Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bingaman, Raptors & Wilderness

Oops. We should have told you. That was the admission Friday of Holloman Air Force Base officials following Thursday's night window-rattling, wall-shaking sonic booms in the Las Cruces area. The aerial exercise involved "a number of" F-22 Raptors, according to Holloman officials. "We had hoped to provide everyone with as much advanced notice as possible," Holloman spokesman Arlen Ponder said. "However, we realize our information didn't make it as far as we had hoped." In the future "... as much advanced notice as possible" will be given. That would be a good idea, Las Cruces police said. "Central Dispatch said they easily received more than 200 calls," Thursday night, police spokesman Dan Trujillo said...According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sonic boom "is a sound resembling an explosion produced when a shock wave formed at the nose of an aircraft traveling at supersonic speed reaches the ground -- called also sonic bang." Bang, indeed. "I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard the first one," said Julie Delgado, a Las Cruces homemaker. "I didn't know what it was, and it sounded so close. I went outside to see if I could find out what was happening and all of my neighbors were out there, too, asking the same thing. It scared us pretty good." Trujillo said reports of as many as three sonic booms came from all areas of the city and as far away as Radium Springs, about 20 miles north of Las Cruces...The aircraft will conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground training in airspace designated by the more

So now you know why Jeff Bingaman has the following language in his wilderness bill:

(e) Military Overflights- Nothing in this section restricts or precludes--
(1) low-level overflights of military aircraft over the wilderness areas designated by subsection (a), including military overflights that can be seen or heard within the wilderness areas;
(2) flight testing and evaluation; or
(3) the designation or creation of new units of special use airspace, or the establishment of military flight training routes, over the wilderness areas.

In other words, according to Senator Bingaman, it's ok to have low-flying military aircraft and sonic booms in wilderness areas that cause people to "jump out of their chair" and results in "more than 200 calls" to the police.

But campers, don't you dare drive your vehicle or camper into the wilderness. And hunters, don't you dare drive your vehicle in to scout for or remove game. Border patrol, forget about using vehicles or mechanical equipment to track or intercept illegal immigrants or drug traffickers. After all, those things would ruin someone's wilderness experience.

Low-flying military aircraft and "sound resembling an explosion" are ok, everyone else either walk in or stay out.

That's a Bingaman wilderness area.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Danny Glover - Haiti Caused by Failure of Copenhagen Summit

Danny Glover said, "When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I'm sayin'?" Danny Glover's suggestion that the Earth itself somehow decided to erupt and kill and maim hundreds of thousands of black Haitians because a bunch of mainly white people couldn't figure out a way to deal with global warming is mind blowing, to say the more

USFWS - Big Expansion of Global Warming Centers

The biggest immediate need is to beef up the agency's scientific capacity, a long-neglected area, Hamilton said. "We really need to make more informed decisions about how we're spending our money and where we're doing our habitat restoration. But to do that, we have to have some pretty solid science to back it up," he said. A hallmark of that effort, tied to the Interior Department's broader climate strategy, is an initial $25 million investment this year to set up nine "landscape conservation cooperatives," in which federal, state and outside researchers will collaborate to tackle regional climate questions. Eventually, the goal is to support a total of 18 centers, Hamilton said. With each focused on particular representative species, the centers could help feed FWS information it needs to make climate-oriented decisions and predictions. To do this, scientists face a daunting task of wedding global climate data to regional models specific to a habitat or wildlife more

60 Days In Jail For Illegal Camping On FS Land

Charges have been dropped against a 63-year-old man who resisted arrest when authorities took him into custody for living in a CDOT utility parking lot on Forest Service land at the Arapaho Basin Ski Area. However, the man, Charles "Charlie" H. Toups, Jr., is banned from all National Forest Service, National Park Service and BLM property. Toups, who has been jailed for approximately 60 days in a jail cell in Georgetown, will be released. He had faced charges of of camping on public land (the Colorado Department of Transportation/Forest Service land), possessing marijuana and assaulting a Forest Service officer. Under the agreement, Toups may ski in ski areas which include Forest Service property if he is a paying customer during regular business hours. As part of the agreement, Toups admitted that he resisted arrest by Jill Wick, a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement more

Man gets prison, fine for illegal ATV trail

Building an illegal trail and clearing trees in the Gallatin National Forest will cost a Livingston man five months in federal prison, a fine and $25,000 restitution. U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby today fined the defendant, Francis Leroy McLain, 60, $2,000 and ordered his prison term to run concurrently with a four-year federal sentence he is serving for tax evasion in Minnesota. McLain pleaded guilty in December to damage to government property, a misdemeanor, for trail work he did in 2006 in the South Fork drainage of McDonald Creek south of Livingston. McLain originally was indicted on a felony but agreed to admit to a misdemeanor in a plea agreement. McLain told the judge earlier he liked hiking in the forest behind his residence and thought he’d clear some blown-down trees and reduce the fire more

Judge upholds Badger-Two Medicine travel ban

A federal judge in Great Falls has kept in place a ban on motorized travel in the Rocky Mountain Front's Badger-Two Medicine region while a lawsuit on the issue moves forward. The U.S. Forest Service implemented the ban in October as part of a new travel plan. The Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association and other groups sued over the plan, contending it's unconstitutional. They asked U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon to lift the motorized travel ban until the lawsuit is settled. But on Wednesday, Haddon denied the more

Natural gas production dips

Natural gas production in the Rocky Mountain region's top gas-producing state declined in 2009 for the first time since 1997, helping push Wyoming into recession along with the rest of the country. Last year wasn't all doom and gloom for gas, since it was the second-biggest year for Wyoming gas volume on record. But the state leans heavily on its gas industry and the decline had a ripple effect. State revenue is down. Unemployment is up -- almost double the rate this time last year. And communities in gas-rich areas are struggling. Wyoming's annual natural gas production increased steadily from 1998 through 2008, nearly doubling in that time and bestowing the state with billion-dollar budget surpluses. Last year, the state produced about 2.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, down about 9 percent from 2008's record 2.3 trillion cubic feet, according to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The Wyoming office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management reports that it processed 2,162 oil and gas drilling permits last year, down from 3,681 in 2008 and the lowest number since more

Mont. wolf attacks spike in '09, sparking backlash

Gray wolves killed livestock in Montana at the rate of an animal per day in 2009, stirring a backlash against the predators in rural areas and depleting a program that compensates ranchers for their losses. The sharp increase over 2008 livestock losses, reported Thursday by state officials, was fueled largely by a wolf pack ravaging 148 sheep in southwestern Montana near Dillon in August. Such attacks _ plus elk herd declines blamed on wolves in parts of Montana and neighboring Idaho _ have renewed calls by many ranchers and hunters to reduce the predator's population. "They are beautiful creatures, but they're also very deadly. They'll go out and hamstring a bunch of animals just for fun," said Barb Svenson of Reed Point, whose family ranch lost more than 30 sheep in attacks over the last two years. "They're killing our income," she added. Wolf attacks account for only a small fraction of sheep and cattle losses in the Northern Rockies. Disease, weather and coyotes each take more. But wolves attract particular disdain because of their viciousness _ many killed animals are left uneaten _ and because of historic prohibitions against hunting the more

Feds Propose Expanding Bush's Bull Trout Habitat

In another reversal of Bush administration Endangered Species Act policy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to more than quadruple habitat protections for the bull trout, a fish that has been harmed by logging, mining and grazing on federal lands. The agency on Wednesday proposed designating 23,000 miles of streams and 533,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Nevada as critical habitat. The area includes nearly 1,000 miles of marine shoreline in Washington. Final action is due Sept. 30. The proposal is part of the Obama administration's continuing efforts to correct problems identified by a 2008 inspector general's report that found improper political influence affected several Endangered Species Act decisions by the Bush administration, said Michael Bean, special counselor to the assistant secretary of Interior for fish, wildlife and more

Sec. Salazar On Wild Horses

Though an American icon is again flourishing, the job of restoring the health of wild horse herds is far from complete. Without natural predators, wild horse populations have grown beyond the carrying capacity of the sensitive and sparse lands on which they live, causing damage to ecosystems and putting them at risk of starvation. As a result, federal managers must move thousands of wild horses each year off the range to pastures and corrals, where they are fed, cared for and put up for adoption. The current situation is unsustainable. The American people expect the health of their lands and watersheds to be protected, and it is unacceptable to allow wild horses to be malnourished on inadequate ranges. Yet no one wants to see them gathered and moved off Western ranges. Moreover, the status quo comes with a steep price tag. The federal government spends more than $60 million a year on the wild horse and burro program, of which $35 million goes to the care and feeding of the horses. A broad range of animal rights organizations, conservationists and Western communities agree that we cannot continue down the current path. We must change more

Montana kills seven bighorn sheep after pneumonia confirmed

A pneumonia outbreak may spell doom for many of the bighorn sheep frequenting the West Riverside community east of Missoula. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks hunters have killed seven sick sheep since Tuesday and may have to take many more of the roughly 65 bighorns on Woody Mountain to interrupt spread of the highly infectious disease. "We need to delineate that area, and then dispatch those sheep that are not only showing signs but those who've had interactions with infected sheep," said FWP biologist Vickie Edwards. "We hope to nip this in the bud. The goal is to not let it spread to rest of the district. It's a doom-and-gloom thing." more

Suit could block NM action on carbon emissions

Local utilities, businesses and some state legislators said they filed a joint lawsuit Jan. 13 to challenge the state Environmental Improvement Board’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. In a news release, the group said it filed the suit in the Fifth Judicial District in Lea County to block any EIB efforts to impose a cap on greenhouse gases. New Energy Economy Inc. had filed a petition in December 2008 asking the EIB to unilaterally adopt regulations enforcing controls on emissions in New Mexico that would be stricter than caps in federal legislation being considered in Congress. The plaintiffs want the court to prohibit the EIB from acting on New Energy Economy’s proposal, arguing that the EIB has not been given authority by the New Mexico Legislature to consider rules or regulations related to greenhouse gas emissions, according to the group’s press release. In addition, even if the legislature had delegated authority, state law prohibits adoption of air quality regulations without first establishing applicable air quality standards. Neither the state nor the federal government has adopted an air quality standard for greenhouse gases, the group more

Environmental Groups Sue Over Tongass Timber Sale

Three environmental groups are going to court to try and stop a particularly contentious timber sale of old-growth trees in the country's largest national forest. Greenpeace, Cascadia Wildlands and the Tongass Conservation Society filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. It alleges that the U.S. Forest Service failed to comply with federal environmental laws in approving the Logjam timber sale last year in the Tongass National Forest. The lawsuit alleges that the Forest Service failed to consider the Logjam timber sale's impact on wolves, deer and salmon in that part of the Tongass. It asks the court to force the Forest Sercice and its contractors to stop work on the project on 3,422 acres and send it back to the agency to make it comply with federal laws. Attorneys for the agency in Juneau were evaluating the lawsuit and it was too soon to comment, said Ray Massey, Forest Service spokesman for the Alaska more

Depredation reform a priority for NM environmental groups

Reforming a state law that allows landowners to kill wild game that cause property damage will be a priority issue for environmental groups at the state Legislature this year. The Environmental Alliance of New Mexico announced its priorities this week at a briefing with reporters. Depredation refers to the damage or loss caused by wildlife to private property, most notably when predators kill livestock or when grazing animals eat plants that have economic benefit to landowners. How to prevent or mitigate such damage has been an ongoing source of tension between ranchers, hunters, environmentalists, and farmers. In 1997, the “Jennings amendment,” named for Sen. Tim Jennings, allowed property owners to kill wildlife if necessary to protect their property. Such killings have been a long simmering issue, but feelings boiled over in 2008 when a farmer near Cimarron killed at least 39 antelope that had been foraging on his winter wheat crop. Images of slaughtered antelope littering the property showed up on the evening news, igniting a vigorous public more

Community in Crisis Looks to its Agricultural Roots

Renowned for its historic Native American pueblo, cultural ties to Spain, bohemian artists, and world-class ski resort, Taos is also one of the many communities in the U.S. facing food insecurity. But the region was once the breadbasket of northern New Mexico, and a grassroots movement is seeking to position it as a model for sustainable agriculture. With food insecurity in the U.S. higher than at any time in recent memory, revitalisation of community-based agriculture may not come a moment too soon. Beginning at least a thousand years ago, the Taos Pueblos developed a rich agrarian culture here. Spanish settlers came in the 1500s, mixing with Natives and bringing with them the Moorish community system of water sharing known here as the acequias. When the U.S. took over the territory after the Mexican American war in 1848, families of Spanish descent were granted land for communal use. The westward expansion brought many European Americans who took up ranching. During the countercultural movements of the 1960s more came, formed communes, and began to farm in the traditional ways later branded "organic". Challenges to sustainable agriculture are numerous. The high desert area has a short growing season. Decreased snow and rainfalls in recent years, combined with exponential growth in land values, pose serious more

Wily coyote caller shares his secrets with would-be hunters

In spite of frigid temperatures, more than 90 men and women recently came to hear champion coyote caller Les Johnson share his secrets at Conrad's new shooting sports complex. Johnson told participants to learn the coyotes' behavior patterns. "Don't give up, even if you have 10 bad stands. You get better with time in the field," he said. "Coyotes are smart. They've been persecuted and they are still thriving." Johnson, the host of cable's Predator Quest, had a couple of more pointers, too. First, hunt like you know the coyotes are there, because they are. "Don't go scout out an area the day before and then come back. You know that they come up to where you parked, sniff around and smell danger. They'll just disappear," he said. And start hunting as soon as you leave your truck, he more

Retiring Forest Service employee gives thoughts

When Mark Orme first worked at the Targhee National Forest in St. Anthony in 1981, timber sale maps were drawn by hand from aerial photos, and acreages were calculated using a dot overlay counts. Accuracy then could be measured in miles. But it was the best technology available to those working on the Targhee's first management plan. "I can remember in the 1980s when we got the first computers in the forest," he says. Back in 1981 all terrain vehicles had hardly been invented, and the snowmobile industry was in its infancy. Hardly anyone visited the woods in the winter except an occasional trapper. As a member of planning teams for the Targhee twice -- the original and revised plans -- and the Tongass Forest in Alaska once, Orme has seen a shift in philosophy in the public about management of national forests. Not only has the shift been toward more public recreational use, but also toward more litigation by environmental organizations, particularly involving timber sales and road densities as they relate to grizzly bears. As he retires, a U.S. District judge in Montana has ruled all of the agencies working to get the bear "recovered" have failed -- largely because of the uncertainty about the affects of climate change on white bark pine, whose nuts have been a critical major food for the bears. The ruling frustrates Orme. It's almost like a slap in face to wildlife managers and others who have come so far in trying to recover a bear population that stood at about 180 to 200 sows with cubs throughout the Yellowstone ecosystem in the early 1980s. Looking at where the agency has been and where it's headed, Orme thinks the pendulum has swung too far onto the environmental extreme side, with not enough weight given to the need to actually manage the forests for optimal more

Song Of The Day #220

Ranch Radio climbs back in the saddle this am You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry recorded in 1950 by Ernest Tubb.

My version is from the 5 disc box set Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello from Bear Family Records.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Note on blog

Agreed to help the Las Cruces Tea Party so started Old South Meeting House - Tea Party News. With all the recent controversy it's taken a lot of my time, but will get back to a complete The Westerner (including Song Of The Day).

For new readers of The Westerner all 200 plus songs are still available. On the right side of your screen just scroll down to Labels and you will see them.

In reversal, feds support jaguar's habitat, recovery

In a sharp reversal of its predecessor's position, the Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will protect the endangered jaguar's prime habitat and develop a jaguar recovery plan. But with no known jaguars living today in the United States, it's unclear how the federal government will use habitat protection and recovery planning to bring the elusive cat back. As they announced the separate but closely related decisions, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said they had no plans to try to reintroduce the jaguar into the United States, in the footsteps of the agency's decade-old efforts to reintroduce the endangered Mexican wolf. The agency's Sherry Barrett would not completely rule out reintroduction but said the idea is not a possibility at all unless scientific research during the recovery planning effort shows it's an essential step in protecting the entire jaguar species living south into South America. The agency is likely to focus heavily on areas where jaguars have most recently been seen in this country: within 40 miles of the Mexican border in Southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Since 1996, four confirmed sightings and a possible sighting have occurred there — all but one in Arizona. The Arizona Cattle Growers did not directly oppose the service's decisions, but its governmental affairs director, Patrick Bray, said, "We are a little bit nervous about moving forward with the jaguar," particularly regarding critical habitat and a recovery plan, as well as any possible reintroduction. "When you are talking about a recovery plan, you're talking about bringing in this predator in trying to establish population, and all you have to do is look at the Mexican gray wolf recovery program" to understand the problems that can cause, he more

Grizzly panel told government can't meet judge's requirements for delisting

U.S. District Judge Don Molloy's decision returning some grizzly bears to Endangered Species Act protection could make it harder to keep the bears alive, members of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee learned Tuesday. "We could never achieve what he (Molloy) requires we do," federal grizzly recovery program coordinator Chris Servheen said during the committee's winter meeting in Missoula. "He said we must provide guarantees of the bear's survival, and the law doesn't say we can do that." Molloy's decision was specific to about 600 grizzly bears that live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in and around Yellowstone National Park. But the ruling could affect recovery plans for grizzlies in other mountainous regions of Montana, Idaho, Washington and more

Wild horses ‘create chaos’ at cemetery

Wild horses have been finding their way into Green River’s historic Rimview Cemetery and have been “creating chaos” in recent weeks, says city official Allan Wilson. Wilson, the parks, projects and facilities manager for the Green River Parks and Recreation Department, said city officials received an anonymous tip last week that wild horses were tearing up the cemetery and leaving large amounts of manure on lawns and pathways. The animals also toppled monuments and headstones, which were scattered about, some several feet from their original location. A city crew was dispatched Friday to clean up the mess that was apparently made by more than a dozen wild horses. Riverview Cemetery is located just across Interstate 80 on the city’s northern most point. The cemetery lies adjacent to Bureau of Land Management public lands. The grounds have a permanent fence protecting the acreage halfway back toward the northeast end of the property. Wilson said it was easy to see the various ways in which the wild horses were getting past the fence and into cemetery grounds. “We need a permanent fence line that will run all the way around and protect our cemetery grounds or this ... will continue to happen in the future,” Wilson said in a media more

Baucus: Oil and gas companies will relinquish leases on Rocky Mountain Front

Montana Sen. Max Baucus plans to announce Thursday that five oil and gas companies will relinquish drilling leases they hold on the Rocky Mountain Front, an area prized by conservationists. In 2006, Congress banned new leasing of federal lands along the east side of the Montana mountain range, but existing lease holders could still develop the property. The same law also created tax incentives for relinquishing leases. Leases on at least 83,000 acres on the Front have been relinquished since the ban went into effect, according to the Northern Rockies Branch of The Wilderness more

EU Fraud In Carbon-Trading Market

Belgian prosecutors highlighted the massive losses faced by EU governments from VAT fraud today after they charged three Britons and a Dutchman with money-laundering following an investigation into a multimillion-pound scam involving carbon emissions permits. The three Britons, who were arrested last month in Belgium, were accused of failing to pay VAT worth €3m (£2.7m) on a series of carbon credit transactions. European authorities believe the EU has lost at least €5bn to carbon-trading VAT fraud in the last 18 months. Europol, the EU's law-­enforcement operation, fears the fraud will be used in other areas, especially gas and electricity trading markets, after criminals found VAT fraud was one of the most lucrative financial more

Hearing on proposed Utah nuke plant zeroes in on water needs

A proposed nuclear power plant that could be built just outside this Emery County town in southern Utah would provide more than 1,000 long-term, high-paying jobs. At the peak of construction, it could require 4,000 workers, according to Utah-based Blue Castle Holdings, which is heading the project. If approved, it would be an economic boon like Emery County has never seen. That's why Green River resident JoAnn Williams supports building a 3,000 megawatt plant that would require 50,000 acre feet of water per year from the Green River. (An acre foot is 326,000 gallons.) Williams was among those who attended a hearing in Green River on water issues related to the plant Tuesday. "We need economic stability," she said in an interview. "And we don't have any growth here in Green River. The plant would be good for us." Environmentalists, farmers, recreation entities, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raised a host of issues at the hearing, conducted by the Utah Division of Water Rights. They include potential impacts on stream flows and endangered fish species, among others. They also questioned the project's economically feasibility. Tuesday's hearing focused on an application by water conservancy districts in Kane and San Juan counties for diversion changes so their down-river water rights can be used in Green River for the more

American Indian Farmers Have More Land, Less Cash

In his 60 years on the farm, Milton Sovo Jr. has raised everything from peanuts and wheat to cattle and horses in southwestern Oklahoma. At about 1,100 acres, his spread is about triple the size of the typical U.S. farm. But Sovo is no tycoon. He farms on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation, where he said the soil remains poor after the Dust Bowl swept away the best topsoil in the 1930s. He can't rely on the land to make a living and has toiled for decades at a second, off-the-farm job. Sovo is fairly typical among American Indian farmers, who tend to have more land but less income than those of other races. They're also less likely to receive government aid intended to help struggling farmers, according to new data. Agriculture officials said the lack of aid is partly because American Indians have shied away from corn, wheat and other subsidized crops. But some American Indian farmers have filed a discrimination lawsuit, claiming they have been denied government loans and other help given to white farmers raising the same animals and crops. The census found stark differences between the nation's 80,000 American Indian farmers and those of other races. The typical American farm is 400 acres, but American Indian farmers average about 1,400 acres. Many are ranchers. Most live in the desert Southwest, Oklahoma or more

Advocates push change in working conditions for isolated immigrant sheepherders

lone and thousands of miles from home, the immigrant sheepherder roams some of the West's most desolate and frigid landscapes, tending a flock for as little as $600 a month without a day off on the horizon. "You take it or leave it. You take it because the economy is worse at home," Pepe Cruz, a 40-year-old Peruvian, said in Spanish. Cruz is one of hundreds of immigrants from South America, Mexico and Nepal who work as sheepherders in states like Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and California, and their brutal work conditions are getting increased attention these days. Advocates are pushing for improvements in working conditions for the sheepherders, with a Colorado lawmaker planning to introduce a bill this session to raise their minimum wage to $9.88 an hour. That is the amount other Colorado farmworkers are paid. Colorado Legal Services, a Denver-based nonprofit legal assistance network, visited sheepherders with temporary work visas in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and found they sometimes toil more than 90 hours a week, can't leave the isolated sites where they work and are grossly underpaid by U.S. standards. The group's report on the conditions was to be released more

The preservation of Spanish mustangs in New Mexico

Carlos LoPopolo is large in stature—and in ambition. His frame seems to dwarf the wooden bench he’s perched on at the Satellite Coffee on University. His height is hard to gauge from a sitting position, but he looms over the table, a studded black cowboy hat bobbing as he talks, which is most of the time. To his right, Paul Polechla serves as his counterpart—a man of average size and quiet disposition, wearing a white cowboy hat and yellow-and-blue checkered shirt, topped with a matching silk bandana tied around his neck. LoPopolo is a Southwest historian and the founder of the New Mexican Horse Project, an organization many New Mexicans know nothing about. Polechla is the group’s biologist as well as a biology professor at UNM. Though the Horse Project’s mission to preserve a certain kind of horse is simple, LoPopolo and Polechla will tell you the road they’ve been down has been anything but. In the 10 years the organization has existed, LoPopolo has met criticism and fury from horse breeders and cattle ranchers, spent nearly $1 million out of his own pocket, and has even been graced with the occasional death threat. The reason he puts up with it? It’s all to protect a horse most people thought no longer more

Press Invited to Cowboy Up with the Dude Ranchers’ Association

Travel guides define Montana as having a “significant equestrian presence.” That presence increases dramatically next month when a couple hundred or so horsemen and women come ridin’ in for the 84th annual meeting of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, or DRA. Member ranchers, associate members, vendors, and media convene Feb 2nd – 6th for the signature event of the year at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Billings, Montana. Travel guides define Montana as having a “significant equestrian presence.” That presence increases dramatically next month when a couple hundred or so horsemen and women come ridin’ in for the 84th annual meeting of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, or DRA. Member ranchers, associate members, vendors, and media convene Feb 2nd – 6th for the signature event of the year at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Billings, more

Nolan Ryan, others in 2010 class will be inducted into Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

What do a Hall of Fame pitcher, a Hollywood stuntman and a family of trick riders have in common? They’ll be among the honorees inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame today. Nolan Ryan, Dean Smith, Tom Reeves, the late James Jennings, Dr. James H. "Red" Duke Jr. and the Warvell family of Weatherford will join more than 70 other cowboy and cowgirl members of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Stockyards. Duke will receive the Rick Smith "Spirit of Texas" Award. At the invitation-only event, the inductees’ memorabilia exhibits will be more

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dem governor blasts Salazar for doing the bidding of green groups

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) on Friday said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has gone too far to placate environmental groups when it comes to oil and gas drilling policy. Salazar last week said Interior is expanding environmental reviews and increasing public input before leasing federal lands to energy companies. Freudenthal penned a detailed letter to Salazar Friday criticizing the changes, alleging that policymakers in Washington “go from pillar to post to placate what is perceived as a key constituency.” “I only half-heartedly joke with those in industry that, during the prior administration, their names were chiseled above the chairs outside the office of the Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals,” he writes. “With the changes announced yesterday, I fear that we are merely swapping the names above those same chairs to environmental interests, giving them a stranglehold on an already cumbersome process.” more

$135,295 per Job: Obama Announces $2.3 Billion to Create 17K Green Jobs

Following President Obama’s remarks on “green” jobs and “clean energy technology,” Thomas J. Pyle, president of the market based Institute for Energy Research (IER), issued the following statement on the President’s commitment of $2.3 billion additional taxpayer dollars to further subsidize the wind and solar energy industry: “Show me one other industry that requests and receives a nearly 30 percent taxpayer subsidy. That’s what the wind and solar industries require – at a minimum – to exist. All the President did today is throw more money at an unproven technology that is not economically viable in the marketplace. Unfortunately, the only winners in this latest taxpayer giveaway will be Wall Street money managers and corporate interests in the wind and solar more

Natural gas find may spur interest in shallow Gulf waters

Mostly left for dead years ago by Big Oil and scoured by smaller firms since, the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico are likely to get a second look by companies of all sizes after word Monday of what may be one of the largest discoveries in the area in decades. A group led by New Orleans' McMoRan Exploration Co. said it found significant quantities of natural gas in a 5-mile-deep well it drilled in about 20 feet of water at McMoRan's Davy Jones prospect just 10 miles off the Louisiana coast. Estimates of the size of the discovery range from 2 trillion to 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, rivaling the largest gas finds ever made in the Gulf. But the companies said they will have to do further drilling to confirm the resource more

Will drilling more wells in California help or hurt?

The government is spending $40 million in federal stimulus funds to pull water from underground aquifers in drought-stricken California, even as evidence is growing that the well-drilling boom could degrade the quality of water delivered to millions of residents. Farmers, conservationists and engineers are criticizing the Interior Department's plan to spend taxpayer money on digging more wells, saying the approach risks marring the environment. Canals buckle, aquifers collapse and drinking water turns saltier due to so much pumping, and studies show that the state's water supplies are dwindling. "We don't need any more straws going down there 'cause we're already doing a pretty good job of sucking it dry," says farmer Dan Errotabere, who has dug three wells as deep as 1,200 feet to irrigate his tomatoes, almonds, and garlic in recent years. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the government is targeting its well-drilling effort to serve remote communities and prop up California's agricultural economy, a $36 billion industry that grows nearly half the country's fruits, nuts and more

Stronger controls urged on chemicals in water

Citing the decline in frogs and rise of "frankenfish," a Bay Area environmental group filed a legal petition Monday for tighter federal standards on pollutants that disrupt the hormones of humans and wildlife. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Environmental Agency to beef up criteria under the Clean Water Act for pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other endocrine disruptors that leak through the water-treatment process and contaminate groundwater and drinking-water supplies. "We've found that a very small concentration of these chemicals can have profound reproductive effects," said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco. Of particular concern is atrazine, the second most common herbicide in the world, said UC Berkeley biology professor Tyrone Hayes, who specializes in endocrine disruptors and their effect on frogs. Atrazine, which is banned in Europe, appears to affect estrogen production in frogs and other creatures, leading to fertility problems, cancer and birth defects, he more

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Both Sides Gird for Bruising Senate Debate Over EPA Amendment

Senate climate legislation advocates are bracing for a floor battle this month over a Republican campaign that they fear could drag down efforts to pass a major global warming bill before the real legislative debate can start. Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has the green light to offer an amendment on the Senate floor as soon as Jan. 20 that is aimed at halting U.S. EPA regulations on climate change. Democratic leaders agreed late last month to let Murkowski have the roll call during debate over separate legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling. Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon said yesterday that the senator is still mulling several different ideas for what her proposal will actually say, let alone if she will force a vote now or wait until later as other options ripen. Dillon also acknowledged that the chances of actually stopping EPA global warming rules are minimal, given large Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill and the need for President Obama's signature. But the simple fact that the Senate could be forced into a challenging vote over climate change so soon into the new year means a full-blown whip operation is under way among environmentalists and their allies on Capitol more

White House, EPA at Odds Over Coal-Waste Rules

The Obama administration is engaged in an unusual internal spat as the White House and Environmental Protection Agency tussle over how to handle millions of tons of waste from coal-fired power plants. Utility and environmental groups are watching the coal-ash dispute as an indicator of the administration's pliability on the regulatory front. The White House has already backed several new environmental initiatives that have drawn sharp reactions from industry, particularly EPA findings last month that designated carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant. But environmental groups are pointing to a flurry of industry meetings on the coal-ash issue as evidence that utilities and other companies are using a foothold within the White House to fight back against potentially far-reaching new rules. The office of President Barack Obama's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, has held nearly 20 meetings with industry groups since October to discuss the potential impact of proposed EPA rules to treat coal ash and other coal byproducts as hazardous waste, according to White House records. Mr. Sunstein directs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the White House Office of Management and more

‘Climategate’ professor Michael Mann protected ‘to maximum extent’ by Penn State policy

It ultimately falls to one man to decide if we ever see headlines that shout: “Penn State Climate Prof Fudged Facts to Fetch Funding”, or perhaps “Nittany Lyin’: Penn State’s Mann on the Street.” Henry “Hank” Foley, the new vice president for research and dean of the graduate school, will hold professor Michael Mann’s academic future in his hands if an internal inquiry, now under way, sparks an investigation that finds Mann broke university policy. But results of Penn State’s internal Climategate probe may not come until Mann’s part of the globe really warms up, in May or June. In addition, you may never learn what really happened between Mann and other leading lights in the global warming movement. That’s because Penn State, like other universities, treats such inquiries as confidential personnel matters, protected by policy “to the maximum extent possible.” More surprising, the initial probe involves a committee of just three, all of whom are Penn State employees with a clear interest in preserving the reputation of a university ranked ninth in the nation in receiving government research and development grants. It may raise some eyebrows to know that no outsiders will monitor the more

Enviro groups try to block parts of California's green building code

Environmental groups are mounting a last-ditch effort to derail key elements of the state's first-in-the-nation green building code -- a major initiative of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration. The proposed code, likely to be adopted Tuesday, would slash water use, mandate the recycling of construction waste, cut back on polluting materials and step up enforcement of energy efficiency in new homes, schools, hospitals and commercial buildings statewide. "It is going to change the whole fabric of how buildings are built by integrating green practices into our everyday building code," said David Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission. "The rest of the nation will be looking at what we have done." But critics say the rules fall short of rigorous standards adopted by Los Angeles, San Francisco and more than 50 California jurisdictions in league with the U.S. Green Building Council, a national nonprofit group of architects, engineers and construction more

Arguments set today in Osage land case

Oral arguments are set for Monday in a federal case that pits the Osage Nation against non-Indians in Osage County and against the state of Oklahoma. The Osage Nation is asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that Osage County and what the tribe considers to be the Osage Indian Reservation have the same boundaries. The county is Oklahoma's largest in land area. The Oklahoma Tax Commission contends the tribe's intentions may include applying its taxes and laws to everyone in Osage County. And a group of private organizations claim that a court ruling the tribe is seeking "will open the door to allow the nation to attempt to tax, regulate and otherwise assert sovereignty and jurisdiction" over non-Indian property. The coalition of organizations — whose members include businesses, farmers, ranchers and petroleum producers — contend such a ruling would endanger their continued existence.
"If a court were to determine that (non-Indian property) in Osage County were in fact part of a reservation of the (Osage) Nation," the non-Indian property owners "would be greatly disrupted," the coalition more

Oregon fines BLM for Hyatt Lake sewage problems

Oregon environmental regulators have fined the U.S. Bureau of Land Management $5,000 for violations at a BLM-operated sewage treatment plant at the Hyatt Lake Recreation Area near Ashland. The BLM's permit allows it to apply reclaimed water land next to the treatment system's lagoons. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said the federal agency used reclaimed water without adequately reducing the level of cloakroom bacteria on several occasions in 2007 and 2008. BLM also failed to monitor bacteria in July 2007, DEQ said, failed to monitor influent acidity from August to December 2008 and failed to submit required monthly wastewater discharge reports in July and August 2009. Oregonian

Incident with wolves has McGinnis Meadows couple on edge

Jan Bourdeau can point out each of her 15 cows and bulls by name. Some are named after old television shows – “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Little House on the Prairie” – while others have Gaelic names that stem from the breed’s Irish heritage. The furry black Dexters are about half the size of common breeds and are also friendlier than other cattle, Bourdeau says. Bourdeau and her husband, Jean, live on 70 acres at McGinnis Meadows, about 45 minutes south of Libby. With the snow relatively low this year, they had let their Dexters roam the pasture, although now the animals are kept in the coral close to the house. Since wolves killed Dolly – their milk cow named after the country music star – last week, the couple freezes in panic every time their dog yips outside. “We sit on pins and needles now,” Jan Bourdeau said. They attribute Dolly’s death to the Fish Trap Pack, the same group of wolves that killed two cattle on a ranch 10 miles from them in the fall of 2008. Bourdeau begins to cry when she describes running out to her cattle unarmed to discover Dolly alive but with most of her hindquarters more

Owner of horses given rubber bullets as deterrent for wolves

Federal wolf managers have issued rubber bullets to a landowner northeast of Jackson after wolves chased horses on private property. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel made the announcement on the agency’s wolf Web site. On Dec. 31, Fish and Wildlife wolf managers investigated the incident, which involved four wolves, likely from the Antelope Pack, chasing young horses on a private pasture. Mike Jimenez, Fish and Wildlife Service Wyoming wolf recovery project leader, said the incident is nothing unusual. He also issued the landowner cracker shells, which are fireworks that can be fired out of a shotgun at the wolves. The rubber bullets are the same type that riot police use to control crowds of people. Jimenez said these nonlethal deterrents worked well with wolves from the same pack last year. Jimenez said the rubber bullets have a limited range; they can only be aimed effectively at targets up to about 50 yards. Wildlife managers say the 200 or so wolves that live in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park killed 20 cattle, 195 sheep and seven dogs in 2009. Thirty wolves were killed for preying on livestock during that more

PETA Features Michelle Obama in Ad Without Her Consent

PETA, the animal rights group, is featuring Michelle Obama in an ad with Oprah Winfrey, Carrie Underwood and Tyra Banks without the first lady's permission. PETA's position is that it is honoring her -- and the other stars -- for not wearing fur. "We did not consent to it," Semonti M. Stephens, a spokesman for Mrs. Obama, told Politics Daily on Wednesday. The banners, posted at the Dupont Circle and Friendship Heights subway stations in Washington, are headlined "Fur-Free and Fabulous!" There are also two vans driving around Washington with a similar message, and serving hot soy cocoa. Stephens has said Mrs. Obama does not wear fur. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told Politics Daily on Wednesday that using Mrs. Obama's image is "fair game" because the organization is "reporting a fact . . . that she is fur-free" -- as any news organization more

New test may help address costly parasite in sheep industry

Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Georgia have developed an improved, more efficient method to test for the most serious of the parasitic worms in sheep, a problem that causes hundreds of millions of dollars in losses every year to the global sheep and wool industry. This technology is now available, and will allow a faster, easier and less expensive way to test for the presence and quantity of Haemonchus contortus, or "barber pole" worms, a species that is very pathogenic to sheep, goats and llamas. This will help sheep ranchers deal with this problem more quickly and effectively, optimize their management practices, and sometimes avoid costly therapies. Findings about the new test were just published in Veterinary Parasitology, a professional journal. "This particular parasite is much more pathogenic in sheep than other worms, and previous methods to detect it were very labor intensive and often not commercially practical," said Michael Kent, an OSU professor of microbiology. "Now ranchers and veterinarians can test for this problem and target their management or treatment strategies much more effectively." more

Professional roper riding on the wings of a heart transplant

Ryan Rochlitz took long, loping cowboy strides toward the stable at the National Western Complex. With one arm, he tugged the reins of a burgundy-colored pony named Dragon. He toted a looped lasso over the other. The 30-year-old from Cheyenne looked no different than the 150 other ropers vying for spots in the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo & Horse Show, which begins Saturday. His gear, however, includes something no one in pro rodeo has had before: another person's heart. Rochlitz is believed to be one of only two athletes to compete professionally after a heart transplant, according to the Donor Alliance, which promotes and coordinates organ donations nationwide. The other is PGA golfer Erik Compton, who has had two heart transplants. Rochlitz counts himself lucky: Two of every 100,000 athletes between the ages of 12 and 35 die from heart ailments each year, according to a 2004 report of the International Olympic Committee. In 1997, Rochlitz was within two weeks of dying, he said, when the call came that there was a donor's heart — taken from a Denver 23-year-old killed in a motorcycle more

It's All Trew: The do's, don'ts and wonders of having pet turtles

My recent article about turtles brought numerous responses from avid turtle owners. I could not believe how many ladies had backyards full of turtles. First, I learned that as turtles reach a certain age, the male turtles have red eyes and reddish-tinted scales on their legs and skin. Male turtles are very aggressive, will bite the hand that feeds them and will attack another male turtle. Female turtles, at a certain age, acquire yellow eyes. They are gentle, will not bite unless threatened and can become great pets. It seems land turtles have a territory usually in the area where they are born. The size of the territory varies according to the amount of food available. By the way, turtles will eat almost anything, including hamburger meat, lettuce, tomatoes, almost any fruit, dog and cat food, cow feed, grain and fresh garbage from the kitchen. After awhile, they will come to a call or sound, and some will scratch on your back door for feeding. One longtime pet will enter the house, go to the refrigerator and rock back and forth begging for lettuce. I've wondered where land turtles get water out on the prairie, miles from the nearest pond. They acquire moisture from morning dew as the turtle moves through the grass. They can sense a rain coming 24 hours before and will dig a small hole to catch the more

The Evolution of Airport Security

Song Of The Day #219

With the special song/video yesterday, we'll have our toe tappers on Tuesday. This a.m.'s offering is two western swing instrumentals. The first is the 1937 recording of Blue Guitars by the Light Crust Doughboys followed by Jones Stomp recorded in 1940 by the Port Arthur Jubileers. Both are on the 23 track Jazz Greats - Western Swing.

Military Is Awash in Data From Drones

As the military rushes to place more spy drones over Afghanistan, the remote-controlled planes are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up. Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007 — about 24 years’ worth if watched continuously. That volume is expected to multiply in the coming years as drones are added to the fleet and as some start using multiple cameras to shoot in many directions. A group of young analysts already watches every second of the footage live as it is streamed to Langley Air Force Base here and to other intelligence centers, and they quickly pass warnings about insurgents and roadside bombs to troops in the field. But military officials also see much potential in using the archives of video collected by the drones for later analysis, like searching for patterns of insurgent activity over time. To date, only a small fraction of the stored video has been retrieved for such intelligence purposes. Government agencies are still having trouble making sense of the flood of data they collect for intelligence purposes, a point underscored by the 9/11 Commission and, more recently, by President Obama after the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger flight on Christmas more

And in the near future our domestic agencies will be "awash" in similar data. The Forest Service is already using them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Conservationists Oppose Ted Turner’s Bid for Yellowstone Bison

Ted Turner's bid to get 74 wild bison from Yellowstone National Park is drawing stiff opposition from those who say the animals are being given up for private profit instead of conservation. Turner has offered to take the animals at the request of Montana's Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Federal officials earlier warned that the animals faced slaughter if no home was found. Turner is a longtime champion of bison conservation and owns an estimated 50,000 of the animals across the West. But rising criticism over his latest plan is putting the media mogul in an awkward position. His representatives insist he cannot take the animals without getting something in return. Turner would keep the bison five years and then return them to the state. As compensation, Turner would keep 90 percent of the animals' offspring, meaning he would gain an estimated 190 bison from a herd prized for its genetic more

The mini ice age starts here

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists. Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013. According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this. The scientists’ predictions also undermine the standard climate computer models, which assert that the warming of the Earth since 1900 has been driven solely by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will continue as long as carbon dioxide levels rise. They say that their research shows that much of the warming was caused by oceanic cycles when they were in a ‘warm mode’ as opposed to the present ‘cold mode’. This challenge to the widespread view that the planet is on the brink of an irreversible catastrophe is all the greater because the scientists could never be described as global warming ‘deniers’ or more

Largest U.S. farm group rallies against climate bill

he largest U.S. farm group will oppose aggressively "misguided" climate legislation pending in Congress and fight animal rights activists, said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman on Sunday. In a speech opening the four-day AFBF convention, Stallman said American farmers and ranchers "must aggressively respond to extremists" and "misguided, activist-driven regulation ... The days of their elitist power grabs are over." Stallman's remarks held a sharper edge than usual for the 6 million-member AFBF, the largest U.S. farm group and often described as the most influential. Its convention opens a string of wintertime meetings where farm groups take positions on public more

America’s Public Lands Managed by Split Personality in 2000s

The Wilderness Society today assessed the past 10 years of public lands management, saying it had a Jekyll-and-Hyde flavor. “This has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde decade for the lands belonging to all Americans,” said Dave Alberswerth, a senior policy advisor for The Wilderness Society. “The decade was bookended by administrations committed to sound stewardship of our natural treasures. But for most of the decade, we had an administration that emphasized the commercial exploitation of our public lands, such as more oil and gas drilling, and tried to undermine the protection of our roadless national forests. Fortunately, a broad coalition of Americans combined to thwart much of what that administration attempted.” Alberswerth added that with the arrival of the Obama administration, many misguided policies have been reversed, and there is renewed commitment to genuine more

Volunteers in Central Valley remove fences to save antelope

The fences crossing the desolate Carrizo Plain are remnants of the hardscrabble homesteaders who arrived a century ago, then abandoned the arid, alkaline land to the elements. Now the barbed-wire legacy of ranching and farming on this inhospitable landscape in California is being blamed for threatening the recovery of antelope that were reintroduced in 1990 after being slaughtered to near extinction. The long stretches of fence spread across the range prevent the pronghorn from fleeing predators and seeking forage, and are a big reason why the herd has the worst survival rate in the West. Pronghorn are North America's fastest runners, but cannot jump the fences. So volunteers have taken on a cowboy's most odious ranch task, hoping to improve the odds of the herd by taking down fences. Suffering bloody scrapes and punctures, they dismantle rusty barriers and modify others to give the antelope of the Carrizo Plain National Monument a fighting chance against coyotes that vastly outnumber them. The pronghorn are part of a debate over the future of the Carrizo Plain, designated a national monument by the federal government nine years ago. A draft management plan for the park indicated some cattle grazing would be allowed to control invasive species, but the EPA and others have countered that cattle can adversely affect native species as well. Those comments are under final more

Animal rights groups blast coyote hunt

A coyote-hunting tournament set for this weekend in Northern Nevada is drawing howls of protest from animal rights activists. WildEarth Guardians, based in Santa Fe, N.M., and Project Coyote, based in Larkspur, Calif., are among groups opposed to the tournament being staged by Fallon-area ranchers. Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians said coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem. "These kinds of high body-count hunts are completely unethical and go against the spirit of ethical hunting," she said. "They're not going to use the bodies for food or anything else. It's just a waste." Organizer Matt McFarlane said he doesn't understand the fuss, noting similar tournaments have been held to help protect livestock elsewhere across the West for decades. McFarlane said coyotes have killed several calves over the last three weeks at his family's ranch near Fallon, about 60 miles east of Reno. McFarlane expects about 20 to 30 teams to bag up to 60 coyotes at the tournament. "That doesn't put a dent in the coyote problem," he said. AP

Horse Owners & Rural America call for boycott of Carrie Underwood, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow & Others

The members and supporters of the United Organizations of the Horse (UOH) call on every American who supports the rights of horse owners, and the principles upon which this country was founded to protect the ability of Americans to enjoy animals in their lives, to make a living in the time honored professions around animals and animal agriculture, and to raise their children in a wholesome environment that is not constrained or dictated by big, wealthy so-called “nonprofits” and their paid-for-hire celebrities who are becoming a deadly cancer on our society. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and their many minions have been bankrolling an all out assault against the people of the land, and their ability to sustain a valuable culture of responsible, sustainable stewardship of the land, and the animals. Recent reports show that HSUS paid 41 people salaries in excess of $100K each, their leader makes over $250,000 per year, and they spent less than ½ of 1% to actually help a single dog or cat, let alone a horse. Their dollars all go to hire celebrities, produce media events, and buy off politicians. Their primary purpose is to create drama, manipulate the emotions of those who don't live and work with animals every day, and draw even more dollars into their over-bloated accounts. “What hurts the worst,” says Sue Wallis, Wyoming state representative and executive director of the United Organizations of the Horse, “are people like Willie Nelson, who has done so much good for agriculture with his Farm Aid concerts, turning against the folks who make their living from the land, and swallowing whole the ridiculous conclusions of radical groups making wild assertions about the extinction of wild horses...nothing could be further from the truth. He needs to go to the country, see the devastation of overpopulation for himself, and work with the rest of us to find a solution that allows our children and grandchildren the ability to see a sustainable number of horses in the wild forever. The approach that he is advocating only leads to miserable starvation for the horses, destruction of the environment for every living species, and devastation of families and communities.” more

Economy forcing many to give up horses

The last known horse slaughterhouse in the United States was shut down in 2007. Some people who couldn't afford to take care of their horses used to take them there. Now, many people are just abandoning the animals and letting them roam free. At the National Western Stock Show in Denver, some horse advocates say without horse slaughterhouses many people have no where to turn. Rhyse Potts travels across the country with her horses. Everywhere she goes, she hears the same story. "I was just having a conversation with my veterinarian and he has had to put so many horses down just this past month, because people can't afford to have them fed," Potts said. Charlie Brown, a horse trainer from Utah, agrees with Potts 100%. She says too many people have been buying horses without realizing how much they actually cost to take care off. "Yeah, there's a lot of them going. People have too many of them. Horses are the expense they're willing to part with," Brown said. Mary Owens of Wyoming has had a few horses dropped off on her ranch by complete strangers. "There were three dead horses they left nearby that were so skinny I can not tell you what happened," she said. "But I can tell you this has never happened in 20 years." All three women say it's happening now because the last horse slaughterhouse was closed in the United States about three years ago. "It really has been horrific," Potts more

Video Report

The Foster Ranch and the BLM

I was recently reviewing some of my old files and came upon some research I had done back in 1999, in reference to the then Foster ranch, where “Mack” Brazel had claimed to have found debris from an unknown craft in July 1947. Historical UFO researcher Wendy Connors and I had conducted several interviews with the local BLM office here in Roswell back in 1999, obtaining information and documents pertaining to the BLM’s more recent involvement at the ranch. I was surprised when recently, (10 years later), I read an article penned by Anthony Bragalia, entitled, “Roswell Crash Revelations from the Foster Ranch”, in which I got the impression that he believed there was some conspiracy or cover-up by the BLM about the ranch. (I need to be clear here, in that I am not a big supporter of the way our government and military handled, and still handles information pertaining to the 1947 Roswell Incident.) However based on the research I did 10 years ago, I have no reason to believe the BLM is hiding or covering up anything about the ranch. In this case, I feel we may have an infrequent admission by a government agency that something did in fact happen on the Foster ranch in 1947...

Frozen iguanas fall from Florida trees

The lizards go into a type of hibernation when the temperature drops below around 9 degrees C, all body functions but the heart switching off and blood flow cut to a minimum. It means they lose their grip on branches and the creatures, which are common in the "sunshine state", plunge out of the trees. The lizards, which can grow up to five feet long, then lie grey and appear dead until the temperature rises again, at which time they usually revive. So-called "kamikaze" iguanas are an urban legend among Floridians but have become a common sight as temperatures have dropped almost to freezing...reads more

Mallard Fillmore

Special Song - Video

Trace Adkins & The West Point Glee Club.

Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail

Silence has long shrouded the men and women who die in the nation’s immigration jails. For years, they went uncounted and unnamed in the public record. Even in 2008, when The New York Times obtained and published a federal government list of such deaths, few facts were available about who these people were and how they died. But behind the scenes, it is now clear, the deaths had already generated thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry. The documents, obtained over recent months by The Times and the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act, concern most of the 107 deaths in detention counted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October 2003, after the agency was created within the Department of Homeland Security. But as the administration moves to increase oversight within the agency, the documents show how officials — some still in key positions — used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or more

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Taco the border horse

by Julie Carter

Hola, amigos. Mi llama es Taco. I had another name before, but when I got a new home, I got a new name and a new profession.

I am in training to be an ace speed-demon team roping horse on the heels end of the roping steer.

In order for you to understand who I have become, please allow me to establish my credentials from my previous employment and adventures.

When I was a colt, starting out in my working life, I was known as Chapo Bueno. In the language spoken in Mexico where I lived, that was a quite a compliment. It means "good pony."

I was born of Hidalgo bloodlines, purebred Spanish grandee horses. This is evident in my beautiful light grey coat accented by a black mane and tail. It is even more evident in my kind, intelligent eyes.

At an early age, I was partnered to Jose Maria, the top vaquero on a large cattle ranch.

Jose Maria loved me and taught me patiently the ways of cattle and how to work them. We worked hard, made mucho dinero for the patrón, and I became known as a top mount.

As it was in ranching everywhere at the time, grass became short in Mexico. The patrón asked Jose Maria to do a little night riding, taking wet cattle across the river to Texas to sell.

Of course, Jose took me, his top horse, to help get the cattle from the ranch across the river.

We pushed them hard by moonlight, laid them up by day, and in the seven days it took to get across the river, we had no trouble. In this fashion, we shipped all the cattle belonging to the patrón.

At the end of the cattle drives, the patrón thought that since Jose and I were so good at being border bravos, we should continue our night riding with a little different contraband.

Jose was reluctant to be on the other side of the law, and I was insulted to be asked to carry a packsaddle, but it was work and we needed work.

Our good luck deserted us on our first run with the contraband. La Migra gathered us in at the border.

Jose patted me, told me goodbye, and slipped off into the night.

The other horses and I were taken into possession, the drugs taken to the police station, and then we were taken to auction.

When I was arrested, I was wearing a packsaddle so no one knew of my history as a top cow horse. For this reason, I was sold for a pittance to a kind man who could see only my plight.

This man had a good friend in Texas, and soon after, I was sent to Dan the Team Roper. Fortunately, Dan speaks Spanish and has taught me the basics of English. We are getting along fine.

When I first arrived, I made a few mistakes. One of those was that I ate all the briars along his fence line. He explained that in Texas, it was customary that would feed me hay and grain.

Another time I encountered an armadillo and spooked until Dan explained that it was just a hard-shelled possum.

Dan has been teaching me to be his team roping horse. He is beginning to understand that my cow horse athletic abilities and training are an advantage for us both.

My royal heritage has afforded me the perfect conformation to be outstanding in this new profession.

There are still a few mysteries about this new life that I have yet to understand, like why Dan named me Taco. but for now, I'm happy to have a home. He can call me anything he wants, as he includes the oats.

I am beginning to understand my job and am considering this sport to be great fun. We will win the world someday, and as you follow my career in upcoming year, I wanted you to know my story.

I send Happy New Year greetings to everyone on both sides of the border, but I'm glad to have a home on this side.

Julie can be reached for comment at

It's The Pitts: The Mourning After

by Lee Pitts

It has come to my attention that a lot of young farm and ranch men are marrying women from the big city. I think this is because young ranch women are real smart, have been exposed to ranch life on a daily basis, and they want no more of it. While gullible city gals are still in love with the mystique of the cowboy.

If you are a young farmer or rancher looking for a wife I’ve put together 10 rules to follow if you are to have any hope of landing an urban, and urbane, woman.

#1 Unless you want to live your life as a celibate bachelor, or your first wife is just going to be a practice wife, do not, I repeat DO NOT, introduce your future bride to the intricacies of ranch gates until the morning after you tie the knot. Prior to this time let her drive and you get out to open all the tight wire gates and wrestle with the heavy iron ones. Even after you are married expose her to the cold harsh realities of ranch life only in small doses because annulments are legal in most states.

#2 Spend as little time with her as possible prior to being married. You don’t want to spook her. Speaking of which...

#3 If your future bride has never ridden a horse do not do what I did and put her on the wildest colt in the string on your first outing. It’s also a good idea not to ask her to plug holes in fences or help sort wild cattle on your first date.

#4 Women place a lot of emphasis on fashion so prior to being married take her to the farm supply store and let her pick out her own longjohns, Carhartt jacket, heavy wool gloves and lined overalls. If she wants to accessorize with a snazzy pair of steel toed boots throw caution to the wind and let her splurge. Depending on the quality of the merchandise, and the length of your marriage, this should be a one-time expense.

#5 Try to find some pleasant activities associated with ranching and make her an integral part. For example, at branding time have her organize the party, cook all the food, clean up after the crew and make her the host of the late-night post-branding party. This will instill confidence in your future bride so that when you ask her to do a really big job in the future she will have the self-confidence to succeed.

#6 If you want to land the city-gal of your dreams my next point is very important. Since you have very little else to offer your bride, play up the fact that raising your kids in a ranch setting in a 900 square foot, falling down, rat-infested lean-to of a house in the country where they could be bucked off by broncs or bitten by rattlesnakes, will be preferable to raising them in a three bedroom house with a dishwasher, running hot water and inside plumbing in an urban environment where they might be exposed to loud rap music, ripped jeans and tongue studs. This worked for one rancher friend I know and his bride stayed with him for three whole years before she left him for a double wide mobile home and the steady income of a bull rider.

#7 Don’t let her see your financial statement until long after the honeymoon.

#8 Encourage her to cultivate her own circle of friends. Buy her a dog, give her drop calves and loan her the money to buy a milk cow so she will have someone to listen to her stupid opinion and crazy ideas at least twice a day.

#9 To show your respect for her make sure she is comfortable. For every ton of hay she feeds off the back end of the truck during a rain or snowstorm give her a few minutes in the cab with you and the dog to snuggle and get warm before you tell her politely, “Honey, those cows aren’t going to feed themselves, you know?”

#10 Whatever you do, DON’T live together before you are legally bound. Before she receives all the shower gifts and invests her money on wedding invitations the inviting chance for your city gal to run off with the horseshoer, after she sees what ranch life is really like, is simply too great to resist.

Song Of The Day #218

Today's Gospel song is Green Pasture in The Sky performed by Larry Sparks and which is available on his 12 track CD The Rock I Stand On.

Obama Orders Air Marshal Surge by Feb. 1

President Barack Obama has ordered a "surge" of federal air marshals to be in place by Feb.1 in what officials said was a "race against time," with other suicide bombers believed to be in the terrorist pipeline, although there is no specific imminent threat, federal officials told ABC News. Under a preliminary plan, the officials said the already existing federal air marshal force of more than 3,200 personnel would be deployed almost exclusively to overseas flights flown by U.S. carriers. Domestic high-risk flights will be covered by agents from other federal law enforcement agencies who were trained as air marshals in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. "The personnel we trained back then comprised a kind of reserve air marshal force and they are now going to be borrowed on orders from the President to work domestic flights," said a senior law enforcement agent briefed on the more

Less Than One Percent of ‘Known or Suspected Terrorists’ Were Put on ‘No Fly’ List

As of one month ago, less than one percent of the people the U.S. government has designated as “known or suspected terrorists” had been put on the “No Fly” list that the Department of Homeland Security uses to screen air travelers, according to data provided to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Dec. 9 by Timothy J. Healy, director of the Justice Department’s Terrorist Screening Center. According to Healy, the full “Terrorist Watchlist” included at that moment approximately 400,000 people, while the “No Fly” list included only about 3,400 of those—or 0.85 more

Stimulus to bring body scanners to airports

The U.S. government is using $25 million in stimulus money to buy and install full body scanners in airports this year, in an effort to ramp up security and create jobs. The Transportation Security Administration is using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to purchase 150 of the full body scanners, according to TSA spokeswoman Sarah Horowitz. These "backscatter" scanners, which use X-rays to provide detailed images of hidden objects in or under a person's clothing, are manufactured by Rapiscan, a subsidiary of Hawthorn, Calif.-based OSI (OSIS). The scanners cost from $150,000 to $180,000 apiece, according to the company. Peter Kant, vice president of global government affairs for Rapiscan, said his company received a $25 million contract from the TSA to produce the 150 backscatter more

The Naked Truth About Airport Scanners

Very few of us would be willing to get naked in front of a uniformed agent for the privilege of getting on a plane. But the scanners would have the same effect. How graphic are their images? British authorities barred the use of scanners for travelers under 18 for fear of violating child pornography laws. As it happens, the sacrifice involved in mass use of the full-body scanners, which TSA is already planning, would probably be futile. A Conservative member of the British parliament who previously worked for a company making scanners said that “in all the testing that we undertook, it was unlikely that it would have picked up the current explosive devices being used by al-Qaida”—including those used in the Christmas plot. The more intractable problem is that terrorists are fiendishly capable of adaptation. If the scanners can find plastic explosives hidden in underwear—which is not guaranteed—the evildoers have another option that would foil these gadgets: hiding the bomb in a body cavity. That’s exactly how one suicide bomber tried to assassinate the prince in charge of counterterrorism for Saudi Arabia. The charge went off, and the prince was lucky to survive. Today, full-body scanners. Tomorrow, cavity searches? So here’s the sad reality: If we insist on preserving what little remains of our privacy, we will remain at risk of a terrorist attack. And if we give it up? more

New Scanner Looks for Bombs Inside Body Cavities

The “underpants bomber” has renewed calls for new and more invasive security measures. Already, there’s a push to install scanners that show travelers’ naked bodies through clothing, using either millimeter wave or backscatter X-ray imaging. But even those scanners might not have caught the terrorist who nearly brought down Northwest flight 253. That’s why one company is trumpeting a sensor that can supposedly “detect substances such as explosive materials … hidden inside or outside of the human body.” There has already been one report of a suicide bomber carrying explosives internally. Many sources, including the BBC, carried an early report suggesting that Abdullah Hassan Al Aseeri adopted the new tactic of “carrying explosives in his anal cavity” for an attack in September. The target, a Saudi prince, survived, but Aseeri was reportedly blown in half by the blast. Later reports suggest the explosives were actually sewn into his underwear, but security experts believe there is a real danger of “internally carried” bombs, a technique used for years by drug smugglers. Nesch, a company based in Crown Point, Indiana, may have a solution. It’s called diffraction-enhanced X-ray imaging or DEXI, which employs proprietary diffraction enhanced imaging and multiple image radiography. There is likely to be a ready market for the new technology. Although an X-ray might be seen as more intrusive than an image of the outside of your body, it may be less controversial. In Britain, plans for “naked body” scanners may run into trouble because they break British child pornography laws: Creating “indecent” images of children is more

Airport security of the future: Mind-reading systems

A would-be terrorist tries to board a plane, bent on mass murder. As he walks through a security checkpoint, fidgeting and glancing around, a network of high-tech machines analyzes his body language and reads his mind. Screeners pull him aside. Tragedy is averted. As far-fetched as that sounds, systems that aim to get inside an evildoer's head are among the proposals floated by security experts thinking beyond the X-ray machines and metal detectors used on millions of passengers and bags each year. On Thursday, in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt over Detroit, President Barack Obama called on Homeland Security and the Energy Department to develop better screening technology, warning: "In the never-ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary." The aim of one company that blends high technology and behavioral psychology is hinted at in its name, WeCU — as in "We See You." The system that Israeli-based WeCU Technologies has devised and is testing in Israel projects images onto airport screens, such as symbols associated with a certain terrorist group or some other image only a would-be terrorist would recognize, company CEO Ehud Givon said. The logic is that people can't help reacting, even if only subtly, to familiar images that suddenly appear in unfamiliar places. If you strolled through an airport and saw a picture of your mother, Givon explained, you couldn't help but respond. The reaction could be a darting of the eyes, an increased heartbeat, a nervous twitch or faster breathing, he said. The WeCU system would use humans to do some of the observing but would rely mostly on hidden cameras or sensors that can detect a slight rise in body temperature and heart rate. Far more sensitive devices under development that can take such measurements from a distance would be incorporated more

US spy agencies face information overload: experts

US intelligence officials, under pressure to better track terrorist threats, are hampered by their own vast bureaucracy and an overwhelming flow of information, analysts say. President Barack Obama "has now discovered that he's inherited an intelligence community in the United States which is bloated, bureaucratic and even with the best of intentions has become so large it finds it very hard to put together the pieces," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer, told AFP. An angry Obama took the spy agencies to task this week after an attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day was narrowly averted, saying the services overlooked key clues. Although top security and military officials acknowledged failures and vowed to improve, making the 16 agencies with an army of 200,000 employees more efficient and nimble remained a daunting task, Riedel more

Police in Latin America will be able to track American gun sales in their own language

In a move to crack down on weapons from the U.S. that are funneled to drug cartels, police in Latin America will soon be able to track American gun sales in their own language, despite privacy concerns by gun-rights advocates. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will begin testing this month on a Spanish-language version of eTrace, a computer system that law-enforcement agencies use to request traces of weapons by the ATF. The first users will be national police in Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica. The English version of eTrace is already being used in 25 countries, including Mexico, according to the U.S. State Department. To begin the trace, a foreign police officer submits this information into the system. An ATF agent then reviews the request. The United States does not have a national database of all gun owners, so the ATF agent must then call gun dealers and purchasers to track the gun's history. Under U.S. law, such information is private and can be seen only by law-enforcers doing legitimate investigations. "The more information you have in the system, the more effectively you can connect the dots," said Bill Newell, the ATF's special agent in charge for Arizona and New Mexico. However, the National Rifle Association said it is worried that encouraging more users abroad could lead to private information about gun owners being leaked to the public or criminals. "There's always a potential, especially when things are online, for errors to occur," said Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the NRA. "All it takes is one person clicking the wrong button and, all of a sudden, a whole of lot information could be made public." more

Winter Olympics will highlight new U.S. border requirements

When the 2010 Winter Olympic Games start in Vancouver on Feb. 12, they not only will draw athletes from across the globe but legions of citizens from the USA — all of whom will need to present newly required forms of identification to cross the border. In anticipation of that, and in the face of criticism of the increased documentation requirements and costs for cross-border travel that went into effect last June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has launched a $2 million marketing campaign to remind people in the Northwest about identification options for border crossings. The ads, featuring Olympians such as skier Bill Demong, include reminders that identity documentation will be required to return to the USA and direct people to, a Homeland Security travel website, to find out about the various document options, several of which are less expensive than obtaining a passport. The Olympics-centered campaign is part of an ongoing effort by Homeland Security to publicize ways of crossing the border in light of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative rules, which since June 1 have required American citizens to have a passport, passport card or enhanced driver's license or to be enrolled in a trusted traveler program such as NEXUS and SENTRI (for frequent travelers to Canada and Mexico respectively) or FAST (for commercial drivers) in order to get back into the USA from Canada or more