Friday, October 16, 2009

New Mexico 'Super Station' aims to 'break the power gridlock'

By any yardstick, it's an ambitious project: allow energy to flow more freely across the nation's three massive power grids, breaking down significant barriers to ramping up alternative energy in the United States. A proposed "Tres Amigas Super Station" in Clovis, N.M., would do just that, routing energy from isolated wind and solar installations to urban centers and other places that consume the most power. The transmission hub would be located across 22 square miles in eastern New Mexico near the Texas border. Clovis was chosen because it is nearest to where the nation's three power grids — called the East, West and Texas interconnections — come closest together. Tres Amigas would build a triangular pathway of underground superconductor pipelines, combined with AC/DC converters that synchronize the flow of power between the interconnections. The equipment allows electricity to be transferred from grid to grid. Construction could begin in 2011 or 2012, and the hub could be running in 2013 or 2014, said Phil Harris, chief executive of the Santa Fe-based Tres Amigas. The pipelines, 3 feet in diameter, contain hair-thin ceramic fibers developed by Devens, Mass.-based American Superconductor and can carry enough electricity to power 2.5 million more

Bush-era oil-shale decision under review

The Obama Interior Department is reviewing a decision made by the Bush administration in its final days that attempted to lock in lucrative royalty rates and favorable regulations for oil companies holding leases for oil-shale development on public lands. The decision, which came in the form of amendments to existing leases, drew little public notice at the end of the Bush administration in January. But since then, congressional watchdogs, environmental groups and state officials in Colorado, where most of the leases are located, have denounced the amendments as a massive giveaway to the oil industry. Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ordered the review "given the timing and circumstances of the execution of the lease addenda," Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said more

NRA wants to join wolf lawsuit

The National Rifle Association is asking a federal court judge to allow the group to join a lawsuit regarding the removal of wolves from the list of animals protected under the Endangered Species Act in Montana and Idaho. In documents filed late Friday, Chris Cox, an NRA executive director, said their members hunt in states where wolves are now present and "have experienced anger and frustration during times when their state wildlife management authorities were powerless to take necessary action to control their states' problem wolves." He adds that if the 13 conservation groups that sued to retain gray wolves' protected status are successful in their lawsuit, then NRA members will lose their ability to hunt and enjoy recreational opportunities in Montana and Idaho "due to the threat to themselves, their pets and their prey from problem wolves." more

Arctic Now Traps 25 Percent of World’s Carbon

The arctic could potentially alter the Earth’s climate by becoming a possible source of global atmospheric carbon dioxide. The arctic now traps or absorbs up to 25 percent of this gas but climate change could alter that amount, according to a study published in the November issue of Ecological Monographs. In their review paper, David McGuire of the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and his colleagues show that the Arctic has been a carbon sink since the end of the last Ice Age, which has recently accounted for between zero and 25 percent, or up to about 800 million metric tons, of the global carbon sink. On average, says McGuire, the Arctic accounts for 10-15 percent of the Earth’s carbon sink. But the rapid rate of climate change in the Arctic – about twice that of lower latitudes – could eliminate the sink and instead, possibly make the Arctic a source of carbon more

California appears poised to be first to ban big-screen TVs

The influential lobby group Consumer Electronics Assn. is fighting what appears to be a losing battle to dissuade California regulators from passing the nation's first ban on energy-hungry big-screen televisions. On Tuesday, executives and consultants for the Arlington, Va., trade group asked members of the California Energy Commission to instead let consumers use their wallets to decide whether they want to buy the most energy-saving new models of liquid-crystal display and plasma high-definition TVs. "Voluntary efforts are succeeding without regulations," said Doug Johnson, the association's senior director for technology policy. Too much government interference could hamstring industry innovation and prove expensive to manufacturers and consumers, he warned. But those pleas didn't appear to elicit much support from commissioners at a public hearing on the proposed rules that would set maximum energy-consumption standards for televisions to be phased in over two years beginning in January 2011. A vote could come as early as Nov. more

PETA Becomes A Corporate Animal

Americans know the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for its wild publicity stunts in the name of protecting cows, chickens, and other eatables. But a closer look at media-savvy PETA shows it also has become a corporate animal. Its websites are full of invitations to corporate America to form partnerships, and in the process, cut PETA in on some of the profits. How else has the Washington-based group grown to a $34 million budget and displayed help-wanted ads for more employees in the time of a deep recession? In one case, PETA castigates a credit card company for backing a circus; yet PETA promotes its competitor who sponsors horse racing and beef eating -- two PETA no-nos it is trying to abolish. PETA now operates a "Business Friends" program. For $500 (Silver), $1,000 (Gold) and $5,000-plus) Platinum, PETA grants access to its members and their money. "PETA Business Friends is an innovative partnership for compassionate companies willing to assist in PETA's groundbreaking work to stop animal abuse and suffering," the web site says. Also on the list is VISA, the giant credit card company. The two boast a special relationship. There is the PETA VISA card, featuring a photo of a pig. Purchases on this card result in a 1 percent royalty to PETA. It urges customers to shop at its own mall, where vendors return even more profits to PETA on each more

Was There A Chaplain At The Roswell Crash?

The enormity of suddenly being confronted with sky-fallen craft and beings from another world near Roswell, NM in July of 1947 was no doubt spiritually shattering. The psychological impact of such an event had to have been deep and lasting. Everything must have come into question relative to man's place in the universe. Newly-acquired information indicates that the Roswell Base Chaplain at the time -Reverend Elijah H. Hankerson - may have provided needed support to those that were not prepared to deal with such a momentous event. There are three telling elements to the Hankerson saga: • Just days after the crash Reverend Hankerson was shipped out of Roswell Army Air Field and was replaced by a Catholic priest of higher rank • Hankerson and his wife Annie kept from their children the fact that he was ever even stationed at Roswell. The family is stunned. • Hankerson may have made a "silent confession" to them at the end of his life, possibly hinting at his more

American Agri-Women Gather for 34th Annual Convention in Salem, OR

The heart of the Willamette Valley is putting out the welcome mat for some special women who are dedicated to agriculture, and coming together in Oregon's capital city for their annual event. This time, in Oregon. The convention will be hosted by AAW affiliate, Oregon Women for Agriculture (OWA). The group is putting on the final touches for the 34th Annual Meeting of American Agri-Women (AAW), coming up November 12-15, 2009. OWA is celebrating their 40th birthday this year and the State of Oregon is celebrating its 150th birthday. “Celebrating American Agriculture” is the theme of the convention and will add to the festive spirit of our time together. Women involved in farming operations from throughout the United States will be attending this special event in Oregon. American Agri-Women is a national coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women. The organization was formed in more

Celebrate History at Cowboy Festival

October 22 - 25, the Booth Western Art Museum will host the 7th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium, the South's largest celebration of Western art. Special guests for this year's event include artist Buck McCain and cowboy poet Baxter Black. The weekend begins Thursday evening, October 22 with a lecture by McCain, a fifth generation rancher equally well known for his paintings and sculpture. On Friday, McCain will present a daylong art workshop at the Booth Art Academy. The theme for this year's art symposium is "Western Art in Context." On Friday art curators Jerry Smith, Phoenix Art Museum; Dr. Graham Boettcher, Birmingham Museum of Art; Anne Morand, C. M. Russell Museum; Mindy Besaw, Buffalo Bill Historical Center; and Dr. Stephen Graffe, Maryhill Art Museum will discuss Western art in American art galleries, the exhibition of Native American artifacts and more. Throughout the rest of the weekend guests can enjoy concerts Friday and Saturday, re-enactments of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, children's activities, chuck wagon cooking, Native American dancing, cowboy church and living history encampments. All activities take place on the grounds of the Booth Museum or at the Grand Theatre, both located in downtown more

Song Of The Day #157

Ranch Radio's selection today is by Johnny Cash. Here's his 1960 recording of Honky Tonk Girl.

It's available on the 12 track CD Now, There Was a Song!

NAIS Enforcement Gets Underway in Wisconsin

By R-CALF USA Animal ID Committee Chair Kenny Fox

It appears that in the state of Wisconsin, which has mandated the first prong of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) National Animal Identification System (NAIS) through agency rule making, prosecution of individuals opposed to NAIS has begun.

On Sept. 23, 2009, an Amish gentleman named Emanuel J. Miller, Jr., was taken to Clark County Court in Neillsville, Wis., for an evidentiary hearing on complex civil forfeiture for failing to register his premises. The case immediately moved to the first stage of trial. Miller and his father, as well as their church deacon, testified as to their objections to being forced to use the NAIS premises identification number (PIN). As USDA has proudly proclaimed in many glossy brochures, premises registration is the “first step” in the NAIS, and the Wisconsin Amish have become quite aware of this.

On Oct. 21, 2009, in Polk County, Wis., R-CALF USA Members Pat and Melissa Monchilovich are going to trial for the same charges of complex civil forfeiture. Pat and his wife raise cattle in Cumberland, Wis., and have failed to register their property as a premises with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, as Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) requires by regulation.

This is the tip of the NAIS iceberg. One could look upon Wisconsin as the sentinel case in the enforcement measures necessary to bring this nation's citizens into compliance with NAIS.

Although the statute that enables Wisconsin's DATCP to require premises registration does indeed allow for exemptions, when DATCP wrote the regulations, it decided to disallow any exemptions. This is a major issue, particularly with the Amish community (and others) who hold religious objections to the NAIS.

At the Miller hearing, the Amish said that although they cannot state with absolute certainty that the NAIS' premises identification number is the precursor to the “Mark of the Beast,” they do know it is the first step of NAIS that leads to the individual numbering and tracking of animals. The Amish said they believe caution is in order to avoid discovering later that they had violated their beliefs and then have no recourse to remedy that error.Their religious objections to obtaining an NAIS PIN are real and personal.

Despite a desire on the part of proponents of NAIS to negate religious objections to NAIS, the fact that it is a global program is indisputable, as enforcement measures and final details are left up to member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In Australia*, rancher Stephen Blair was fined a total of $17,300 for using the wrong tags on 177 of his cattle. Notably, the components of Australia's National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) are the same as those in NAIS.

In March 2007*, another case in which the identification of cattle was in violation of the identification mandate to facilitate global trade happened the United Kingdom (UK). Dairy farmer David Dobbin had an unspecified number of cattle whose tags didn't match their “passports.” The European Union (EU) regulations allowed the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to confiscate both his cattle and his passports and to require that he positively identify the herd within 48 hours or face the loss of his cattle. It is a complete impossibility to positively identify animals with neither the animals nor their paperwork, but that was DEFRA's requirement. The case was put off for one month and then appealed on the basis that DEFRA could not afford to keep feeding Dobbin's cattle, so the animals were destroyed. Mr. Dobbin lost 567 cattle and was paid no indemnity at all.

At issue in the Wisconsin cases is that we are witnessing the first enforcement actions in the implementation of NAIS. The fines in the charges brought against Miller and the Monchilovichs are between $200 and $5,000. Premises identification is just the first step of NAIS, second is the identification of one's animals, and third is the tracking of each and every movement of one's animals. The final component is enforcement, which is now coming to bear in Wisconsin.

More than 90 percent of those who attended USDA's recent “listening” sessions on NAIS said “No NAIS. Not Now, Not Ever!” If we mean that, then we must stand in support of these Wisconsin people being charged with NAIS violations.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Energy & Water Bill Passes Congress

The Senate on Thursday approved a bill to basically freeze spending on energy and water projects next year after pouring tens of billions of dollars into them as part of last winter's economic stimulus plan. The 80-17 vote on the compromise House-Senate plan cleared the measure for President Barack Obama's signature. The bill is just the third of 12 annual spending bills to clear Congress for the 2010 budget year that began Oct. 1. The popular $33.5 billion measure funds renewable energy research, Army Corps of Engineers water projects, nuclear weapons safety and security and environmental cleanup. That's more than the $33.3 billion a year earlier and less than the $34.4 billion the White House requested. The measure cleared after Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., held up action for more than a day. He was protesting a decision by Democrats to kill his provision to require that reports that agencies send to the appropriations panels be made available to all lawmakers and the public. The measure also fulfills a campaign promise by Obama to close the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility in Nevada, which was 25 years and $13.5 billion in the making. The Yucca Mountain project has long been opposed by powerful Nevadans such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The $197 million for the program, down $92 million from last year, is primarily for looking into alternatives. The move would leave the country without a long-term solution for storing highly radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. The measure also contains a provision authored by California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to allow for water transfers to help farmers in California's Central Valley suffering from severe drought more

A Travesty & Miscarriage Of Justice: Cowboy cited after horse wanders away

A northwestern Wyoming man received a citation for letting his horse wander in Worland, but not before he complained to town law enforcement officials about the absence of a hitching post in front of the local saloon. William Schellinger was cited by Washakie County law enforcement officers for allowing his horse to run at large in this city along the Big Horn River. Schellinger was apparently in a bar early Sunday when his horse wandered away, prompting police to follow it to make sure it didn't cause an accident with a car. After being confronted by officers, Schellinger contended the city didn't have any hitching posts and told them they should spend their time arresting real criminals, not bothering cowboys with wayward horses. Billings Gazette

This story provides a microcosm of what's wrong with todays world: too many laws and not enough common sense.

Besides, no hitching posts and then, bam, enforcement. Isn't that entrapment?

I've been against the whole bailout-stimulus fiasco, but hell, the money is gonna be spent anyway, so spend it on some good, sturdy hitching posts. Do you hear me Worland?

While at NMSU in the 60's, I was among a group (If I remember right, headed up by Ronnie Lamb), who issued a list of COWBOY DEMANDS, in response to a list of demands presented to the NMSU President by the Black Student Union. Our list was mostly the opposite of theirs, i.e. they demanded all campus cops be unarmed, we demanded they carry sawed off shotguns; they demanded more Black Studies courses, we demanded hat racks and spittoons in every classroom, etc. (If any of my old compadres have that list please send it to me). Our list generated a positive editorial in the El Paso Times and was even favorably mentioned on the Paul Harvey News. I think the cowboys in the Worland area better do something similar.

In the meantime I just can't let this stand. You've got to draw the line somewhere and this is it.

Therefore, I'm organizing a NATIONWIDE BOYCOTT OF WORLAND, WYOMING, with said boycott to remain in effect until the hitching posts are in place and the town issues an official apology to Mr. Schellinger and his horse.

Kreg Lombard is the mayor of Worland and his email address is and his phone number is 307-347-3000. Other city gov't contacts are here and the email for their chamber of commerce is

All patriotic Americans should let the City Fathers know they are joining the boycott organized by The Westerner and demand immediate action to remedy this miscarriage of justice!

Let's have some fun for a change.

Obama EPA releases Bush-era global warming finding

A controversial e-mail message buried by the Bush administration because of its conclusions on global warming surfaced Tuesday, nearly two years after it was first sent to the White House and never opened. The e-mail and the 28-page document attached to it, released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, show that back in December of 2007 the agency concluded that six gases linked to global warming pose dangers to public welfare, and wanted to take steps to regulate their release from automobiles and the burning of gasoline. The document specifically cites global warming's effects on air quality, agriculture, forestry, water resources and coastal areas as endangering public welfare. That finding was rejected by the Bush White House, which strongly opposed using the Clean Air Act to address climate change and stalled on producing a so-called "endangerment finding" that had been ordered by the Supreme Court in more

On the same day the blogosphere will be pushing this issue. See below.

Boxer: Climate bill ready

A major Senate climate change bill is written and ready to be debated before the Environment and Public Works committee, the chairwoman of the panel said Tuesday. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s legislation would distribution of tens of billions of dollars of pollution allowances to power plants, manufacturing, and other industries. It will mirror cap and trade legislation passed by the House in late June with, she noted, “a few tweaks.” The legislation has been sent to the Environmental Protection Agency for analysis, which should be completed by the end of the month. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, however, also plans to draft legislation dealing with the pollution more

Writers fill the blogosphere today to raise awareness of climate change

Chances are good that your favorite blogger is going to write about climate change tomorrow. More than 10,000 bloggers from more than 130 countries have signed up for Blog Action Day 2009, an annual event that brings bloggers from around the world to post on the same topic on the same day to spur conversation about an issue of global importance. Organizers say Thursday's event promises to be the largest social-change event on the Web, reaching a combined readership of 15 more

Three Decades Of Global Cooling

It seems that ice at both poles hasn't been paying attention to the computer models. The National Snow and Ice Data Center released its summary of summer sea-ice conditions in the Arctic last week and reported a substantial expansion of "second-year ice" — ice thick enough to have persisted through two summers of seasonal melting. According to the NSIDC, second-year ice this summer made up 32% of the total ice cover on the Arctic Ocean, compared with 21% in 2007 and 9% in 2008. Clearly, Arctic sea ice is not following the consensus touted by Gore and the warm-mongers. This news coincides with a finding published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last month by Marco Tedesco, a research scientist at the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology. He reported that ice melt on Antarctica was the lowest in three decades during the ice-melt season. Each year, millions of square miles of sea ice melt and refreeze. The amount varies from season to season. Despite pictures taken in summer of floating polar bears, data reported by the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center at the beginning of this year showed global sea ice levels the same as they were in 1979, when satellite observations more

Climate Change Will Be Its Highest Priority, Says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Over the next five years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) plans to make climate change its “highest priority.” According to its new “Action Plan” released last month, the branch of the U.S. Department of Interior charged with protecting fish, wildlife and plants will focus first and foremost on the global weather. “Climate change must become our highest priority,” a fact sheet attached to the plan said. “Consequently, we will deploy our resources, creativity and energy in a long-term campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard fish, wildlife and their habitats.” The Fish and Wildlife Service said it plans to “reach out to the larger conservation community to tackle climate change.” The Action Plan is part of an overall strategic report titled “Rising to the Challenge: Strategic Plan for Responding to Accelerating Climate Change.” That report makes no bones about just how seriously the FWS considers the climate situation to be. “(A)s a Service, we are committed to examining everything we do, every decision we make, and every dollar we spend through the lens of climate change,” it declares on page one. “We see climate change as an issue that will unite the conservation community like no other issue since the 1960s, when (environmentalist) Rachel Carson sounded an alarm about pesticides,” the plan said on page more

Even if most of this is aimed at securing more funding for the USFWS, it is still scary (think all ESA consultations with USFWS).

I hope everyone has noticed the new catch phrase is "climate change", not "global warming". That way, whether it gets hotter or colder, they are covered.

And someone please show me the federal law that requires the USFWS to "unite the conservation community."

US settles grazing lawsuit with Nevada rancher

A Nevada rancher who has fought the federal government for more than a decade over grazing and property rights has settled a civil suit with the Justice Department over livestock trespass, the government said Wednesday. In 2007, the government sued Colvin, the estate of late Nevada rancher Wayne Hage and Hage's son, claiming they repeatedly defied federal land managers by grazing cattle without permits on land overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The suit further alleged the Hages unlawfully "leased" lands owned by the government to other ranchers for livestock grazing. Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Colvin paid a $34,000 fine and agreed to comply with federal grazing regulations in the future. It also requires him to remove unauthorized improvements he made on the public lands, such as aboveground water pipelines, water tanks and corrals. Once those conditions are met, he can reapply for grazing permits, the government said in a written statement. The settlement pertains to Colvin only, and the government's suit against the Hages is still more

Federal judge shutters Idaho grazing allotment

A federal judge Wednesday ordered a western Idaho rancher to keep his sheep off his family's traditional grazing ground on public land, at least temporarily, to protect wild bighorns. In his 17-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill wrote that a pact between a Salmon River rancher and the state to keep his domestic herd away from wild bighorns on the Bureau of Land Management allotment fell short of the 2009 Legislature's new law aimed at protecting Idaho's ranching industry and helping bighorns. Winmill ruled in favor of The Wilderness Society, Western Watersheds Project and Hells Canyon Preservation Council, which contended a native bighorn sheep herd near Riggins was at risk of catching deadly diseases if the allotment near Partridge Creek opened on schedule Thursday. "Irreversible damage is possible here," Winmill wrote. "Bighorns could become infected and roam far up-river in the Salmon River drainage, infecting the other native bighorns along the way causing large-scale losses." His order is in place until at least Nov. 2, when Winmill plans another more

How much did the U.S. spend in 2007 to protect endangered species?

Protecting endangered species is an expensive proposition. The U.S. federal and state governments spent $1,537,283,091 toward conserving threatened and endangered species in 2007, plus another $126,086,999 in land purchases for habitat preservation, according to a new report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). The 202-page report (PDF) covers species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and includes money spent in fiscal year 2007 (October 2006 to September 2007). "Conservation" includes a wide variety of activities such as "research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation." On a broader note, the report defines conservation to incorporate "any and all actions taken by Federal and State agencies on behalf of threatened or endangered species listed pursuant to the Act." FWS isn't the only federal agency with expenses related to endangered or threatened species. In fact, FWS represents only about 7 percent of total federal expenditures related to the Endangered Species Act. The Federal Highway Association spent $34,977,711. The Army spent $45,093,322, while the Army Corps of Engineers spent $211,976,370. The Department of Energy's Bonneville Power Administration spent a whopping $533,223,325. This is all just a drop in the bucket of the total funds required to protect endangered species. Millions come from NGOs and private organizations, and many states have their own endangered species lists, which cover some species not included on the federal more

No mention of the costs, or expenditures to or by the private sector.

Sponsor of Montana horse slaughter law seeks investor

The sponsor of a state law that aims to promote construction of a horse slaughter plant said Wednesday he is courting Chinese investors after European firms showed a lack of interest in the venture. State Rep. Ed Butcher, R-Winifred, also said construction of such a facility in Montana could come in the distant future - even if he can get someone interested in the project. Farmers and ranchers such as Butcher say plants that slaughter horses and sell the meat overseas for human consumption are a humane and efficient way of dealing with unwanted or aging animals. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved a new law limiting legal action to stop such projects. Butcher said a plant is needed now that lawsuits have closed all other plants in the country. Three Montana towns - Hardin, Conrad and Wolf Point - have expressed interest in hosting a horse slaughter plant, Butcher more

Deer attacks woman near Colo. Springs

Colorado Wildlife officials say a 63-year-old woman was attacked by a buck mule deer when she tried to pet the animal. Division of Wildlife spokesman Michael Seraphin says Joan Nutt suffered lacerations after she was struck by the deer's hooves and antlers Monday evening outside her sister's home in Florissant, about 105 southwest of Denver. Nutt says she had called the deer over so she could pet it. Seraphin says the deer lowered its head and charged the woman once it got close. A driver who witnessed the attack called for help and scared away the deer. Wildlife officials have euthanized the animal because they say it had become a threat to people. AP

Farmers Try to Plant Hemp at DEA Office, Arrested

A half dozen people including two farmers have been arrested for trying to plant hemp seeds at the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in Virginia. Arlington County police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal says the protesters were charged Tuesday with trespassing. They were among 21 people protesting the ban on hemp farming. Hemp is related to marijuana and currently all hemp products sold in the U.S. must be imported. The Hemp Industries Association is lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill to decriminalize hemp farming for products like clothing and more

New Gallery Space and Web Site for Remington and Russell at the Amon Carter Museum

An interpretative gallery space dedicated to the works of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell recently opened at the Amon Carter Museum. Located on the mezzanine level of the museum, the nearly 2,000-square-foot network of galleries serves to educate visitors about the works of American artists Remington and Russell. Admission to the gallery is free. “When the museum expanded in 2001, we gained additional space to exhibit our renowned collection,” says Rick Stewart, senior curator of western paintings and sculpture. “What we found was that our visitors wanted to know even more about Remington and Russell and their techniques. We hope these galleries better acquaint the public with the life and works of these two great American artists.” The galleries feature the self-taught artists’ oil paintings, watercolors and drawings. Nearly 100 artworks are on view, and the museum plans to periodically rotate some of the works. Several interactive features comprise the galleries, including pull-out drawers with large works on paper and a computer workstation. Museum visitors may also watch a short animation that depicts the lost-wax bronze casting process utilized by Remington and Russell. Additional works by Remington can be viewed in the second-level paintings and sculpture galleries. In addition to the interpretative galleries, the museum has launched a website, the definitive online resource for any scholar or layperson interested in Remington, Russell and their more

Song Of The Day #156

Here is Charlie Walker's 1961 recording of Good Deal, Lucille.

It's available on his 21 track CD Greatest Honky-Tonk Hits.

Hot damn this song really makes me wanna dance.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Apollo Alliance

What is the Apollo Alliance and how did they get their start? What role do they play in the environment/green jobs movement and what provisions in the stimulus bill did they write?

Tom Wright, in his piece The Apollo Stimulus, says:

Ever wonder who wrote the stimulus bill? Evidence is now surfacing in news reports it was the Apollo Alliance, a green jobs caldron of ideas dedicated to saving the earth and punishing those who are unfriendly to the environment...If you look at their board, they are mostly leftists and some really radical leftist like former member Van Jones, the now defrocked green jobs czar who was a self-avowed communist and community organizer in Oakland, Calif. Other former members include ACORN’s founder, Wade Rathke, and current member Gerald Hudson, vice president of the Service Employees International Union. The Apollo Alliance is mostly a shell corporation, and as its name indicates, is an alliance of environmentally centered organizations, union flunkies for the left like the Service Union Employees International, who turn out carrying signs for Obama’s health care rallies. Others, like John Podesta, CEO of the Center for American Progress and former Clinton chief of staff, lend their political savvy of progressive policy to the group, which has caught an angle on how to snare a large portion of the stimulus money for creating and funding green industries...Van Jones left the board when he was appointed as an advisor to President Obama, but was an active board member when the stimulus bill was written. Jones has been quoted as describing Apollo as “a grand unified field theory for progressive left causes.” Also close to Apollo is Jeffrey Carl Jones, who serves as a consultant to the national Apollo organization and runs an Apollo affiliate in Upstate New York. Jeffrey Jones was a national officer in the Students for a Democratic Society and along with Bill Ayers, later founded the Weather Underground, which bombed buildings and ran from the law for 10 years...

For a complete background on the group, including its origins, funding and goals, see The Apollo Alliance: Unifying Activists on the Left written by Phil Kerpen for the Capital Research Center.

That report also highlights their success in writing certain provisions in the stimulus bill:

In late 2008, the Apollo Alliance seized on
the fi nancial crisis to repackage its policy
ideas as a stimulus measure to be called the
Apollo Economic Recovery Act (AERA).
These were included in the stimulus bill, the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
(ARRA), which Congress passed in February
2009. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-Nevada) specifi cally credited Apollo,
saying: “The Apollo Alliance has been an
important factor in helping us develop and
execute a strategy that makes great progress
on these goals and in motivating the public
to support them.”

There are more similarities between ARRA
and AERA than their names. A lengthy
analysis of the legislation posted on Apollo’s
website itemizes the parallels.

• Apollo wanted the government to
spend $50 billion on green jobs
programs. The stimulus bill spends
$110 billion.
• Apollo’s recommendation of more
spending for Energy Effi ciency and
Conservation Block Grants was
• Apollo recommended fully funding
the Weatherization Assistance
program. The stimulus bill gave
the program more than fi ves times
the amount Apollo called “full
• Apollo recommendations for the
electricity system, including extending
the production tax credit,
transmission grid upgrades, and carbon
capture and storage research,
were accepted.

Apollo did not merely claim credit for policy
ideas. As Sen. Reid pointed out, Apollo was
responsible for them.

Read the report and find out who is influencing Congress and the administration.

If you're getting gigged its nice to know who's gigging you. And keep your equipment ready, as we may get to do some gigging ourselves in the not to distant future.

Documentary explores effects of gas industry in Colo.

Chris Mobaldi and her husband, Steve, used to live in Rulison until Mobaldi's strange, increasing health problems drove them out. Convinced their water supply was contaminated by nearby natural gas drilling, the Mobaldis walked away from their house and moved to Grand Junction. Mobaldi is one of several Garfield County landowners interviewed in a new documentary titled “Split Estate.” Physicians, scientists and industry employees are also featured in the film. “Split Estate” explores the effects of the natural gas industry on landowners in Colorado and New Mexico. The film is being shown tonight at Mesa State College. In split estate situations, the surface rights and subsurface (mineral) rights for a piece of land are owned by different parties. According to the Bureau of Land Management, mineral rights in a split estate take precedence over other rights including those associated with owning (and living) on the surface. “Split Estate” deals with health problems many landowners attribute to natural gas industry contamination of their water wells as well as the air they breath. “Split Estate” premiered at the International Documentary Association's 13th annual DocuWeeks Theatrical Documentary Showcase in New York City and Los Angeles in August. Being invited to the showcase means the film qualifies for Academy Award more

Aldo Leopold might call it the new agrarianism

One hundred years ago, a great American conservationist began a job in the Southwest as a ranger with the U.S. Forest Service. Over the course of an influential career, Aldo Leopold advocated a variety of conservation methods, including wilderness protection, sustainable agriculture, wildlife research, ecological restoration, environmental education, land health, erosion control and watershed management. But perhaps most important, he advocated a land ethic. Each of these concepts continues to resonate, perhaps more than ever as the challenges of the 21st century grow more complicated and pressing. But it was Leopold's emphasis on conserving whole systems — soil, water, plants, animals and people — that is crucial today. The health of the entire system, he argued, is dependent on its indivisibility. The force that knits it all together is the land ethic, a moral obligation we willingly assume to protect the soil, water, plants, animals and people living together as one community. After Leopold's death in 1948, however, the idea of a whole system seemed to break into fragments, beset by a rising tide of industrialization and materialism. Fortunately, a scattered but determined effort is now under way to knit the whole back together, and it's beginning where it matters most –– on the ground. Leopold's call for a land ethic is the root of the “new agrarianism,” a diverse suite of ideas and practices based on the bedrock belief that genuine health and wealth depends on the land's fertility. In Latin, agrarius means “pertaining to land.” This resurgent movement includes a dynamic intermixing of ranchers, farmers, conservationists, scientists and others who aim to create an economy that works in harmony with more

Governor calls special legislative session on water

Although state lawmakers didn't reach agreement on a deal to fix California's broken water system by the Oct. 11 deadline imposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he said in the final minutes before midnight Sunday that he'd found enough progress in efforts to solve the state's crippling water supply problems to call a special session of the Legislature. Members have been called back to Sacramento and they're preparing to discuss a package of bills. The bill package includes a policy bill—a five-part bill sequence that was rolled into a single omnibus bill—and a bond measure that would require a two-thirds majority vote for passage. Farm advocates characterize the package as "inadequate," but say they will continue working to encourage passage of comprehensive water-system more

US Senate Moves to Seize Deserts Under S. 787, a Clean Water Bill

If you ride an ATV or other OHVs in the desert or other type of "playa lake", "mudflat" or "sandflat" your right to ride on public Sunset at the Desert by Matt FinleyAND private land could be getting washed away in the name of The Clean Water Act. According to a congressional bill, S 787, "intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds;". will be moved under federal jurisdiction and subject to regulation. That's pretty much all the water except subterranean (well) water. The wordage in the original Clean Waters Act of 1972 for this bill was purposefully changed: by striking `navigable waters' each place it appears and inserting `waters of the United States'. This bill goes to the Senate on October 15, 2009. From there it goes to the House, then to the POTUS to be signed into law. This is in addition to the federal take-over of the auto industry, the credit and banking industry, the bid to seize the health-care industry, and everything else our current administration is trying to control. Matt's 4-Wheel Drive Blog

Bird hunter kills sow grizzly

Duty, who interviewed the hunter, said it appears that the man and his dog were following a lane or game trail through the brush and came to a dead end in shrubs and berry bushes that were well over his head. He surprised a female grizzly who was bedded down for the day with three cubs. Duty said the hunter was probably 20 feet from the bear when he saw her. He said the hunter told him she was on her feet and took two big lunges toward him. He fired three times at her with a 20-gauge semi-automatic shotgun, Duty said. The third shot, including the wad, hit the bear in the forehead and brought her down, fatally wounded. Duty said the man rejoined his hunting party and then they walked about a mile back to their vehicle, drove to the landowner’s ranch house and called FWP and the Teton County Sheriff’s Office. Duty and Blauer responded together, and Duty conducted the investigation. Duty said on Tuesday that the case appears to be a self-defense shooting. He said he has conferred with a federal investigator since shooting a grizzly bear can be a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. He said the investigation will be considered open until the results of a necropsy on the bear are done at the state lab in Bozeman. Unless new evidence comes to light, however, he said he considers it a case of justified shooting in defense of the life of the more

Grizzly bears on the prowl near Simms

State wildlife officials are warning Simms-area landowners to watch for grizzly bears, which are following the Sun River to reach areas where they haven't been in decades. About a dozen sightings of grizzlies have been reported since July. Rancher Jack Kirby says he spotted grizzlies feeding on a cow's carcass last Friday at about dusk. It was the first time he had seen a grizzly in his 62 years at the ranch. Mike Madel, a grizzly bear management specialist with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says the bears were probably a female and three cubs spotted frequently in the Simms area. Madel says at some ranches, bears have been eating feed in calf feeders. Madel says he expects the bears in the Simms area to leave on their own by the end of the month, returning to elevations of about 6,000 feet to hibernate. AP

Plan for million-acre horse sanctuary hits hurdle

Plans to use a million-acre ranch in northeastern Nevada once owned by the actor Jimmy Stewart as a wild horse sanctuary have been rejected by officials. A proposal by Winecup-Gamble Ranch to change from cattle to horse grazing has been rejected by the Elko County Board of Commissioners. The ranch, about 110km northeast of the city of Elko, comprises about 250,000 acres of deeded land and 750,000 acres owned mostly by the Bureau of Land Management, as well as some private land. The ranch has full access and a grazing permit over the bureau lands. The property, which was also once owned by Bing Crosby, has operated as a cattle and sheep property since the late 1800s and runs about 9000 cattle, with the ability to support up to 12,500. The Elko County Board of Commissioners heard an application to move the ranch from cattle to horses, the intention being to take up to 10,000 of the wild horses currently held in captivity by the bureau. The plan for the property includes a lodge, visitor centre and museum detailing the history of wild horses. However, the county commissioners ruled against the more

Invading giant snakes threaten U.S wilderness areas

Burmese pythons and other giant snakes imported as pets could endanger some of America's most important parks and wilderness areas if they are allowed to multiply, according to a report released on Tuesday. Wildlife experts say the Burmese python is distributed across thousands of square miles (kilometers) in south Florida. There could be tens of thousands in the Everglades, a wildlife refuge that is home to the Florida panther and other endangered species. The Burmese python and four other non-native snakes -- boa constrictors, yellow anacondas, northern and southern African pythons -- are considered "high-risk" threats to the health of U.S. ecosystems because they eat native birds and animals, the U.S. Geological Survey report said. Two species, the boa constrictor and Burmese python, have already established breeding populations in south Florida and experts have found "strong evidence" that the northern African python may be breeding in the wild as more

Wyo. Pays Out $443,000 For Wildlife Damage Claims

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department paid $443,450 in fiscal year 2009 to ranchers and others who lost livestock, crops, honey, feed and fences to predators and wildlife. The agency paid out $253,733 the previous year. Payments are made to compensate for damage or deaths caused by wolves, bears, elk, birds and other animals. Wolves and grizzly bears were the source of 50 percent of the predation compensation payments this year. Grizzly bears accounted for 26 percent, and wolves 24 percent. AP

ND grazing groups mulling new federal agreements

The two major rancher associations in western North Dakota's federal grasslands are deciding whether to sign new 10-year agreements with the U.S. government to govern the administration of grazing permits. The technical agreements between the Forest Service and the Medora and McKenzie County grazing associations would replace accords that expired Monday for grazing on much of the 1 million-acre Little Missouri National Grasslands - the largest grazing area in the country governed by the Forest Service. The new agreements do not, however, answer the question of how much grazing will be reduced under a new management plan implemented earlier this decade for the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, a Forest Service division that oversees the Little Missouri and three other national grasslands in North Dakota and South Dakota totaling just under 1.3 million acres. Grazing reductions are being determined through a separate process expected to continue for another seven more

Wyo. Ranchers Find Innovative Ways To Carry On

At the turn of the 20th century, ranching was the challenge of a lifetime. It was an opportunity to tame the West, reside atop the prairie while working hard to feed, clothe and live in a country where dangers were around every turn in the dusty road. Between cold winters, inadequate water supply and outlaws, the risk was life and death for the early Campbell County homesteaders. Now, nine years into the 21st century, times have changed and opportunity in ranching is no longer what it once was. The risk has changed from fighting day in and day out for survival to striving to maintain the same lifestyle. New challenges have made it nearly impossible to establish the same roots that homesteaders did 100 years ago. Land prices, industrial stagnation, government involvement and general lack of interest by new generations are some major roadblocks that have changed the role of traditional ranching. But ranching as a lifestyle will never go away so long as there is land to graze and people who need to be fed. A new generation of risk takers are willing to take up the challenges posed by the modern more

Bob Barker Plans to Fund Additional Animal Law Programs

At the 8th annual West Hollywood Book Festival Bob Barker used his Q&A session to promote the animal law programs that he has helped fund at several colleges and universities. Since 2001, Bob Barker has donated up to $1 million to eight law schools including Columbia, Harvard, Stanford and UCLA and $1 million for an undergraduate program at his Alma Mater, Drury University. At the festival, Barker told the crowd that he plans to aid universities in the creation of more animal law programs throughout the nation and expressed his satisfaction with the animal law program at Drury. Barker explained that he “got the idea to fund animal law degrees at universities because so many law degree programs are impacted and the level of interest in animal law has increased greatly amongst students and the public.” NABR

Against meat or against agriculture?

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is disappointed that yet another anti-agriculture activist voice has been welcomed into the media spotlight.ᅠ New York Times readers were confronted with some of the most negative stereotypes of modern agriculture on Oct. 11, when Jonathan Safran Foer's "Against Meat" ran in the food edition of the Sunday magazine. It's not a surprise to see Foer writing such a one-sided account of meat production. In 2006, he helped create a video entitled "If This is Kosher..." for PETA to encourage those of the Jewish faith to become vegetarians that included undercover footage from PETA and Animal Liberation Israel. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Farming Forward, a group that he cites within his article that actively promotes the greatest myths of modern farming as fact. Farming Forward is a vegetarian activist group headed by a business consultant and a professor of religious studies; just as with Michael Pollan, an agricultural background is notably missing. The group's Web site pushes for agricultural practices that were replaced long ago by more productive and sustainable methods, stating that it is "easier to see inside a prison than a CAFO" and that "99 percent of meat is produced in unsustainable and cruel factory farming methods." more

Steam train coming back through

Spewing steam as it grandly chugged across Montana's Hi-Line in July, the Southern Pacific "Daylight" No. 4449 steam engine was a sight not to be missed. Unfortunately, some people did. Train fanatics will get a second chance to see and ride the historic train as it heads back to Portland this week. Arguably one of the most beautiful locomotives ever built, the grand lady of the art deco era is now retired to a static display in Portland's Oaks Park. Built in 1941, SP 4449 originally ran from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Portland. The last time it ran was in the 1970s, when it was selected to pull the American Freedom Train throughout the United States. Starting today, the train leaves Minneapolis for Fargo. The second leg is from Fargo to Minot and after a layover in Minot on Thursday, the SP 4449 will head to Havre on Friday. The only leg completely in Montana is the Saturday trek from Havre to Whitefish, which also offers spectacular views of Glacier National Park. The train will spend a day in Whitefish before heading to Spokane on Oct. 19 and then from Spokane to Portland the following day. People can ride in the vintage passenger cars, with fares ranging from $199 to $499 for each leg of the journey. Or for a little more cash, they can stay overnight in one of the Pullman more

On the edge of common sense: Improve the needs of food, clothing, shelter

Food, clothing and shelter, the basic essentials of life. From the earliest caveman to modern soccer mom, from the Palestinian refugee to the Hurricane Katrina victim, from the Dalai Lama to Dolly Parton, first on the list is something to eat, something to wear and someplace to live. Food is first on the list because it is most essential. As has been said, "When you have lots to eat, you have lots of problems, when you don't have enough to eat, you have one problem." The latest eco-news slant de jour is the hysteric "discovery" that ruminants (enteric fermentation) release more methane into the atmosphere than cars (mobile transportation). In fact, they release many times more, though it stays in the atmosphere a much shorter time than carbon dioxide. But it's too bad they can't mention methane is only one of the big three greenhouse gases, along with carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. All of agriculture produces only 5.87 percent of all greenhouse gas. Energy production and use (coal, oil, natural gas and transportation) is responsible for a whopping 86.3 percent. And, transportation (cars and trucks) accounts for 33 percent of all those fossil fuel emissions. Do the more

Song Of The Day #155

Ranch Radio will stay in the 60's for the rest of this week.

Our selection today was a favorite of mine while a sophomore in high school. This is Stonewall Jackson's 1962 recording of Old Showboat.

It's available on the 23 track CD The Best of Stonewall Jackson.

test post


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Schwarzenegger Says California Cows Can Keep Tails

California cows are the first in the nation with the legal right to swat flies as nature intended now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill banning the painful practice of tail docking that he once mocked as being a waste of legislators' time. "We were always confident that if reality could trump the rhetoric, the governor would see the merits of this," said Jennifer Fearing, who lobbied for the tail docking bill for the Humane Society of the United States, which vows to take the fight against the removal of tails to other large dairy-producing states such as Wisconsin, Vermont and New York. Dairy officials say the practice of cutting off cow tails to prevent them from slinging manure is practiced on fewer than 15 percent of the state's 1.5 million dairy cows. Docking is usually done without numbing, either with sharp shears or with a tight rubber band that stops the blood flow and causes the tail to more

Schumer Amendment Would Deny Protections to Bloggers

The U.S. Congress has been working all year on the development of a federal shield law, which would offer journalists a "qualified privilege against disclosing the identity of sources and turning over information obtained or created in the course of newsgathering." The long-sought protection would allow journalists to work with whistle-blowers and anonymous sources free of the fear that they could be compelled, at the threat of prosecution and punishment, to disclose the identity of such sources. But now, thanks to an amendment put forward by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the Senate Judiciary Committee, a boundary line has been drawn around who shall be shielded, and everyone who plies their journalistic trade as an independent blogger or a citizen journalist has ended up on the wrong side of that more

Watch what you tweet

A social worker from New York City was arrested last week while in Pittsburgh for the G-20 protests, then subjected to an FBI raid this week at home -- all for using Twitter. Elliot Madison faces charges of hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime. He was posting to a Twitter feed (or tweeting, as it is called) publicly available information about police activities around the G-20 protests, including information about where police had issued orders to disperse. While alerting people to public information may not seem to be an arrestable offense, be forewarned: Many people have been arrested for the same "crime" -- in Iran, that more

Federal scientists: Limit offshore drilling plans

The federal government's top ocean scientists are urging the Interior Department to drastically reduce plans to open the coast to offshore oil and gas drilling, citing threats to marine life and potentially devastating effects of oil spills in Arctic waters. The recommendations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are informal and not binding. But if adopted, they would restrict development in some of the nation's most resource-rich untapped offshore areas and mark a significant departure from the pro-drilling policies of the George W. Bush administration. They also give added -- and official -- weight to environmentalists' concerns. In a letter sent to Interior officials last month, NOAA recommended excluding large tracts of the Alaska coast, the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico from Interior's draft offshore drilling plan for 2010 to more

White House expands climate campaign

President Barack Obama's so-called green team has undergone a growth spurt. The group of Cabinet secretaries and White House advisers who meet regularly to craft the president's energy and environmental agenda now numbers 13, double what it was during the administration's early days. It's just one of the signs that the administration is stepping up its push to pass energy and climate legislation this year, as the Senate continues to wrangle with Obama's other top domestic priority, health care reform. The House has already passed a bill. Since the summer, when everyone else's attention was focused on the heated town hall meetings over health care, Obama administration officials have been meeting with more than half the Senate, made calls to nearly 100 mayors in 17 states, and met with numerous governors, according to White House records. Their goal, according to Carol Browner, the president's assistant for energy and climate change, "is to get the bill moving and keep it moving." more

Energy crisis is postponed as new gas discovered

Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, said proven natural gas reserves around the world have risen to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, enough for 60 years' supply – and rising fast. "There has been a revolution in the gas fields of North America. Reserve estimates are rising sharply as technology unlocks unconventional resources," he said. This is almost unknown to the public, despite the efforts of Nick Grealy at "No Hot Air" who has been arguing for some time that Britain's shale reserves could replace declining North Sea output. Rune Bjornson from Norway's StatoilHydro said exploitable reserves are much greater than supposed just three years ago and may meet global gas needs for generations. "The common wisdom was that unconventional gas was too difficult, too expensive and too demanding," he said, according to Petroleum Economist. "This has changed. If we ever doubted that gas was the fuel of the future – in many ways there's the answer." The breakthrough has been to combine 3-D seismic imaging with new technologies to free "tight gas" by smashing rocks, known as hydro-fracturing or "fracking" in the trade. The US is leading the charge. Operations in Pennsylvania and Texas have already been sufficient to cut US imports of liquefied natural gas (LGN) from Trinidad and Qatar to almost nil, with knock-on effects for the global gas market – and crude oil. It is one reason why spot prices for some LNG deliveries have dropped to 50pc of pipeline more

Eminent domain considered for getting access to forest

After years of negotiations have failed to gain access across one mile of private land to reach 16,000 acres of the Gallatin National Forest, the agency is considering pursuing an easement through the use of eminent domain. "We certainly don't approach the use of eminent domain lightly," said Marna Daley, the Gallatin's public-affairs officer. The agency has never used the big-stick approach to gain access in Montana, and it has rarely used it elsewhere in the United States. Even now, Gallatin Forest officials are hesitant to use the word, but they say there are limited courses of action left. "There's a discussion right now with the Washington office about our next course of action," said Bill Avey, Big Timber District ranger. "I explained to my boss that it appears we're out of options at this time." According to Forest Service research, public use of the road dates back to 1896. A ranger cabin existed on the forest in the early 1900s. Because it is the closest forest access to Big Timber, the road and mountains it leads to are popular with big-game hunters. In the Gallatin's travel plan, the area is specifically geared to motorcycle use, offering a number of loop routes on single-track trails. Despite the well-documented historic use, in 1991 the Sweet Grass County commissioners declined to declare the road a public more

Kennel owners win legal fight with forest

A federal judge has ruled there are circumstances when dogs can be defined as livestock, a decision that clears the way for a northern Idaho kennel business to continue operating on land where federal Wild and Scenic River rules apply. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge is a victory for Ron and Mary Park, owners of Wild River Kennels, and a legal blow to the U.S. Forest Service. It also ends, for now, a 10-year-old legal dispute for the kennel, which is built along the Clearwater River near Kooskia. The kennel property is along private land subject to an easement under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. While the easement allows for livestock farming, the forest service claimed dogs and commercial kennels didn't qualify and that the business should not be allowed to operate. Lodge initially agreed with the government, and in 2005 issued a ruling that concluded that dogs, even under broad definitions, could not be deemed livestock. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Lodge got it wrong and sent the case back. While the justices acknowledged the uncertainty of classifying dogs as livestock, they said wording in the easement defining livestock was too ambiguous. Lodge changed course in his latest ruling, filed recently in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene, and attempts to set parameters when dogs fit the livestock designation. "Under the facts of this case, the court finds that the dogs being used on the easement property for breeding, hunting and boarding are dogs being used for work and/or profit and can be considered livestock under the plain meaning of the term livestock," Lodge more

Assignment Earth: Mexican wolves (video)

‘Family feud’ threatens to hurt ethanol lobby

A “family feud” between rival ethanol lobbies represents a "clear and present danger to the corn industry," according to an internal memo written by the president of a third trade association that represents corn farmers. The memo provides a rare public airing between trade groups usually limited to internal conference calls or K Street happy hour conversations. Darrin Ihnen, president of the National Corn Growers Association, painted a dramatic picture of a bitter rivalry between the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy for members in a lengthy report that warned of dire consequences, including the loss of political support on Capitol more

Vilsack: Climate bill tough sell to farmers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged today that he’s having a tough time selling farmers on the idea that climate legislation won’t hurt their bottom line and could increase their income. “It’s going to require us to repeat it over and over again to sink through,” he said during an appearance before the Society of Environmental Journalists in Madison. Studies have shown, in fact, that the House-passed bill contains provisions that would soften the impact on fertilizer and fuel costs and that many farmers, including corn and soybean growers, actually will benefit from the bill because it will increase the price of their crops. He assured the journalists farmers will figure out ways to reduce their use of fertilizer and energy to reduce their costs. Vilsack also expressed confidence that farmers will widely benefit from selling carbon credits, but he pointedly said it’s too early to tell what farming practices will qualify for credits. Vilsack also said the climate bill “shouldn’t necessarily drive up food costs,” noting that commodity costs represent only a fraction of the price of processed more

Decline in grocery food prices stretches to farmers' profits

Prices in the grocery store are down by 10 percent from last year, the Iowa Farm Bureau reports. So are farmers' profits. The Farm Bureau's survey of food prices shows the fourth consecutive quarterly decline from 2008, when corn and soybean prices hit record levels and food processing companies and supermarket chains were warning of spikes in food prices. Instead, commodity prices have come down. Prices for corn, soybeans and livestock are slightly more than half of what they were 12 months ago. Not surprisingly, it's the farmers who now feel the squeeze. "While the decline in global demand has helped bring prices down for shoppers, a combination of decreased demand and other factors has made things more difficult for farmers, particularly those who raise livestock," said Dave Miller, director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm more

Prospects Distant for Offshore Wind in West

Eastern states from North Carolina to Maine are working on plans for offshore wind power. Why is nothing happening off the West Coast, where the winds also blow strong? The main problem, experts say, is topography. Whereas the continental shelf extends for miles off the East Coast, the bedrock drops off sharply just beyond the West Coast –- making it too deep to anchor the turbines with current technology. A second difficulty is power prices. Electricity in California, while expensive relative to the middle of the country, is still cheaper than in most of New England. This makes offshore wind projects less economical. (Electricity in Washington and Oregon is cheaper still.) Western states also have an abundance of what Easterners do not: more

Wounded bear mauls 83-year-old hunter

A brown bear turned the tables Monday on an 83-year-old hunting party member in the Tahoe National Forest near Camptonville, severely mauling the man's arm and shoulder, authorities said. The victim, Orval Sanders of Oroville, was taken by helicopter to Sutter Roseville Medical Center where he underwent surgery for a crushed left wrist, said Mark Lucero of the state Department of Fish and Game. Sanders and six other men were hunting with dogs near Alleghany in Sierra County when they treed three bears. One of three bears came down from the tree after being shot and attacked Sanders, said Lucero. "The bear came out of the tree and grabbed the guy," badly mauling his arm and shoulder, said Lucero. Sanders told an investigator that he tried to protect himself by raising both arms in front of him. The bear slashed and bit both arms, said Lucero. It was not clear if Sanders was carrying a gun when attacked, said more

Lisa Jackson's California Dreaming

According to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, climate change regulations have their "roots" in California, and much of what President Obama is trying to accomplish is guided by what California has already achieved. She touts that the United States is finally "catching up with what's happening in California."

But what do we want to catch up to, asks the Heritage Foundation?

* A report by the American Lung Association from May 17, 2009 shows that Los Angeles, Fresno, Bakersfield, Sacramento, Visalia and Hanford all rank in the top 10 of one or all three categories of pollution: short-term particle pollution, ozone pollution and year-round particle pollution.
* California's unemployment rate for August 2009 was 12.2 percent, nearly 5 percentage points higher than a year ago and tied for fourth highest in the country.

Maybe the results will come in the future but it's highly unlikely the economic pain will be worth the negligible environmental benefits. Supporters argue that thousands of green jobs will be created, however, David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation warns that green job growth is "grossly overstated because they don't take into account the jobs lost elsewhere."

The irony of mainstream environmentalists praising one of the most polluted states as a model to follow in one of the most polluted cities in America has not been lost on critics. It has become very clear that the concern is not so much for the pollution itself: mainstream environmentalists offer effulgent praise to California, calling it a "green state" not because it is clean but because it has installed stringent greenhouse gas regulations. The California energy plan should be used as a lessons learned model rather than hailed as a success.

Source: Nick Loris, "EPA's Lisa Jackson: It's Time the Rest of the U.S. Caught Up with California," Heritage Foundation, October 7, 2009.

For text go here.


When fire came over the mountain

THE BIG BURN By Timothy Egan Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 352 pages. Not since David McCullough's 1968 "The Johnstown Flood" grabbed readers and hurled them down the narrow Conemaugh Valley to certain doom can I remember a natural-disaster yarn that yanks one by the back of the neck face to face with horror the way Timothy Egan's "The Big Burn" brings the great Western fire of 1910 over the mountain to destroy the town of Wallace, Idaho. Before it burned itself out, the inferno consumed 3 million acres in just two days, and blazes elsewhere in the panhandle of Idaho, western Montana and eastern Oregon had burned up an area larger than the state of Connecticut. More than 10,000 men had been dispatched to the various conflagrations from as far away as California and Arizona, but most were too late to do more than rescue the handful of fledgling U.S. Forest Service rangers who had never had a chance to snuff out the early fires before they became an incinerating tsunami that evaporated everything in its path. Mr. Egan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (one of his five previous books, "The Worst Hard Times," won a National Book Award) is at the top of his game with this tale. It is both the story of the worst fire ever to sweep modern America at that time and a deft political tale of how we got the public land policy and conservation movement we have today - and how vulnerable that policy is to the pressures of human more

Light Bulbs vs. The Nanny State (video)

Debate Follows Bills to Remove Clotheslines Bans

After taking a class that covered global warming last year, Jill Saylor decided to save energy by drying her laundry on a clothesline at her mobile home. Mary Lou Sayer, who uses her dryer sparingly, hanging wet laundry indoors at her condominium in Concord, N.H. “I figured trailer parks were the one place left where hanging your laundry was actually still allowed,” she said, standing in front of her tidy yellow mobile home on an impeccably manicured lawn. But she was wrong. Like the majority of the 60 million people who now live in the country’s roughly 300,000 private communities, Ms. Saylor was forbidden to dry her laundry outside because many people viewed it as an eyesore, not unlike storing junk cars in driveways, and a marker of poverty that lowers property values. In the last year, however, state lawmakers in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont have overridden these local rules with legislation protecting the right to hang laundry outdoors, citing environmental concerns since clothes dryers use at least 6 percent of all household electricity more

Song Of The Day #154

Ranch Radio is still having a little fun with Obama Named Country Music Entertainer of the Year and Mr. President, I Knew Charley Pride, And You're No Charley Pride.

Personally, I think Obama is taking this country off the reservation with his assinine economic policies and the many wooden heads he's appointed to high positions.

Speaking of the reservation and wooden heads, our tune today is Kawliga by, you guessed it, Charley Pride. Both Pride songs featured can be found on The Essential Charley Pride.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mr. President, I Knew Charley Pride, And You're No Charley Pride

Obama Named Country Music Entertainer of the Year

NASHVILLE (The Borowitz Report) - President Barack Obama stunned the country music world today by picking up its highest honor, Country Music Entertainer of the Year. Mr. Obama was chosen unanimously, according to the Country Music Association, beating out such favorite as Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith. In Nashville, country music insiders were shocked by Mr. Obama's selection, given that he has only been in office for eight months and during that time has yet to record a single country song. But Mr. Obama was gracious in receiving the honor, saying that he was "honored and humbled" by the award before excusing himself to accept this year's Heisman Trophy.

Obama Urged to Intensify Push for Climate Measure

President Obama is coming under renewed pressure internationally and in the United States to throw his weight behind climate-change legislation, which advocates fear has suffered in light of the president's sweeping domestic agenda. The Nobel committee's announcement Friday that Obama won the Peace Prize was a fresh reminder that much of the world expects him to lead the way toward a global climate pact. The committee cited his "more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges." And in Washington, advocates are clamoring for more evidence that Obama will make good on his campaign promise to impose the first-ever national cap on greenhouse gases. Last week, the leading author of Senate climate legislation sought personal assurances from Obama during an Oval Office meeting, saying he wanted to "hear it from him directly" as he pushed more

Republican Senator Announces Support For Climate Bill

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced his support for a climate bill this year on Sunday – but Democrats still face a steep climb to gain broad bipartisan backing for the legislation. Democrats need just a handful of Republicans to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Senate filibuster – if they can convince skeptical coal- and manufacturing-state Democrats to support the bill. But while environmentalists heralded Graham’s support as a “game changer,” any climate bill still faces steep obstacles in the Senate. “We are also convinced that we have found… a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress,” Graham wrote in a Sunday New York Times op-ed co-authored with Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry. “It begins now, not months from now — with a road to 60 votes in the Senate.” more

Is Climate Change a Moral, Philosophical Belief? And Can You Be Fired Over It?

Tim Nicholson, former Head of Sustainability at Grainger, a UK property company, claims that he was let go in 2008 for his "strong" views on climate change and the environment, reports CNN. Turns out, Nicholson feels his dismissal was a form of discrimination against his beliefs and he's taking the case to court. It does seem a bit ironic to us that a sustainability officer would be fired for being...a sustainability officer. It would be one thing if the fella was at his wits end and chose to leave, but to be fired for environmental beliefs seems a little backwards. Here is where the story gets more interesting. Nicholson was fired back in 2008 and has since taken his case to court, alleging that believing in climate change and its future effects on the planet are more of a philosophical belief and therefore protected under the UK's Employment Equality (Religion and Beliefs) Regulations. Essentially, this climate change case has turned into an anti-discrimination case. Not only was Nicholson fired, but he claims that leader in the company "showed contempt" for his beliefs and even taunted more

Feeling green while the poor starve

Of all the insanities committed in the name of green politics, one of the most insane is the production of biofuels from food crops. In pursuit of increased proportion of energy from renewable sources, governments have realized that wind and solar power cannot make sufficiently large contributions. They have therefore turned to biofuels, a move that hugely delights their farming lobbies. Left at that, this might not have done too much damage outside of a massive misallocation of resources, but in a move that compounds insanity with thoughtless wickedness, they have chosen to do so out of food crops, rather than push forward the development of fuels from biological waste products such as husks, stalks and other cellulose surplus. Now Robin Pagnamenta reports in the Times that "Britain's self-sufficiency in wheat will end next year because a giant new biofuel refinery needs so much of the staple crop that home-grown supplies will be exhausted." Yes, we are now buying wheat on world markets to turn into fuel that is more expensive than that we can buy elsewhere or pump out of North Sea wells. That puts upward pressure on world prices, forcing up the price of foodstuffs. To affluent people this will be an inconvenience; to the poor it might mean starvation. We have, in effect, reintroduced the Corn Laws which were abolished in 1846, ensuring that the poor have to pay more for their bread as landowners and farmers benefit from higher prices. Well-to-do ladies driving their children to school in 4x4s can feel good that they are driving on 'green' fuel, even as people in poorer countries go hungry. Already there have been pasta protests in Italy and tortilla riots in Mexico, as poor people protest as the higher more

Algae Energy Orgy

When Adam Freeman graduated last December from Kennesaw State University in Georgia with a degree in biochemistry, he wanted to work in only one field: pond scum. Freeman had read that entrepreneurs were squeezing out fuel from the green muck known as algae, and he wanted to be one of them. So he set out on an algae road trip. With a list of more than 40 companies to visit, he drove from his hometown of Roswell, Georgia, to Vancouver, British Columbia, and back—sleeping on couches and knocking on companies' doors. But after four months and 18,000 miles, he realized that the industry wasn't what it purported to be. No one actually seemed to be producing oil. Most companies were simply growing scum without analyzing it. Some were bizarrely secretive. "I thought there'd be established companies where I could get a job, but there weren't," he says. Freeman saw firsthand the algae industry's slimy secret: Some companies have promised impossible amounts of oil based on speculation, raising millions from unwitting more

'Ill' wind blowing globally

In the world of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses, the planet is growing ever more interconnected, and possibly ill, say some researchers meeting in Flagstaff. These are some of the types of questions probed by researchers like Jeff Foster and Paul Keim at the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University. Researchers gathering in Flagstaff last week described new and changing threats to coral reefs, local birds and even prairie dogs as a result of multiple factors. It was a conference to share research on the Colorado Plateau, and farther. It's likely the overlaps between climate change, global commerce, inbreeding in small populations, introduced species, poor land management and domestic animals mingling with wildlife that all add up, Foster said. These factors together have lead to what's thought to be an upswing in infectious disease affecting animals and ecosystems worldwide, being tracked at NAU's labs, and elsewhere. "There is often no cure for wildlife or ecosystems that become infected," Foster said. The goal is largely to prevent infection from the start. Foster looks at brucellosis, a bacterial disease that can be passed from infected cattle and goats through milk and cheese to humans in unpasteurized milk. He's tracking the evolution of the disease, which pre-dates the domestication of more

When Public Power Is Used for Private Gain

In December 2003, Bruce Ratner, a New York real estate tycoon and owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, announced his long-simmering plans to build a 22-acre "urban utopia" in central Brooklyn, featuring more than a dozen office and apartment towers rising as high as 60 stories, a 180-room hotel, and a fancy new basketball arena for Ratner's Nets to call home. Dubbed the Atlantic Yards, this ambitious project faced several potentially ruinous obstacles. First, various private parties owned more than half of the 22-acre site, which meant time-consuming and possibly unsuccessful negotiations to acquire their land. Second, the size and scope of the project would violate numerous zoning restrictions on height, density, and use. And third, the powerful Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which runs New York City's subways, buses, and commuter trains, controlled a crucial 8-acre rail yard at the center of the proposed footprint. So Ratner did what most politically-connected elites do when they run into trouble: He turned to the government—including his old Columbia law school pal Gov. George Pataki—for a bailout. More specifically, Ratner partnered with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), a controversial and embattled state agency with the power to bypass zoning laws and seize private property via eminent domain. The result of that unholy union is Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, which New York's Court of Appeals—the state's highest court—will hear next Wednesday in Albany. At issue is the ESDC's use of eminent domain to seize privately-owned homes and businesses on behalf of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards. It's a classic case of eminent domain abuse. Ratner isn't planning to build a bridge or a road or any other legitimate public project that might permit the forceful taking of private property. He wants to build a basketball arena, sell tickets to the games (not to mention sell broadcast rights, advertising space, concessions, and merchandise), and make a big fat profit. That's not public use, it's private more

Obama administration backs Organ Mountains bill

Support for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act continues to grow, as the Obama administration has now offered its support to the legislation intended to protect the mountain range just east of Las Cruces and other scenic areas in Dona Ana County. The Obama administration endorsed the legislation at a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday in Washington, D.C. Resolutions in support of the legislation written by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, both D-N.M., to protect the Organs have already been adopted by the city of Las Cruces, town of Mesilla and Do-a Ana County governments. Gov. Bill Richardson has also thrown in his support for the bill. "This bill already had strong local support, and now we have the backing of the Obama administration," said Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Oscar Butler, vice chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, and Jerry Schickedanz, chairman of the group People for Preserving Our Western Heritage, were invited to testify at the hearing. While Schickedanz said he certainly supports efforts to preserve the Organs, he and others are opposed to the limitations that could be placed on ranchers and other users of the wilderness areas. "There are other ways to protect the lands," Schickedanz said. "It's premature to put this on the fast track for approval without a public hearing." more

Locals excluded from Devils Tower stakeholders meeting

A rancher whose property adjoins Devils Tower is upset over being excluded from a meeting in which stakeholders discussed which stories visitors should hear when they travel to the national monument. Park officials say the meeting was invitation only. And since the park is overseen by a federal agency, a meeting concerning Devils Tower is not subject to Wyoming’s open meetings law. About a dozen stakeholders made up of American Indians, climbing enthusiasts and park historians were invited to a two-day meeting last week in Hulett. The attendees discussed the park’s interpretation plan, an internal document that spells out which stories park rangers should tell to tourists. Rancher Ogden Driskill, whose property is next to the park’s south and east boundaries, feels he should have had a say in the process. Driskill said his family has lived near the park since 1880. He claims park officials have a history of excluding ranchers from stakeholder meetings. “I really honestly don’t think this was an oversight,” Driskill said. “We feel we should be offered a seat at the table.” more

Roof-Dwelling Boa Constrictor Captured

After causing a major stir in Fall River, Mass., a roof-dwelling boa constrictor is now in custody, reported TV station WPRI. The snake had been spotted repeatedly on the roof of a multifamily dwelling in recent weeks, according to various news reports. Nine feet in length, it was eye-catching enough to bring onlookers and aspiring nature photographers to the neighborhood. When animal control officers attempted to catch the reptile earlier this week, they had no luck, said WPRI. According to the station, the landlord and his friends pounced on the giant snake Thursday night as it slithered into the more

Golfer loses arm to alligator

A 77-year-old man lost his arm below the elbow Thursday when he was attacked by an alligator while playing golf on Fripp Island. The man, the father of a Fripp Island property owner, was playing the 11th hole of the island's Ocean Creek Golf Course at about 3 p.m. when the attack occurred. The victim was leaning down to pick up his ball when a 10-foot long alligator grabbed his arm, said Kate Hines, general manager of the Fripp Island Property Owners Association. Hines said the alligator dragged the man into a nearby pond and went into a series of "death rolls," a technique the reptile uses to tear apart its food. The man lost his arm in the more

Two families crucial to saving American bison

Jackie Means has only faded memories of her childhood pilgrimages to Custer State Park to view the famous buffalo herd. Her first adult visits, back in the 1960s, remain much more vivid. “There were buffalo all over,” she said. Back then, the herd’s size numbered 2,500, its peak, since reduced to prevent overgrazing its Black Hills refuge. Those glimpses of the buffalo were family reunions of a sort. Means’ paternal grandfather, Scotty Philip, once lauded as “The Man Who Saved the Buffalo,” raised the bison that provided the foundation for today’s Custer State Park herd. The park’s herd started in 1914, three years after his death, with the purchase of 36 buffalo for about $11,000 from the Philip ranch near Fort Pierre. Actually, Philip had a bit of help. He bought 83 buffalo from the estate of another rancher, Fred Dupree, who had rounded up five bison calves when buffalo were on the brink of extinction. But, as descendants of both the Philip and Dupree families attest, there was more to the story of how those two legendary ranchers helped spare the American bison from annihilation. Their wives, Mary Good Elk Woman Dupree and Sarah Philip, were unsung heroines in the saga, largely ignored by historians but credited by their families for their roles. Both women were Lakota, for whom the buffalo are sacred. And both, according to their descendants, helped persuade their husbands to rescue buffalo for their more