Friday, December 11, 2009

NY Court Halts Columbia University's Eminent Domain Abuse

New York’s Supreme Court Appellate Division (First Department) handed down a massive victory for property rights yesterday in the case of Kaur v. New York State Urban Development Corporation. At issue was the state’s highly controversial use of eminent domain on behalf of Columbia University, which wants free rein over the West Harlem neighborhood of Manhattanville, where it plans to build a fancy new research campus. As I discussed in an article last February, there is overwhelming evidence that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) actively colluded with Columbia in order to produce the very conditions that would then allow ESDC to seize property on the university’s behalf. At the time of ESDC’s 2006 blight study, for instance, Columbia owned 76 percent of the neighborhood and was thus directly responsible for the overwhelming majority of blight that the report alleged, ranging from overflowing basement trash heaps to major roof and skylight leaks. As numerous tenants have reported, the university refused to perform basic and necessary repairs, which both pushed tenants out and manufactured the ugly conditions that later advanced Columbia's long-term interests. Preliminary findings delivered to the ESDC admitted as much, noting "Open violations in CU Buildings" and "History of CU repairs to properties" among the "issues of concern." Thankfully, the New York court recognized this shameful mess for what it is: eminent domain abuse. As Justice James Catterson wrote for the majority: the blight designation in the instant case is mere sophistry. It was utilized by ESDC years after the scheme was hatched to justify the employment of eminent domain but this project has always primarily concerned a massive capital project for Columbia. Indeed, it is nothing more than economic redevelopment wearing a different face.

Nice victory, but it makes you stop and think about property. The ESDC wouldn't dare discriminate or harm these individuals in their employment practices, nor would Columbia in their admissions policy. Yet they both could escape the barking of the liberal hyenas when they conspired to deprive these people of their property. It's a sorry state of affairs when property is held in such low regard.

Pinon ban

THE BAN on Army expenditures for expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site appears safely ensconced in the 2010 omnibus federal budget bill that Senate and House negotiators have agreed upon. The ban originally was sponsored by Reps. John Salazar and Marilyn Musgrave two years ago. Since then, Rep. Musgrave’s successor, Betsy Markey, has worked to see the ban extended, and Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have given their support as well. Both senators have noted publicly that the Army has failed thus far to make a persuasive case for acquiring more land around the maneuver site which sits between Trinidad and La Junta. The site is included in Rep. Salazar’s congressional district. We concur with the senators’ assessment of the Army’s plans. It is apparent that the Army believed it could come in and do whatever it wanted to do, apparently forgetting that it had made previous promises to the communities in Southeastern Colorado when it first acquired the current property. The Army had pledged to do business in Trinidad and La Junta, but that pledge proved to be hollow. Now, if it were to make a significant expansion of the Pinon Canyon site, it would cause a severe erosion of the region’s economy. We commend Reps. Salazar and Markey and Sens. Udall and Bennet for their support of the agriculture and the communities of Southeastern Colorado...Pueblo Chieftain

Scientists: Killing 1 Owl May Save Another

Scientists want to determine if killing the aggressive barred owl that has invaded old growth forests of the Northwest would help the protected spotted owl. Federal biologists are doing a formal study to decide whether to do the experiment, and laying out the terms if they go ahead. The study will be available for public comment and is expected to be completed by fall 2010. "This is to be done experimentally so we can nail down whether, in fact, removing barred owls could improve spotted owl demographics, and also to look into the feasibility of doing that," Fish and Wildlife biologist Robin Bown, who is overseeing the evaluation, said Wednesday. He said a small-scale experiment with killing barred owls in northern California in 2005 created an uproar, so Fish and Wildlife held meetings with interest groups to consider the ethical and moral implications of a larger experiment, and secured their agreement to look into an experiment. "There is a range of opinions" among scientists and interest groups, said Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Portland Audubon Society, who took part in the ethical discussion. "We are still struggling with where we come down." more

What to do, what to do? Which owl shall live and which shall die? King Solomon has been replaced by the FWS.

Company: Cobalt mining in Idaho to start in 2011

Mining for cobalt — an element used in hybrid car batteries and jet engines — could get under way in the central Idaho mountains in 2011, after a Canadian company said it won initial federal approval for the plan. Formation Metals Inc. said Wednesday that winning the U.S. Forest Service's blessing for the first stage of its operations plan means workers can log the mining site and build roads in January. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mari-Ann Green said the Vancouver-based company aims to supply as many as 1,600 tons annually of 99.9 percent-pure cobalt to companies like United Technologies Corp.'s Pratt and Whitney unit, Rolls Royce Group Plc and Portland, Ore.-based Precision Castparts Corp. Cobalt is used in jet engines, hybrid vehicle batteries, prosthetic knees and hips, even radio frequency identification tags that help retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. track their products. Mining is due to start in Salmon-Challis National Forest, about 200 miles northeast of Boise, in 2011 and could continue for 30 years, the company more

History proves ranchers, BLM have nurtured the Breaks

With that in mind, there has to be a reason that an area as large as this is still intact. The reason is that ranchers and the BLM have taken care of the land and used this area in a responsible manner, sustaining it for future generations. As far as cattle marring the landscape, I have never seen a cow carve its name or eartag number in the sandstone next to historic artifacts, leave trash behind, or make a straight trail up a steep incline so that rain and run-off water can cause an erosion problem. However, I have seen several names of people carved into the precious sandstone near historic pictographs and I've seen a trail to the Hole in the Wall that goes straight uphill and can be seen for a half-mile or so. The cattle have been getting a bad rap for years and it is time to lay the responsibility where it belongs: People are more destructive than any creature on this earth. In fact, stunted growth of cottonwood trees — a claim made in the lawsuit — can be attributed to people. It is the presence of multiple flow-regulating dams along the Missouri River, not cows, that limits new cottonwood more

Forest Service signs "confusing", nude bathers cited, "soak-in" planned

A confusing sign is coming down after a group of people were cited for skinny dipping at a hot springs in Utah County. The Deseret News reports Utah County sheriff's deputies cited eight adults for lewdness at Diamond Fork Springs in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest on an October evening just before midnight. A spokeswoman with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Lorraine Januzelli, says a sign posted near the springs warns bathers to be mindful of families and implies nudity at the springs is not illegal. Januzelli tells the Deseret News the forest service will take down the sign because it is causing confusion. Some naturists are angry about the incident and tell the newspaper they tentatively plan a "soak-in" to more

Most everything the Forest Service does is "confusing".

Trio sentenced to 36 years in federal prison

A trio of McCreary County men will serve a combined 36 years in federal prison for conspiring to produce methamphetamine. The charges stem from an investigation by the Kentucky State Police and McCreary County Sheriff’s Department which led to the trio’s arrests on August 12, 2008. Assisting in the investigation were the United States Forest Service and the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task more

Remembe this the next time the FS claims they don't have enough money to police the federal lands.

Cattle mutilations in Colorado - a Rocky Mountain mystery + video

The bodies are horribly mutilated as if with surgical precision - eyes removed, innards gone, the skin grotesquely peeled away. The predator, or predators, have left no footprints to reveal their identities and no blood stains on the earth to speak to the slaughter. Their gory souvenirs vanish with them. There have been eight such mutilations in Colorado this year, all with the same baffling lack of evidence. And while Colorado has been the focus of current activity, this strange phenomenon has appeared in just about every Midwestern state. Last year it was Missouri, before that Nebraska and South Dakota. Reports of similar activity have come from as far away as Switzerland. But Colorado seems to have a special affinity for these strange events. What is widely considered the very first animal mutilation of the modern era - the strange killing of a horse known as Snippy - occurred in Colorado in 1967. Snippy's strange death set the pattern for more recent mutilations and, oddly, her bones eventually ended up on more

Here's a video of rancher Manuel Sanchez telling his story.

Giant iceberg heading for Australia

A giant iceberg double the size of Sydney Harbour is on a slow but steady collision course with Australia, scientists have said. The mammoth chunk of ice, which measures 12 miles long and five miles wide, was spotted floating surprisingly close to the mainland by scientists at the Australian Antarctic Division (ADD). Known as B17B, it is currently drifting 1,000 miles from Australia's west coast and is moving gradually north with the ocean current and prevailing wind. Dr Neal Young, a glaciologist working for the ADD, said that if the iceberg eventually reached Australia waters, it would crash into the continental shelf causing a magnitude three to to four tremor. However, Dr Young said the iceberg was unlikely to hit the Australian mainland. If it continued on its path north, it would eventually break up into hundreds of smaller icebergs, he more

Cattle producing Argentina could face beef imports

Argentina, a nation that prides itself on having more cattle than people, may soon be forced to import beef to keep its meat-loving citizens happy at the dinner table. Intense government efforts to keep meat affordable through taxes, export restrictions and price controls have enabled Argentines to eat record amounts of beef this year, but the short-term bonanza has come at a very steep cost. With little or no profit left in meat, ranchers are selling out, slaughtering even the female cows needed to maintain their more

Bolivia seizes big ranch from president's opponent

The government has seized a 12,500-hectare (48-square-mile) ranch in Bolivia's eastern lowlands from a soybean magnate who is among the chief political rivals of just re-elected President Evo Morales. The confiscation announced Thursday was the first by Morales' government as it seeks to wrest fallow farmland from big landholders and "restore" it to members of the South American country's long-suppressed Indian majority. Wednesday's seizure, part of what the government calls an agrarian revolution, came three days after Morales' landslide re-election. Unofficial results said he got 63 percent of the votes Sunday, compared to 27 percent for his nearest challenger. The Yasminka ranch taken from Branko Marinkovic will be given to the Guarayo Indians, the deputy land minister, Alejandro Almaraz, said at a news conference. Almaraz led 20 police officers onto Yasminka to enforce a ruling Friday by the National Agrarian Tribunal affirming the government's claim that the land was fraudulently obtained from the more

Raw deal? Woman charged over steak attack

A Florida woman has been arrested after allegedly hitting her boyfriend in the head with a raw steak. According to a Marion County Sheriff's Office report, the man told deputies Elsie Egan repeatedly hit him with the uncooked meat and slapped his face after he refused a piece of sliced bread. The man said he wanted a bread roll. Egan, 53, denied hitting the man with the steak but did admit to slapping him, saying she did it "so that he could learn." more

Depending on how big the steak was, that could damn sure hurt. From now on Sweet Sharon is only getting hamburger.

Song Of The Day #198

Johnny & Jack offer us some sage advice with their 1951 recording Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bob Jones

Bob Jones
December 10, 2009

My friend and mentor Bob Jones died today. This hit hard for me. I regret now that I never told Bob directly but I said it more than once to Bobby; along with my dad, Forrest Delk and my high school ag teacher, Dwight Houston, Bob Jones meant more to me than anyone will ever know. I can’t believe he is gone. I never imagined my world without Bob Jones out there watchin’ the gate.

If Bob taught me anything it was this: “never ever apologize for being right”. “When you’re standing out there knee-deep in the bullshit and smoke so thick you can’t see and they’re chunkin’ green grenades at you . . . .stand fast because the one thing you have that they don’t have is that you . . . .are right”.

Bob was a cowman’s cowman; a true cowboy. Our world is better today because Bob Jones did his part to make it better.

I think Bob loved God, Elizabeth, his family, his neighbors, his friends, rain, a good-lookin’ horse that’s good in the rocks, ridin’ flank on a bunch of cattle lined out toward the corrals, more rain, and fiddle music whenever he could get someone to play.

I imagine Bob and Charlie are together again and I would advise St. Peter to take a deep seat because things are liable to get western in heaven.

Diane and I already miss Bob and will always have and hold him in our hearts.

Joe Delk

Largest Environmental Bankruptcy in U.S. History Will Result in Payment of $1.79 Billion

As a result of the largest environmental bankruptcy in U.S. history, $1.79 billion has been paid to fund environmental cleanup and restoration under a bankruptcy reorganization of American Smelting and Refining Company LLC (ASARCO), the Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture announced today. ASARCO is a leading producer of copper and one of the largest nonferrous metal producers in the United States. It is based in Arizona and is responsible for sites around the country that are contaminated with hazardous waste. The money from environmental settlements in the bankruptcy will be used to pay for past and future costs incurred by federal and state agencies at more than 80 sites contaminated by mining operations in 19 states. Those states are Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and more

Threats and Degradation - Border Wilderness

The federal government's border fence has been called the Tortilla Curtain. But in the swamp of border politics, there's a more effective barrier at play, one that filters ideas rather than people. It explains why most Americans still don't fully understand the disaster on our southern border. More than anything, bureaucrats want to convince you of the great job they're doing. If the facts say otherwise, they'll sanitize, sugar-coat and sometimes suppress—which a Utah congressman believes has been the case with two blockbuster studies, 7 and 5 years old, that have never seen daylight, until now. The Bush administration's Department of the Interior did both. They were intended to measure the impacts of illegal immigration and drug-smuggling on Interior Department-managed lands in Arizona. The second study, from 2004, looked at how the open border impacted Sonoran Desert wilderness in southwest Arizona, mainly Organ Pipe. This picture was equally grim—for the land, for endangered species and for the whole concept of border wilderness.The wilderness study in particular was handled oddly. It was presented at a 2004 meeting of a borderlands managers' group of public officials who gather regularly in Tucson to talk about border issues. Fred Patton, one of the study's authors and former chief ranger at Organ Pipe, made the presentation. No one in the room was given a hard copy of the content. Even these hardened public lands officials were taken aback by what they heard. Former Forest Service district ranger Keith Graves, who was at the meeting, remembers Patton saying that if someone asked him whether Organ Pipe was an appropriate place for a national monument today, he'd say no. According to Graves, Patton added the wilderness at Organ Pipe had been so degraded less than 10 percent still met that designation. "We thought this study was going to be great to show the impacts," says Graves, now a liaison between Forest Service and the Secure Border Initiative. "But we never heard about it again." more

And Senator Jeff Bingaman still pushes for 560 square miles of wilderness near our border with Mexico.

The Tip of the Climategate Iceberg

CRU's apparent obstruction of freedom-of-information requests, as revealed by the leaks, is only the tip of the iceberg. In 2004, retired businessman Stephen McIntyre asked the National Science Foundation for information on various climate research that it funds. Affirming "the importance of public access to scientific research supported by U.S. federal funds," the Foundation nonetheless declined, saying "in general, we allow researchers the freedom to convey their scientific results in a manner consistent with their professional judgment." Which leaves researchers free to withhold information selectively from critics, as when CRU director Phil Jones told Australian scientist Warwick Hughes in a 2005 email: "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it." An interesting question. Often, when independents obtain raw temperature data or computer codes, they do uncover flaws, thus advancing climate science—the "sunlight" now shining on CRU's data and codes is doing just that. That's what motivated Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar Christopher Horner to request a slew of information from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which has already corrected its temperature records thanks to Mr. McIntyre's probing. Mr. Horner told us he wants "an entire accounting of rolling, relevant data, adjustments, codes, annotations and of course internal discussion about the frequent revisions." Two years later, the requests are unmet. A NASA spokesman said "We're clearly late, but we are working on it." Probably wise, considering Mr. Horner is set to sue, and two U.S. senators have asked NASA's Inspector General to more

EPA Must Be Stopped

The Environmental Protection Agency's sneak attack on the U.S. economy and our freedoms, curiously timed for the opening day of the Copenhagen climate charade, won't go unchallenged. Nor should it. The EPA's finding that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant explains why the administration wasn't too concerned over possible failure at Copenhagen. This was their Plan B. The finding is an environmental Sword of Damocles held over the head of the U.S. with a warning that if cap-and-trade legislation such as Waxman-Markey or Kerry-Boxer is not signed into law, the full regulatory fury of an unelected bureaucracy will be unleashed on the American people and the U.S. economy. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has announced it will sue to overturn the endangerment finding on the grounds that the EPA has ignored major scientific issues, including those raised in the Climate-gate fraud scandal. "EPA is clinging for dear life to the notion that the global climate models are holding up," said Sam Kazman, CEI general counsel. "In reality, those models are about to sink under the growing weight of evidence that they are fabrications." more

Frack Attack

Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. Used primarily to heat homes and make electricity, it emits 23-percent less carbon dioxide than oil. Gas is the country’s second-largest domestic energy resource, after coal. It’s clean, cheap and abundant – estimates are there are half a million gas wells in 32 states already tapped into enough pockets of gas to power America at its 2008 rate of consumption for some 90 years. But there’s a catch. You can’t drink gas. The techniques used by powerful oil and gas companies to extract these fossil fuels from deep underground might be responsible for contaminating groundwater in drilling regions. The elephant in the well is the undisclosed chemical fluids used in hydro-fracturing. The industry hides behind federal protection, granted by the George W. Bush administration energy policy, and a multi-tiered structure of independent contractors designed to deflect blame. Major oil giants like Chesapeake or Shell or Chevron rely on service companies like Halliburton, BJ Services, and Schlumberger to do the actual drilling. Those companies, in turn, hire firms such as EnCana, Questar, and Devon to put the boots on the ground. By the time a roughneck pushes the wrong button and flushes gallons of benzene, a chemical believed to cause aplastic anemia and leukemia, into the aquifer, the suits at the top of the ladder are well-shielded, more

National Forest closes Horse Butte grazing

The Gallatin National Forest has shut down grazing on the Horse Butte Peninsula, saying the valuable habitat for grizzly bears, wolves and western toads would be hurt if cattle returned to the area. A U.S. Forest Service analysis of the area adjacent to Yellowstone National Park also gives a nod to bison that graze on Horse Butte during winter months, saying that closing the area to cattle would also eliminate potential conflicts between cattle and bison. Cows have not grazed the forest land for eight years, according to the Forest Service, but the allotment had been open for lease until mid-November. Mary Erickson, Gallatin supervisor, said in a Nov. 17 letter to colleagues that the allotment “is not viable given the inherently high wildlife values in this area” and leasing the land to cattle ranchers would require costly fences and water tanks to be built. Hebgen Lake District Ranger Lauren Turner found that Horse Butte is suitable habitat for at least five threatened, endangered and sensitive plants or animals: grizzly bears, gray wolves, bald eagles, western toads and purple monkey more

Pinon Canyon ban stays in 2010 budget bill

A ban on the Army spending any money to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site next year has been included in the 2010 omnibus federal budget bill that U.S. House and Senate negotiators have agreed upon. The full House and Senate are expected to approve the spending bill before the year's end and it will be the third consecutive year that Congress has approved the Pinon Canyon funding ban Ñ first sponsored by Colorado Reps. John Salazar and Marilyn Musgrave in 2007. Salazar, whose 3rd Congressional District includes the 238,000-acre training range, now serves on the House Appropriations Committee. Earlier this year, he included the funding ban in the House version of the 2010 military construction more

GOP foes of Piñon Canyon expansion balk at McInnis

Republicans opposed to the military's Piñon Canyon expansion project are disappointed that property rights weren't addressed when party leaders unveiled a new platform and rallied around gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis. Some ranchers and landowners in southeastern Colorado who worry that the Army is going to take their land said they can't back McInnis, a former congressman, because he supports the expansion. "As it stands today, I don't think McInnis could get 25 percent of the Republican votes in southeast Colorado," said Grady Grissom, a rancher from Las Animas County. Grissom is part of the Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, which criticized McInnis in a news release this week. The group's website says, "Scott McInnis is a big disappointment." But McInnis' position on the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site has earned him plenty of support elsewhere, particularly in El Paso County, home to Fort Carson and the largest GOP stronghold in the state, with 127,156 registered more

Official: Wolf hunt was effective

An examination of Montana’s first public gray-wolf hunt showed at least nine of the animals were killed in an area prone to livestock attacks — a finding that could blunt criticism that the hunt was ineffective. Confident state wildlife officials said they could increase the quota on the predators next year. They want to zero in on a number that would strike a balance between protecting the wolf population and stopping increasing attacks on livestock and big-game herds. However, the hunt in Montana and a wolf season in neighboring Idaho must first pass muster with a federal judge in Missoula. About 1,350 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies were removed from the endangered list in the spring. About 300 wolves in Wyoming remain on the list. In September, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy let this year’s hunts proceed in Montana and Idaho. But his ruling also said environmentalists were likely to prevail in their bid to restore federal protections. Arguments in the environmentalists’ case could come as early as February. Idaho and Montana officials — backed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — have said hunting can be done responsibly and is crucial to keeping wolf numbers in more

Native Americans win $3.7b settlement

The Obama Administration has announced it will pay American Indians $US3.4 billion ($3.7 billion) to settle a class action that argued that US federal governments cheated tribes for more than a century out of royalties for oil, mineral and other leases. The settlement ends a 13-year legal battle that led to 3600 filings, millions of pages of discovery documents and 11 appellate decisions. It is the largest settlement American Indians have ever received from a US government, eclipsing the sum of all previous settlements, according to the plaintiff's lawyers. The dispute stemmed from a 19th century decision to grant parcels of land to individual American Indians and place the properties in trust accounts. For more than a century, the plaintiffs contended, the account holders were cheated out of their share of revenues the federal government collects for leasing that more

Winds Reach Over 80 MPH At White Sands Military Base

The worst of high winds on Tuesday seemed to be on U.S. Highway 70 at San Augustine pass where there were reports of a 116 mph wind gust. But even with the gust reaching 80 to 90 miles it was enough to knock over an RV. New Mexico State Police said the driver was only going 35 mph, but the winds were so strong it just pushed the vehicle completely over. The driver walked away injury free. Just a few miles further down the road, at White Sands Military Base, the damage was even worse. “We're very fortunate that it was early morning and there weren't a lot of people in the building we had a couple of minor injuries,” said White Sands Military Base spokeswoman Monty Marlin. One of the police officers said it reminded him of when tornadoes would hit in the Midwest. “We've seen gust up to 80 mph on the main post,” said Marlin. “Prior to the loss of power, they had tracked gust up to 100 mph in the pass (San Augustine).” more

White Sands damage estimated in millions

Roughly estimated, the damage caused at White Sands Missile Range due to hurricane-force winds that blew through there Tuesday is $2 million to $6 million. Gerry Veara, director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security at WSMR, said continued gusty winds Wednesday, in excess of 30 mph, prevented officials from completing an extensive assessment of a two-story, 30,000 square foot building that had about two-thirds of its roof blown off when winds from a strong winter storm pushed through southern New Mexico on Tuesday. Veara was among five people inside the range's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security building at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday when the roof was blown off. Altogether, there are about 75 WSMR employees who worked there. "The very first thing that happened is that the power went out," Veara said. "It got very loud, very dark. I huddled, in a fetal position, against a wall until it was over. It seemed to last a couple of minutes, but in a situation like that you really don't know for sure how long it was. It was probably less. I remember the first thing I was thinking after it stopped was 'wow, I'm still here.'" Veara said he walked into the hallway of the building's second floor and saw a woman who looked visibly shaken. He helped her get out of the building and initially wanted to put her inside a police car. But he discovered that the windows to many of the vehicles parked outside the building were shattered from the force of the wind. "Of the six windows in my car, five were blown out," Veara more

Colorado cow mutilations baffle ranchers, cops, UFO believer

Manuel Sanchez tucks his leathery hands into well-worn pockets and nods toward a cedar tree where, last month, he found his fourth mysteriously slaughtered calf in as many weeks. "I have no idea what could do this. I wish I did," he says. Four calves, all killed overnight. Their innards gone. Tongues sliced out. Udders carefully removed. Facial skin sliced and gone. Eyes cored away. Not a single track surrounding the carcasses, which were found in pastures locked behind two gates and a mile from any road. Not a drop of blood on the ground or even on the remaining skin. In his life in the piñon-patched pastures where his father and grandfather raised cattle, the 72-year-old Sanchez has seen mountain lions and coyotes kill cattle, elk and deer. He's seen birds scavenge carcasses. He's heard of thieves slaughtering livestock in the field for their meat. He can't explain what he saw last month. "A lion will drag its kill. Coyotes rip and tear flesh. These were perfect cuts — like with a laser or like a scalpel. And what would take the waste — all the guts — and leave the nice, tender meat?" Sanchez says, as he nudges his old Ford through rutted trails, rosary beads swinging from his rearview mirror. "No tracks. No blood. No nothing. I got nothing to go by. They don't leave no trace." Every rancher who has reported similar cattle deaths — and there have been at least eight such deaths in southern Colorado this year — uses the same description. "They just stripped this one," says Tom Miller, who in March was one of three ranchers near Trinidad who discovered mutilated more

Some 54.9 Million Acres Now Irrigated in U.S.

USDA's 2008 Farm and Ranch Survey has found that farmers and ranchers are now irrigating 54.9 million acres farmland across the United States, an increase of nearly 5 percent since 2003. U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service collected the data for the Irrigation Survey earlier this year. The Irrigation Survey provides the most comprehensive source of up-to-date information regarding the U.S. agriculture industry's use and stewardship of our nation's water resources. The survey results show a continuing trend towards more efficient irrigation methods as farmers reported irrigating more acres with sprinkler systems and less with gravity irrigation. During the five-year period since the last Irrigation Survey, the area irrigated by sprinkler systems increased 15 percent while the area with gravity irrigation decreased 5 percent. Despite the changes in application methods, equipment in general continues to be one of the leading expenses of irrigation. In 2008, farmers and ranchers spent $2.1 billion on expenses related to irrigation equipment, facilities, land improvements and computer more

Horse industry at a loss after election

Kentucky's horse industry, which bet heavily on a Democratic win in Tuesday's special state Senate election, wasn't prepared for defeat and doesn't have a short-term plan to advance legislation that would allow slots at racetracks, industry leaders say. "We didn't plan on losing, so we don't have a strategy other than we want to attempt to continue to have our voices heard," said Ric Waldman, a bloodstock consultant who is one of the directors of the issues group Keep Our Jobs in Kentucky Inc. The horse industry group spent hundreds of thousand of dollars on advertising that opposed Republican Jimmy Higdon and supported Democrat Jodie Haydon. Haydon's election had been seen as critical to the horse industry's efforts to get casino-style gambling, but he lost by a wide margin. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the fate of expanded gambling is in the hands of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Stivers said the horse industry has spent a lot of money trying to change the political power structure in the Senate. After two very expensive elections, the Republicans remain in power by a 20-17 margin, with one independent who generally sides with Republicans. "If they spent the $1.9 million that we've heard that they've spent, I feel that they were not very good at spending their money," Stivers said. "Maybe they are not in as bad a shape as they claim to be if they can spend basically $2 million on an election." more

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after 'Danish text' leak

The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations. The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals. The so-called Danish text, a secret draft agreement worked on by a group of individuals known as "the circle of commitment" – but understood to include the UK, US and Denmark – has only been shown to a handful of countries since it was finalised this week. The agreement, leaked to the Guardian, is a departure from the Kyoto protocol's principle that rich nations, which have emitted the bulk of the CO2, should take on firm and binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, while poorer nations were not compelled to act. The draft hands effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank; would abandon the Kyoto protocol – the only legally binding treaty that the world has on emissions reductions; and would make any money to help poor countries adapt to climate change dependent on them taking a range of more

EPA Attempt to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions Will Kill Jobs, Critics Warn

Congressional Republicans and business groups are denouncing the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health. The finding, announced Monday, would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, under the 1970 Clean Air Act. “If the Democrat Congress can’t kill jobs by passing a national energy tax, then the Obama Environmental Protection Agency will,” warned Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference. Pence said the EPA’s announcement – which came on the first day of the international climate conference in Copenhagen – is an attempt by the Obama administration to build international support for a binding climate change treaty. “It seems liberal Democrats will stop at nothing to overcome the strong objections of the American people to a cap and tax system,” Pence said. Liberals in Congress are pushing “cap and trade” legislation that would create an entirely new system for buying and selling carbon credits – and raise costs for every energy more

Dems aim to expand water pollution controls

With the deletion of a single word from the Clean Water Act, some leading Democratic lawmakers are angling to greatly expand the federal government's authority to regulate water pollution. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June quietly approved legislation dropping the adjective "navigable" to describe the bodies of water covered under the 1972 law, vastly expanding its scope and prompting a lobbying campaign from business groups that fear the small editorial change would cost jobs during economic hard times. The federal government regulates lakes and rivers large enough for ship traffic, but if the word "navigable" is deleted, the groups say, the government could have the authority to police everything from wetlands and lakes to backyard ponds and roadside ditches. The law also would open the way to government regulation of 20 million acres of the nation's so-called isolated wetlands and 59 percent of the nation's streams that do not flow year-round. These are two types of water that are now largely exempt from federal more

Senators say global warming bill will harm agriculture

U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today raised issue with testimony delivered by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Chief Economist Dr. Joseph Glauber before a House Agriculture Committee hearing last week on the economic impacts of pending climate change legislation. The Senators have repeatedly said Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer cap and trade bills will have profound and substantial impacts on the U.S. agriculture sector. The long-awaited USDA analysis confirmed initial concerns raised in July when U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack first testified in front of the Senate Agriculture Committee on the same issue. As noted in Dr. Glauber’s testimony, cap and trade will increase the food consumer price index (Food CPI) by nearly 5 percent by 2050. The beef sector will see a 10 percent decline, while the hog and dairy sector will see reductions of 23 percent and 17 percent respectively. Additionally, cap and trade will take 59 million acres of cropland and pasture out of production. In short, according to USDA and other testimony at the hearing, cap and trade will increase food prices, reduce production and likely put farmers out of business. “This testimony confirms what we’ve known for some time: the cost of producing crops and livestock will increase, and energy prices will go up,” said Sen. Johanns, member of the Senate Agriculture more

Obama Admin Will Speed Reviews of 'Green' Patents

The Obama administration vowed today to streamline the patent review process for "green" technologies and committed $100 million for federal research, development and demonstration projects. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will expedite the examination of applications for "green" technologies, which could range from building-integrated photovoltaic materials to electric vehicle batteries. The pilot program is aimed at reducing the patent review time from 40 months to 12 months, a move that will enable inventors to secure funding and launch businesses more quickly, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters more

Congressmen offer forest management bill

Saying action is needed to save suffering national forests and the rural economies that surround them, Oregon Reps. Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader offered legislation Tuesday aimed at thinning woodlands and using the material to meet the rising demand for renewable fuels. The package of bills were also sponsored by Democratic Reps. Brian Baird of Washington and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota and Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, would update the current forest management law passed in 2003. Since that time, the bipartisan group said more than 40 million acres of forest have burned and more have been blighted by disease and pests. The local economies have been ravaged too, with many currently experiencing 15 percent (or higher) unemployment. The current law, they said, it not muscular enough to deal with those conditions. ``The one thing I learned is, you don't solve a problem by ignoring it,'' Walden, a Republican, said during a news conference. ``Here's what we have to show for this policy of neglect - record unemployment in forested communities. Catastrophic wildfire nearly year after year after year. Massive bug kill in our federal forests, threatened habitat and watersheds,'' he said. ``Our federal forests are sick. They are choked. They burn in the summers and they're being eaten alive by bugs. Simply put, our federal forests are a national treasure but a national treasure that's in peril.'' more

Keepin it Western!‏

Ralph Hampton and Tamara Boatright were awarded the "Radio Station of the Year" award from the Western Music Association. The award was announced at the annual Awards Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 21. Hampton and Boatright were on hand to accept the award. The Western Music Association is comprised of fans, western music artists and djs. The awards are nominated and granted based on the voting membership.

Hampton and Boatright started the Ralph's Backporch show, 2 years ago from their home office in San Augustine TX. Using an internet website, they broadcast western music, cowboy poetry and interviews to a global audience over the internet three times a week. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings they can be found sitting at their desks with headphones, talking and joking it up for a growing western music audience.

"Western Music is on the rise, Ralph's Backporch is at the fore front of making that happen" said Paul Harris, western music performer and member of the Western Music Association. "They do things their own way, not following the lines of traditional radio, their show not only showcases the music and poetry of the western artists, it brings the artists to the audience, through live interviews, and special live performances."

Hampton defines the music that they play as "anything a cowboy will play, sing or dance too" giving the show a range of music on any given night. Often you will hear rodeo rock, a buckle polishing tune followed up by a thoughtful cowboy poem. Western music and poetry gained popularity during the 1930s and 40's with singing cowboys like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Bands such as the Sons of the Pioneers were touring the country capturing the imagination and hearts of children longing to be cowboys. That generation is now grown, but remembers those days, the cowboy code and the romance of the cowboy. Hampton credits part of the success of the show to the fact that as life gets more complicated, people want to go back to the simpler, cowboy way. The classic and modern western tunes of horses, open spaces and family values touches all of us wether were sitting at a desk on wall street or the computer in the living room of the ranch in wyoming.

The show registers thousands of listeners each month, many of them live while on air, more in the archived version of the shows. One of the small town aspects of the show includes a "chat room" where regular listeners congregate. Everyday people such as Slim McNaught of New Underwood South Dakota and locals such as Kathy Brittian of Shelby County listen, fellowship and add color and character to the show as Boatright and Hampton feed off of the comments. The live audience becomes part of the show.

Others credit their success to the music that they play and their relaxed interviews. It balances the classic western and western swing with the up and coming cowboy singers of today who often break the "traditional" rules. Western music encompasses a broad spectrum of influences and styles and the show blends those seamlessly at times, other times contrasting them to show its diversity. The interviews, always live, are relaxed and give listeners a glimpse into the lives of people who are as diverse as the music itself. Ralph often tells a guest, "sit back and relax, were just visiting here on the backporch." Whether its talking about horses bloodlines with someone like Michael Martin Murphy to the struggles of a relatively unknown New Mexico artist, Ralph's Backporch is allowing a growing international audience to get a glimpse into the lives and minds of those creating the music that they love.

Along with a world-wide listening audience you can log on to your home computer and tune in to Ralph's Back Porch each Monday, Wednesday and Friday night, 7 until 9 pm cst at Ralph and Tamara invite you all to tune in for some good old Western fun!

Song Of The Day #197

Ranch Radio invites you to give a listen to Jean Shepards 1952 recording of Twice The Lovin' In Half The Time.

The tune is available on her 24 track CD Honky Tonk Heroine: Classic Capitol Recordings, 1952-1964.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Documents identify terrorism threat in border gaps

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a secret government report highlighted a way terrorists might easily enter the United States carting weapons of mass destruction. It wasn't by air or sea. The classified analysis pointed to an arid and sparsely populated stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona teeming with drug runners. "This area has become very active with smuggling and encrypted radio traffic," says the report titled "Threat Assessment for Public Lands" completed by the Interior Department in late 2002. "This would be an ideal area to smuggle a weapon of mass destruction." The report, marked "sensitive," surfaced recently in a load of documents uncovered by Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop. Moreover, while officials stress a huge investment in fencing and border patrols has cut down smuggling traffic, one of Interior's top cops acknowledged portions of the border are still porous. "I don't want to suggest that the concern has completely dissipated and I can't go any further without straying into classified materials," said Larry Parkinson, Interior's deputy assistant secretary for law enforcement. "Anytime you have the ability for bad actors to come across the border, the Mexican border, the Canadian border or you know, flying into an airport, that concern will be there and I think we would be kidding ourselves if we suggested that all of those holes have been filled." Bishop, along with several other Republicans in Congress, say that one region of the U.S.-Mexican border -- a miles-long expanse abutting federal wild lands -- is a prime national security lapse that needs fixing. "The fact is that we have had for several years large parts of our border areas...controlled by human traffickers, potential terrorists, and especially, drug cartels," Bishop says. Bishop, the ranking Republican on a House subcommittee that oversees federal public lands, says he is concerned that wilderness laws are impeding the ability to secure the nation's more

And still Senator Bingaman continues to push for 560 square miles of wilderness near the Mexico border. The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce sent testimony to the committee chaired by Bingaman, suggesting an alternative to wilderness and requesting a field hearing on S.1689. Recently a broad section of Dona Ana County groups endorsed the chamber proposal and also requested a field hearing. So far, no word back from Bingaman.

Humanure: Goodbye, Toilets. Hello, Extreme Composting

For more than a decade, 57-year-old roofer and writer Joseph Jenkins has been advocating that we flush our toilets down the drain and put a bucket in the bathroom instead. When a bucket in one of his five bathrooms is full, he empties it in the compost pile in his backyard in rural Pennsylvania. Eventually he takes the resulting soil and spreads it over his vegetable garden as fertilizer. "It's an alternative sanitation system," says Jenkins, "where there is no waste." His 255-page Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure is in its third edition and has been translated into five languages, but it has only recently begun to catch on. His message? Human manure, when properly managed, is odorless. His audience? Ecologically committed city dwellers who are looking to do more for the earth than just sort their trash or ride a bike to work. (See reusable toilet wipes as one of the top 10 odd environmental ideas.) "It's one of those life-changing books," says Erik Knutzen, 44, an eco-blogger in Los Angeles. "You read it, and the lightbulb just goes on." Now he eschews his porcelain potty for a big bucket with a toilet seat. He "flushes" by tossing in a scoop of sawdust, which not only neutralizes smells but also helps speed the breakdown of material for compost. Like many back-to-basics sophisticates, he believes Jenkins' humanure system is more sanitary and more rational than the conventional alternative. "Human waste is a perfectly good source of an important resource, nitrogen," Knutzen observes. "Water is a valuable resource too. Why mix the two and turn all of it into a problem?"...

I note that Jenkins is a roofer and that his system would lessen the demand for plumbers.

To fight back, some eco-plumber should form the Humanure Holistic Roofing Co. and use that bucket of compost to patch your roof.

Or let the humanure naturally bake into forms shaped like a shingle.

Instead of shingles you'd have shittles on your roof.

I would propose a pilot project at the White House. For the first time I'd be happy to send my fair share to D.C.

US Plan for Wild Horse Round-Up Faces Opposition

A government plan to round up and relocate thousands of wild horses in the West faces opposition from advocates who say the proposal is inhumane and unnecessary. At a hearing near Reno, two dozen advocates pressed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's National Horse and Burro Advisory Board Monday for a moratorium on roundups until an independent audit of mustang numbers can be conducted. The government wants to carry out Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's plan to relocate as many as 25,000 wild horses from Western rangelands to pastures in the Midwest and East out of fear that the mustangs' fast-multiplying numbers will lead to mass starvation. While the panel adjourned late Monday without taking any formal action, at least two members, Gary Zakotnik and Vern Dooley, said afterward they support Salazar's proposal. ''It's the best and most cost-effective alternative I've seen to deal with the horse problem in my 10 years on the board,'' Zakotnik said. Among those opposed to the round-up are celebrities Sheryl Crow, Bill Maher and Lily Tomlin, who contend the situation is not as dire as the government describes, and the roundups are inhumane and unnecessary. At the hearing, advocates urged the government to remove cattle to free up public land for one of the most stirring symbols of the American West -- mustangs thundering freely across the range. They noted non-native cows far outnumber mustangs on the more

The Humanure Holistic Roofing Co. should contact Crow, Maher and Tomlin, cause they are full of it.

EPA Declares Greenhouse Gases a Danger

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as expected, on Monday declared greenhouse gases a danger to public health, a decision that could soon lead to new emissions regulations for businesses across the economy. The "endangerment finding" announced by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is necessary to move ahead on new emissions standards for cars due out in March 2010. Made under the Clean Air Act, it also opens up large emitters such as power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants and metal smelters to regulations that limit their output of carbon dioxide and other gases. "These long overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the U.S. government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform," Ms. Jackson said. The controversial decision, proposed by the administration earlier this year, comes as a global climate summit opens in Copenhagen. It gives the administration leverage in its negotiations and puts pressure on Congress to pass a bill that cuts greenhouse gases in a more economically efficient more

State OKs killing of wolf pack

State wildlife officials have authorized the killing of the remaining members of the Mitchell Mountain wolf pack after a fourth guard dog was killed on private land north of Helena. Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the agency authorized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services last week to kill the wolves. “It’s always unfortunate when people lose animals to wolves,” Sime said Monday. “And it’s always unfortunate when wolves have to be killed.” The wolves killed a guard dog in June 2008, a domestic goat in October 2008, a domestic goat and guard dog last March, and other guard dogs on Nov. 2 and Nov. 30. Two of the wolves were killed after the March deaths. Then, after the guard dog’s death on Nov. 2, FWP authorized the removal of three more members of the pack, thought to total between five and seven wolves. However, after two more wolves were killed, another guard dog was killed, which led to the decision to remove the entire more

Timber program becomes vast entitlement

A federal program that began as a safety net for Pacific Northwest logging communities hard-hit by battles over the spotted owl in the 1990s has morphed into a sprawling entitlement - one that ships vast amounts of money to states with little or no historic connection to timber, an analysis by The Associated Press shows. A four-year renewal of the law, passed last year, authorizes an additional $1.6 billion for the program through 2011 and shifts substantial sums to states where the spotted owl never flew. While money initially was based on historic logging levels, now any state with federal forests - even those with no history of logging - is eligible for millions in Forest Service dollars. Here in Catron County, the part of western New Mexico where Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang once holed up, the program distributes the highest per capita payment in the nation - $1,883 per person. The county, which sits along the Arizona border, is larger than three Eastern states, yet has fewer than 3,500 residents. The public high school in Reserve, the county seat, has just five seniors. The handful of businesses lining Main Street close early each evening, save for a quiet bar frequented by a few locals. Of much more important note: New Mexico's two senators served as chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate committee that rewrote the timber payments formula. New Mexico's increase under the new formula was 692 more

Dorgan vows to block historic designation for ND Badlands site where Roosevelt once ran cattle

Sen. Byron Dorgan believes that adding scenic North Dakota Badlands to the National Register of Historic Places will restrict land use and has told the U.S. Forest Service that he will attempt to block the nomination. "I've told them, essentially, 'Knock it off,'" Dorgan, D-N.D., said Friday. A historic designation in an area where Theodore Roosevelt ran a short-lived cattle ranching business more than a century ago would violate an agreement about its use made when the government bought the property, Dorgan wrote in a stern letter to Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell. "I was happy to pass legislation in Congress that resulted in the acquisition," Dorgan wrote in the September letter. "But further designations of this land would violate the agreement. "I will oppose this nomination," Dorgan wrote. State and local officials believe the historic designation would add another layer of bureaucracy to the Badlands and could prevent oil and gas development, lessen the amount of land open for grazing and stymie plans for a proposed bridge over the Little Missouri more

Cap-and-Tax Bad for Farmers, Rural America

This week the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held two important hearings to learn more about the economic impact of climate change legislation. Witnesses at the hearing included the chief economist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as members of academia. They highlighted and discussed various studies that have been completed on the costs of cap and trade on the agriculture industry. Although these studies make different assumptions or have different end results, the overwhelming conclusion from each one is that the cost to agriculture is real. Our farmers and ranchers have much to lose and very little, if anything, to gain. During the hearing, Dr. Joseph Glauber from USDA said, “there is no question that agriculture is an energy intensive sector… [and] agriculture will be hit by higher energy costs.” Another witness, Dr. John M. Antle from Montana State University, testified that the current economic studies “have tended to under-emphasize the costs of adaptation” for farmers. Dr. Patrick Westhoff from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute added that “the House-passed legislation would raise energy costs and this would translate into higher farm production expenses.” It is expected that higher energy prices and higher operating costs will decrease farm income anywhere from $5 billion to $50 billion per year. Dr. Glauber also testified that a cap and trade program would dramatically reduce livestock production by double digits by 2050, which is particularly alarming. If USDA’s analysis is true then U.S. agriculture will no longer be able to provide food security for the U.S. population, which is expected to grow by 130 million Americans by more

Cabresto Dam

The long-awaited reconstruction of Cabresto Dam above Questa takes a critical step forward this month with two public meetings on the plans. Rebuilding the 192-year-old dam became a priority in 2005 after heavy runoff caused seepage through the earthen-concrete structure. Subsequently, the state engineer’s office placed a limit on water storage, which reduced the amount of irrigation water to two acequias in the Questa area. Stream and storage water flow through about eight miles of ditch into six different acequia systems on about 4,000 acres of cultivated land. The Cabresto association has an 1815 priority right — the year the acequias began officially drawing water from the creek — and got a “license” to store in 1907. The dam was first constructed in the 1860s, and raised twice since then. Intense lobbying by acequia officials produced $5.5 million in legislative appropriations for the project. The proposed project would breach the old dam and build a new one about 160 feet downstream along Cabresto Creek. The new structure would have updated designs for outlets and a more

Man gets 20 years for cattle rustling

Williamson County does not take cattle rustling lightly. Judge Ken Anderson sentenced Monte Sharp, who admitted stealing more than 1,000 cattle from a local broker, to 20 years in prison Monday. It is the largest cattle rustling case in Williamson County history, District Attorney John Bradley said. "The surprising sentence of 20 years in prison should put all thieves on alert, particularly during the upcoming holiday season, that stealing is not tolerated in Williamson County," he said. Sharp was charged after he never paid the $700,000 he owed after ordering 1,061 head of cattle in 2005 from Jim Schwertner, the owner of Capitol Land & Livestock Co. "Ranchers don't take kindly to folks stealing their cattle, especially in Williamson County," Schwertner said. "We've been in business since 1946, and this has never happened to us before." more

Ghosts of Wyoming

Ghosts of Wyoming Alyson Hagy. Graywolf, $15 paper. In her fourth collection of short stories, Hagy (Snow, Ashes) explores the lonely state of the Equality State, with its literally and figuratively haunted inhabitants. Hagy has an ear for the locals and a feel for the vast lonely landscape, capturing modern issues like small ranchers' struggles with wolves and environmentalists, and the small details of late nights in pickups and the gradual erosion of Wyoming's landscape. Western archetypes make appearances—cowboys and Native Americans, park rangers, prospectors, and preachers, albeit sometimes with a more

Roswell Crash Revelations From The Foster Ranch

New Mexico ranches are some of the most spectacular in the country. But one spread of land there holds a special distinction. It is said that in July of 1947 a craft from another world crashed from the sky onto the Foster Ranch outside Roswell. Strewn wide across the desert grasses, arroyos and rock outcroppings lay unearthly debris from a flying saucer. Recently obtained information provides astonishing insight about what fell on the Foster fields. Two descendants of the famous ranching family have come forward to tell their stories of what they know about the event. A recently acquired federal document indicates that the government has forever barred the ranch from development. And as the investigation continues, we find the possibility of a pay-off for rancher silence! What celestial secrets do the soils at the Foster Ranch hold? more

Florida's Black Cowboys

Ivory Lucky's got stories to tell. Like how he and his daddy used to haul cattle across State Road 40 from Ocala to the packinghouse in Daytona Beach. Or how he'd pen and tag cows at the livestock market in the 1950s. They called him "As Is," he said, when he started buying blind and maimed cows in high school for $1 apiece because that was all he could afford. "I always wanted me some cattle," said Lucky, now 61. And he remembers not being able to eat at the livestock market diner because of the color of his skin. But on the open range, things were different. "Long years ago, those cattlemen rolled together," Lucky said. These days, the rancher rounds up his 175 cattle with dogs and a four-wheeler at his farm in rural Blitchton, about 20 minutes west of Ocala. It's stories like these of Florida's black cattlemen and ranchers that the Florida Agricultural Museum in Palm Coast is trying to preserve. The museum recently launched a new permanent exhibit -- Florida's Black Cowboys: Past and Present -- tracing the centuries-long history of African-Americans in the cattle more

Baxter Black: A boy and his goat

There is a parable of the International Goat Sensation. A story about a boy and his goat. Tim was a kindhearted graduate student who raised longhorn cattle. On his daily trips from the ranch to school and back, he passed a plowed field with sparse feed left. A big horse and a small goat stood by the fence and watched him as he came and went. Concerned for their well-being, on the third day he stopped at the feed store, bought some hay pellets and, after dark, sneaked back to the pasture and fed them. One day he saw a man loading the horse in a trailer. Tim pulled in to visit, never mentioning his "meals on wheels" activity. It turned out the owner had been hospitalized, and his brother was picking up the horse. The sick owner had given instructions to sell the animals. "I've got the horse sold," he told Tim, "but my brother promised the goat to a family of 'exchange students' from Mexico, and I'm afraid they plan to eat him." This saddened Tim, so he reluctantly took the goat. He named him Chico. Back home Chico didn't fit in with the longhorns. They used him variously as a soccer ball, shot put, back scrubber and tank float. He also more

Song Of The Day #196

Shut That Gate recorded by Jack Guthrie in 1947 is the offering on Ranch Radio this morning.

The song is available on his 30 track CD Milk Cow Blues.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes & "carbon dating" by prostitutes

Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. "We haven't got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand," she says. "We're having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden." And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? "Five," says Ms Jorgensen. "The government has some alternative fuel cars but the rest will be petrol or diesel. We don't have any hybrids in Denmark, unfortunately, due to the extreme taxes on those cars. It makes no sense at all, but it's very Danish." The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers. As well 15,000 delegates and officials, 5,000 journalists and 98 world leaders, the Danish capital will be blessed by the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah, Helena Christensen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prince Charles. A Republican US senator, Jim Inhofe, is jetting in at the head of an anti-climate-change "Truth Squad." The top hotels – all fully booked at £650 a night – are readying their Climate Convention menus of (no doubt sustainable) scallops, foie gras and sculpted caviar wedges...

My, my, these folks don't seem to be environmentally conscientius. What will the carbon footprint be of this momentous meeting?

According to the organisers, the eleven-day conference, including the participants' travel, will create a total of 41,000 tonnes of "carbon dioxide equivalent", equal to the amount produced over the same period by a city the size of Middlesbrough.

A gathering of this size always creates a demand for extracurricular activities - in other words sex. But sex is carbon neutral, right? Yes, but the Danish prostitutes are upset:

And this being Scandinavia, even the prostitutes are doing their bit for the planet. Outraged by a council postcard urging delegates to "be sustainable, don't buy sex," the local sex workers' union – they have unions here – has announced that all its 1,400 members will give free intercourse to anyone with a climate conference delegate's pass. The term "carbon dating" just took on an entirely new meaning.

Looks like the only free trade to be discussed will be between the delegates and the prostitutes.

So what if you want to protest these doings? They've taken care of that too:

Denmark has taken delivery of its first-ever water-cannon – one of the newspapers is running a competition to suggest names for it – plus sweeping new police powers. The authorities have been proudly showing us their new temporary prison, 360 cages in a disused brewery, housing 4,000 detainees.

So sex is free but speech isn't.

Depending on on which side you advocate, you'll either be whored or hosed.

Actually, our only hope is that with all the free sex going on nothing else will get done. I wasn't part of the Free Sex Movement in the 60's, but I'm damn sure all for it in Copenhagen.

Check it out here.

The Scientific Tragedy of Climategate

Consider researcher Tom Wigley’s email describing his adjustments to mid-20th century global temperature data in order to lower an inconvenient warming "blip." According to the global warming hypothesis, late 20th century man-made warming was supposed to be faster than earlier natural warming. But the data show rapid "natural" warming in the 1930s. Adjusting the 1940 temperature blip downward makes a better-looking trend line in support of the notion of rapidly accelerating man-made warming. Collecting and evaluating temperature data requires the exercise of scientific judgment, but Wigley's emails suggest a convenient correction of 0.15 degree Celsius that fits the man-made global warming hypothesis. The adjustment may be reasonable—changes in instrumentation might need to be accounted for—but all raw data and the methodologies used to adjust them should be publicly available so others can check them to make sure. In another set of troubling emails, the CRU crew and associates discussed how to freeze out researchers and editors who expressed doubts about the man-made climate change. For example, an email from CRU’s leader Phil Jones saying that he and Kevin Trenberth would keep two dissenting scientific articles out of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next report "even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" In addition, the CRU crew evidently plotted to remove journal editors with whom they disagreed and suppress the publication of articles that they disliked. If they actually succeeded, this compounds the tragedy. Eliminating dissenting voices distorts the peer review process and the resulting scientific literature. The world's policymakers rarely enjoy access to complete information, but the Climategate emails suggest they have been robbed of the chance to get the best information more

Backlash by sceptics gains ground after 'Climategate'

The resurgent climate sceptic movement claimed its first political scalp this week when Australia's opposition Liberal party dumped its leader, Malcolm Turnbull, over his support for the federal government's climate change legislation. At the same time the sceptics have been making hay with the "Climategate scandal" - the release a week ago by computer hackers of thousands of e-mails sent to and from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK. The timing of Climategate, just before next week's Copenhagen negotiations, could hardly be worse for the majority seeking an agreement to limit carbon emissions. The sceptics claim that the e-mails show a conspiracy to manipulate and suppress data that do not support the cause for man-made global warming - a charge vigorously denied by mainstream climate scientists. Lorraine Whitmarsh, an environmental psychologist at Cardiff University in Wales, says opinion worldwide is becoming more polarised, with supporters of more rightwing parties more likely to doubt the need for action on climate change. But Prof Whitmarsh warns climate scientists that the negative impact of Climategate may be long-lasting. "It may resonate for a long time and support the doubters," she says. "The Great Global Warming Swindle [a sceptical television programme broadcast in 2007] is still having an effect today." more

Burning our forests is the best way to save them

Here's the prescription for our catastrophically burned forests: Burn them again ... and again. In Southern Arizona, scientists and land managers are enlisting environmentalists and residents of threatened settlements to support an effort to make the forests safer and healthier by reintroducing fire on a "landscape scale" to our Sky Island mountains and the grassy plains beneath them. The Coronado National Forest -- where the U.S. Forest Service manages nearly 1.8 million acres of old-growth forests, rolling grasslands and semi-arid deserts -- is creating those landscape-scale burn programs, dubbed "FireScape," for most of its 17 Sky Island mountain ranges. Plans would increase the number of planned fires and would make more use of "resource benefit" fires, in which the Forest Service doesn't immediately extinguish naturally occurring fires. It's a fairly easy call in the most remote ranges, but it will take finesse and scientific expertise to pull it off on two troubled mountain more

Federal officials look for ways to make wolf recovery a success in the Southwest

A decade has passed since the federal government began returning endangered Mexican wolves to their historic range in the Southwest. It hasn't worked out — for the wolves, for ranchers, for conservationists or for federal biologists. And that has resulted in frustration and resentment by many involved in the reintroduction program along the Arizona-New Mexico border, a landscape of sprawling pine and spruce forests, cold-water lakes and clear streams. "I believe in being a good steward of the land and preserving it for generations to come, but this is ridiculous," said Ed Wehrheim, who heads the county commission in Catron County, in the heart of wolf country. "I've had ranchers' wives come to me just bawling because everything they and their parents have worked for is going down the drain." Four ranches have gone out of business since the wolf reintroduction began and another four are expected to do the same before next summer, Wehrheim said. The region has been hit by drought and cattle prices aren't what they used to be, but Wehrheim said pressure from environmentalists and hundreds of livestock kills by Mexican gray wolves over the past decade have only made things worse. Environmentalists argue that grazing practices are part of the problem and the wolf reintroduction program has failed because of mismanagement by the federal more

Colo. regulators hash out gas-well water rights

Water regulators are close to solving a fight between gas drillers and ranchers, who say coalbed methane wells are draining their water rights. State Engineer Dick Wolfe held hearings last week to develop a computer model that will tell him which gas wells need extra attention. The hearings will conclude Dec. 16 with a discussion of wells in the San Juan Basin. The dispute started in 2005, when two Southwest Colorado ranching families, William and Elizabeth Vance and James and Mary Fitzgerald, sued the state, claiming nearby gas wells had siphoned water from their springs. In April, the state Supreme Court ruled for the couples, which opened up the possibility that every gas and oil well in the state would have to get a water well permit and submit to regulation by the state engineer. The Legislature acted quickly to direct Wolfe's office to limit the number of gas wells that would need regulation. Energy companies have argued that most gas wells are much deeper than the water table, so they should be excluded as “nontributary" water. Wolfe conducted hearings last week on technical issues around a computer model his staff will use. Sarah Klahn, lawyer for the Vance and Fitzgerald families, wants the model to be tweaked, especially for the edges of gas fields, where the gas formations outcrop and come close to the underground water that feeds more

Sheepman fighting to save flock

...But there he was a week ago Friday, featured in an article with the headline, "Ranching, Recreation Collide in the Great Outdoors." The story is about an incident from the summer of 2008, when two of Robinson's dogs were accused of attacking a woman riding a mountain bike. The assault resulted in injuries and a court action that branded Robinson — a good man his wife, Cheri, described to the Times as "a Sunday school teacher who has no record" — a criminal. He was found guilty of a misdemeanor, fined, ordered to pay restitution and, in lieu of jail time, sentenced to 200 hours community service. Now, Sam Robinson is fighting back. Robinson has seen this fight long coming. Slowly but steadily, he's watched civilization's advancements intrude on his ability to protect his sheep. First there was the environmentalist-inspired government ban in the 1970s on all toxicants, meaning you couldn't poison the mountain lions, coyotes, bears and other natural predators of the herd. Next came a crusade led by animal rights groups that resulted in a government ban on steel-jawed traps, followed by outlawing all baiting and scent lures. All that was left for a sheepman to defend his herd was to shoot predators during a legal hunting season or when they were caught in the act. It was like telling a store owner he couldn't lock the door when he went home at night. But then the government advised Robinson of a new option that was enjoying some success elsewhere: livestock protection more

A cowboy's tale

Will Rogers had sage advice for friend and co-star Joel McCrea: The best way to get perspective on Hollywood is on the back of a horse while herding cattle. McCrea, who appeared in 90 films, heeded his mentor’s suggestion and bought an expanse of land in Thousand Oaks. The working ranch served as a home for himself and his wife, actress Frances Dee, and their sons, and became a rural refuge for friends Gary Cooper, Katherine Hepburn and Alfred Hitchcock. The public will have the chance in a year to explore part of the 76-year-old ranch, where Hollywood intersected with the Old West. “This ranch is a great piece of California history, and that’s what we want people to be exposed to,” said Wyatt McCrea, the grandson of Joel McCrea and Dee. “This is just our little effort to keep that pioneering spirit alive.” Sitting in an office with his cowboy hat hanging from a chair back and a signed portrait of Will Rogers behind him, McCrea said in a recent interview his grandfather acted in order to ranch. The elder McCrea, born in south Pasadena, starred in “Sullivan’s Travels,” “The Virginian” and “Foreign Correspondent.” One year he listed his profession as rancher on his income tax returns, prompting the Internal Revenue Service to audit him. Joel McCrea, who bought his first horse at age 10, held out his calloused hands to the auditor and asked if an actor would have hands like that. The IRS dropped the more

For Lewistown rancher, training cattle dogs uses same rules as life

One of Carl's favorite things to do during the day is to work with his dogs. He loves dogs and likes to train them to work his cattle. He teaches them to respond to both voice commands and hand signals. “That way, if you're around a bunch of bawling cattle, they still know what you want them to do,” Carl said. Carl explained that if the people you're working with can't hear you over the noise, chances are the dogs won't hear you either. Most of his dogs are Australian Shepherds, descended from the first one he purchased from a breeder back in 1995. Carl likes the way they worked the cattle. The breeder raised national champion stock dogs. “I listened to the breeders and trainers and watched them work their dogs, and I asked a lot of questions,” he said. Recently he purchased a Hangin' Tree Cow Dog out of Portland, Ore. The male pup is not quite six months old, tall and leggy with a short fine coat. He plans on cross-breeding the male with his females in the hopes of producing a taller dog with a thinner coat, without losing working ability. “Having these qualities they can travel in the rough breaks country a little longer. They'll be bigger build in order to cover more country and their hair won't let them get over-heated or collect as many burrs,” he more

Endorsing lifelong lessons

The lessons John David Fields Jr. learned in life started early and haven’t stopped. Growing up on a ranch in Sonora, Fields learned to raise sheep, goats and cattle, but Fields said his father also taught him lifelong lessons. “My father was of the old school,” he said. “He’d tell me, ‘Your word is your bond. Your handshake is as good as a contract. You treat everyone the way you want to be treated.’” But Fields, 62, said the best advice he ever received came from a Sutton County rancher named Bryan Hunt. “He told me, ‘When you shake somebody’s hand, look them straight in the eye.’” Hunt had a way of teaching what he preached, Fields said. The old rancher could make a coin seemingly disappear, and when Hunt shook hands with youngsters, he’d have a quarter tucked in his palm. “If you looked him straight in the eye while you shook, he’d turn loose of that coin,” Fields remembered. “If you didn’t look him in the eye, you didn’t get the quarter.” more

‘Half Broke Horses’

There are “Half Broke Horses” of the human variety in Jeannette Walls’ new book of that name—Walls, her mother and her grandmother among them. All three are tough, intelligent, and often running on pluck, but it is Walls’ spirited grandmother who holds center stage here, a woman born in 1901 in the gritty horse lands of the American West. Lily Casey Smith was a force, it seems, from birth. She was not yet 20 when she became known as “the mustang-breaking, poker-playing, horse-race-winning schoolmarm of Coconino County.” She wasn’t much older when she took up the automobile, became a rum runner, then a biplane pilot. She was a rancher for years, a wife and mother of two (including the wild and willful Rosemary, later known as Rose Mary). She was, in short, a sort of Sarah Palin of her day: People always knew when the outspoken Lily was around — as they would her daughter Rosemary and, in turn, Rosemary’s daughter, Jeannette. We know because we remember all three women from Walls’ widely read memoir, “The Glass Castle.” In fact, “Half Broke Horses” is a prequel to the earlier book, giving us only a reversal in time and the more

H-Bar History

In the early days before the coming of the railroad, the ranch located closest to Clovis and Portales was the H-Bar. The H-Bar, located where the Portales Country Club now stands, was established by some unlikely cowmen, and associated with some wild characters in its early days. It was 1884, just 16 years since the end of the Civil War and three years since the death of Billy the Kid, that a group of Missourians traveled south to become cattle ranchers on the Llano Estacado. These compadres from Cass County, Missouri, were W. G. and W. C. Urton, J. D. Cooley, and Lee Easley. They formed the Cass Land and Cattle Company and set up their operation on the Pecos River at Cedar Canyon, 60 miles northeast of the present site of Roswell. With them came a close acquaintance, Dr. Hadley Winfrey. Winfrey had been sent to Pecos County by his brother, Dr. Caleb Winfrey, who had decided to move to the Southwest in search of a more healthy climate. So in 1884, Hadley went ahead with his fellow Missourians to gather up a herd. Col. Jack Potter, noted cowboy, author and historian, knew the Winfreys well. He worked on the roundup spring and summer with Hadley Winfrey throughout the Pecos roundups, when Hadley was gathering the cattle to move to the more

It's All Trew: For your vocabulary pleasure

Historians continually write of nesters, settlers, settlements and free-range cattlemen. Exactly what were the origins of these terms? # The term "nester" was first applied to families who chose a plot of land clearing the brush for farming. They cut the large trees to build shelters, then piled the brush from this, plus the brush cleared from the land around the edges of their property, to act as a fence of sorts for protection for their crops. Others, like the cowboys, thought the new farms looked like huge bird nests, hence the title of nesters. # The first white people in America were the explorers, trappers, Mountain Men and soldiers all leading mostly a nomadic life. When families began to arrive, the nomadic way of life ceased as people began to "settle down," thus the term "settler" was born. When settlers gathered in close proximity, it became a "settlement." # A "free-range rancher" was a product of a short period of time beginning when the Indians were placed on reservations. There were no fences, except natural terrain barriers; land titles were scarce and hard to recognize. They considered all the range free to graze their cattle. This all came to an end when barbed wire was invented. This product provided landowners an economical way to delineate their boundaries and protect their crops, thus ending the free-range more

Cartoon - School Vending Machines

Song Of The Day #195

Ranch Radio hopes to get your heart pumpin' and your feet tappin' this Monday morning with the 1939 recording of Beaumont Rag by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys.

The instrumental tune is available on their 4 disc box set Take Me Back to Tulsa by Proper Records and on the wonderful 11 disc + dvd + book San Antonio Rose by Bear Family Records.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Equal opportunity cowgirl

Julie Carter

It didn't take an act of Congress to give cowgirls their equal opportunity rights in their work at the ranch.

Since cowgirl time began, the women of the range have been afforded the opportunity to work side by side with their male counterparts.

The weather never made the issue debatable. She was allowed to freeze her backside off in the same West Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, or Dakotas blizzard as he was.

Her circle for the day included ice just as thick to axe through and the same drifts to drive or ride through.

Her frost-encrusted eyelashes, batting over blue eyes, never turned an ounce of sympathy or empathy with any of the other chilled-down hands as they moved a herd of mother cows and calves in a spring snowstorm.

Dust boiling from a droughty country side as the winds whipped across the landscape never offered a preference for what gender the rider was when she got sandblasted, dirt stuck to eyes and nostrils and teeth turned brown with grit.

The start before daylight, the stop long past sundown carried no clause for shorter hours for the fairer sex.

In fact, more often than not, she started earlier and ended later, as she first tended to arrangements for provisions to last the day and the cleanup at the end of the day. It's not a complaint, just a fact.

A charging cow in the alley will just as quickly run over the one wearing chaps and mascara as she will the one who hollers at her in a deep voice, then laughs when the denim bottom is last seen baling over the fence into the weeds.

The bulls will knock down the gate she is holding with no regard to the fact she's a mother and has plans to live to raise her children, preferably not as a quadriplegic.

The real equalizer in the operation has always been the horses. And, this is where the cowboys will, and they can't help it because it is how they are, claim a superior notion that they can ride what the little woman can't.

Sometimes true, sometimes not.

I remember my dad warning me not to ride a horse he'd just bought in a herd of several he brought home.

"You stay off that horse," he said. "Even the cowboys at the ranch I bought him from are afraid of him and for good reason."

The local hands murmured and warned me. Eagle's reputation had traveled the information highway common to ranch hands.

You can see where this is going. I was 15 and bullet proof, or horse proof as it were.

As soon as nobody was looking, I had the tall, leggy dun saddled and in a long trot to the south, so my mother couldn't see me from the house.

Never knew why, but nothing happened. It never did and when Dad got over being mad at me, Eagle and I covered lots of miles at a long trot.

Recently a friend of mine was hurt seriously when her horse bucked her off at the ranch. She's been healing and will return to ride by springtime, but the best medicine she got came in the form of recent news.

The "outlaw" that had put her on the ground was sent to a cowboy for some miles, wet saddle blankets and manners. Seems that was going along fairly well until this same horse dusted that cowboy's britches in the dirt as well.

"That son-of-gun sure can buck," he said. The radiant light had come on. The cowgirl hadn't "fallen" off in a crow-hopping event ... dang if she hadn't actually been bucked down by a real bucker. Victories for the cowgirl sometimes come in odd ways.

This was one of them.

Julie can be reached for comment at