Saturday, December 05, 2009

Safeway recalls beef in Arizona, N.M.

In cooperation with Beef Packers, Inc.'s (Cargill) recall of 22,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that may be linked to an outbreak of Salmonella, Safeway Inc. is recalling fresh ground beef products with "Sell By" dates of September 28 through October 11, 2009. The recall affects all stores in Arizona and one store in New Mexico in the city of Gallup. While the recalled product is no longer in stores, Safeway is asking its customers to check all ground beef in their freezers. The recall includes fresh ground beef products sold during the dates listed above at the full-service counter in brown butcher paper and at the self-service area wrapped on black Styrofoam trays. These products include fresh ground beef, fresh ground beef patties, fresh meat balls, fresh meat loaf and fresh bell peppers stuffed with beef and pork. These products should be discarded or returned for a full more

Obama to join climate summit on its final day

Increasingly optimistic that decisions by China and India will yield a breakthrough in international climate negotiations, President Obama announced Friday that he would take a more active and dramatically timed role at this month's climate summit in Copenhagen. Obama will push back his visit to the conference to its final scheduled day, putting him in a better position to help broker an agreement, the White House announced. The White House also said the United States would pay "its fair share" of a $10-billion-a-year, short-term financing package from wealthy nations to help developing nations adapt to rising temperatures and make the transition to low-emission energy sources. It's unclear what that share would be, but Obama included more than $1 billion for such efforts in his proposed 2010 budget. The moves come in response to recent pledges by China and India to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, White House officials said, and after Obama's consultations this week with the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and more

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cringing Over Climategate

"Science and scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my administration on a wide range of issues, including … mitigation of climate change," President Barack Obama declared in a not-so-subtle dig at his predecessor soon after assuming office. "The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process. Public officials should not suppress or alter scientific technological findings." Last week's Climategate scandal is putting Obama's promise to the test. If he wants to pass, there are two things he should do, pronto: (1) Start singing hosannas to whoever broke the scandal instead of acting like nothing has happened; and (2) Ask eco-warriors at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit next week to declare an immediate cease-fire in their war against global warming pending a complete review of the more

MIT Team Asks: Is Increase in Greenhouse Gas Part of Natural Cycle?

A team of MIT scientists recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels -the first increase in ten years. What baffles the team is that this data contradicts theories stating humans are the primary source of increase in greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. Since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, however, it is probable that this may be part of a natural cycle - and not the direct result of man's more

Forest Service Cleared in Esperanza Fire Deaths

A mix of wind-stoked flames and a lapse in awareness -- not misconduct on the fire line -- is to blame for the deaths of five Forest Service firefighters in the 2006 Esperanza Fire, a federal probe has concluded. The findings were released Thursday after months of delays by the U.S. Agriculture Department's Office of Inspector General and are generally in line with previous investigations into the 43,000-acre wildfire, which tore through the hills south of Cabazon and overran the men of Forest Service Engine Crew 57. The three-year investigation centered on the actions of those who fought the blaze and could have led to criminal charges against fire personnel. But ultimately, investigators found no wrongdoing on the part of the Forest Service or Cal Fire. The agencies battled the Esperanza Fire together, but the report found that Cal Fire alone was in command of the fire. The determination that there was no misconduct was well received by some within the firefighting community, which has eagerly awaited the report's release. Investigators determined that the deaths were the result of an ill-advised decision by the crew to make a stand outside an unoccupied house, combined with extreme fire conditions fueled by Santa Ana winds. The report cited "rapid, unexpected fire behavior -- propelled by the sudden emergence of fire-related weather phenomena," as well as the location of the doomed more

Feds kill 7 wolves

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, with authorization from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, took a control action against wolves in the Stanley area last week, shooting seven members of the Basin Butte pack. Todd Grimm, Wildlife Services' Western District supervisor, said the wolves were shot from a helicopter and plane on Nov. 23 and 24. The pack's home range is around Stanley, about 60 miles north of Ketchum. "Since July 2008, these wolves have been implicated in 14 incidents of depredation, all but four taking place on private land," Grimm said. Grimm said that in August the pack killed 36 sheep in two nights, and have also killed seven adult cows and five calves in the past year, most recently killing cows in October and November. "After the Nov. 3 depredation, [Wildlife Services] got together with Fish and Game and decided to significantly reduce the pack," Grimm more

Air Force to expand training airspace in Dakotas

The U.S. Air Force is looking to quadruple the airspace in which it can it can conduct training exercises with its B-1 and B-52 bombers stationed in the Dakotas. The proposal would allow more military pilots to train locally, but some civilian pilots are concerned about the additional air traffic, and some ranchers worry flyovers by low-flying, 146-foot-long aircraft will spook their cattle. The Powder River Training Complex, centered just northwest of where South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana meet, now spans about 6,000 square miles. The space can accommodate only one or two bombers at a time, so some B-1B Lancers from South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base and B-52 Stratofortress bombers from North Dakota's Minot Air Force Base have had to fly as far as Nevada for their combat exercises, said George Stone, Ellsworth's airspace manager. Nelson said he's concerned about a flare hitting one of his natural gas wells or sparking a grass fire, and he worries about how falling debris will affect sheep that are lambing. "Having airplanes thunder over the top of them at 500 feet dropping magnesium flares and chaff is not going to be conducive to a good lamb crop,'' he more

Plan aims to protect tallgrass prairie

A conservation initiative seeks to preserve up to 1 million acres of tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills — some of the last stands of tallgrass in the nation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering buying voluntary conservation easements in 14 Kansas counties. Participating landowners would have control over day-to-day operations on their land, and be able to pass it on or sell it. The easements would prevent landowners from developing the land for residential or commercial use. The plan, still being developed, also might govern how much or where wind-energy operations could be placed, said Amy Thornburg with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver. The purchase, which would have to be approved by the secretary of the Interior, would be funded with proceeds collected by the federal government from offshore oil and gas leases. If the program is approved, Elam said, it would most likely begin in more

Judge orders construction of Nevada gold mine halted

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered a temporary halt to construction at Barrick Gold of North America’s Cortez Hills Mine in Lander County, Nev. The ruling is a blow to Barrick, which has nearly completed construction of the Cortez Hills facilities and is developing the open pit with an expectation of production beginning early next year. It’s a victory for environmental organizations and Western Shoshone tribes that filed an appeal after the U.S. District Court in Reno denied their request for an injunction against the project. “We think it’s very significant. How long it stays in place is another question,” said Julie Cavanaugh Bill of the Western Shoshone Defense Project, one of the organizations that filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over its approval of the Cortez Hills project. “We’re very pleased, but we feel bad for the contractors and workers.” Barrick and Bureau of Land Management officials declined comment early Thursday evening. The three-panel appeals court in San Francisco approved the appeal,claiming the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to perform sufficient study of dewatering impacts and potential mercury air emissions for ore transport at the more

EPA financial requirements could slam explorers and other U.S. small miners

EPA's intention to propose regulations requiring hardrock mining companies to post financial assurance with the agency has got explorers and miners fighting mad. During an environmental panel at the Northwest Mining Association meeting in Reno, National Mining Associate General Counsel Tammy Bridgeford accused the EPA of exaggerating "potential exposures and risk from modern mining operations." The agency's CERCLA Financial Responsibility Initiative for the Hardrock Mining Industry is aimed at improving financial assurance for new and operating hardrock mines and for mine site cleanups. EPA contends it is spending "significant resources on environmental review and permitting of new and operating mines and on mine clean ups." While well-funded mining operations have completed mine reclamation, the EPA claims, "there are many examples where mine operators have failed to make adequate financial provisions for closure costs and this has resulted in the abandonment of sites in unsafe and unacceptable environmental conditions. In these cases, state and federal agencies bear the financial burden of cleaning up the site." The EPA chose hardrock mining as its first priority for developing financial responsibility requirements for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly known as more

America's Great Horse Culture in Peril

It's near midnight as a two-tier cattle truck climbs a hill 50 miles from Tulsa, OK, grinding and spitting from its lumbering load. The grueling 1,000 mile trek that began at a horse auction near Waukegon, Illinois is far from over, as the truck's destination is a Texas holding pen earmarked for slaughter-bound horses nearly 355 miles away. If the truck makes it across the state line, it will deliver nearly 50 horses----yearlings, pregnant mares, registered Thoroughbreds, purebred Arabians, wild Mustangs and ponies, Appaloosas, and newly born foals to a Mexican slaughter house. While these equines have individual stories and backgrounds, they share one commonality: They were all purchased at auction by what is known in the industry as "kill buyers" who are fulfilling independent contracts with the slaughter house. As many as 22 horses have already died en route due to kicking injuries, water and food deprivation, and suffocation since departing the auction nearly 72 hours earlier. This scene is not set in the Dust Bowl era. The overweight, fragile truck is not filled with John Steinbeck's endearing "Joad" family seeking a better life . It's a glimpse into the all too real underworld of horse slaughter transport to plants located in Mexico and Canada-----fostering a highly egregious form of animal cruelty that continues unabated in the U.S. despite years of bitter public and political more

Gives you some insight on why they are winning.

Livestock leaders: Fight back with social media

The nation's ranchers are coming increasingly under attack from animal rights activists, leaders of the Kansas Livestock Association told their members at their convention Thursday. And one of the main ways to fight back? Blogging, tweeting and writing on Facebook. It may not have been welcome news for many in the room. "You may not think you're cut out for that," KLA vice president Todd Domer told them, "but you better get cut out for it. It's the future of the business." He and other industry leaders see the industry and the rancher lifestyle as under attack from Internet-savvy activists who are playing on the public's ignorance with biased or incorrect information. Fighting back means getting the message out that ranchers produce beef and other meats in a safe and humane fashion. Ranchers start with a big advantage: more than 97 percent of Americans eat meat and prefer beef, said Dan Thompson, director of Kansas State University's Beef Cattle Institute. "We're the home team," he said. But questions have been raised in the minds of many Americans by animal rights activists. People wonder whether the food is safe and the animals are well more

TSCRA Opposes House Bill To Extend Estate Tax

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) expressed strong disappointment today after the U.S. House of Representatives failed to truly reform the estate tax, also known as the death tax. The House passed H.R. 4154, a bill that if signed into law, will permanently extend the estate tax at the 2009 levels, without provisions to adjust it for inflation. The House bill will freeze the estate tax rate at its current level of 45 percent, a level that will hurt Texas ranchers who wish to pass their cattle operations on to their children and grandchildren. Virtually all ranchers are affected by the estate tax, as over 97 percent have been ranching for more than one generation and nearly 15 percent ranch on land that has been in their family for more than 100 years. The estate tax is considered one of the leading causes of the breakup of multi-generation family operations, as these estates are five to 20 times more likely to incur estate taxes, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. TSCRA strongly supports a full repeal of the estate tax; however, until this is a possibility, TSCRA supports lower tax rates, higher estate exemptions, and agricultural and wildlife production more

Song Of The Day #193

On The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine recorded in 1951 by Hal "Lone Pine" & Betty Cody is our tune this Friday.

The song is available on their 30 track CD On The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine.

I hope you like it, cause it's in their twice and just keeps playing, and I'm too damn tired to fix it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Obama science advisers grilled over hacked e-mails

House Republicans pointed to controversial e-mails leaked from climate scientists and said it was evidence of corruption. Top administration scientists looking at the same thing found no such sign, saying it doesn't change the fact that the world is warming. The e-mails from a British university's climate center were obtained by computer hackers and posted online about two weeks ago. Climate change skeptics contend the messages reveal that researchers manipulated and suppressed data and stifled dissent, and conservative bloggers are dubbing it "Climategate." In the first Capitol Hill airing of the issue, House Republicans Wednesday read excerpts from at least eight of the e-mails, saying they showed the world needs to re-examine experts' claims that the science on warming is settled. One e-mail from 2003 was by John Holdren, then of Harvard University and now the president's science adviser. The exploding controversy led Phil Jones to step aside as head of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia, the source of the e-mail exchanges. The university is investigating the matter. Penn State University also is looking into e-mails by its own researcher, Michael Mann. House Republicans asked for a separate hearing or investigation into the issue, but were rebuffed by Democrats. "These e-mails show a pattern of suppression, manipulation and secrecy that was inspired by ideology, condescension and profit," said U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. The science is proper and this is about a small fraction of research on the issue, said Holdren, a physicist who has studied climate more

Hage saga government at its worst

The case of Nevada rancher Wayne Hage should serve as a warning to all farmers and ranchers who depend on the cooperation of the federal government to make a living. What Hage and his family went through during 30-plus years of fighting with the government can best be described as a nightmare. In 1991, Hage sued the federal government in an attempt to regain access to the national forest grazing allotments. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims agreed with the government that the cattle were trespassing. However, in 2008, the court also agreed with Hage's lawyers that the government had taken his water rights, ditch rights-of-way, roads, water facilities and other structures. As compensation, the court ordered the government to pay Hage $4.22 million. It a final act of petulence, the government went back to court and asked the judge to reduce that award. The government claimed there was no proof Hage had built the fences, trails, pipelines and other facilities. He could only be compensated if he could prove he had built the facilities. Since Hage had died in 2006, the government's lawyers apparently thought they had a good chance of escaping from the damage it had done to Hage and his family. They were wrong. In a final twist, Senior Judge Loren Smith turned the government's request on its ear. Instead of reducing the judgment, he added $150,000 to the $4.22 million already more

The editorial goes on to call this the "saddest chapter in the history of the U.S. Forest Service" and hopes "it is also one the federal government chooses not to repeat." It may not be the saddest chapter, but it is the saddest one brought to light as a result of the intellect and fortitude of Wayne Hage. The feds will repeat this and worse, unless there are others out there with the courage and wherewithall to stand up to them. It will, unfortunately, take more than one victory to push back the feds and they will employ all their powers to keep this case from setting a precedent. You just watch'em.

Bedkes file suit for '07 cattle seizure

Three Oakley residents are suing the federal government and Cassia County officials for allegedly violating their constitutional rights by seizing 31 head of cattle and selling them at auction in 2007. The lawsuit was filed Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court by Jared K. Bedke, Bruce Byron Bedke and Martha Jean Bedke, who live in the Oakley Basin, against the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho State Brand Inspector, various Cassia County and sheriff’s office employees, along with other defendants. The Bedkes are seeking $1.5 million in actual and punitive damages along with their costs and fees, according to district court records. The suit claims that BLM unfairly managed the Goose Creek Group Allotment, south of Oakley, where the Bedkes and other ranchers grazed livestock. It charges that BLM allegedly exceeded its authority when it divided the range into private allotments. The plaintiffs claim that created the hardship of moving their cattle 20 miles instead of the usual two miles. Court records say Bruce Bedke refused to sign a new contract requiring him to maintain the fences surrounding his portion of the allotment and bear the entire cost. The lawsuit claims that although a group of ranchers enlisted BLM in 1963 to mediate the division of rangeland, it was not public land. According to the complaint the Bedkes allege there was no court order or warrant issued allowing the seizure of the cattle. They say they met with the Cassia County sheriff to request he protect their private property rights. The Bedkes also asked a Cassia County district judge to grant a temporary restraining order, which was more

Federal agency says prairie dogs not endangered

Black-tailed prairie dogs were denied protection under the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday after federal officials concluded the once prevalent species shows signs of rebounding. Decades of poisoning, shootings, the plague and loss of habitat to agriculture are blamed for a dramatic drop in prairie dog numbers since the early 1900s, from roughly one billion animals to an estimated 24 million today. In 2007, the New Mexico-based environmental activist group WildEarth Guardians petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the animal as threatened or endangered. But the agency said Wednesday the population is slowly spreading despite continued pressure from sickness and deliberate killings. "They reached a low point in approximately 1961 and have bounced back pretty good since then," said Joy Gober, the Fish and Wildlife biologist who drafted the decision. A representative of WildEarth Guardians said a federal court challenge to the ruling was more

The Dominoes Fall

The architect of climate fraud steps down, the creator of the infamous "hockey stick" is investigated, and Australia's parliament defeats cap-and-trade. We love the smell of truth in the morning. As the high priests of what Czech President Vaclav Klaus has called a "religion" prepare their pilgrimage to worship the earth goddess Gaia in Copenhagen, complete with humanity being sacrificed, the heresy of climate truth is finally being heard. The gospel of climate change, once expressed with the messianic fervor of an Elmer Gantry by Al Gore, is now expressed with the stammering incoherence of an Elmer Fudd by the defenders of doctored and destroyed data. This environmental house of cards has started to collapse and hopefully heads have begun to roll. Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, fast becoming the Bernie Madoff of climate change research, has agreed to step aside for a time while his and the perfidy of his peers are reviewed. He should be gone more

Cap-And-Trade Loss A Stunner In Aussie Vote

Cap-and-trade in Australia — which just a week ago was declared a certainty — is officially dead. This is the first major climate change turnaround anywhere in the Western world, with significant implications for our domestic debate. Combined with the Climate-gate e-mails revealing the data suppression and deceit underpinning "scientific consensus," the whole climate change alarmism house of cards is coming crashing down. Early last week, the leader of Australia's conservative opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, announced that he had reached agreement with the government to implement cap-and-trade, thus binding his party to support it in parliament en bloc. The agreement was signed, sealed and delivered — cap-and-trade would become law with bipartisan support. Its passage was a certainty. The elite rejoiced. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the Senate: The Australian public woke up. The days that followed were simply stunning. An unprecedented, uncoordinated and spontaneous grass-roots campaign erupted to force the opposition to reverse course. Political offices went into meltdown, unable to cope with the torrent of phone calls, faxes and e-mails opposing what was effectively a massive tax hike. By the end of the week, 14 members of the opposition leadership had resigned in protest. As the public outcry intensified, Turnbull refused to back down, staking his entire reputation and future on his passionate support for cap-and-trade. He violently attacked true conservatives, and repeatedly cried out that to win government you must be "moderate." So on early Tuesday morning, opposition parliamentarians met and voted to replace him. For the first time since 1916, the leader of a major Australian political party was deposed on the grounds of just one policy decision: the decision to support more

Court rejects lawsuit over polar bears

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled against an environmental group that had sued the federal government for allowing oil industry activities to occur in areas that polar bears also use. The bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The appeals court upheld a lower-court decision against the Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Environment. The two environmental groups argued that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service wrongly issued regulations that allow oil industry activity along the Beaufort Sea coast that could accidentally harass or kill polar bears. The appeals court said the wildlife service found that past interaction between the bears and the oil industry has been minimal. The industry mostly operates on land, far from the ice floes that polar bears prefer, that the industry activity is unlikely to impede bear movement and that no bears had been killed by industrial activity since 1993, the wildlife service concluded, according to the appeals more

Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Dept. of Envt’l Protection


In order to combat beach erosion, the Florida Legislature passed the Beach and Shore Preservation Act. The act authorized local municipalities to restore the coastline by adding sand, creating a temporary buffer against erosion. Petitioner Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. (“SBR”) claims that Respondents Florida Department of Environmental Protection, et al. (“Florida”) misused the statute in order to unconstitutionally appropriate private beaches for public use without just compensation. SBR alleges that the Florida Supreme Court violated the due process and takings clauses by suddenly and unpredictably changing state substantive law to deprive SBR of its private property without compensation. SBR asks the court, for the first time, to explicitly articulate a doctrine of “judicial takings” in order to address the growing problem of state judiciaries redefining property rights out of existence so that states can avoid compensating property owners. Florida argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should avoid interfering in state court interpretation of state law out of respect for federalism. Florida contends that, even if there were a situation where a doctrine of judicial takings should be imposed, this is not one of them, because the Florida Supreme Court properly followed common law more

Ted Turner gets OK for Yellowstone bison on ranch

Montana’s wildlife agency has given preliminary approval to a plan calling for 74 bison from Yellowstone National Park to go to billionaire Ted Turner’s private ranch. Officials hope to eventually use the bison to establish new herds on public lands. But conservationists see the move as privatizing Montana wildlife. The bison have been held in federal quarantine for the past several years to make sure they don’t have the animal disease brucellosis. Turner offered to hold them for five years — the duration of the quarantine program — in exchange for keeping 90 percent of their offspring. That could amount to about 190 animals to offset his costs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the quarantine in Corwin Springs, Mont., also opposes the move. Turner Enterprises general manager Russell Miller said Ted Turner stepped in after Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer asked if he would consider submitting a proposal for the animals. Turner wanted to help the state after prior efforts to relocate the Yellowstone bison had failed, Miller said. The animals would be kept on a 12,000-acre parcel within the billionaire’s 113,000-acre ranch south of Bozeman. State officials were initially reluctant to put the animals on private land. But McDonald said the bison faced possible slaughter if no home was more

Ely mayor charged with entering BWCA illegally

Ely Mayor Roger Skraba faces three federal counts of wilderness violations in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Skraba, 48, was charged Nov. 9 with three misdemeanors in U.S. District Court in Duluth. One is for entering the northeastern Minnesota wilderness without a permit, another is for possessing or using a motor vehicle in it, and the third is for removing property. The alleged violations occurred on Crooked Lake on March 22, 2007, before Skraba began a two-year term as mayor of Ely, gateway city to the popular federal wilderness area. He also served an earlier term. Skraba is owner and guide for YaTaHey Outdoors, a wilderness guide and snowmobile rental company. In a telephone interview, Skraba said he isn't able to address the charges because he doesn't know the specifics and a public defender appointed a week ago to defend him has told him not to say anything. "A Forest Service agent apparently has information I was in the Boundary Waters with the snowmobile,'' he said. "I don't know. I can't more

Who Are Those Guys?

According to a recent story from AP, a pilot flying over remote Malheur County, Oregon, caught a rare glimpse of part of a gang of five or six men thought to be responsible for the theft of approximately "1,240 cattle worth $1.2 million over the last three years from Malheur County ranches." Another 500 in Nevada are missing, plus more in Owyhee County, Idaho. The pilot observed two proficient horsemen driving roughly 125 cows across the empty landscape. The riders seemed to purposely not look up as the plane buzzed them. They just kept riding and finally the plane veered off. Unfortunately, the pilot didn't bother to report the sighting for a week. That sighting was last spring, and none have occurred since, though the rustling continues. It's a cliché to say that cattle rustling is as old as the West, but it is. Probably related to the weak economy, rustling cases in Texas alone have almost tripled in one year, from roughly 2,400 in 2007 to 6,400 in 2008. The country is as tough as Deputy Wroten's opinion of the rustlers. It's about 25,000 square miles of mostly Bureau of Land Management (BLM) federal holdings leased for grazing to ranchers in Southeastern Oregon, Southwestern Idaho, and Northern more

Ag Groups Call for Death to NAIS

One cannot help but wonder if the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has bitten off more than it can chew when it comes to tracking animals. Five years and $147 million after USDA opted to implement an animal tracking system based on the Australian model, it's far from a done deal. In fact, in late November, USDA and Congress both received letters signed by 100 agricultural groups advocating death for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). NAIS, says the letter from the Ag groups, "is an ill-conceived, burdensome, and badly implemented solution for achieving the national objective of improving animal disease prevention and control in the United States." Australia, the second largest exporter of beef from a continent that is "Mad Cow" free, has a "birth-to-death" tracking system for its farm animals that uses a national database to keep track of every ownership change. The system, which was up and running by 2006, uses an encrypted ear tag that uses a 15-digit number to identify the animal. The tag transmits the number to machines whenever animals are moved or sold, and the data is ultimately uploaded to the national database of Australia's 28 million head of cattle. Canada opted for a system that is not as comprehensive as Australia's, but rather "bookends" the ownership records at birth and immediately prior to more

Book Chronicles Life of West Texas Rancher Turned Outlaw on the Run

In the dying days of the Old West, the true-life story of West Texas rancher Noah Wilkerson earned a small, but captivating, place in the era’s history. In the new book, Guilty…But Not As Charged, Wilkerson’s life became a case of Old West justice when he went from family man to a convicted murderer for a crime he may — or may not — have committed. A self-made man with little formal education living in Coleman County, Texas, Wilkerson was a headstrong landowner used to doing things his way and answering to no one. Nothing about Noah suggested timidity. A man of few words, Wilkerson never really “fit in” with those around him. Nevertheless, he owned a successful cattle and horse ranch as well as a home for his wife and nine children. His ordinary life, however, suddenly became entangled with many questions and few answers when a debatable arrest and conviction for murder led him to a new existence — as an outlaw on the run with a price over his head. Leaving his family and home life behind, Wilkerson escaped from jail and traveled through three states before being tracked down. The result of years of research and numerous interviews with members of the Wilkerson family tree, Guilty… But Not As Charged is a fascinating, well-documented examination of this somewhat complex man whose decisions ultimately put him on the wrong end of a lawman’s more

Song Of The Day #192

This morning Ranch Radio brings you The Blackboard Of My Heart recorded in 1956 by Hank Thompson.

My version is from his 12 disc box set Hank Thompson & His Brazos Valley Boys (1946-1964) which has been discontinued and is now very expensive.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A tribal attempt to protect Mount Taylor sparks a battle over ancient claims to the land

From the top of Mount Taylor, mountains, valleys and mesas unfold into the hazy blue distance; on clear days, you can see all the way to Arizona. The Navajo call the 11,301-foot-tall peak Tsoodzil, and say it marks one of the four directional boundaries of their spiritual world. The Acoma, who call it Kaweshtima, believe it was created by two sisters who also gave life to plants and animals; it's still home to beings such as Shakak, the Spirit of Winter and the North. To the Zuni, the mountain is Dewankwin Kyaba:chu Yalannee. So, two years ago, the Zuni joined the pueblos of Acoma and Laguna, Arizona's Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation in asking the state of New Mexico to protect this hodgepodge of federal, state and private lands as a traditional cultural property. The TCP designation seemed like the best way to protect the mountain because it doesn't restrict public access, says Theresa Pasqual, historic preservation officer for Acoma Pueblo, the lead sponsor. The mountain remains open for everything from grazing and wood-gathering to hiking, snowmobiling and mountain biking. Even so, the proposal didn't sit right with many local landowners. It violates private property rights, says Joy Burns, whose family has been running cattle on Mount Taylor for generations. Today, her family's Elkins Ranch spreads across some 16,000 acres on the east side of the mountain, right below the summit --smack-dab within the TCP's boundaries. "If I file the necessary papers and get the necessary permits, I don't think that any group should be able to tell us about my property," she says. The issue of uranium mining aside, she fears the designation will affect her family's ability to log or hunt on their own lands. It's not fair, she says. Indeed, as the process moved along, it started rumors of a "land grab." Tempers began to simmer. Then, into the midst of this growing furor, stepped a Christian self-help author who promotes energy development in the name of the more

U.K. Climate Scientist Steps Down; Penn State Inquiry on Mann

The British scientist at the heart of a scandal over climate-change research temporarily stepped down Tuesday as director of a prominent research group amid an internal probe that follows the release of hacked emails involving him and other scientists. The University of East Anglia in the U.K. said Phil Jones, head of the university's Climatic Research Unit, had decided to step aside from the director's post, less than a week before world leaders are set to meet for a climate summit in Copenhagen. The two-week conference, sponsored by the United Nations, is supposed to come up with tougher policies to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and slow global warming. The need for such action has been buttressed in large part by research by Dr. Jones and his colleagues in East Anglia and around the world. But hackers recently stole emails and documents from the East Anglia center that suggested Dr. Jones and other like-minded scientists tried to squelch the views of dissenting researchers and possibly manipulated or destroyed data. The fallout from the hacked emails is spreading beyond the U.K. Also Tuesday, Penn State University confirmed that Michael Mann -- a climate scientist on its faculty who figures prominently in the emails -- is under "inquiry" by the university. Dr. Mann's work reconstructing historic global temperatures has, over the past decade, become a focal point of debate. Penn State said in a statement that its inquiry, which stems from disclosed emails written by Dr. Mann, is a preliminary step to determine whether a full investigation is more

The Convergence of "Health Care" & "Climate Change"

The Climate and Health Council, a collaboration of worldwide health organisations including the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society of Medicine, believes there is a direct link between climate change and better health. Their controversial plan would see GPs and nurses give out advice to their patients on how to lower their carbon footprint. The Council believes that climate change “threatens to radically undermine the health of all peoples”. It believes health professionals are ideally placed to promote change because “we have ethical responsibility… well as the capacity to influence people and our political representatives to take the necessary action” more

You knew it was coming. Nationalize the health care system and the politicians will soon be pushing their agenda through your physician and other health care providers.

Forest Service 'Dramatically Reshaping' Plans in Response to Climate Change

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has directed the agency's regions and research stations to jointly produce draft "landscape conservation action plans" by March 1 to guide its day-to-day response to climate change. In a memo (pdf) earlier this month requesting the plans, Tidwell said climate change is "dramatically reshaping" how the agency will deliver on its mission of sustaining the health and diversity of the nation's forests. He focused particularly on water management. "Responding to the challenges of climate change in providing water and water-related ecosystem services is one of the most urgent tasks facing us as an agency," Tidwell wrote. "History will judge us by how well we respond to these challenges." Tidwell said the agency's task is to translate the overall strategic framework for responding to climate change, which was released last month, into its daily operations. He directed regional foresters and station directors to work together to prepare "aggressive and well-coordinated" area-specific action plans for landscape more

Salazar Plots Cautious Course at Interior

When President Obama appointed the former Colorado senator Ken Salazar as Interior secretary almost a year ago, he said that he was taking the helm of the federal government’s most troubled agency. Mr. Obama directed Mr. Salazar to reverse eight years of Bush administration actions on lands, energy, mining and endangered species and to end a culture of coziness with industries the agency was supposed to regulate. He also ordered Mr. Salazar to find ways to tap the abundant sources of energy - wind, solar, hydro and geothermal - on public lands as a way of fighting climate change and fostering energy independence. The Interior Department, responsible for roughly a fifth of the land mass of the United States, has in recent years been wracked by scandal, bad morale, obsolete technology and lack of a clear policy direction. Mr. Salazar, a modest fifth-generation rancher who favors cowboy hats and bolo ties, moved quickly to undo many of his predecessors’ policies with a series of legal and administrative actions. But his cautious approach to many contentious issues, like hunting of the gray wolf and oil drilling on sensitive lands, has exposed him to criticism from the left and the right. Environmental advocates complain he has been too timid on a number of resource issues, while oil and timber interests have criticized his policies as too more

Forest Service to Reconsider Night Flying

Los Angeles County's aerial firefighters are proud of the skill that lets them pinpoint water and flame-retardant drops after the sun goes down. Now they want the U.S. Forest Service to let them show what they can do. The Forest Service agreed on Tuesday to review its longstanding rule against aerial drops after dark above National Forest Service land. The rule is intended to keep firefighters safe and reduce the chance of an accident that could actually make matters worse, often deep inside national forests. But the agency budged at least a little because of formal requests from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The county's aerial firefighters regularly do their job after dark, most recently and dramatically in late August when an evening blaze threatened million dollar homes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. That blaze was out in a few hours. One month later, when the massive, 250-square mile Station Fire killed two firefighters and destroyed 89 homes, mostly near Glendale, county firefighters said they could have done more to stop the blaze if they had been allowed to fly after dark above National Forest Service land near L.A. County's foothill communities. The county's formal review of the Station Fire said as more

Director of the Bureau of Land Management: Who Is Bob Abbey?

Confirmed on August 6, 2009, President Obama’s Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a twenty-five year veteran of the agency who was put forward for the position by Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the powerful Senate Majority Leader. Born circa 1951 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Abbey is a 1969 graduate of Clarksdale High School. He went on to earn a B.S. in Resource Management from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1973. Abbey spent more than 32 years in public service, working with state and federal land management agencies before retiring from the federal government in July 2005. Straight out of college, Abbey took a job with the Mississippi State Park system, where he worked for more than four years before accepting a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In that job, he first interacted with the BLM, to which he soon applied for a job. Abbey was hired by BLM in 1980 for a position in its Casper, Wyoming, field office. Between 1980 and 1992, Abbey worked there, moving on to positions as assistant district manager in Yuma, Arizona and as budget analyst in Washington, D.C. In 1992, Abbey was promoted to head of the Jackson, Mississippi, field office, where he remained into 1995, when he was named acting state BLM director in Colorado, where he served from 1995 through 1997. From 1997 to 2005, Abbey served as the Nevada State Director for BLM, providing oversight for 48 million acres of public land managed by the bureau in the state. Abbey retired in July 2005, after which he became a partner in a private consulting firm called Abbey, Stubbs, & Ford, LLC, which had offices in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. He also served as a member of the University of Nevada College of Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Committee and as a board member on several statewide and national non-profit organizations, including Friends of Nevada more

Colo. lawmakers seek to extend Pinon Canyon ban

Four members of Colorado's congressional delegation are asking lawmakers to extend a ban on spending money to expand the Army's Pinon Canyon training site. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and Reps. John Salazar and Betsy Markey asked a House-Senate conference committee on Tuesday to renew the ban through September 2010. The four Democrats cite unanswered questions about the need. The current ban expires Dec. 18. It's been in place since 2007. The Army wants to expand the site from 238,000 acres, or 370 square miles, to 338,000 acres, or 525 square miles. Commanders say they need the space for new weapons and tactics and additional soldiers. Ranchers fear the loss of so much agricultural land and say the Army hasn't demonstrated the need for it. AP

Activist at Utah oil auction to assert new defense

The federal government has acknowledged it never prosecuted anyone who failed to pay a bid for drilling rights in Utah until a college student offered his bogus bids in an act of environmental defiance. The admission is giving defense lawyers for Tim DeChristopher hope they can get the two felony charges against him dismissed based on an argument of selective prosecution. DeChristopher has said he offered bids last December that he couldn't cover to protect public lands between Arches and Canyonlands national parks in Utah, and to draw attention to climate change. Federal prosecutors said Tuesday they had disclosed a number of cases where drilling companies or land agents made bids at Utah auctions they didn't cover financially. The reasons weren't immediately clear. Defense lawyers said that shows the government is unfairly singling out DeChristopher for prosecution. Government lawyers dispute that and said DeChristopher — unlike other bidders — showed intent to violate the more

Montana ranchers seek to curb residential wells

Ranchers in Montana are asking state officials to stop giving away water use rights to tens of thousands of new homes being built in areas once dominated by agriculture. Across the arid West, residential subdivisions and agricultural interests are vying for control of water supplies that have emerged as one of the region's most coveted natural resources. In the latest skirmish between the two groups, a group of Montana ranch owners on Tuesday filed a petition with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, charging the state's water rules were stacked against them. The rules allow the small wells used by each house within larger subdivisions to qualify for exemptions from laws that otherwise give precedence to the "senior" rights of farms and ranches. Rancher Polly Rex says that's a loophole that could ultimately rob her of the means to grow hay and water her livestock. AP

PETA Wants to Help U.S. Troops Take a Bite Out of Bin Laden

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is featuring a vegan chocolate candy stamped with the likeness of Osama bin Laden in its holiday gift catalog. This is the same animal "rights" group that gave President Barack Obama a catch-and-release insect trap after he was shown swatting a fly during a television interview. The “Bin Laden Bites” are being marketed as dairy-free “delights” that will give U.S. troops in Afghanistan a way to get “some sweet revenge by taking a bite out of Osama’s head.” “We decided to include the chocolates in PETA’s catalog in memory of the animals who died of starvation and dehydration when their guardians were killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center,” Rajt said, noting that some animals were left without care after their owners died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. PETA says other animals died when apartments were sealed off following the attacks, including dogs, cats, “companion” rats and mice, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, and more

Baxter Black: 'Tis the season to be thankful

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things large and small. For instance, on the world stage, I am thankful that Saddam Hussein finally got what he had coming. But I'm also thankful for more personal things like the fact that there are still airports and convenience stores that have pay phones. They are as rare as a kind word for a legislator, but they are essential to us Verizaphobes. I'm thankful that we have not had a terrorist act in our country since Sept. 11, because of the strength and dedication of our troops stationed around the world in harm's way. On a small note, it is comforting that I can still find a restaurant that is not a chain store. One where the chef is really a chef and not a reheater! I'm thankful to see roads being built and repaired as part of our economic stimulus plan. It's long overdue, and it is creating jobs. Less world-shaking, I'm thankful I have friends and family who care enough to remind me of an anniversary, birthday or obscure bank holiday that I probably would have forgotten. I think it stems from being part of the agrarian community where every day is a holiday, or a work day, depending on your point of view. The livestock need fed rain or shine, Sunday or Monday, July 4 or April more

Song Of The Day #191

Today's tune on Ranch Radio is Ridin' The Same Old Range by Andy Parker and The Plainsmen.

My version of the song is on the 40 track 2 CD collection Call Of The Rollin' Plains. Amazon is not offering it, but they do have the 27 track CD Texas Belle by the group.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Leaked emails won't harm UN climate body, says chairman

There is "virtually no possibility" of a few scientists biasing the advice given to governments by the UN's top global warming body, its chair said today. Rajendra Pachauri defended the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the wake of apparent suggestions in emails between climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that they had prevented work they did not agree with from being included in the panel's fourth assessment report, which was published in 2007. The emails were made public this month after a hacker illegally obtained them from servers at the university. Pachauri said the large number of contributors and rigorous peer review mechanism adopted by the IPCC meant that any bias would be rapidly uncovered. "The processes in the IPCC are so robust, so inclusive, that even if an author or two has a particular bias it is completely unlikely that bias will find its way into the IPCC report," he more

Arctic ice meltdown remains severe: Scientist

Studies suggesting the Arctic sea ice has made a modest recovery following its record-setting retreat in 2007 are misleading and underestimate the severity of the polar meltdown, says one of Canada's top ice scientists. David Barber, Canada Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba, says satellite images used to track the overall extent of Arctic ice don't adequately perceive how weak and "rotten" the region's older, thicker, multi-year ice cover has become. His findings, to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggest a transformative change in Arctic ecosystems is accelerating and that safe shipping in polar waters during the summer and fall will begin much sooner than many experts predict. "In 2008 and 2009 satellite data showed a growth in Arctic sea ice extension leaving some to reckon global warming was reversing," states a summary of the research. "Contrary to what satellites recently suggested, we are actually speeding up the loss of the remaining, healthy, multi-year sea ice." more

National parks seek share in discoveries

A soon-to-be-implemented policy for scientists who are permitted to conduct research in national parks will give the National Park Service a share of profits from their work. The policy is expected to go into effect early next year following more than a decade of concern and a lawsuit over "bioprospecting" in Yellowstone National Park. Bioprospecting -- a hybrid of the words "biodiversity" and "prospecting" -- is the search for organisms that promise scientific breakthroughs in medicine and chemistry. "This is about the public, which owns places like Yellowstone, getting some kind of benefit if someone has a commercial product based on research which started in the park," Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said. The new "benefits sharing" policy does not specify what percentage of profit the National Park Service should receive in every case. But a document released Monday outlining the policy offers a rough estimate of the potential benefit to the park system -- between $635,000 and $3.9 million a year, eventually. The policy applies to all 84 million acres in the national park system, including the more than 200 parks hosting independent research. In those parks, including Yellowstone, the main quarry of bioprospectors is more

New Endangered Species Listings Wait as Obama Admin Charts New Course

The Obama administration is lagging behind the pace set by its predecessor for listing endangered species, and some environmentalists are not happy. So far, President Obama's Fish and Wildlife Service has offered protection to two U.S. species, both plants, out of nearly 250 on Endangered Species Act's "candidates" list. Candidate species have been deemed worthy of protection by federal biologists but are kept from formal listing because of other priorities for the department. The service also finalized listings for three foreign bird species and a segment of the Atlantic salmon population and edited the listings of two plants and two species of salamander that were previously listed as single species. Altogether, the new administration's total listings this year lag behind George W. Bush's administration, which finalized protections for 11 species in its first year. The Bush-era listings tapered off in subsequent years for an average annual listing rate of just under eight species per year -- far below the average 65 species listed each year under President Clinton and 58 under President George H.W. more

Wyoming firm on wolf plan

No one is arguing Wyoming’s gray wolf population hasn’t recovered – yet the state is embroiled in court actions and its wolves are protected. Conservationists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) say the state’s current management plan isn’t good enough to protect its wolves – and Wyoming is defending that challenge in Cheyenne’s U.S. District Court. At the heart is Wyoming officials’ belief that the state’s plan is indeed good enough, that Wyoming Game & Fish should oversee a “trophy-game area” with the “predator area” where wolves are treated like coyotes. One delisting lawsuit, filed against FWS by Earthjustice on behalf of a conservation coalition, is based in part over what it calls FWS’ “piecemeal” delisting approach when it delisted wolves in April in Montana and Idaho but left out Wyoming. This brought forth the state’s suit against FWS. With ongoing court battles over delisting, current management of Wyoming’s again-protected gray wolves falls to FWS, whose officials had accepted the state’s plan but after being sued, backed away. In the meantime, wolves in effect have almost no one controlling what they do and where they do it, some say. Last week, FWS Wyoming wolf program director Mike Jimenez stated Wyoming residents could shoot wolves physically attacking their livestock – but not if their dogs are attacked on public land. This is part of the FWS’ 10J rule, in effect while Wyoming’s wolves are listed. Thus, Bondurant lion-guide Scott Leeper on Nov. 13 lost three hounds to two groups of more than 20 wolves in the Upper Gros Ventre and could not protect more

Panther wins against cabbage palm

If you like your conservation efforts served with a nice dusting of irony, consider what’s happening at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge near Naples, Fla. Workers there are about to start tearing down dense stands of the official Florida state tree, the cabbage palm, in order to benefit the official state animal, the endangered Florida panther, that lives in the refuge. Refuge wildlife biologist Larry Richardson acknowledges that he hears from people who are confused about the project. But the fact is that the cabbage palms have grown so thick in places on the refuge that they are crowding out other plants that are necessary food for deer. That means the deer move on to find better feeding areas, and the panthers are deprived of the deer they need to prey on. So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, hired Wildland Services, Inc., of Moore Haven, Fla., to cut down the invasive cabbage palms on more than 1,700 acres inside the refuge. The $171,000 contract is being funded by money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, popularly known as stimulus more

Idaho puts up hazard lights where wildlife and traffic too often collide

Idaho transportation officials think they've come up with a way to keep motorists and moose apart on a mountainous stretch of U.S. Highway 95 north of Moscow. A solar-powered infrared detection system was installed this fall along a 2,200-foot section of the highway on Steakhouse Hill on the west side of Moscow Mountain. At an elevation of 3,050 feet, the area is known for its migrating wildlife. When deer or moose pass through the infrared beam, a flashing beacon goes off to warn drivers that animals may be on or approaching the roadway. The beacon runs for about 40 seconds each time the beam is interrupted by an animal. The beacon is on top of a yellow warning sign that shows the image of a jumping deer. The $200,000 installation was financed by federal economic stimulus more

Scientists say buffelgrass on unstoppable march—and the saguaro is on its way out

Buffelgrass is forcing us to think the unthinkable: A Sonoran Desert in which the saguaro cactus is no longer the master of the landscape. Is this really possible? Could Arizona's cherished icon vanish from a substantial portion of its range? Actually, yes. The problem is fire. The Nature Conservancy biologist Dale Turner says the density and distribution of buffelgrass is increasing dramatically, and in those places where it becomes the dominant plant, the number of fires will increase. "That means every other plant that's both slow-growing and fire-sensitive will disappear," says Turner. "That's certainly the saguaro. I don't think it will go extinct, but we'll see saguaro populations either lost or seriously degraded." Prior to buffelgrass, fire was never a major player in the Sonoran Desert. Old-fashioned fires—if we can use that term—didn't burn too hot or too long, because native grasses don't have the biomass to create big blazes. Buffelgrass does, and it won't pause to catch its breath after a fire. It regenerates quickly and thicker than before, making subsequent blazes more intense, with plenty of fuel to run across entire valleys and up grassy more

U.S. Unlikely to Use the Ethanol Congress Ordered

Two years ago, Congress ordered the nation’s gasoline refiners to do something that is turning out to be mathematically impossible. To please the farm lobby and to help wean the nation off oil, Congress mandated that refiners blend a rising volume of ethanol and other biofuels into gasoline. They are supposed to use at least 15 billion gallons of biofuels by 2012, up from less than seven billion gallons in 2007. But nobody at the time counted on fuel demand falling in the United States, which is what has happened during the recession. And that decline could well continue, as cars become more efficient under other recent government mandates. At the maximum allowable blend, in which gasoline at the pump contains 10 percent ethanol, updated projections suggest that the country is unlikely to be able to use all the ethanol that Congress has ordered up. So something has to give. In theory, the Environmental Protection Agency has the power to solve this problem by tweaking the mandates imposed by Congress, and it may act as early as next week. Each potential solution would anger one interest group or another, so the agency has been subjected to fierce lobbying, including from members of Congress lining up behind various factions. One possibility is to raise the maximum proportion of ethanol in gasoline to 15 or 20 percent. But that idea is opposed by some carmakers and pollution experts. They contend that high ethanol blends can cause damage to cars, including making catalytic converters run more

Off-reservation Indian gambling raises concerns

An Indian tribe wants to build a grand, $1.5 billion Las Vegas-style casino resort on a swath of land overlooking San Francisco Bay - a spot more than 100 miles from its tribal lands. Across the country, some Indian tribes are seeking to construct casinos well away from their reservations or other tribal lands. The trend may be about to accelerate: The Obama administration is expected to decide soon whether to loosen the rules on some of these projects. The Guidiville tribe hopes to get the government to declare a 413-acre tract near the San Francisco Bay sovereign tribal land so the Indians can build a casino resort with more than 1,000 hotel rooms, shops, tribal housing and a shoreline park. Also, the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians is proposing a more modest casino nearby, 113 miles from their land near Clear Lake, Calif. Both tribes say their ancestral lands were in the Bay Area and that they were forced to retreat when white settlers more

Ain't it amazing. For freedom to spread the tribes must acquire property, have uncle sam declare it part of their tribal lands and then they are free to do all sorts of things that many state governments and that same uncle sam won't allow us to do on non-tribal lands. How long will the feds allow this creeping of freedom last?

Strange events nothing new in Weld

Could it be starting again? The bizarre world of cattle mutilations has been quiet for a few years, but last week, a San Luis Valley rancher in southwest Colorado found four mutilated calves on his ranch, with no ready explanation of what happened to them. Rancher Manuel Sanchez has found no signs of human attackers, such as footprints or ATV tracks. And there are no signs of an animal attack by a coyote or mountain lion. It was like that in Weld County 10 to 30 years ago, and some farmers and ranchers have said they still find mutilated livestock, but they don't report it because of skeptics. In almost every mutilation case in Weld, the cattle and horses that were taken to Colorado State University for examination were determined to be mutilated by predators — usually coyotes — feeding on the dead animals. Farmers and ranchers joke that “coyotes with scalpels” have been mutilating the cattle. In the 1970s, Colorado Sen. Floyd Haskell asked for an FBI investigation after the reported mutilations reached 130 across the state. That investigation resulted in a 300-page, $45,000 report that stated the mutilations were the acts of natural predators. Speculation about the mutilations have led to various theories, from space aliens to Satan worshippers, battle-fatigued Vietnam War veterans to “animal cruelty deviants.” Most puzzling in many of the cases is the absence of animal prints, footprints or tire marks around the dead more

Grape board's ads immune to legal challenge

California can require grape growers to pay fees for statewide ads that promote their product as a healthy alternative to ice cream and French fries, despite some growers' objections to messages that imply all grapes are equal, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the California Table Grape Commission's billboard and radio advertising campaigns that tout fresh California grapes as nutritious snacks. Growers pay $11 million a year to support the work of the Fresno-based commission, which also includes crop research and trade negotiations, officials said. A group of growers led by Delano Farms sued in 1996, saying they objected to paying for the ads. Delano, which then paid the commission $600,000 annually, said the messages hurt its effort to promote its own brand by suggesting that table grapes all have the same quality. The appeals court revived the suit in 2003 and said the growers could try to prove the state violated their constitutional rights by making them subsidize a message they disagreed with. On Friday, however, the court said the suit was doomed by a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the federal government's promotional campaign for the beef more

By Air? New Routes of Exposure to Hormones

On any given day, some 750,000 U.S feedlots are beefing up between 11 million and 14 million head of cattle. The vast majority of these animals will receive muscle-building steroids — hormones they will eventually excrete into the environment. But traditional notions about where those biologically active pollutants end up may need substantial revising, several new studies find. They were reported at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, which ended Monday. A typical feedlot cow will shed 50 pounds of urine and feces per day. These wastes may be collected in lagoons or composted for later use in fertilizing fields. Throughout the past decade, scientists have become concerned about environmental risks that these wastes might pose if they wash, untreated, into waterways. Evidence has certainly linked waters receiving runoff from feedlots with sex alterations in fish — females that exhibit some masculinization and males that look somewhat feminized. But indicting specific livestock hormones to such changes is proving tricky. And one reason, argues Alan Kolok of the University of Nebraska, in Omaha, is that scientists have made a number of what now appear to be questionable assumptions. Such as that the excreted hormones affecting fish will always be in the water, that downstream concentrations of these steroids will be greater than upstream values and that hormone levels in tiny streams will be more concentrated than in substantially bigger waterways. “They’re all perfectly good a priori assumptions,” Kolok says. But in each case, he reports, “What we’re finding in the field is that they’re just not holding up.” more

Song Of The Day #190

Today's tune on Ranch Radio is My Tennessee Baby, recorded in 1949 by Ernest Tubb.

The song is available on his 5 disc box wet Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello.

Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Reasons to be Thankful that Cap and Trade Hasn’t Passed

This year we have much for which to be thankful: family, friends, and the Obama-Reid-Pelosi National Energy Tax (Cap and Trade) has not yet become law to name a few. We would like to remind you of 10 reasons you should be thinkful for that this year:

1. We don’t have to pay over $100 billion in additional taxes.
2. We don’t have to pay an additional $3.6 trillion in gas taxes.
3. We won’t lose 1.1 million jobs between 2012 and 2030 and 2.5 million each year after that.
4. We haven’t made new industries that are dependent on government handouts for their survival.
5. We don’t have a new bureaucracy in place to allocate and sell carbon credits that will increase corruption and favoritism in Washington, DC.
6. Our energy costs will not go up by $1500 per year for a family of four.
7. We won’t have our national debt increase by 26 percent by 2030. An increase of $116,600 for a family of four.
8. We won’t have protectionist tariffs to create trade wars and cause increased prices and shortages on the goods we need.
9. We won’t have a reduction in GDP of $9.4 trillion between 2012 and 2030.
10. We won’t have a 58% increase in gas prices.

Source: ATR

Possible sinkhole threatens New Mexico town

Cookie and Ella Fletcher decided to call Thanksgiving off. This year, there seemed little to be thankful for. Not far from the Fletchers' mobile home in this small southeastern New Mexico city lies a giant underground cavity that geologists say is a time bomb waiting to implode. At any moment, they say, the cavity could collapse into a yawning sinkhole, taking with it a chunk of highway, a church, several businesses and the El Dorado Estates trailer park the Fletchers call home. The cavity is the result of three decades of salt mining, a process in which oil service companies inject water into a salt layer 450 feet underground, allow the water to dissolve the salt, and then suck up the brine. Oil companies use the brine to help extract oil from the earth. Over the years, more than 6 million cubic feet of brine was removed from the Carlsbad well and sold for use in the oil fields that blanket the surrounding desert. State officials singled out the Carlsbad well as a danger and ordered it closed after two similar wells north of town collapsed last year, leaving craters about 400 feet across and 100 feet deep. Those sinkholes caused little damage because they occurred in rural areas -- in fact, sinkholes are not unheard of in oil country. But the Carlsbad brine well is smack underneath the busiest intersection in this town of 26,000, and it is only footsteps from a major irrigation channel and railroad more

Climate change data dumped

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years. The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation. The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building. The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such more

Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation

A week after my colleague James Delingpole , on his Telegraph blog, coined the term "Climategate" to describe the scandal revealed by the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, Google was showing that the word now appears across the internet more than nine million times. But in all these acres of electronic coverage, one hugely relevant point about these thousands of documents has largely been missed. The reason why even the Guardian's George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated, What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Professor Philip Jones, the CRU's director, is in charge of the two key sets of data used by the IPCC to draw up its reports. Through its link to the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office, which selects most of the IPCC's key scientific contributors, his global temperature record is the most important of the four sets of temperature data on which the IPCC and governments rely – not least for their predictions that the world will warm to catastrophic levels unless trillions of dollars are spent to avert more

Climategate: University of East Anglia U-turn in climate change row

A grandfather with a training in electrical engineering dating back more than 40 years emerged from the leaked emails as a leading climate sceptic trying to bring down the scientific establishment on global warming. David Holland, who describes himself as a David taking on the Goliath that is the prevailing scientific consensus, is seeking prosecutions against some of Britain's most eminent academics for allegedly holding back information in breach of disclosure laws. Mr Holland, of Northampton, complained to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last week after the leaked emails included several Freedom of Information requests he had submitted to the CRU, and scientists' private responses to them. Within hours, a senior complaints officer in the ICO wrote back by email: "I have started to examine the issues that you have raised in your letter and I am currently liaising with colleagues in our Enforcement and Data Protection teams as to what steps to take next." more

The Day Global Warming Stood Still

It will be a very cold winter of discontent for the warm-mongers. The climate show-and-tell in Copenhagen next month will be nothing more than a meaningless carbon-emitting jaunt, unable to decide just whom to blame or how to divvy up the profitable spoils of climate change hysteria. October 2009 will go down as the 3rd coolest October on record for the United States, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Records go back to 1880. The mainstream press is finally coming to the conclusion that the entire climate debate about global warming is about to collapse so they had better get out of that game and come clean with what is happening with the sun and what that means for planet earth and all the people on it. The global warming gig has played itself out and has only gone on as long as it has because climate change was a weapon for more mass more

Hide The Decline - Climategate Video

Aerial-gunning foes ask Obama to ban practice

A wildlife advocacy group has asked President Barack Obama to end aerial gunning of coyotes and other predators, citing an incident in Idaho where a shotgun-wielding parachutist fired on a wolf as an example of how the practice is rife with abuses. New Mexico-based WildEarth Guardians Friday asked Obama to issue an executive order. The group's 39-page petition also urged the president to banish spring-loaded sodium cyanide devices and other predator poisoning methods from federal public land, on grounds they're dangerous and more

No reason to designate Rock Creek as wilderness

...They are right, however their contention that the area is threatened by illegal ATV use and only a Wilderness designation can save it from that fate is incorrect and misleading. The Wilderness designation will not increase enforcement over what is in place today, either in dollars or people. On the contrary, such a designation would exclude a large and growing segment of the public that enjoys the pleasures of mountain biking. It is not allowed in a Wilderness area. This popular activity currently contributes economically and culturally to Johnson County as well as to the larger American public. They do not deserve to be excluded from responsibly enjoying Rock Creek. A Wilderness designation would negatively impact livestock grazing. I understand that "grazing would be grandfathered in," so permit holders have nothing to worry about with these new restrictions. In reality, that has not been the case in past experiences for Wyoming ranchers. This becomes a "comfort phrase" to mislead people. When the shouting minority takes over, the path of least resistance leads to no grazing. "Grandfathered in" is a phrase that has a warm, fuzzy and misleading connotation. First, its subliminal message is that ranching is part of the past of the American West, something to be tolerated until it dies a quiet death. This should never more

Tracking smugglers along the Mexican border

Under a scorching sun in the harsh desert along Highway 9 in southern New Mexico, Border Patrol agents Rito Jara and Juan Treviso are quickly on the move, scouring the hard ground, trying to pick up footprints from suspected drug smugglers or immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico. The agents discovered the footprints next to a cattle fence while on routine patrol early in the morning about three miles north of the U.S.-Mexican border. Finding more prints across the highway, they determined that two men passed by here around midnight, eight hours earlier. It appeared they were walking north across the barren scrubland toward either the town of Deming, New Mexico, or U.S. Highway 10, where they could be picked up and spirited away. Joining the search, Border Patrol Field Operations Supervisor Juan Acosta said it was possible the men had already reached the Cedar Mountain Range, many miles ahead, and were now hunkered down to avoid daylight search parties and the searing heat. One potential hideout, Acosta suggested, was a notorious mountain pass known locally as Doper's Gap, because of all the Mexican traffickers who have already passed though there carrying burlap knapsacks filled with illegal drugs bound for U.S. street more

Bizarre mutilations of cattle lead to 'alien visitor' theory

Colorado has been the source of stories of animal mutilations before, although most of the cases have been found to be the result of animal predation. Home to big skies and mountains, Colorado has been long favoured for cattle ranching, although with Colorado's tourism economy growing, there have been clashes. Established in 1851 and nestled in the mountains, San Luis is a quaint and picturesque village that is home to 661 people. The news of the calf mutilations on a pasture rented by Manual Sanchez has stirred up the village, where talk of alien visitors is growing. Sanchez had reported finding, over a three week period, four of his calves killed -- and strangely mutilated. The calves were found eviscerated and the skin was peeled back. One calf was also missing some of its tongue. There were no footprints, no animal tracks, no traces of vehicles in the pasture, and the part that has puzzled police -- no blood. Sargent James Chavez, the Public Information Officer for the Costilla County Sheriff's Office, told The Pueblo Chieftain "... a deputy and an undersheriff went to the pasture to investigate one of the killings. Chavez said the investigation revealed no indications of a predator attack and the lack of blood at the site made it highly unlikely that a person butchered it. "I've butchered a cow before and I know what kind of a mess it leaves," he said." The mutilations have drawn a noted UFO chaser, Chuck Zukowski, who investigated the bizarre killings. Zukowski has posted excellent, although disturbing photographs of the calf he investigated, along with detailed more

Battle rages in Colorado over sheepherder's guard dogs that attacked a cyclist

The herd, 1,300 strong, has been coming for 30 years to graze in this valley on the backside of the Continental Divide. But as Colorado has become an adventure sports destination, the once-empty valley has filled with hikers, campers and mountain bikers like Legro, and she was about to tragically embody the collision of the old West with the new. Legro, 33, screamed because she knew what came with the herd -- guard dogs. Shortly after she rolled down a hill and came upon the sheep, a dog leaped at her, locked its jaws on her hip and yanked her off her bike. A second dog pounced as she fell. The two enormous canines, powerful enough to fend off bears, tore at her until her cries drew two campers who drove them off. The emergency-room doctor lost count of how many stitches she required. To Legro and her husband, Steve, there was one person responsible -- Sam Robinson. One of a dwindling number of sheepherders in Colorado's mountains, Robinson, 54, turned to guard dogs a decade ago, after the state banned the use of traps to prevent mountain lions, coyotes and bears from destroying herds. "We don't have any other option," Robinson said. The Legros see things differently. In their years of hiking, biking and skiing the magnificent open spaces near Vail, they have fled from ranchers' dogs several times. "I cannot bring my dog up to the forest and let it run wild and attack people," said Steve Legro, 37. "Neither should anyone else." They wanted Robinson charged with a more

Monsanto's dominance draws antitrust inquiry

For plants designed in a lab a little more than a decade ago, they've come a long way: Today, the vast majority of the nation's two primary crops grow from seeds genetically altered according to Monsanto company patents. Ninety-three percent of soybeans. Eighty percent of corn. The seeds represent "probably the most revolutionary event in grain crops over the last 30 years," said Geno Lowe, a Salisbury, Md., soybean farmer. But for farmers such as Lowe, prices of the Monsanto-patented seeds have steadily increased, roughly doubling during the past decade, to about $50 for a 50-pound bag of soybean seed, according to seed dealers. The revolution, and Monsanto's dominant role in the nation's agriculture, has not unfolded without complaint. Farmers have decried the price increases, and competitors say the company has ruthlessly stifled competition. Now Monsanto -- like IBM and Google -- has drawn scrutiny from U.S. antitrust investigators, who under the Obama administration have looked more skeptically at the actions of dominant firms. Of all the new scrutiny by Justice, the Monsanto investigation might have the highest stakes, dealing as it does with the food supply and one of the nation's largest agricultural firms. It could also force the Obama administration, already under fire for the government's expanded role in the economy, to explain how it distinguishes between normal rough-and-tumble competition and abusive monopolistic business more

Cow tracking-- Would Canada's model work here?

- As the United States grapples with developing a national system to track diseased cattle, some here have been watching the Canadian model. Like Australia, the program requires cattle ranchers to participate and relies on ear tags to register cattle. But unlike Australia, the Canadian system doesn't actually track a cow's every move from birth to death. "Whatever we move to, we have to be sure it doesn't impede commerce," said John Masswohl, director of Government & International Relations for the Calgary-based Canadian Cattlemen's Association, which represents about 90,000 beef producers. "We aren't convinced the technology exists to read every tag every time. ... It's not all 'Star Trek' just yet." Canada started its mandatory livestock identification program in 2002. The database is owned and controlled by the industry -- the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency -- rather than the government. Ear tags are registered to the people who buy them. Owners are required by law to tag their cattle the first time they're moved off the farm they're born on. When the animals are slaughtered or exported, that, too, is recorded in the database. What isn't recorded in the database is every instance of ownership changing hands, Masswohl more

Longhorn Cattle Are Prized By The Inch

Texas longhorns — the cattle, not the college football team — have made a stunning comeback. In 1964, there were believed to be fewer than 1,500 genuine longhorns in existence. Today, there are more than 330,000 in private herds scattered across the country. The animals have grown popular among weekend ranchers who want a symbol of Western heritage but don't want the work involved with regular cattle. Every year, longhorn breeders come to the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, to answer the question: Whose horns are longer? At this year's horn competition, held last month, the stock pens are full of handsome creatures with widespread horns, their hides brown, white, red, orange and brindled. Under bright lights, cowboys pull them into chutes and hold a string along the length of their horns to get the measure. "We sell 'em by the inch, not the pound," says Donny Taylor, a heavy-equipment operator for Union Pacific Railroad who raises longhorns on the side. He says buyers like them because they're easier to keep. "Longhorns are cheaper to feed than regular cattle. They'll browse like a deer — they'll eat anything in the woods," Taylor says. "You want to keep your fence row clear? You want to clear property? Don't buy a goat. Buy a longhorn. They'll clean 'em up for you. The good Lord built 'em that way." more

Capturing cowboy mystique

It started with cocktail party chatter in suburban St. Louis. But this wasn't ordinary city slicker gossip. These were stories of cowboys and cattlemen, ropers and riders, drinkers and brawlers, ranch wives and war brides, odd neighbors and crazy bulls. The tales hooked Craig Savoye, a college professor and author of unpublished novels and screenplays always on the lookout for a new book project. For a guy from the suburbs, the stories were magical. One thought kept running through Savoye's mind: “You've got to be kidding me!'' So Savoye traveled to Nebraska to hear firsthand the stories and yarns of the Sand Hills and the people who lived in the heart of the state's cowboy country. His first stop was a master storyteller, the late Wayne Jenkins, a Callaway rancher and father of the cocktail party yarn spinner whose stories originally inspired Savoye. Savoye returned again and again in search of Nebraska nuggets. Sometimes people didn't pan out. Sometimes he uncovered gems. Now nine years and dozens of interviews later, he has published a book featuring 23 stories and character sketches, “Nebraska Stories: Tales of Cowboys, Ranchers, and Assorted Characters.'' more

It's All Trew: Bits, pieces on odds, ends

# It seems the word "cranky" did not arrive on the scene until automobiles were invented. When a balky motor was hard to start, requiring extra cranking, it was called cranky, among other epithets. I'm not sure how the word applies to women. # A "buck moon" occurs in July when the new antlers on a buck deer begin to emerge from the velvet casing provided by nature to protect the new growth of antlers. # The "dog days of summer" has nothing to do with dogs on Earth. The term comes from the fact that, from July 3 to August, the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius the Dog Star. # "Dinky Donkeys," or miniature Sardinian donkeys, were brought to the U.S. in the 1920s by New York stockbroker Robert Green. They now number into the thousands, making great pets, due to their mild disposition. Miniature equines, or little horses, date to Renaissance times, arriving in the U.S. in 1888 as a small Shetland horse named Tum Tum. # Look into almost any farmer or rancher's closet and you will find Carhartt overalls or coveralls. The durable work clothes date to the 1880s, when Hamilton Carhart traveled from rail station to rail station selling his work wear to railroad workers. Now selling globally, and with an T added to the name, the company with 4,200 employees remains a family-owned more

Song Of The Day #189

Ranch Radio will get your blood flowin' this Monday am with a bluegrass version of the theme song from the TV show Green Acres. My version is from the 15 track CD Countryfied TV Tunes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

When 'cowboy' was a noble tradition

Julie Carter

They could strike a match on the backside of their jeans and light a cigarette they just rolled while holding the reins in one hand and the cigarette paper in the other.

They laughed easily, worked relentlessly and found peace in doing an honest day's work.

It was an era when the cowboy was defined by the work that he did. You found him on dusty plains trailing thousands of cattle to the stockyards at the railhead. He worked for a $100 a month, worked until the work was done or until he drifted on to move another herd.

Many were men but just as many were boys. It was the 1930s and it was more the norm than not for a boy of 12 or 13 to be working a man's job for a man's wages. His momma would watch him ride away as he left to meet up with a cattle drive, not knowing if she'd ever see him again.

Most never went more than 6-8 years to school. Ranches were vast, covering hundreds of square miles. Getting to the school was a problem and finding work was not.

They ate their meals cooked from the supplies in a chuck box that followed along, not always in a wagon but sometimes in a jeep or pickup.

They rolled up in cowboy tarp bedrolls at night and were glad for the chance to be still for a few hours. A fire crackled and cast off sparks into a black night. A coyote howled in the distance and the cattle rustled just enough to ensure their intention of bedding down.

That cowboy didn't see movies or read books to find out what he was supposed to be like.

He broke his own horses and shod the same.

He wore his boots and his hat because they had a functional purpose. Usually there was a crooked crease in the hat and a careless look to him overall.

These same boys became young men, picked up rifles and shipped off to war. They were in foreign countries and on remote islands where they fought an enemy they'd never seen and knew little about. They were shot at and they shot back. Some were wounded, some never came home.

But, those that did, found their way back to the wide open country. They strapped on their spurs, saddled up a bronc and went back to the business of punching cows.

They took brides and rewarded them with ranch-camp living that offered no more than a shack and a cook stove but came complete with kerosene lighting and no plumbing.

In most parts of ranch country, not much changed until the railroads gave way to highways and trucking forced a complete shift in the rail industry and with it, the way cattle were shipped to markets.

They were the last generation of full-time horseback cowboys, working cattle in much the same way their grandfathers before them had. Horses were hardened and tough and the men the same.

As renowned Western author Elmer Kelton so eloquently put it, "What the real cowboy is, and has always been, is a common man in an uncommon profession, giving more than he receives, living by a code of conduct his detractors will never understand."

I pray we hang on to the best of what those men were.

Julie can be reached for comment at