have dramatically reduced elk calf survival rates. To allow the herds to recover, wildlife managers shortened hunting seasons by seven to 14 days. The cutbacks affect archery, rifle and muzzleloader seasons. Jim Hayden, Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s regional wildlife manager, discussed the situation last week. Q.How many fewer elk calves are you seeing? A.This year, we counted 12 calves for every 100 cows. We’ve been at a ratio of 40 to 45 calves for every 100 cows. That’s high production and we’ve had that for the last seven to eight years. We want a ratio of at least 30. Q.How much mortality was caused by wolves, as opposed to the deep snows? A.Just from winter alone, we know we had some substantial losses. We had more snow than we did in 1996, when there were functionally no wolves, and we still lost perhaps a quarter of the elk that winter. …Where there were no wolves, the calf ratio dropped to the 20s this spring. Where we had wolves, we saw the ratio drop to nine calves per 100 cow elk...SpokesmanReview

With No Order From Judge, Wolf Season Is Set to Begin

The first legal wolf hunt in decades in the continental United States appeared likely to begin in Idaho on Tuesday after a federal judge did not immediately rule Monday on an effort by environmentalists to stop the hunt and return the animal to the endangered species list. At the end of a three-hour hearing on Monday morning, Judge Donald W. Molloy of Federal District Court in Montana said he would make a decision “as quickly as I can” but also said he first needed to review documents filed in the case. Some leaders of the 13 groups that filed suit had hoped Judge Molloy would issue an injunction against the hunt from the bench on Monday. Now, given the uncertainty of the judge’s time frame, said Doug Honnold, the lead lawyer for the 13 groups, “the hunters are going to start tomorrow, and it’s up to the judge to stop it.” He said it could be several days before Judge Molloy ruled. Federal and state wildlife officials say multiple studies have established that the wolf population is healthy and growing and that the management programs put in place by Idaho and Montana will keep the animal from becoming endangered again...NYTimes

Economy has horse owners abandoning animals - Arizona

In a bad economy, some horse owners who can't pay the bills are abandoning their animals to get rid of the responsibility of caring for them. Public officials and horse-rescue groups talk about animals left behind in places such as national forests, near horse-riding trails or just tied to a gate at someone's house. Some are keeping their horses but are having trouble with the high cost of maintaining and caring for them. It has been a problem since the economy turned sour, and the people who deal with it say it's not getting better. "It's a sad, sad situation," said Holly Marino, founder of Horse Rescue of North Scottsdale. Some people just take horses wherever they can and leave them. Some owners call the rescue agencies, which try to take in the animals. Rescue groups also can get horses that are seized by law enforcement in animal-abuse cases and from the state Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of handling stray or abandoned livestock. Horses taken by the department that are not claimed as strays go to auction...Way down at the end of the article they finally get around to the change in the law...Another factor in the horse surplus: The slaughter of horses has been banned in the United States since 2007. Rescue groups worry, though, that some horses sold at auction wind up in slaughterhouses in other countries...ArizonaRepublic

Keep your self-righteous fingers off my processed food

Just in time for the worst economic downturn since the Depression, here comes a new crop of social critics to inform us that we're actually spending too little for the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the furniture we sit on and the gasoline that runs our automobiles. Never mind that U.S. job losses these days range from 200,000 to 500,000 a month, that foreclosures are up 32% over this time last year and that people are re-learning how to clip newspaper coupons so as to save at the supermarket. Dire economic circumstances don't seem to faze these spending enthusiasts, who scold us for shopping at supermarkets instead of at farmer's markets, where a loaf of "artisanal" (and also "sustainable") rye bread sells for $8, ice cream for $6 a cup and organic tomatoes go for $4 a pound. The most zealous of the spend-more crowd, however, are the food intellectuals who salivated, as it were, at a steep rise in the cost of groceries earlier this year, including such basics as milk and eggs. Some people might worry about the effect on recession-hit families of a 17% increase in the price of milk, but not Alice Waters, the food-activist owner of Berkeley's Chez Panisse restaurant, who shudders at the thought of sampling so much as a strawberry that hasn't been nourished by organic compost and picked that morning at a nearby farm -- and thinks everyone else in America should shudder too. "Make a sacrifice on the cellphone or the third pair of Nike shoes," Waters airily informed the New York Times in April. Echoing Waters was her fellow Berkeley food guru, Michael Pollan, professor of science journalism (a hot field for social critics, obviously) at UC Berkeley. Pollan (no relation to Robert Pollin) is the author of the best-selling "Omnivore's Dilemma" and coiner of the mantra "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" that is on the lips of every foodie from Bainbridge Island to Martha's Vineyard. Pollan too rejoiced at the idea of skyrocketing prices for groceries, hoping they might "level the playing field for sustainable food that doesn't rely on fossil fuels."...LATimes

WTO OKs $295 million in Brazilian sanctions on US - Cotton Subsidies

American goods will face around $295 million in annual sanctions as a result of the United States' failure to eliminate illegal subsidies to U.S. cotton growers, the World Trade Organization ruled Monday. Monday's ruling was the fifth major decision since the Brazilian government brought the case to the WTO in 2002, alleging that the U.S. was able to retain its place as the world's second-largest cotton producer by paying out some $3 billion to American farmers each year. China is the largest exporter of cotton, while Brazil is fifth. The WTO's condemnation of the U.S. in September 2004 was seen as a victory for Brazil and for West African countries that claimed to have been harmed by the subsidies. Three decisions since have confirmed that U.S. support programs unfairly help U.S. producers undersell foreign competitors and depress world market prices, dealing a double blow to cotton growers in Brazil and elsewhere. In response to the legal defeats, the U.S. Congress has scrapped some export credits and in 2006 repealed the "Step-2" cotton-marketing program that made payments to exporters and domestic mill users as compensation for buying higher-priced American cotton. But last year it approved a new farm bill worth nearly $300 billion that left a number of other contentious cotton programs intact...AP

NAIS 'won't happen' if not made mandatory

Special coverage from the National Conference on Animal Identification (ID INFO) in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 25-27 For a meat procurement specialist like Kevin Bost, animal identification is an animal health issue but even more a food safety issue, and "a good idea" for the livestock and meat sectors. It also needs to be "a government-sponsored mandatory program," or it won't happen, he said in opening the final day of the conference. Bost, a meat procurement and risk management strategies consultant in Chicago, Ill., said there are two ways to effect change, either by economic incentives or government mandate. The first us normally the best means to effect change but won't work for NAIS, he said, explaining that there won't be enough economic incentive for cow/calf producers because consumers won't pay enough premium for the beef that they buy in retail stores for it to be channeled back to the packer/processor, feedlot and cow/calf producer to cover the producer's costs of participation. The consumer won't do that because "mainstream" customers shopping supermarkets are not concerned where their beef and other food come from due to "a fairly good appreciation of farmers" and confidence in farmer and government agency pronouncements that their food is safe...Feedstuffs

Jolley: ID/INFO vs. NAIS Who Blinked?

The ID/INFO Expo occurred on the cusp. The two-and-a-half day event, a long-standing convention of people and organizations promoting animal identification, let’s pronounce that “En – A – Eye – Ess,” brought several hundred people to Kansas City this week. They met at an odd time in the politics of animal ID. Tom Vilsack and friends at the USDA seem to be mounting an all out push for the program at the same time that the House and Senate are slashing his funding with the kind of enthusiasm not seen since Tobe Hooper directed Chainsaw Massacre way back in 1974. Yet Dr. David Acheson, ex-Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection at the US Food and Drug Administration and now the managing director of food and import safety at Leavitt Partners in Utah, told the crowd, “The Obama Administration wants to make capital out of protecting the food supply.” His comments, probably emboldened by Barack’s recently empanelled food safety commission and Michelle’s back yard organic garden, suggested Obama will try to significantly boost food-safety enforcement efforts and force improved food traceability as a tool to achieve his goal. Acheson saw NAIS as a vital part of the plan...cattlenetwork

Song Of The Day #122

It's ET time. Here's Ernest Tubb singing his 1948 hit Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello.

Tubb's music is widely available. This particular cut can be found on the 4 disc box set The Early Years 1936-1945 from JSP Records and on several other collections of his work.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cash for Climate

Let's say the world will spend $250 billion a year for the next 10 years to minimize the suffering caused by climate change. What's the best bargain we can get for the money? The Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC), a think-tank in Denmark headed by Skeptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, has commissioned 21 papers from leading climate experts and economists to answer that very question. Over the coming month, the CCC will be looking at the benefits and costs of proposed actions in four different areas: climate engineering, cutting future greenhouse gas emissions, economic growth, and green energy technologies. Each topic will feature a main research paper accompanied by a series of critiques by other experts called perspective papers. At the end of the process, the CCC will assemble a panel of five leading economists, three of them Nobelists, to rank all of the proposed solutions as to their relative cost-effectiveness. This ranking process is the CCC's specialty—it has twice used this technique to rank order various proposals for solving some of the world's biggest problems, including disease eradication, sanitation, economic development, malnutrition, and the oppression of women. This week, the CCC kicked off the process with the high-tech topic of climate engineering, starting with a paper by J. Eric Bickel, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin in Operations Research and a fellow in the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, and Lee Lane, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., where he also serves as the co-director of the Institute's Geoengineering Project...Reason

The Color of Change Is Green

The curious thing about the troops manning the effort to create a clean, green economy in the age of Obama is that they are not the stereotypical environmental activists one normally thinks about. Sure, the greens at the major environmental organizations are on board with Obama (though some think he's not going far enough). But the real leaders of the new green jobs movement aren't environmentalists at all; they're labor union officials and inner-city community organizers like those at Color of Change. Their interest is not protecting the environment as much as it is hijacking the green zeitgeist to agitate for economic justice, airing ethnic, racial, and other grievances, and grabbing government cash...AmericanSpectator

Gov. Herbert views fire, criticizes federal policies

Gov. Gary Herbert on Sunday joined critics questioning why the 10,000-acre Mill Flat Fire that destroyed at least three structures and threatened more than 600 others was not suppressed earlier. After flying over the blaze's towering smoke column in a helicopter, he aimed his criticism at a decision to let the lightning-caused fire burn as a way to clear old growth and invite rejuvenation. "A lighting strike may be a good way to manage resources but [it] may not be the best practice," the governor said. Conditions similar to those where the Mills Flat Fire is burning exist throughout central and southern Utah on public land in Gunnison, Garfield and Iron counties, he said, adding he plans to take the matter up with Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials. Herbert also took aim at restrictions on federal wilderness areas. The Mill Flat Fire started July 25 within the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness Area. Before Congress designated the area as protected wilderness, livestock grazing controlled vegetation overgrowth that causes fires to burn more intensely when they do start, he said. "With wilderness, our hands are tied behind our backs," Herbert said. "It sets us up for a tragedy." Perhaps sheep should be allowed to graze in now restricted areas, he said...SaltLakeTribune

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leaves livestock-killing wolf pack in wild

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to leave a wolf pack in the wild in southwestern New Mexico, despite the pack killing five cows this month. The federal agency - which can remove wolves that kill three head of livestock within a year - confirmed that a cow killing on Aug. 12 was the third by the pack this month. This week, the wolf program's field team confirmed two more kills by the alpha pair in the Beaverhead area of Catron County. However, Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle in Albuquerque ruled Friday that the Middle Fork Pack is highly valuable genetically to the effort to establish endangered Mexican gray wolves in the wild on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. Tuggle said the pack's alpha pair, released in 2004, are a breeding pair that are raising at least four pups and that removal could jeopardize the pups' survival. It was the second time this summer the federal agency decided against removing a wolf linked to at least three livestock kills in southwestern New Mexico. In June, Fish and Wildlife decided to allow the alpha male of the San Mateo Pack, who had been linked to four livestock killings, to remain in the wild...AP

Over at Wolf Crossing, Laura Schneberger writes:

It continues to be unfortunate that the Albuquerque press seems to not get what is happening in Ranch / Wolf country. There have been 5 confirmed yearling kills within mere weeks, on one ranch way to the north of the wilderness boundary and the Middle Fork wolf pack are feeding and teaching pups to live entirely on livestock. Remember FWS own science says for every kill there are usually 6-8 more that cannot be found. There is no real 3 strikes rule anymore. FWS haven’t removed wolves for killing livestock since Fall of 2007. Defenders of Wildlife haven’t reimbursed ranchers for depredations since about the same time. This is occurring even during aggressive hazing that has been going on for at least 3 weeks. So tell me what part of this situation is sustainable and leads to recovery in the wild...

Wolf's journey shows value of connectivity

A wolf with a global positioning system device attached to her neck has documented what wildlife biologists have long known: individual wolves often travel long distances when looking for a mate, new hunting prospects, or both. In this case, the wolf, an adult female, traveled 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Jasper National Park before being killed by a trapper near Sheridan Lake, B.C. Even more amazing long-distance trotting was documented in recent years when wolves that originated in the Yellowstone ecosystem wound up in northern Colorado, one just west of Denver and the other near Beaver Creek and Vail. In the latter case, a global positioning device documented a travel of 450 direct miles (724 kilometers), although wildlife biologists estimate the wolf actually covered 1,000 miles. Wolf expert Mark Hebbelwhite told the Rocky Mountain Outlook that such journeys illustrate the importance of connectivity between ecosystems. But in Wyoming's Jackson Hole, exactly the opposite problem was evident. There, three wolves had an affliction called the mange, a parasitic infection of the skin that causes the animal to scratch their hair off, leaving them exposed to the elements. The wolves, federal officials tell the Jackson Hole News&Guide, have been hanging around people's houses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a permit to the landowner to use rubber bullets to shoot at the animals, in an attempt to drive them off...DailyNews

Wolves Are Set to Become Fair Game in the West

A wolf hunt is set to begin in Idaho on Tuesday if a federal judge does not stop it. It would be the first time in decades that hunters have been allowed to pursue the gray wolf, an animal that has come to symbolize tensions over how people interact with wilderness in the West. On Monday, the judge, Donald W. Molloy of Federal District Court, will hold a hearing to determine whether to issue an injunction sought by wildlife advocates against the hunt and reopen the question of returning the wolf to the endangered list. The states’ hunts will be over when the limit is reached or when the season ends, which is Dec. 31 in most areas. “The first day is the best day when it comes to an animal as smart as a wolf,” said Nate Helm, president of Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. The resurgence of the wolf population, rooted in a federal effort to reintroduce the animals to the Northern Rockies in the mid-1990s, has long angered deer and elk hunters and cattle and sheep ranchers who say the wolves are depleting game and killing livestock. Federal wildlife officials said that in 2008 a record 264 wolves were killed in the region for the legal reason of protecting livestock. The clash illustrates a persistent divide in the West, where environmentalists and wildlife conservationists have long gone to court to fight laws they say favor powerful groups like hunters, ranchers and others. Wolves have been one of the most tangled issues of late, including in front of Judge Molloy...NYTimes

Two firefighters die in Station wildfire

Officials say two firefighters were killed when their vehicle rolled off a mountainside as they battled the massive Station wildfire in northern Los Angeles County. County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said at a news conference that the two men were amid intense fire near Mount Gleason in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday afternoon when the vehicle crashed. A tearful Bryant said the men's families have been notified. He did not release their identities or give a cause for the crash. The fire has consumed 66 square miles, destroyed at least 18 structures and was threatening some 12,000 homes. Ash rained on cars as far away as downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, spreading in all directions in hot, dry conditions...AP

Backcountry pilots push for better access

A clearing in Lewis and Clark National Forest 100 miles southeast of Great Falls, once used only for cattle grazing, will soon be a stopover for pilots. They're hungry, too — for access to the backcountry. "This would be their trailhead to recreate on the forest," forest Supervisor Spike Thompson said as he sidestepped cow pies while strolling down the new 4,000-foot-long airstrip he approved. Sticking out in the green meadow like a highway center line, the Russian Flat grass airstrip will provide access to the Little Belt Mountains for adventurous aviators for the first time. The grass strip is scheduled to open in spring 2010. John McKenna, a 55-year-old pilot from Bozeman and the president of the Recreational Aviation Foundation, said the Montana airstrip is the first to be approved on any forest in the nation in 40 years, but he's lobbying for more like it. "Maybe we ought to talk about airplanes being reintroduced, like the grizzly or wolf," McKenna said. The nation's 154 forests are updating their travel rules and pilots such as McKenna have become involved, just like motorized users and wilderness advocates, said Gordon Schofield, group leader for land use in the Forest Service's Missoula-based Northern Region. That's leading to new requests for access to the national forest after decades without them, he said...GreatFallsTribune

Activists want to meet with county about gas industry

Regional activists want to know how Garfield County officials feel regarding the possibility that gas drilling activities may be polluting groundwater in western parts of the county, and they plan on finding out at a Sept. 8 meeting of the board of county commissioners in Glenwood Springs. Representatives of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, a volunteer group of industry watchdogs, and the Western Colorado Congress, a nonprofit that has been involved in numerous Western Slope development issues, will be at the meeting to talk about the impacts of gas drilling on the county's communities and residents. Among the subjects sure to come up, organizers said, are recent findings by the Environmental Protection Agency that gas drilling activities in central Wyoming may have polluted the wells of area ranchers with chemicals used in a practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or “frac'ing.” Frac'ing, a drilling practice that the gas industry says is crucial to recovering hard-to-reach gas and oil pockets deep underground, involves the injection of large quantities of sand, water and chemicals into a well after it is drilled. The high-pressure compound fractures the subterranean strata and releases the gas or oil to flow to the surface...PostIndependent

How an El Niño affects weather

Whether it’s El Niño, La Niña or El Nothing, there sure has been a lot of interest in the seawater temperatures in the eastern Pacific these days. And for good reason — they can have a dramatic affect on our local weather. Since January 2007, we’ve either been in a La Niña or neutral condition when it comes to ocean temperatures. In other words, seawater temperatures have been below normal. There is a rough correlation between seawater temperatures and seasonal rainfall. More times than not, below normal seawater temperatures produce below normal rainfall, and above normal seawater temperatures produce near or above normal rainfall. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center indicates that a weak El Niño, which produces above-normal seawater temperatures, developed in the eastern Pacific during July and is forecast to strengthen through our rainy season. The term El Niño was first documented centuries ago by Peruvian fishermen. Since the warming often occurred during the Christmas season, Peruvians called this event “Corriente del Niño,” meaning “current of the Christ child.”...TheTribune

For Sierra Valley ranchers, help to resist developers tougher to find

As the pressure to sell his 320-acre Loyalton ranch grew, Goicoechea resorted to a state law that protects farms and ranches from annexation, eminent domain and other development demands. "Developers offered money first, and when I turned them down they turned to threats," Goicoechea recalled. "I could have cashed out very easily. "But ranches like this aren't happening everywhere, and I've never wanted anything else. I have no objection to the development – just leave me out of it." Goicoechea's story is similar to others around the 300,000-acre Sierra Valley, the largest alpine valley in the Sierra Nevada and one of the biggest in the nation. Many other ranchers and farmers pressured to sell their land to developers have turned to conservation easements and state conservation laws to keep their land in agriculture and to preserve the bucolic, 19th-century character of Sierra Valley. But now with many funding sources drying up, conservation groups and ranchers – once at odds over how the land should be used but now working together to protect it – are wondering how much longer the valley can hold out...SacramentoBee

How Tre Became America's Most Wanted Environmental "Terrorist"

On August 12, 2008, after a tumultuous seven-year investigation, Arrow was sentenced in Federal court to six-and-a-half years for lighting three cement haulers ablaze at the notorious Ross Island Sand and Gravel in Portland, Oregon, as well as firebombing two trucks and one front loader owned by Ray Schoppert Logging Company near the timber town of Estacada, Oregon. The acts were in protest of the Eagle Creek timber sale in Mt. Hood National Forest in the late 1990s. A grim-faced, 34-year-old Arrow listened warily as Judge James Redden read his sentence. At the behest of his lawyers, Bruce Ellison and Paul Loney, Arrow earlier signed off on a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice and accepted responsibility for his role in the arsons, even though for years he denied any involvement. “[I’m] true to a higher power ... I don't feel I need to be rehabilitated,” Arrow stated in a verbose speech to the court upon hearing the ruling. "Corporations have usurped much of the governmental power. Corporations seem to be able to get away with poisoning the very entity we rely on for our well-being with no punishment, or very little punishment," he declared. "I don't know what happened to you but they were very serious crimes, and you know it,” responded a disgruntled Judge Redden. The closing of the case was seen as a major victory by the FBI, which had long promoted Arrow as America’s most notorious and dangerous eco-terrorist...PacificFreePress

Rancher Dusty Hunt honored for rescue

In an emotional ceremony Friday that saw a lot of smiles, as well as a few tears of joy, the New Mexico Army National Guard honored members of the Grant County Search and Rescue Team, along with local rancher Dusty Hunt, for rescuing a couple lost in a canyon. Tom and Linda Bosworth were stranded for nearly four days without food or water in the Saddle Rock Canyon area after their Jeep flipped over while they were exploring the area. Tears of gratitude and a belief in miracles - of both the divine and human kind - were the sentiments expressed by a very grateful Tom and Linda Bosworth to all who contributed in the search that saved their lives. The Bosworths were near death when they were found and had to be airlifted to a Tucson hospital for treatment. Hunt, who is not a member of the Grant County Search and Rescue team but owns the grazing rights for the land where the Bosworths were first stranded and lost, helped participate in the search on his own. It was truly a grassroots effort that helped find the couple, said Linda Bosworth, starting with friends and family members from afar frantically calling local agencies, and ending with Hunt hiking up an arroyo in his white cowboy hat...SilverCitySunNews

Beds made of hay are latest hotel craze

Holiday-makers around the world are facing up to the fact that, in times of recession, large travel expenses are difficult to justify. While for some this has meant the end of life as we know it, for a new generation of nature lovers and eco-conscious tourists, it has prompted the discovery of a cheap and unusual alternative. In Germany and its European neighbors Austria and Switzerland, a long weekend in a converted barn - sleeping on a bed of freshly raked hay -- is fast becoming the 'staycation' of choice. Heuhotels ('heu' is German for hay) offer exactly what their name suggests. For as little as eight euros ($11) a night backpackers, couples, families and, in the case of one "hay hotel" in central Germany - 'groups of up to 60' - can rest their heads in a way nature intended. "I suppose some people might find the idea unappealing," manager Sarah tells CNN, "but for anyone who wishes to snuggle up close to nature it's perfect."...CNN

The U.S. versus Monsanto?

Did a warning shot just fly across Monsanto's bow? Most of the focus on the newly invigorated antitrust division of the Department of Justice has centered on the possibility that the feds are taking a hard look at Google's domination of the online advertising market. But for the foodies, organic and family farmers, and anti-GMO activists of the world, there's a far more provocative target at which to aim the antitrust cannon: the Roundup, GMO-corn and GMO-soybean king, Monsanto. This is not idle speculation. On Aug. 7, Philip Weiser, a newly appointed deputy assistant attorney general in the antitrust division, gave an important speech in St. Louis, which just happens to be where Monsanto is based. The title of the speech: "Toward a Competition Policy Agenda for Agriculture Markets." Weiser started off with some historical observations about the Sherman Act, the enabling legislative authority for antitrust enforcement, pointing out that worries about price fixing by "the Beef Trust" in the late 19th century encouraged senators representing agricultural states to support passage of the bill. Weiser then delivered a pair of pointed paragraphs unlikely to be received with smiles at Monsanto HQ...Salon

Horse 'n buggy lawman ruled

Wyatt, Virgil and other Earp family members walked the streets of San Bernardino in their day. Virgil was Colton's first city marshal, after serving as a territorial marshal in Arizona. Wyatt occasionally wore a badge as well. But their short local legacies, colorful as they may have been, were overshadowed by a man who served as San Bernardino County's sheriff from 1903 to 1915. At more than six feet tall and 200 pounds, John C. Ralphs was an imposing figure and the prototypical Western lawman. Historical accounts say he had a deep booming voice. He sported a modified handlebar mustache and a wide brimmed hat. And in an era when the automobile was fast becoming the transportation of choice, Ralphs doggedly stuck to the horse and buggy. He was the county's last frontier sheriff. He was said to love camping with his posses in the desert, entertaining his men with tales of capturing criminals and espousing his philosophy of life. What else would you expect from a man born on a wagon train passing through Utah on the way to California?...PressEnterprise

Appreciation: Elmer Kelton, celebrated Texan and author

When novelist Elmer Kelton died peacefully in his sleep last weekend, Texas lost one of its most beloved authors. He was the author of The Time It Never Rained, which one critic listed as one of the dozen or so best novels written by an American in the 20th century, and more than 60 other books. He garnered so many awards – seven Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, four Western Heritage (Wrangler) Awards from the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame, lifetime achievement awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Western Literature Association – that his wife once confessed they were reduced to putting them in drawers. And the WWA voted him the "Best Western Writer of All Time." But to call Elmer's work Western diminishes writing that went far beyond the genre and the region to deal with universal themes. Elmer, who was a willing and popular speaker whenever asked, used to tell audiences he liked to take a character, put him in a time of change and transition and see what he did. Those times of change were almost always in Texas history, which his novels cover from the Texas Revolution to contemporary times...DallasMorningNews

On the edge of common sense: For a life-changing event, ride a real bull

'So, what's the difference between riding a mechanical bull and riding a real one?" the boy asked his dad. "You will know the difference, my son, the first time you climb over into the buckin' chute and look down." The mechanical bull is a carnival ride, it is not a life-changing experience. Riding a real bull will affect how you answer one of the questions you will be asked the rest of your life. Whenever Professional Bull Riders comes on ESPN, or extreme sports are being discussed, you will have a practiced answer like "I was going to ride one once, but I had a sinus infection so I couldn't" or "I was taking piano lessons and worried about injuring my hand" or "Yeah, I rode bulls till my brains came in." I can't remember the first bull I got down on. I do recall trying to hang on to the back of a steer in a roping chute and being scraped off. I started riding bulls in high school. There wasn't much of a system set up for kids to learn. Most of the rides I made were in rodeos where the money was up. I tell the story in retrospect years later that I had a friend on the New Mexico State University rodeo team named Charley Engle. He was a good bull rider and I admired him. When I asked him for advice he suggested that I had to practice. "Practice!?" I thought. Does that make any sense to anyone reading this? I'm going to have a train wreck tomorrow, I better have one today to practice!

Song Of The Day #121

Today's selection is by The Cruzeros and is available on their 12 track CD Scandalosa.

No, this is not the traditional country you're used to finding here, but it will get your heart pumping this Monday morning.

I can also share with you that after 62 years of kicking around nightspots, rodeo arenas, the Halls of Congress and other places I won't mention, you better be careful of the choices you make, cause in the end you'll be Stuck With It.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Sometimes even cowgirls bite the dirt

Julie Carter

The business of being a cowgirl is not for sissies. Doesn't matter if you are thinking cowgirl in the rodeo arena or on the ranch.

Both require a measure of grit and tough that one either has, or not. You can't buy it at the store.

Tenacity is a mindset that gets a cowgirl through a life of measurably tough times. Some folks call it hard-headedness but it goes beyond that, goes beyond stubborn or even just gutsy.

Frankly, it's the same inborn "cowboy-up" gene that puts a cowboy back on his horse right after a wreck, that lets them think getting bucked off over a prank is funny and that allows them to endure long days, short nights and working in weather that stops the rest the of world.

There was a time when I thought "cowgirl" was a choice. While the word is both a noun and a verb, it is also a chemical, biological explanation for why you can take the cowgirl to town but you can't ever get the "cowgirl" out of her.

I think back and recall the places in my life where I tried to graduate from the country-kid cowgirl I was raised and attempt to become more cosmopolitan and worldly.

There was the disco-phase in the '70s.

Donna Summer and I were constant musical companions and I had the moves down pat, which were no more than a country jitter-bug morphed into a classical kind of dancing.

Then, the flash-dance phase.

Torn, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, rolled bandanna headbands and lots of curls, flounce and bounce in the hair-do.

Although during this phase, I did own a horse and trailer and spent my summers rodeoing, making me a mixed message.

There have been periods of my adult life where I lived in big cities (Denver, LA and Phoenix).

I lived in apartments and condos and spent my free time on a beach with the Pacific Ocean serving as my "home on the range and wide open spaces."

I got over that. "Cow-girl" always called me back. That inner yearning, an emptiness that was never filled with fast lanes and fast living.

Somewhere along the way, I figured it out. I am what I was in the beginning.

I wasn't supposed to go anywhere to be someone different, I was only to be me wherever I was.

Now I look at the young'uns, as we older people call them.

Tough young cowgirls with a life ahead of them to experience and the youth to be the best they can be.

I hope they can find the understanding that who they are now is who they are going to be, and their job is only to improve on it.

Photos (see below) of a young cowgirl in a progressive wreck at a rodeo where her horse was falling, reminded me of the tough involved in being a cowgirl.

I was in that same kind of wreck so many times - I got up and brushed myself off as I watched my horse run back to the arena gate. I'd lived to do it again another day, and did.

Life is kind of like that. You fall fast and fall hard.

All in the course of living. Without giving it a second thought, you just get up, dust yourself off, and walk on out the gate knowing you'll be back to run another day.

When I get to Heaven, I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing boots under my white robes.

They'll be a large crowd of us, those that were blessed enough to be born cowgirls.

Julie can be reached for comment at . Photos are courtesy of Kyla King, Mountainair, and are of Chandi Langley, 19, of Estancia and a student at NMSU.