Friday, October 02, 2009

Feds lift ban on 'Jesus' on Capitol Christmas tree

Just one day after WND reported that rules for the 2009 Capitol Christmas Tree program prevented children from submitting decorations with themes such as "Happy Birthday, Jesus" and "Merry Christmas," state and federal officials are confirming the policy has been rescinded. WND's report came after a letter was sent by the Alliance Defense Fund to officials in Arizona who are assembling thousands of ornaments from children for the annual Christmas tree that is erected in front of the White House. The change was confirmed both by officials in Arizona who have a steering committee to run the program and from officials in the office of the Architect of the Capitol, who administer the program in more

Builders to Pay $36 Million for Calif. Wildfire Damages to 18,000 Acres

In an unprecedented environmental verdict, a Los Angeles federal jury ruled that two construction companies must pay more than $36.4 million for damages from a 2002 wildfire that burned over 18,000 acres of Angeles National Forest, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. The verdict marks the first time a jury has decided to award damages based on a wildfire's environmental impact. The jury ruled that Texas company CB&I Constructors and the defunct Merco Construction Engineers must pay more than $36.4 million for costs related to a June 2002 wildfire in San Francisquito Canyon that government officials say was caused by hot metal sparks from electric grinders. The companies were building steel reservoirs for a planned community in Santa Clarita. A CB&I employee negligently directed the hot sparks toward a hillside covered in dry brush, while a Merco employee failed to water down the construction site to prevent the fire, the government argued at trial. The verdict, decided in a one-day deliberation, is the largest ever awarded in a federal cost-recovery case relating to firefighting. The jury unanimously determined that CB&I was 65 percent liable and Merco was 35 percent more

Feds say Utah wilderness bill needs to shrink

The Obama administration on Thursday gently advised the sponsors of a bill to designate 9.4 million acres in Utah as federally protected wilderness to shrink their ambitions. "We suggest an approach that is more geographically focused," Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, told a House panel at a hearing on the bill. Abbey praised the bill's goal of preserving Utah's famed red rock landscapes and agreed that at least 6.6 million acres covered by the bill have been identified by BLM as containing characteristics associated with wilderness designation. However, he said he couldn't speak to the suitability of the rest of the lands since they hadn't been reviewed by BLM. The agency would want to conduct a review before the passage of any legislation, he more

Multiple-Use Groups Condemn Senator Tester’s Wilderness Legislation

Opponents of new wilderness gathered at the University of Montana to say Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act would provide neither jobs nor recreation. Although the Friday evening meeting was billed as a “Montana legislative field hearing,” it was not an official event of either the Senate or the Montana Legislature. It did attract more than a dozen state legislators, several county commissioners and about 80 other attendees. About 10 land-use groups sponsored the gathering, including the Montana Farm Bureau, Montanans for Multiple Use, and Citizens for Balanced Use. About a dozen state legislators and several county commissioners addressed the audience, warning that the bill would not provide promised jobs and would lock people out of public lands. “I’m basically opposed to every aspect of this bill,” Rep. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon said. “It has absolutely no tolerance for multiple use.” Beaverhead County Commissioner Mike McGinley blamed the bill’s flaws on the “partnership strategy” of environmental, conservation and industry groups that crafted its ideas. That group was too small to represent real community perspective and didn’t let in enough outside participation, he more

The ‘greening' of wilderne$$

Consider David Bonderman. Fortune magazine calls him one of the “Kings of American business. They are the architects and managers of private equity firms and hedge funds, amassing untold billions of dollars.” David Bonderman is a venture capitalist. His private equity firm, TPG Capital, buys failing or marginal or undervalued corporations, “streamlines” the operation, sometimes breaks the company into pieces and makes huge profits. TPG's acquisitions are staggering and far too long to list. Bonderman's estimated worth is $1 billion (he lost over $2 billion of his fortune in 2008). Still he owns a 15,000 square foot mansion in Aspen, Colo., and another mansion in Moab, Utah. He spends much of his time in his Gulfstream jet. When Bonderman turned 60, he threw a party for himself in Las Vegas. It cost $10 million and he hired the Rolling Stones for the night. Despite his enormous wealth and extravagant lifestyle, however, Bonderman is highly regarded by the mainstream environmental community in the U.S. He serves on the boards of the Grand Canyon Trust, the Wilderness Society and the World Wildlife Fund and is a major contributor to many other groups like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. For that, Charles Wilkinson, the president of the Grand Canyon Trust, has hailed Bonderman as “one of the country's greatest conservationists right now.” Bonderman is just one of many from the realm of the mega-rich who have embraced environmentalism as their cause celebre. Mega-millionaires, even billionaires have found seats on the boards of directors of almost every major mainstream environmental organization in America. In fact, the money that pours into the coffers of these groups has made mainstream environmentalism a multi-billion dollar industry. The boards are the policymakers for these organizations. They are the face of environmentalism in more

Senate climate bill leaves out ag wishes

A climate bill introduced in the Senate today lacks many of the provisions sought by farm groups to ensure that growers could get paid for carbon-storing practices, such as reduced tillage. A bill that passed the House in June provided a specific list of farming practices for which producers earn credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The credits would be sold to utilities and other companies to offset their own emissions. The House bill also shielded the biofuels industry from carbon-reduction standards that Congress set in a 2007 energy bill. Those provisions are missing from legislation introduced in the Senate today by Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works more

Decline in big predators wreaking havoc on ecosystems, OSU researchers say

The decline of top predators such as North American wolves and African lions is driving increases in smaller predators such as coyotes and baboons, disrupting ecosystems and economies worldwide, a study concludes. The report, whose authors included two Oregon State University professors, found that the range of all the largest terrestrial predators in North America -- including wolves, cougars and bears -- has declined in the past 200 years. Meantime, the range of nearly two-thirds of smaller North American "mesopredators" has expanded, including territory for coyotes, several foxes, skunks and raccoons. The smaller predators are more populous and harder to control. They also adapt more readily to human development -- munching on garbage and pet food, for example. The study authors, who also included researchers from U.C. Berkeley and New Mexico State University, suggest that increasing wolf populations could actually benefit sheep growers by reducing coyotes. "Wolves will not tolerate coyotes," Ripple said. "They'll kill them." more

Drought Study Ties Water Shortage to Population, Not Global Warming

The drought that gripped the Southeast from 2005 to 2007 was not unprecedented and resulted from random weather events, not global warming, Columbia University researchers have concluded. They say its severe water shortages resulted from population growth more than rainfall patterns. The researchers, who report their findings in an article in Thursday’s issue of The Journal of Climate, cite census figures showing that in Georgia alone the population rose to 9.54 million in 2007 from 6.48 million in 1990. “At the root of the water supply problem in the Southeast is a growing population,” they wrote. Richard Seager, a climate expert at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who led the study, said in an interview that when the drought struck, “people were wondering” whether climate change linked to a global increase in heat-trapping gases could be a cause. But after studying data from weather instruments, computer models and measurements of tree rings, which reflect yearly rainfall, “our conclusion was this drought was pretty normal and pretty typical by standards of what has happened in the region over the century,” Mr. Seager more

China weather "magic" conjures blue sky for parade, or ccs

China's air force deployed a "magic-like" range of chemicals and technology to clear Beijing's smoggy air for a grand parade marking the 60th anniversary of Communist China, state media said on Thursday. Chemists and officials worked for weeks on the country's most ambitious ever attempt at weather modification, with air force technicians fanning out across the region to help teams operate complex equipment, the official Xinhua agency said. The evening before the parade chemicals were fired into the hazy skies, and a light rain washed the city clean. Surrounding provinces had already been loading clouds with silver iodide and dry ice, to try and force rain to fall before it reached Beijing, the report added. "Only a handful of countries in the world could organise such large-scale, magic-like weather modification," said Cui Lianqing, a senior air force meteorologist who said the parade operation was the largest in China's more

ccs - commie cloud seeding

Five-year-old boy kills 800-pound alligator

Simon Hughes was on a hunting trip with his father when they came across the massive reptile. The boy grabbed his junior-sized .410-gauge shotgun and fired at the creature which was 20 times his size and is one of the biggest ever seen in Texas. Afterwards Simon said: "I wasn't afraid for a second. Next year I'm going to kill me a bigger alligator." He described how he shouted “holy moly” when he saw the size of the alligator and intends to bring the mounted head in to school for show-and-tell. He said: “My friends were proud of me and I was proud of myself. It's humungous.” The first grader was on a hunting trip with his rancher father Scott Hughes and a guide. He learned to shoot guns at the age of four and also knows how to drive all-terrain more

These pants are made for women who buck bales, clear trails

Whenever you try to fit a round body into square pants, something bad is bound to happen. Just ask Sarah Calhoun, a former Outward Bound instructor and trail crew leader who grew so weary of wearing ill-fitting male-oriented work pants that she decided to start her own company. "When your pants don't fit, you can't move as easily," said Calhoun, 30. "You have to put your tool down and keep pulling up your pants." Red Ants Pants, based in White Sulphur Springs, a central Montana community of 900, makes tough, double-knee, double-seat work pants in 70 different sizes. Calhoun's trousers have a cult following among Montana ranchers, scientists in Antarctica, California construction workers and landscapers in the Southwest. Most work clothes have a boxy construction that's geared toward the male physique. But when you're a woman, pulling square-cut pants over your hips often leaves handfuls of loose fabric flapping at the waist. "The cut is just too gaping," Calhoun said. Red Ants Pants are tailored with a lower rise in the front, and higher in the back, eliminating the problem of indecent exposure when you're bent over. A diamond-shaped panel sewn into the crotch provides plenty of room and eliminates binding crisscross seams. They come in one color, chocolate brown, but are offered in both curvy and straight-cut more

Song Of The Day #146

It Tickles by Tommy Collins is our selection today.

It's available on his 18 track CD The Capitol Collection.

TSA to expand use of body scanners

The Transportation Security Administration plans to install 150 security machines at airport checkpoints that enable screeners to see under passengers' clothes. The installation will vastly expand the use of the controversial body scanners, which can reveal hidden bombs and knives. But the devices have been labeled as intrusive by some lawmakers. The House of Representatives in June overwhelmingly passed a measure that would restrict their use by the TSA to passengers flagged by other types of screening, such as metal detectors. The measure is pending in the Senate. TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said the machines are "critical" to stopping terrorists with homemade bombs that may elude metal detectors. The agency hasn't decided which airports will get the machines, Lee said. The $100,000 scanners shoot low-intensity X-rays that penetrate clothing, bounce off a person's skin and create images that show solid objects as dark areas. The TSA machines have privacy additions to create images that look like etchings. Screeners view them on a monitor in a locked room near a checkpoint and delete them immediately after viewing. "Body imaging is a total invasion of privacy," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who proposed the restriction. "You don't need this kind of scrutiny." more

Supreme Court Takes A Fresh Look at Handgun Laws

The Supreme Court could ignite a vigorous new fight over state and local gun controls across the nation when it rules on a challenge to Chicago's handgun ban. The court said Wednesday it will consider a challenge to Chicago's ban, and even gun control supporters believe a victory is likely for gun-rights proponents. If the court rules that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms doesn't allow the city's outright handgun ban, it could lead to legal challenges to less-restrictive laws that limit who may own guns, whether firearms must be registered and even how they must be stored. The court last year moved in the direction of voiding tough gun control laws when it struck down a prohibition on handguns in the District of Columbia, a city with unique federal status. Now the court will decide whether that ruling should apply to local and state laws as well. The court will hear arguments in the case early next year, and a ruling probably would follow in the more

Woman finds US Capitol officer in her bed

Arlington police say a U.S. Capitol Police officer was arrested when a woman came home to find the stranger passed out drunk in her bed. Police said the 34-year-old man was still sleeping when officers arrived at 1 a.m. Sunday. Spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said the officer was charged with unlawful entry. Police don't know why the officer, who lives in Reston, picked the woman's apartment to sleep, but investigators believe he came in through the front door. Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said the officer is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal charges. Schneider said the agency will also conduct an investigation.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Deal would remove Klamath River dams to aid salmon

Dams that for decades have blocked salmon from swimming into the Upper Klamath basin could come down by 2020, based on an agreement made public today. On Tuesday, the utility PacifiCorp, which owns the four dams; the federal and state government; and a coalition of agricultural, environmental and fishing groups shared the outline of the agreement, the result of months of private negotiations. The groups' negotiators now will take it back to their constituents, who must decide whether it's in their interest to sign on. The agreement's proponents hope to have those signatures by December. The settlement that includes the dam deal will need approval -- and at least $500 million in new funds -- from more

For many more links and excellent coverage of this issue go to Klamath Bucket Brigade.

Science group to study environmental measures affecting California water deliveries

In a bow to a summer of angry complaints about water cutbacks to Central Valley farms, the Obama administration said Wednesday it would invite the National Academy of Sciences to examine the environmental measures restricting some water shipments from Northern California. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would ask the academy to conduct an independent review of the science underpinning federal pumping limits imposed under the Endangered Species Act to protect smelt and salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In a letter to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who had requested the review, Salazar said he was confident that the fish protections were "scientifically sound." But he said he would like the academy to determine if there were other actions that could be taken that would have less of an effect on water supply. The announcement came on the same day that Salazar held a public hearing in Washington on California's water shortages, caused by a three-year drought and mounting environmental problems in the delta, the conduit for water shipments to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern more

Snake Valley water deal could kill Utahns, docs warn

Utah's top physicians' group warns that a proposed agreement to divide Snake Valley water with Nevada could expose the public to carcinogens, radiation and valley fever and jeopardize Utahns' very lives. In a letter sent this week to Gov. Gary Herbert, Senate President Mike Waddoups and the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the Utah Medical Association rips the proposal for its flimsy science, lack of data on potential air-quality damage and a failure to consider long-term health risks for downwinders. "Should this agreement move forward in its current form, the residents, farmers and ranchers in West Desert farming communities and on the Goshute Reservation would see their health and livelihoods put at risk," says the letter, signed by Michelle McOmber, the UMA's executive vice president and CEO. "Indeed, adverse health and quality of life impacts may be spread throughout the state." UMA, the state's largest physicians group with more than 3,500 members, has joined the 200-member Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment in opposing the proposed deal, made public as a draft in mid-August after four years of secret more

The Return of the American Prairie

In its quest to protect what's here and reintroduce long-gone wildlife (something the World Wildlife Fund is helping with), the American Prairie Foundation began purchasing land from local ranchers in 2004. It now owns 30,000 acres and has grazing privileges on another 57,000. Its goal over the next 25 years is to assemble three million acres, the largest tract of land devoted to wildlife management in the continental United States. Already, herds of elk, deer, and pronghorn antelope roam the grasslands, where visitors can camp, hike, and bike. Cottonwoods and willows are thriving along streams, creating habitats for bobcats, beavers, and other animals. And of course there are the bison. "I'm hoping we can fix up a little mini-migration when we have maybe 400 to 500 of them," says Bill Willcutt, the reserve's original manager. "That'll be something to see." Not everyone shares APF's vision. Some residents of Phillips County (pop. 3,904) worry that the area could become a prairie Disneyland, overcrowded with tourists. But the biggest obstacle is the ranchers themselves, whose cattle compete with prairie dogs and bison for grass and space. "People like me have no intention of selling their ranches," says Dale Veseth, who heads the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance of 35 families in Phillips County and whose family has been ranching here since 1886. "They've been a labor of love through the generations." Instead, he wants APF to pay or subsidize ranchers to raise bison. This would be far less costly for the foundation, he argues, than buying the land more

Conservationists sue EPA over prairie dog poison

Two conservation groups have sued the Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to register pesticides that curtail prairie dogs, the main source of food for the endangered black-footed ferret. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., by Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon of Kansas, says the chemicals threaten other species, and that in issuing registrations for their use, the EPA is violating the federal Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other federal laws. The lawsuit claims the EPA failed to heed warnings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that registrations of the chemicals chlorophacinone and diphacinone "be disapproved or rescinded because of known and potential impacts to wildlife." It seeks an injunction against the registration in 10 states of Rozol, which contains chlorophacinone, and the local use of Kaput-D, which contains diphacinone. The chemicals cause internal bleeding. EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said the agency planned to release a federal register notice next week related to the more

EPA to exempt small business from greenhouse rule

The Obama administration moved on Wednesday to exempt small businesses from new industrial smokestack controls on emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming greenhouse gases. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said its proposed greenhouse rule would require only large industrial facilities to install the most up-to-date emissions control equipment and energy-efficiency measures when they are built or modified. The regulations would apply to power plants, refineries and factories that emit at least 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Businesses such as farms, restaurants and other smaller facilities would be excluded to avoid placing an undue strain on the economy, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in announcing the more

Senate climate bill drops "cap and trade" term

Senate Democrats tried out a new catch phrase Wednesday to sell their global warming bill: pollution reduction and investment, or PRI. But it's just another name for cap and trade, a term derided by Republican critics as "cap and tax" because it will increase energy prices and which Democratic polls have shown faring poorly with voters. The rebranding is an indication of the uphill battle the climate bill — which would cap greenhouse gases and also allow industries to buy emission allowances — faces in the Senate. A number of Democratic senators, currently entangled in the heated health care debate, said they continued to have trouble with key elements of the climate legislation. Several said it would be a huge challenge — perhaps impossible — to try to get a climate bill passed this year. The idea to remake cap and trade into pollution reduction and investment came from Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., author of the bill unveiled Wednesday. He came up with it about a month ago to refocus attention on what the bill would do, not how it goes about doing it...more

Collaboration key to Front plan

Congress created instant wilderness nationwide 45 years ago when it passed the Wilderness Act, but the recipe for conserving public land today is akin to slow cooking, with more ingredients needed to satisfy varying tastes. That's what advocates of a new conservation plan that would protect Montana's famed Rocky Mountain Front say. "The name of the game now is collaboration," said Bill Cunningham of Choteau, a Bob Marshall Wilderness Area outfitter who has been involved in wilderness debates for decades. Last week, the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front unveiled a conservation plan for 393,000 acres of public lands in the Lewis and Clark and Helena national forests. New wilderness is part of the new plan — but so is a brand new designation with less teeth than a wilderness designation, but more protection for undeveloped roadless lands. Additional funding to fight weeds, a tip of the hat to ranchers, also is part of the proposal. Former Congressman Pat Williams, who introduced 16 wilderness bills between 1982 and 1994, said he had hearings on those bills, but members of the delegation tended to write them. The process has changed, he said. "They wait for local folks to bring them a proposal that is mature, that has been collaborated with lots of meetings," he more

Judge rejects U.S. management plan for California desert

A federal judge has rejected key provisions of a plan for managing millions of acres in the California desert, saying the U.S. Bureau of Land Management designated roughly 5,000 miles of off-road vehicle routes without properly taking into account their impact on public lands, archaeological sites and wildlife. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on Monday ruled that the West Mojave plan, which the bureau approved in 2006 after a decade of development, is "flawed because it does not contain a reasonable range of alternatives" to limit the number of miles of off-road routes. She also determined that the bureau's analysis of the routes' impacts on air quality, soils, plant communities and sensitive species such as the Mojave fringe-toed lizard was inadequate, pointing out that the desert and its resources are "extremely fragile, easily scarred, and slowly healed." "The court recognizes the complexity of the issues presented in this case," Illston said, "and that defendants have been given the difficult task of addressing the interests and needs of OHV [off-highway vehicle] recreationists while at the same time protecting listed species as required by law." more

U.S. Forest Service launches inquiry into Station fire response

The U.S. Forest Service has launched an internal inquiry into the agency's attack on the deadly Station fire, an operation that was scaled back the night before the blaze began to burn out of control. "With the significant loss of life, and impacts to the local community, we must determine the effectiveness of our efforts," Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell said in a written statement Wednesday. Tidwell said he would ask other agencies to participate in the review. But the Forest Service has declined to release detailed information about its response to the suspected arson fire, citing in part an ongoing homicide investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department into the deaths of two firefighters whose truck fell off a mountain road. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department sent a letter Wednesday to fire officials asking that the material be withheld until detectives review it. Neither Forest Service officials nor Whitmore would explain how the release of information on the deployment of firefighters and equipment might jeopardize the investigation. The firefighters were killed on the blaze's fifth more

Forest Service forbids 'religious themes' on 5,000 decorations recognizing holiday

The U.S. Forest Service has banned the name of Jesus from decorations being assembled by children in Arizona for a blue spruce from the state that will become the Capitol Christmas Tree this year, and a legal firm is challenging the censorship. "Banning Christmas from the Capitol Christmas tree is just absurd. Christian students shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing their religious beliefs," said Jonathan Scruggs, litigation staff counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. "The First Amendment does not allow government officials to exclude schoolchildren's ornaments for the capitol's Christmas tree merely because they communicate a religious viewpoint," he said yesterday. The organization has sent a letter to state and federal officials, including Arizona Gov. Janie Brewer, who are supervising the program, calling on them to stop enforcement of the more

Forest Service's wilderness plans scuttled by judge

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service did not give adequate consideration to potential wilderness areas in its management plan for four Southern California forests. The state of California and seven environmental groups sued the Forest Service last year over its plan for more than a million acres of so-called roadless areas across the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres national forests. The groups said the agency's decision to allow road building, oil drilling and off-highway vehicle use in remote areas would harm endangered species and threaten forest health. California's Natural Resources Agency, which sued separately on behalf of the state, contended the federal plan ignored state policy banning road building in pristine areas. The state and environmental group lawsuits were combined. Although U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel found no merit in most points, she agreed with the principal complaint that the Forest Service violated federal law by failing to consider cumulative damage that roads would cause in those more

Senate quizzes Forest Service nominee

Coloradan Harris Sherman coasted through a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday on his way to overseeing the U.S. Forest Service. The Senate Agriculture Committee did not vote Wednesday on Sherman or five other nominees for senior U.S. Department of Agriculture posts, but members asked Sherman about roadless areas, climate change and rural development. President Barack Obama has nominated Sherman to be USDA undersecretary for natural resources and environment, a post that oversees the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service. "Let me just re-emphasize my personal commitment to protection of the country's roadless areas. This is an extremely important asset to our current generations and future generations in the United States," Sherman said, responding to a question from committee chairwoman Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. Sherman has not sat down to discuss roadless strategy with his future boss, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, he more

Environmental organizations are biting the hand that feeds them

But environmental groups face few such restrictions, which is how they can victimize the taxpayer two- or even three-fold. They freely sue dozens of federal government agencies even as they take federal money. Sometimes they take the money and spend equivalent amounts lobbying Congress to restrict consumers’ freedoms. Some of them even pay their executives six-figure salaries. Defenders of Wildlife, whose president makes more than $300,000 a year, has taken about $190,000 in federal grants since 2004. It’s now suing the government to protect aggressive wolves that were recently introduced to a mountainous region and have since ravaged game and impoverished shepherds and ranchers. The group spent nearly $150,000 in the first half of 2009 lobbying Congress to fight against a law allowing for wolf control, among other things. It also has received more than $80,000 in Web development work since 2006 from the Agriculture and Interior departments. And just this year, the Natural Resources Defense Council put a leg aboard the federal gravy train. The famous public interest group, whose president made a modest $433,000 in 2007, has received a $750,000 government grant from the State Department to encourage the Chinese to use less energy. In addition to suing at least seven government agencies, including the Navy recently, the group also spent more than $400,000 in the first six months of 2009 lobbying Congress to require higher efficiency standards — and thus higher prices — for all more

Grizzly attack prompts warnings

The grizzly that left a seven-inch slash on shepherd Marcello Suarez’s head recently may be less the average Wyomingite’s worst nightmare than a harbinger of things to come. Suarez herds sheep for the W & M Thoman Ranch. “More people and more bears means more conflict,” said Bear Officer Brian DeBolt, one of two Wyoming Fish and Game employees who investigated the Sept. 14 mauling, which resulted in Suarez being life-flighted to Idaho Falls with numerous claw wounds and a collapsed lung. “It’s just a function of numbers.” The attack occurred in the Upper Green River Basin, near Rock Creek, at 2 a.m. Suarez and coworker Jorge Mesa awoke to the sound of coyotes and barking dogs. They left their tent, located 200-300 yards from the sheep, to investigate. Suarez was suddenly attacked from behind by what he later recalled as a collared bear with “teeth that were plenty sharp and long,”,according to Dick Thoman, whose mother, Missy, employs the two men. Suarez owes his life to the six Pyranees guard dogs that drove the grizzly off, Thoman added. He subsequently sent out an e-mail describing the attack and warning hunters to “beware, be safe, and watch your back.” “This is a serious issue,” Thoman later commented, referring to the fact that, over the last 15 years, the number of grizzlies in the Upper Green River Basin has multiplied to the point that attacks on livestock in the area are “almost a weekly occurrence.” Conflicts between bears and livestock in the area have been increasing since the mid 90s, according to Mark Bruscino, WG&F bear management more

Wolves kill four hunting dogs

A hunter from Worley says four hound dogs were killed by a pack of wolves near Elk River. Bill Greenlee says he was bear hunting with Joseph Nelson of Elk River last week when their dogs ran into a pack of wolves. Greenlee said three of his Walker hounds and one of Nelson's red bone hounds were killed, the Lewiston Tribune reported. He reported the incident to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region supervisor, says the Chesima wolf pack is known to use the area where the hounds were killed. In August, two members of that pack were killed for preying on more

Killing Wolves for Fun

Unsurprisingly, I believe it is wrong to inflict pain and death unnecessarily on a creature capable of suffering. (Peter Singer more broadly examines the moral standing of animals here.) While this belief might not compel us to be vegetarians, it does demand significant changes in the way we raise animals for food, and it forbids wolf hunting as a form of entertainment. To be clear, I concede all putatively practical justifications for hunting and repudiate only the idea that hunting is a legitimate recreation. It is the person who claims as much who bears the burden of proof — a wolf need not make a case for its not being shot in Montana. I’m not persuaded that hunters have made their case. Some declare that hunting is a cherished tradition in their region or for their family. But having done something in the past is insufficient to justify its repetition. Some note that hunting is a challenging activity. No doubt. As is juggling flaming axes while blindfolded. And drunk. But not everything difficult is desirable. Or ethical. There are people who find it fulfilling to cultivate shooting skills, learn to track, take a walk in the woods, maybe bring the kids and make it a bonding experience or bring a couple of buddies and make it a beer-drinking experience or just an opportunity to avoid spending time with the spouse. All of these might be amiable ways to beguile the time, but none need culminate with a killing. Inflicting death is not an acceptable leisure more

BLM man faces charges in horse case

A former Bureau of Land Management worker arrested last week in connection with the shooting deaths of three horses at a holding facility in Rock Springs in June is facing seven felony and misdemeanor counts, according to authorities. Jason Edward Hein, 39, was arrested in Billings on Sept. 24 by deputy sheriffs of the Yellowstone County (Mont.) Sheriff's Office and BLM law enforcement officers. Sweetwater County authorities said Wednesday that the results of a joint county and federal investigation were turned over the county attorney's office, which filed charges against Hein in Circuit Court in Rock Springs. Two BLM personnel arriving for work on June 12 discovered that three horses had been shot and killed sometime during the night of June 11 at the BLM's Rock Springs corrals. The horse carcasses had been dumped in the holding facility's upper storage yard. Two of the horses killed were privately owned, and a third was a wild mustang that was being held at the corrals. The wild horse had been gathered as part of BLM roundup operations and was being held at the Rock Springs facility while up for adoption. Hein was employed as a maintenance worker at the Rock Springs holding facility at the time of the shootings. BLM officials said Hein was on administrative leave from the BLM's Rock Springs Field Office when he was arrested in more

Vilsack touches on changes during Las Cruces visit

The need for changes in the economics of the dairy was addressed by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday during a visit to Las Cruces. Vilsack addressed a crowd of farmers and other agriculturists at the Do-a Ana County fairgrounds, the site of this week's Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo. It was his 21st stop on a "listening tour," in which he said he's gathering feedback from the country's agricultural producers to take back to President Barack Obama. Vilsack acknowledged the difficulties dairy farmers are facing, not only in New Mexico, but across the country. The USDA is working on some short-term fixes, but "we need a long-term solution." Attendee Sharon Lombardi, director of the Dairy Producers of New Mexico, told Vilsack that the industry needs a new pricing formula, and though policy changes are needed, "we need to be careful what comes out." During a question-and-answer period, John Swapp, who said he's a rancher in southwestern New Mexico, asked Vilsack to back changes to the Endangered Species Act, which he argued is being used by environmentalists to "put us out of business." He cited concerns about the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf into New Mexico. Vilsack said the wolf reintroduction program falls under the jurisdiction of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, but he said he'd "carry the message back." more

Song Of The Day #145

Today Ranch Radio brings you the 1951 recording of Cowpoke by Elton Britt.

It's available on his Country Music's Yodelling Cowboy Crooner, Vol. 1.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Senate Climate Bill Tougher than House Version

Draft Senate climate change legislation would require a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, far deeper than the reductions mandated in the House version. The draft obtained by The Associated Press remains subject to change. But the overall carbon reduction requirements are expected to stand. The Democratic bill is to be released Wednesday by the Senate Environmental Committee with a vote by the panel likely in late October. The draft includes an economy-wide cap and trade system that would require power plants, industrial facilities and refineries to cut carbon dioxide releases. But it does not lay out how emission allowances would be distributed, leaving that for later. The bill is viewed widely as an early focus of Senate negotiations. AP

A draft version of the bill has leaked and can be seen here.

Western states must make sure water is available before adding development, gov says

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter says Western states must work together on water issues if the region is to continue to grow. Ritter told the Western States Water Council, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Western Governor's Association that Western states need to work with local communities to ensure water is available before new development projects are approved. Ritter said 19 states and 30 million people rely on water from Colorado, and states need to work together or face serious water shortages during the next few decades. The theme of the meeting is "Water and Land Use Planning for a Sustainable Future." Roderick Walston, a water attorney from California, said previous water planning focused on quantity and quality, but California has now integrated those plans with land use planning and development. He said the issue is how to enforce it and how much power gets left to local government. "This will be the future of the West," he told the conference. "Should the courts make the ultimate call, or is it better to do it at the administrative level?" He also said lawmakers have to decide whether to allow the government to reject projects that don't comply with water plans...AP

Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water

In a rural corner of Nevada reeling from the recession, a bit of salvation seemed to arrive last year. A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs. But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley’s available water. Now Solar Millennium finds itself in the midst of a new-age version of a Western water war. The public is divided, pitting some people who hope to make money selling water rights to the company against others concerned about the project’s impact on the community and the environment. Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation’s energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year...NYTimes

Water interests argue new state dam proposals

Thirty years ago, a chunk of chain, an eyebolt and Mark Dubois helped end the era of big dam building in California. Dubois, a bearded, 6-foot-8, 30-year-old river guide from Sacramento, chained himself to a rocky outcropping on the north bank of the Stanislaus River and stayed there for a week, determined to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from filling the canyons behind New Melones Dam and submerging the limestone caves, verdant meadows and petroglyphs of the river valley. As California grapples with an aging water-delivery network, growing population, worsening water quality, a drought and the potentially far-reaching effects of global climate change, dams are again on the table. Last month Schwarzenegger insisted he would not sign off on any major overhaul of the water system without money for new dams and reservoirs. The governor has the support of conservatives and the vast Central Valley, where many farmers are convinced that new, man-made lakes will help offset dry spells and ease the federal rulings that have cut water pumped through the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. But environmentalists and their liberal backers contend dams are a costly, ecologically dicey option set against the backdrop of California's unprecedented budget cuts and alarms over the decline of fisheries, waterways and water quality...SFChronicle

Growing corn for ethanol boosts water pollution, researchers find

A study out of Indiana concludes that growing more corn to meet ethanol demands would put more fertilizers and pesticides into rivers and streams. The Purdue University study looked at Indiana water bodies near farms that practice continuous corn rotations. The water had higher levels of nitrogen, fungicides and phosphorous than water near farms with corn-soybean rotations, the researchers found. Nitrogen and fungicides are more heavily used in corn crops than soybeans, increasing the amounts found in the soil of continuous-corn fields. Sediment losses are also larger because tilling is often required in continuous-corn fields, while corn-soybean rotations can more easily be no-till fields, Purdue professors Bernard Engel and Indrajeet Chaubey said. Fungicide and phosphorous move with the sediment, increasing water contamination, the researchers said...Oregonian

As part of their brilliant energy policy the feds provide subsidies and tax incentives that end up creating more water pollution.

And now they will turn to fixin' our health care system.

Cap and trade redistributes income...regressively

A new analysis released for the Institute for Energy Research, says

“Many of the current estimates of cap-and trade’s distributional impact are in direct contradiction to microeconomic theory. Using implausible assumptions about free emissions allowances, the government’s analysis concludes that the costs associated with cap-and-trade legislation are progressive. Unfortunately, they are almost certainly regressive, with America’s top income-earners profiting by more than $14 billion per year, and low- and middle-income households footing a large portion of the burden. What’s more, the free allowances distributed under Waxman-Markey will result in large windfall profits for the corporate allies of the legislation.”

From our pockets to Al Gore's.

West sees alternative-energy scramble

Want some solar energy with your geothermal? In Utah, state officials are fielding various combinations of energy proposals, a list that includes solar and geothermal installations and an energy storage project that would turn salt caverns into a kind of giant battery. The caverns would hold compressed air when they're not storing natural gas. Together, the 15 projects in the works, planned or being talked up amount to "a land rush of alternate energy" projects, said John Andrews, the No. 2 official at Utah's trust-lands administration, which manages about 5,500 square miles of land left over from a federal grant at statehood. It's a land rush across much of the West, which offers an abundance of wide-open public lands, steaming geothermal resources, blazing sunshine and unconstrained wind corridors. Scores of projects -- some speculative, others well-funded and a few quirky -- have surfaced with energy companies eager to take advantage of loan guarantees and tax breaks being promoted by President Barack Obama...AP

Agriculture secretary misses the message

There’s a big difference between what he "heard” and what the people of rural Oklahoma were actually saying. Vilsack wrote, "…the people I met said they are ready to embrace President Obama’s belief that the strength of our nation depends on a healthy and prosperous rural America.” That is true — we do want a prosperous rural Oklahoma. But that’s not the same thing as endorsing President Obama’s agenda, particularly on issues such as the cap-and-trade program. Although Vilsack said Oklahoma farmers were "excited about the possibility that energy and climate change legislation will reward farmers … and reduce the threat of climate change,” my neighbors (including many attending the Vilsack forum) see that legislation as a catastrophe for rural America. Agriculture production requires energy — lots of it — and anything that dramatically increases the cost of energy like the cap-and-tax plan will harm farm families and the consumers who depend on us for food. For us, cap and trade is a job killer and a sure way to drive even more people out of rural Oklahoma. That’s nothing to get "excited” about...NewsOK

EPA fines game & fish for fish kill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says state fish and wildlife managers have agreed to pay a $14,000 fine to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA says the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has, along with agreeing to pay the fine, taken several steps in response to a chemical spill two years ago at a state hatchery near Pocatello. State officials reported in December 2007 that disinfectants had been spilled at the Grace hatchery in eastern Idaho and the chemicals killed all the fish, many of which were washed downstream into Whiskey Creek. The EPA said in a statement Monday that Idaho Fish and Game’s response included cleaning up the dead fish, creating a staff manual on correct chemical use and educating hatchery workers on federal rules regarding water pollution. AP

EPA Targets Plane De-Icing Chemical

Every winter, airports across the country spray millions of gallons of de-icing chemicals onto airliners and allow the runoff to trickle away. When the chemicals end up in nearby waterways, the de-icing fluid can turn streams bright orange and create dead zones for aquatic life. The practice is legal, but environmental officials want it to stop. Not every airport lets the chemicals drain off the tarmac uncollected, but those that do range from some of the nation's largest -- including John F. Kennedy in New York and Chicago's O'Hare -- to small regional airports such as the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. Both activists and federal environmental officials say the chemicals slowly create waterways that won't support life...AP

Sierra Club Campaign For Parks

Hi Frank,

When we were in touch earlier this week, we mentioned the upcoming PBS series that launches next week from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea."

We thought your readers would be interested to know that in honor of the series (and to spread the word about the importance of protecting our national parks for future generations), we are giving away a trip to Yosemite and San Francisco as part of our 100,000 Champions for National Parks campaign. Our goal is to get to 100,000 names by October 4th - All you have to do is sign our statement of support for parks at Tell us your favorite national park and your name will be added to the scrolling list of "Champions for Parks" on our homepage.

Your readers might also be interested in the other info we have up on - tips for how to visit the national parks, an interactive map featuring info about 12 of our most iconic national parks, the best trails to enjoy in each of the parks, interviews with Ken Burns, video excerpt from the series, and more.


Sierra Club Media Assistant
85 Second Street, Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Hunters open fire on bears

Two bowhunters from Columbia Falls fired pistols at a family group of bears early Sunday morning in the Great Bear Wilderness, but Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials were unable to locate any dead bears. The two hunters left the Grant Ridge trailhead west of Essex before dawn, hiking several miles up the trail in the dark. Just before dawn, they encountered three or four bears on the trail. One of the hunters fired a warning shot from his handgun, but the bears charged. Both hunters fired their pistols multiple times, but in the low-light conditions they could not tell if the bears were grizzlies or black bears. They hiked back to their vehicle and called the Flathead County Sheriff's Office. State game warden Perry Brown and Tim Manley, a state grizzly bear management specialist, responded and were on the trail with the two hunters by 10 a.m. to investigate. Manley and Brown found drops of blood at the scene of the encounter. With the help of bear dogs, they followed tracks and searched the area but were unable to locate any bears or more blood. Judging from tracks, Manley believes the bears were grizzlies. An analysis of blood samples collected at the scene should confirm the species...DailyInterLake

Matched set of 1851 Colts auction for $130,000

It sat on a shelf in the closet for years, a rosewood case containing two Civil War-era revolvers with ivory handles. The guns had been a gift from a friend to Sharlene Perez's late husband, but they held no sentimental value for her. So in June, she decided it was time to sell them. She slipped the case into a sturdy Lord & Taylor shopping bag and took a taxi six blocks to meet appraiser Greg Martin in midtown Manhattan, N.Y. She knew that there were engravings on the barrels, that the grips were monogrammed and that an inscription on the lid of the case indicated that townspeople in Watertown, N.Y., had given the guns to William C. Browne, a local man heading off to serve as a colonel in the Civil War. In her most optimistic moments, Perez hoped the guns might net $20,000...LATimes

HT: Outdoor Pressroom

Corb Lund's New CD "Losin’ Lately Gambler"

It's ironic that the head Hurtin' Albertan's first album to get a wide release in the U.S. is packed with Canadian references, but it's precisely Lund's ability to write honestly about his background that has made his voice unique among North American singer-songwriters. That point is made right from opening track "Horse Doctor, Come Quick," a tribute to his father, a veterinarian, and reinforced throughout the rest of Losin' Lately Gambler on "Steer Rider's Blues," "Long Gone To Saskatchewan" and "This Is My Prairie." Lund's familiar barebones sound remains intact, courtesy of usual producer Harry Stinson, but "Devil's Best Dress" has a distinct Marty Robbins flair, while "Chinook Wind" chugs along like a classic Waylon Jennings track. Some of the album's best moments are in fact the ballads, where Lund clearly displays how much his singing has improved, but his trademark lyrical playfulness on "Talkin' Veterinarian Blues" and "It's Hard To Keep A White Shirt Clean" will satisfy long-time fans. Whether Americans get it is hardly the issue; Lund has made another solid record that proves he's in this for the long haul...exclaim

Don't have it yet, but this Canadian has put out some good stuff.

Preserving his heritage

Driving across 600 acres of Oklahoma prairie southeast of Duncan, Pruitt stops his truck at a creek to get out and point at a rock bearing deep etchings. The etchings include a date — March 17, 1884 — and names or initials. Pruitt believes it is the work of soldiers or cowboys who passed that way in the days of Indian Territory. He says the creek crossing was made by pony soldiers traveling to Fort Sill. “This is the old military road from Fort Sill to Fort Washita.” The creek is part of old East Mud Creek, he shares. “We’ve been running cattle on this creek for 128 years, since the 1880s or thereabouts.” The Pruitt Ranch land has been in the Pruitt family since just after 1880. He knows that from family lore and original deeds and other documents. He says his grandfather and grandmother, Henry and Orinthia Pruitt, brought 450 head of cattle into southern Oklahoma around that time. Orinthia is buried near Comanche in an unmarked grave that will soon have a headstone, he says. He knows his grandparents were included in the Fort Worth, Texas, census in 1880. One of those original documents is a deed of unallocated land from the Choctaw-Chickasaw Nations, bearing the signature of Quanah Parker. It’s dated May 1, 1917, and is for the sale of 120.09 acres to Nannie F. Pruitt, in Jefferson County. “My grandfather was a pioneer Texas rancher. He finally settled on Mud Creek and was a fiddler. The old home place is 13 miles east of Comanche and a mile south,” he says...DuncanBanner

Song Of The Day #144

Today's tune is Kentucky by the Blue Sky Boys. I've written about them before. On that day's selection back in April, J.R. Absher, proprietor of The Outdoor Pressroom, wrote in the comments section:

Their style and harmony on "Kentucky" surpasses any other version ever recorded.

So J.R., Ranch Radio sends this one out to you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leaders warn time running out for climate deal

U.N. climate talks kicked off Monday in Bangkok with leaders calling for delegates to break the deadlock over a global warming deal and warning failure to act would leave future generations fighting for survival. Negotiations on a new U.N. climate pact have been bogged down by a broad unwillingness to commit to firm emissions targets, and a refusal by developing countries to sign a deal until the West guarantees tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance — something rich countries have so far refused to do. "Time is not just pressing. It has almost run out," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said, with a clock nearby showing there were 70 days until world leaders are scheduled to meet in Copenhagen to finalize a pact. "If we don't realize Plan A, the future will hold us to account," he said...AP

Value of climate credits, foreign ownership concern U.S. farmers

Farmers believe they can play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but they want money for what they do. That demand is proving to be tough for Congress to do. A House-passed climate bill would allow farmers and landowners to earn credits for measures that can remove or keep carbon out of the atmosphere. When farmers stop tilling their fields or convert cropland to pasture, carbon in the form of plant material is kept in the soil rather than released into the air. The credits then could be sold to utilities or other companies that would be required to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. However, the House bill includes restrictions on farmers' carbon-saving projects that could make the credits virtually worthless, according to farm groups. David Miller, who helped set up a carbon-credit program for Iowa Farm Bureau, said credits could be worth "next to nothing." The legislation also includes provisions to guarantee that most of the credits permitted by the bill would go to landowners overseas who agree not to cut down rain forests. Senators have expressed concern that allowing the buying and selling of credits will primarily benefit foreign landowners who generate the credits and hedge funds and other big investors who speculate in them. There are differences over how tightly the credit market should be regulated: Some lawmakers fear a repeat of the financial meltdown tied to subprime mortgages...DesMoinesRegister

[link to larger image]

Many farming communities think global warming won't hurt them. They're wrong

You might think a little global warming is good for farming. Longer, warmer growing seasons and more carbon dioxide (CO2)—what plant wouldn't love that? The agricultural industry basically takes that stance. But global warming's effects on agriculture would actually be quite complicated—and mostly not for the better. Based on rationales from "climate change isn't real" to "it will increase crop yields so it's a good thing" to "it will cost us money" most of the country's farming sectors along with their elected officials have staunchly opposed taking action to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It's true that some crops will prosper on a warmer planet, but the key word there is "some." According to a 2007 government report, higher CO2 levels and longer growing seasons will increase yields for fruit growers in the Great Lakes region. But many major American crops, such as sorghum, sugar cane and corn already use CO2 so efficiently that more of it probably won't make much difference to them. What will make a difference are all the other things we'll have more of as temperatures rise—namely droughts, bugs and big storms. More droughts mean lower crop yields—especially for Southern states. Researchers at the University of Oregon found that in New Mexico alone, reduced stream flow could cost farmers $21 million in crop losses. Meanwhile, melting snow in the Western U.S. will increase water availability in spring but decrease it in summer, forcing farmers to change cropping practices. As pests adapt their migration patterns to our warmer climate, farmers will have to either use more pesticide (anywhere from 2 to 20 percent more, depending on the crop, according to another government study) or plant hardier crops...NewsWeek

Feds seek to settle Bush-era lawsuits over shale policies

The federal government is seeking to settle litigation involving oil shale policies established during the Bush administration, and is describing negotiations as “productive.” Government attorneys pointed to the settlement talks last week in court filings asking for yet another extension of the government’s deadline to answer the litigation. Colorado U.S. District Court Judge John Kane agreed to the government’s request to extend that deadline to Nov. 16. Conservation groups filed two lawsuits on Jan. 16, during George W. Bush’s last days in office. The suits challenge regulations the Bureau of Land Management issued in November for commercial oil shale development, and its earlier identification of 1.9 million acres of public land for potential oil shale development in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. This is the fifth extension the government has been given to respond to the suits...Sentinel

Obama Administration Orders Study on Removing Dams on Snake River to Help Fish

The Obama administration has ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct studies on the possibility of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state in order to “protect” 13 species of salmon on the federal endangered species list. The studies were part of a new “Adaptive Management Implementation Plan” created by a coalition of nine government agencies (which calls itself “the Federal Caucus”) that manages the salmon population in the Columbia River basin. The plan aims at trying to reverse a decline in the salmon population in the Pacific Northwest. The plan (or “biological opinion”), which was submitted to a federal court judge in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 15, is a revised version of a plan originally developed by the Bush administration. It explicitly raises the possibility of breaching the four hydropower dams on the Snake River in order to “save” salmon populations. The Bush-era plan did not recommend destroying dams...CNSNews

From Science, Plenty of Cows but Little Profit

Three years ago, a technological breakthrough gave dairy farmers the chance to bend a basic rule of nature: no longer would their cows have to give birth to equal numbers of female and male offspring. Instead, using a high-technology method to sort the sperm of dairy bulls, they could produce mostly female calves to be raised into profitable milk producers. Now the first cows bred with that technology, tens of thousands of them, are entering milking herds across the country — and the timing could hardly be worse. The dairy industry is in crisis, with prices so low that farmers are selling their milk below production cost. The industry is struggling to cut output. And yet the wave of excess cows is about to start dumping milk into a market that does not need it. “It’s real simple,” said Tony De Groot, an early adopter of the new breeding technology, who milks 4,200 cows on a farm here in the heart of this state’s struggling dairy region. “We’ve just got too many cattle on hand and too many heifers on hand, and the supply just keeps on coming and coming.”...NYTimes

Look-alike sturgeon may get protection

Good news for shovelnose sturgeon may be bad news for this region's commercial fishermen, who sell them to make caviar. The shovelnose are not endangered, but their relatives, the pallid sturgeon, are. Because a young pallid can be mistaken for a shovelnose, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week proposed declaring the shovelnose a threatened species in areas where the two types overlap, giving it regulatory authority. The areas include the Mississippi River from Alton downstream and the Missouri River from Montana to the Mississippi River. Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana ban all commercial fishing of shovelnose sturgeon. The Fish and Wildlife Service bases its proposal on a section of the Endangered Species Act that authorizes protection of a species if its appearance is so similar to that of a protected or endangered species that law enforcement is difficult...stltoday

On the edge of common sense: Rush Limbaugh deserts to the Dark Side

I felt a tremor in the earth ... Rush Limbaugh joined the Dark Side. He is a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. It was like finding out your brother is a cross-dresser. Why does it matter? It probably doesn't to most people, but whether you like him or not, you could always find out what the conservatives were thinking. He was the balancing act for the liberals' Sen. Ted Kennedy. Think about it, how would Dan Rather feel if Kennedy voted to eliminate the death tax or said a kind word about capitalism? When I heard Rush's commercial for the Humane Society, I had a deja vu of Ted Turner's donation to the Audubon Society years ago. I remember thinking at the time that Ted, one of America's richest men, wanted to change his image. He was widely known as a greedy, pompous, southern redneck clown. This, the man who invented CNN. His irritating personality overrode his electronic contribution and I think it hurt his feelings. But he had the money to buy an image-lift. He chose the politically correct cause of "environmentalism," and the buffalo became his symbol. Ted Turner is a smart man. To show his change of heart he made a substantial donation to the Audubon Society. The society, who I'm guessing, previously wouldn't have stained its shoes on his carpet suddenly became his sycophantic supporter and proclaimed him an "environmentalist!" It is possible that Rush is feeling lonely and has that same need to be "liked" as Ted. We all want people to like us. I just wish he'd looked into the Humane Society a little deeper, but he has a kitten named Pumpkin and it gives him comfort. He was vulnerable. I just wish he'd asked his listeners before he fell for the pitch. He would have discovered that the Humane Society has an anti-livestock farming, anti-meat eating, anti-circus animal, anti-zoo, anti-hunting, anti-biomedical research, anti-pet breeding and, it would seem logical, eventually, an anti-pet-owning policy as soon as it gains

Song Of The Day #143

Ranch Radio brings you the 1944 recording of Shame On You by Spade Cooley. Cooley is the band leader and plays fiddle while the lead vocal is by Tex Williams.

The tune is available on his 20 track CD Spadella: The Essential Spade Cooley.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Climate-Change Study Cites Role of Ancient Farming

Has climate change been around as long as the pyramids? It is an odd-sounding idea, because the problem is usually assumed to be a modern one, the product of a world created by the Industrial Revolution and powered by high-polluting fossil fuels. But a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia has suggested that people began altering the climate thousands of years ago, as primitive farmers burned forests and built methane-bubbling rice paddies. The practices produced enough greenhouse gases, he says, to warm the world by a degree or more. Other scientists, however, have said the idea is deeply flawed and might be used to dampen modern alarms over climate change. Understanding the debate requires a tour through polar ice sheets, the inner workings of the carbon molecule, the farming habits of 5,000-year-old Europeans and trapped air bubbles more ancient than Rome. "The greenhouse gases went up, and they should have gone down" many thousands of years ago, said U-Va.'s William Ruddiman. "Why did that happen?" His answer is based on circumstantial evidence. Ruddiman said two events in world history -- an apparent shift in the composition of the atmosphere and the first explosion of human agriculture -- took place at nearly the same time...WPost

HT: OzoneSky

Connecticut Land Vacant 4 Years after Supreme Court OK'd Seizure

Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation's most notorious eminent domain project. There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne's lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot's towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant. But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing. Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it a "poetic justice." "They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing," said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. "I don't think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision."...AP

Global wind leaders push climate legislation

The wind-power business will grow at a slower pace, buffeted by stiff competition from Europe and China, unless Congress approves climate change legislation, global industry leaders said Thursday. The leaders pressed their case at a Washington, D.C., news conference, called because federal legislation is pending that would curb carbon emissions and require utilities to generate a percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Without such legislation, the industry would have a more difficult time attracting investors, manufacturers and wind farm developers, who could be lured to China or Europe where such regulations are in place, said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association. "We will still have a wind industry in the United States but we will not build the jobs ... and we certainly will not be competitive in the global market," she said. Bode was joined by representatives of manufacturers, wind farm owners, the Global Wind Energy Council and the European Wind Energy Association...SaltLakeTribune

Environmental groups in Idaho sue BLM for grazing info

Two environmental groups are suing the Bureau of Land Management after the agency refused to release the names and addresses of people with grazing permits on the nation's public land. In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Boise's U.S. District Court, the environmental groups contend that the BLM wrongly said the names, addresses and other grazing permit information was protected from release under the Freedom of Information Act. Specifically, the BLM claimed the information fell under the same exemption that allows agencies not to release medical records, personnel records and other information that, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Kris Long, public affairs officer with the BLM's Idaho state office, said the agency did not comment on any pending litigation. Todd C. Tucci, an attorney with Advocates for the West who was representing the environmental groups, said the case stemmed from, "just another attempt by BLM to hide its operations from public view."...AP

Bear Invasion! Aspen Sees Tenfold Increase in Bear Sightings

Famously dubbed the Rodeo Drive of the Rockies, Aspen, Colo., is home to gourmet restaurants, fine jewelry stores, luxury hotels and, for a few months in the summer, bears. Fascinating, but this year, it's a dangerous problem. Aspen police report a nearly tenfold increase in the number of bear sightings in town. Wildlife experts think that a moist spring caused a berry shortage, forcing hungry bears to wander into town in search of food. Bears need nearly 20,000 calories a day to bulk up before hibernating and feed for 20 hours a day to get it. Officials are now concerned that across Colorado too many wild bears have developed a tasted for human food and are getting used to people. They are now actively telling residents to be, literally, mean to the bears. Yell at them, throw rocks and if they charge you, stand up to them...ABC

Red Rock riches

In Utah, wilderness is a four-letter word. For 20 years, America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, which would provide the highest level of federal protection for millions of acres of public land, has been languishing in Congress. Thursday it will get its first congressional hearing, in the House Natural Resources subcommittee. That will be a triumphal moment for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the organization that has promoted a sweeping designation of Utah wilderness for decades, and many other groups that have fought alongside SUWA. But the act will not become law -- not this year and not in the foreseeable future. That's because not one of Utah's congressmen or senators supports the designation of 9.4 million acres of wilderness in one fell swoop, and that's the goal of this legislation. Many rural Utah counties are governed by politicians who oppose any designation of wilderness, saying they fear its effects on ranching, mining and oil and gas drilling, industries that traditionally have been the backbone of their economies. In fact, if you want to see hackles rise in Kane, San Juan, Carbon and even Emery counties, just bring up the subject at a commission meeting. Some of that reaction is based on misinformation or plain myth about what would be restricted within a wilderness area...SaltLakeTribune

Idaho hunters' searches so far mostly futile

Hunting and killing are not the same thing. Even as Idaho has sold more than 14,000 wolf-hunting permits, the first 10 days of the first legal wolf hunt here in decades yielded only three reported legal kills. Such modest early results might seem surprising in a state that has tried for years to persuade the federal government to let it reduce the wolf population through hunting. Idahoans, among the nation's most passionate hunters, are learning that the wolf's small numbers - about 850 were counted in the state at the end of last year - make it at once more vulnerable and more elusive. "It's clear it's not going to be easy," said Jon Rachael, the wildlife manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game...TimesNews

Stop being nice, animal ag activist says

A leading lobbyist thinks farmers and ranchers are "too nice" to those who oppose them and that more needs to be done to fight their influence. "Our voice in Washington is shrinking and the unfortunate thing is we can't do a damn thing about it," said Steve Kopperud, senior vice president of Policy Directions, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm specializing in agriculture issues. "The problem we face is that of all critical industries we have, agriculture is being told to go backwards," Kopperud said. "Why is agriculture not being praised for embracing safe and modern technology for feeding not only this country but most of the known planet?" The reality of U.S. and world food production is that two-thirds of North America cannot support crop production, Kopperud said, meaning a switch to a vegetable-based diet, as animal activists insist on, cannot be physically done. "This is why we have animal agriculture. It is the single most efficient protein conversion unit we can come up with. That does not absolve us from professional, top-notch production practices." Kopperud then described the opposition to those practices producers face from groups like the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Consumers Union, the Center For Food Safety and the Union of Concerned Scientists...HighPlainsJournal

Mules, donkeys have hearts of gold

There is a difference between a mule and a donkey, just ask any member of the Rio Grande Mule and Donkey Association. According to Richard Selby, president of the Rio Grande Mule and Donkey Association, a donkey is a donkey, and a mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse. "It's a cross between those two," Selby said of the two animals. A burro is just a donkey, but in Spanish, though some of his fellow donkey fans will never cease arguing about that. Donkeys come in three sizes: miniature, standard and mammoth. Selby said a mule is usually the product of a female horse and a male donkey, and not as frequently the other way around. This may be due to the internal temperature of the female donkey, or the fact that male horses just don't see the attraction. Richard and Colleen Selby have several donkeys, mules, miniature horses and a horse at their Valencia County home...ValenciaCountyBulletin

It's All Trew: Trip to the Old West as child vivid as ever

Among my cherished memories as a 12-year-old boy is a trip taken with my father, his cattle partner and his grandson, another boy my age, to New Mexico to receive cattle purchased. Just "going with the men" was a special treat, and being treated like a man made the trip special. I think the New Mexico rancher's name was Billy Brunson and the town where we stayed was Magdelena. But, as that was more than 60 years ago, I can't be sure. Anyway, I was excused from school, making it a long weekend. We stayed at the town in a wooden two-story hotel right out of "Gunsmoke," with the bathrooms down at the end of the hall. We ate at the local cafe and my first bar, as that was the only food in town. I just knew some outlaw was waiting around every corner. Out at the ranch the next morning, before daylight, we awaited the roundup of the cull cows destined for wheat pasture near Perryton. The "gather" was made at a set of railroad pens located in the middle of nowhere. Once loaded on the train, the cows would travel to Canadian to be unloaded and driven up the Canadian River bottom to the Parsell Ranch, where they would be branded and rested before driven to the wheat fields south of Perryton. The country around the cattle pens was covered in heavy brush and cactus. We waited a bit, then began to hear the cattle and cowboys coming through. It was quite a sight to see the horned Hereford cows burst from the brush and into the pens with the cowboys right

Song Of The Day #142

Get ready to move. Here is Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers swinging Under The Double Eagle.

My version is from vinyl, but you can get it on his 16 track CD Saturday Night Rag: 1934-1936.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

First, it takes a rancher

Julie Carter

It comes up from time to time - those little daily events that qualify for the "You might be a rancher's wife if ..." list.

These were suggested recently.

You might be a rancher's wife if:

• you have blackleg vaccine in the refrigerator next to the ketchup;

• you remodel your house just to get a mud room;

• your stationary has a checkerboard design on it with "Purina" written across the top;

• you have bull semen straws in the freezer next to the ice cube trays.

However, in order for there to be a rancher's wife, there must first be a rancher husband, who by the way, does not come with an operating manual or a warning label.

You know, like the one that comes with the hair blow dryer that says, "Do not use while in the bathtub," or the lawn mower that says "Toxic fumes are dangerous. Do not operate indoors."

A simple description of a rancher-type husband would be warning enough.

A rancher husband is a man who:

• tromps in leaving a trail of dirt from his boots and a black hand print on the door and asks, "Any chance of cleaning this place up before my mother gets here?"

• eats potatoes 365 days a year but will say, "This must be third time this month we've had corn. Are we out of grub?"

• eats calf fries right off the branding fire and says, "Is the mashed tators supposed to have something gritty in them?"

• comes in from the branding fire, smokes a cigar, reeks of sweat and manly odor and says, "That damn scented candle of yours is plumb fogging up my sinus'."

• will write a grocery list that reads: "bunch of viannie sawseges, beer, scours medicine, don't forget the beer, 4-way or 7-way or whatever its called, and don't forget the beer;"

• gets up at the crack of dawn, turn on the Weather Channel and sit there for two hours without moving and then say, "you can't 'spect me to go to the movie and jus' sit there for damn hours without movin'."

• spends $56,000 on a big yellow machine with a first name that starts with DC, but he won't spend $298 on a dishwasher;

The operating manuals written 25 years ago were only a couple pages long, while today's resemble the size of the old Sears and Roebuck catalogs and seem to be every bit as useful in the outhouse, which is where they would end up, if we still had outhouses.

Cowboy husband manuals, if they existed, would likely follow the same page expansion trend.

There is a whole lot more to be warned about today given the opportunity of advances in modern conveniences and technology.

An entire list could be compiled of "ranch husband" issues that arise over remote controls, cell phones and even the dual control, computerized, well-lit and voice-commanded (he thinks) dashboards on today's pickups.

In compiling this list, one ranch wife offered a disclaimer.

"In no way is my list an example of my husband. I was talking about other people's husbands.

"In fact, I want to point out that there is nothing that makes me love my husband more than listening about other people's husbands."

Ain't it the truth!

Great Quote

If Jesus raised the dead tomorrow, our science czar probably would be too busy calculating the carbon footprint to find salvation...David Harsanyi

Song Of The Day #141

Our Gospel tune is Read The Bible Every Day by the Sons Of The Pioneers.

It's available on their 4 disc box set Wagons West.

Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?

A Department of Justice inspector general’s report called Edmonds’s allegations “credible,” “serious,” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI.” Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee members Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have backed her publicly. “60 Minutes” launched an investigation of her claims and found them believable. No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds’s revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files. John Ashcroft’s Justice Department confirmed Edmonds’s veracity in a backhanded way by twice invoking the dubious State Secrets Privilege so she could not tell what she knows. The ACLU has called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.” But on Aug. 8, she was finally able to testify under oath in a court case filed in Ohio and agreed to an interview with The American Conservative based on that testimony. What follows is her own account of what some consider the most incredible tale of corruption and influence peddling in recent times...AmericanConservative

ATF tells Tennessee that a federal gun law trumps the state’s

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has told Tennessee gun dealers to disregard a state statute that exempts firearms made and sold inside Tennessee from federal gun laws and registration. The ATF says the federal laws still apply regardless of the state's move. "This bill simply asserts that if a firearms and/or ammunition is made totally within the state of Tennessee, then the federal government has no jurisdiction over that item in any fashion, so long as it remains in the state and outside of interstate commerce," Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill's sponsor, said on the Senate floor when it passed there in June. But ATF Asst. Director Carson W. Carroll, head of the agency's enforcement programs and services, sent an "Open Letter to all Tennessee Firearms Licensees" a month later that explained the agency's position on the law. "The act purports to exempt personal firearms, firearms accessories and ammunition manufactured in the state and which remain in the state from most federal firearms laws and regulations," Carroll wrote. "However, because the act conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulations, federal law supercedes the act and all provisions of the (federal) Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations continue to apply."...CommercialAppeal

Court considers county's right to regulate guns

A divided federal appeals court wrestled Thursday with potentially the most important gun case in its history, a dispute over a firearms ban at the Alameda County Fairgrounds that has expanded into a constitutional battle over state and local authority to regulate gun possession. Some judges on an 11-member panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared to agree with gun-rights advocates that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, recently interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect an individual's right to own guns, is binding on states and can be used to challenge the county ordinance. Others noted that the high court has never overturned its own 19th century rulings that said the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government. And one judge suggested the court should uphold the ordinance as a valid public safety measure without deciding the constitutional issue. Even if state and local governments are constitutionally required to let residents own guns for self-defense, "it doesn't seem to affect" the Alameda County law, said Judge Susan Graber. County supervisors outlawed firearms on all county property, including the fairgrounds in Pleasanton, in 1999, a year after 16 people were injured in a melee at the fair in which shots were fired. The ordinance did not expressly prohibit gun shows at the fair, but none has been held since 1999. Two gun show promoters filed the suit now before the court, claming the ban violated free speech as well as the Second Amendment...SFChronicle

Sweat Becomes Offenders' New Snitch

The government has buried its nose in Bari Lynne Williams's personal business. Almost literally. Twenty-four hours a day, whether she's jogging, sleeping or managing a pool hall, Williams wears a high-tech sensor on her ankle that can detect the faintest whiff of alcohol in her perspiration. If she sneaks a drink, the device will know it -- and so will a judge, who could put her behind bars for violating a court order to avoid alcoholic beverages. At $12 a day, the anklet is a bargain, compared with $150 a day to house a minor offender such as Williams in the Loudoun County jail, and far less than the $24,332 a year it costs Virginia to keep a felon in state prison. Best of all, backers say, Williams and other offenders pay the bill. But the gadget has also stirred "Big Brother" jitters as technological advances make it easier for governments and corporations to keep tabs on people. While law enforcement has been using satellite-based GPS to track offenders' whereabouts for some time, privacy advocates say the alcohol-monitoring device -- known as Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or SCRAM -- has taken law enforcement into the realm of continuously and remotely monitoring people's physical condition...WPost