Friday, February 05, 2010

U.S.D.A. Plans to Drop Program to Trace Livestock

Faced with stiff resistance from ranchers and farmers, the Obama administration has decided to scrap a national program intended to help authorities quickly identify and track livestock in the event of an animal disease outbreak. In abandoning the program, called the National Animal Identification System, officials said they would start over in trying to devise a livestock tracing program that could win widespread support from the industry. The agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, will announce the changes on Friday, according to officials at the Agriculture Department, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been made public. The officials said that it would be left to the states to devise many aspects of a new system, including requirements for identifying livestock. New federal rules will be developed but the officials said they would apply only to animals being moved in interstate commerce, such as cattle raised in one state being transported to a slaughterhouse in another more

India forms new climate change body

The Indian government has established its own body to monitor the effects of global warming because it “cannot rely” on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the group headed by its own Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr R.K Pachauri. The move is a significant snub to both the IPCC and Dr Pachauri as he battles to defend his reputation following the revelation that his most recent climate change report included false claims that most of the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035. Scientists believe it could take more than 300 years for the glaciers to disappear. The body and its chairman have faced growing criticism ever since as questions have been raised on the credibility of their work and the rigour with which climate change claims are more

American Pika Might Be First Animal under Federal Protections Due to Climate Change

The government is expected to decide whether a tiny, mountain-dwelling mammal should become the first animal in the continental U.S. to get federal protections primarily because of climate change. The Fish and Wildlife Service's decision about the American pika is expected Friday. If the furry, big-eared relative of the rabbit becomes protected under the Endangered Species Act, some legal experts predict it could have ramifications for future climate policies. The pika lives mostly in high, rocky mountain slopes in 10 Western more

UPDATE: Federal agency denies endangered species protections for tiny pika Climate change might be hurting some populations of the American pika, a relative of the rabbit, but not enough to warrant endangered species protection for the tiny mountain-dwelling animal, according to a decision released Thursday...

Romanoff opposes Pinon Canyon expansion; Calls for ‘total ban’ on the enlargement debate

Andrew Romanoff says the four-year fight between the Army and Southern Colorado ranchers over the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site has gone on too long and — if elected to the U.S. Senate — he would permanently block any future expansion of the 238,000-acre training area near Trinidad. "We need a total ban on (the Army) expanding Pinon Canyon," the former Democratic speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives said in an interview Thursday. "The ranchers down there deserve to have this fight come to an end once and for all." Romanoff is challenging U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., for the party's nomination and he spoke to the Jac-X-Press Democratic Club in Pueblo on Thursday. Publicly, the Army has wanted to expand Pinon Canyon since 2006, saying it needs more training land to support troops at Fort Carson. Ranchers and other opponents have blocked that effort with federal and state legislation, forcing the Army to whittle its land acquisition effort from 418,000 acres in 2008 to 100,000 acres last year. Foes have been wanting a Colorado senator to take a hard line and rule out any future expansion — a step that would likely prevent the Senate from considering any expansion under its rules. While Sens. Mark Udall and Bennet, both Democrats, have voted for annual funding bans blocking any expansion, neither senator has gone so far as Romanoff, ruling out any future more

When Windmills Don’t Spin, People Expect Some Answers

For those who suspect residents in places like Minnesota of embellishment when it comes to their tales of bitterly cold winter weather, consider this: even some wind turbines, it seems, cannot bear it. Turbines, more than 100 feet tall, were installed last year in 11 Minnesota cities to provide power, and also to serve as educational symbols in a state that has mandated that a quarter of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2025. One problem, though: The windmills, supposed to go online this winter, mostly just sat still, people in cities like North St. Paul and Chaska said, rarely if ever budging. Residents took note. Schoolchildren asked questions. Complaints accumulated. “If people see a water tower, they expect it to stand still,” said Wally Wysopal, the city manager of North St. Paul. “If there’s a turbine, they want it to turn.” more

NEPA filmmaker's documentary garners Sundance award

A Wayne County filmmaker took home a coveted award at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah for his documentary exploring the tribulations of natural gas drilling in the area and throughout the U.S. Packing along a camera and traveling the lonely roads of Arkansas, Texas and Wyoming, Josh Fox said he discovered a landscape once desolate and at ease transformed into an industrial complex. "What I saw when I went out on the road was an absolute nightmare," Fox said by phone after winning the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize on Saturday for his film "GasLand." "Of course you're always surprised," he said. "I think it's a testament to how strong the stories are of the people." The film, which runs an hour and 47 minutes, also earned one of very few premiere slots at the independent film festival, which was founded by Hollywood actor and director Robert Redford. Fox, 37, who owns 20 acres in Milanville and spent some of his childhood there, decided to investigate the contentious issue after receiving a lease offer in the mail for his more

New Mexico Senate panel approves pore space bill

A Senate committee has approved legislation that would establish ownership rights for the empty spaces that lie beneath New Mexico's dusty landscape. Supporters of the measure say the so-called pore space will be valuable as technology advances to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel power plants and other industries. Three Western states already have tackled pore space ownership, and many others are considering legislation that would lay the groundwork for carbon capture and storage. New Mexico's effort is being led by Jack Chatfield, a rancher from northeastern New Mexico who has been spending every day at the state Capitol to ensure the bill passes. He said Thursday he was pleased with the 8-3 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It clears the way for the bill to be heard by the full more

Along with speed, sheepdogs rely on obedience and smarts

Driving a sheepdog -- even though they are considered brainiacs in the dog world -- can get a little complicated. To steer the dogs, usually border collies, to the right, handlers in the dusty arena say, "Away to me." "Come by" turns them back to the left. "Stand or stop" puts on the brakes. You can park the dog on the ground, walk him (with "walk up") and slow him down with "steady." Finally, "that'll do" means the dog will return to you and she's off the clock. Then there are the whistle commands. High and low whistles communicate the same turns and stops, with no two handlers' pursed-lip warbles sounding quite more

Ranch house built in 1850s

The house was built by pioneer Charles Kingsbury sometime in the late 1850s. Charles lived in the house with his bride, Agnes, and it eventually became home to their 10 children as well. Charles reportedly came to California in 1852 with Leland Stanford, the railroad mogul, but continued on his way to Shasta County to mine for gold. He was a man of all trades and often worked more than one trade at a time. Besides being a carpenter, he was a gold miner, storekeeper, postmaster, constable, Justice of the Peace and a cattle rancher. He was also chairman of the first Shasta County Republican Convention and a delegate to the local Republican Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for president in 1860. Agnes traveled to California in 1857 with her brother and rode a mule across the Isthmus of Panama. She traveled here to teach school at Piety Hill, where she was the first schoolteacher. During that year, she met and married more

Song Of The Day #234

More traditional bluegrass this morning on Ranch Radio. Hylo Brown & The Timberliners will perform The Girl In The Blue Velvet Band and Gathering Flowers From The Hillside.

A good sampling of his work can be found on the 2 disc collection Hylo Brown 1954-1960.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


This is a shortened version of The Westerner today. Too much wilderness is going on. Senator Bingaman is holding a field hearing on his wilderness bill and I've been asked to present testimony. More on that later.

Corruption, collusion, or legal thievery

In 2008, the Forest Service issued a land use plan that environmental organizations didn’t like. The Earthjustice Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of four environmental groups. The suit took 15 months. The bill to the federal government from Earthjustice was $279,711.40. The Western Environmental Law Center filed another lawsuit challenging the same land use plan. They represented 15 environmental groups and sent the government a bill for $199,830.65. These two outfits claim that seven attorneys spent more than 930 hours (working full time, that’s 116 days), at rates between $300 and $650 per hour. That’s good work if you can get it. Think that’s bad? Read on. In September of last year, the Wildearth Guardians sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency, asking the court to prohibit FEMA from issuing flood insurance to private citizens on 52,535 structures that may lie within the range of an endangered species. The group could not sue individual land owners unless they could prove that the structure caused the death or “harm” to any endangered species. This suit is designed to block the use of privately owned land, and to collect a handsome fee from the government for doing it. The government keeps no record of these “environmental” lawsuits. Payments, however, are made from a single budget line item called the “Judgment Fund.” During these five years, tax dollars have funded environmental groups to the tune of $4.7 billion dollars in attorney fees alone. Another $1.6 million was paid between 2003 and 2005 from the Equal Access to Justice Act. These funds come directly from the agency that loses the suit. This doesn’t begin to include all the direct grants and contracts that are awarded to dozens of environmental more

Penn State to Investigate Climategate

Penn State University said Wednesday it will proceed with an investigation into a leading climate scientist after an internal inquiry into alleged research misconduct stemming from leaked e-mails at the center of a controversy over global warming. Meteorology professor Michael Mann said he was pleased the inquiry results "found no evidence to support" four allegations against him. But Mann, long a target of criticism by skeptics of man-made global warming theories, said he welcomed the inquiry committee's decision recommending further investigation on one of the allegations, in hopes of removing lingering doubts. A three-member committee has been looking into e-mails pertaining to Mann or his work since late November, when computer hackers obtained messages between U.S. and British scientists from a British research more

EPA biofuels guidelines could spur production of ethanol from corn

The nation's farmers got a big boost Wednesday when the Obama administration issued new biofuels guidelines that could open the way for large increases in the production of corn-based ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency said new data showed that, even after taking into account increased fertilizer and land use, corn-based ethanol can yield significant climate benefits by displacing conventional gasoline or diesel fuel. The new renewable-fuel standard issued by the EPA drew criticism from some environmentalists as well as oil industry representatives, who accused the Obama administration of catering to farm interests. In an earlier draft of the standard, the administration had said that corn-based ethanol output should be limited because its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions exceeded renewable fuel standards. "The numbers are inconsistent with the great bulk of analyses by others, which consistently find that emissions from indirect land-use change for crops grown on productive land cancel out the bulk or all of the greenhouse gas reductions, but I will have to study the results," said Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University and an author of articles critical of corn-based more

Idaho legislators approve new grazing lease rules

Legislators on Wednesday approved new state grazing lease rules aimed at helping resolve more than a decade of conflict that has pitted environmental groups against Idaho and the state's traditional ranching interests. The rules will govern how contested lease auctions are held; set out new categories of leases for conservation, recreation and even communication sites, in addition to those for grazing or cropland, and ease the process for allowing multiple leases on the same state parcel, provided there is no conflict. George Bacon, head of the Department of Lands, said he was optimistic they will help end strife that began in the 1990s when environmentalists bid for leases, only to lose even after offering more money than ranchers. The Idaho Cattle Association objected to the rules but eventually agreed after demanding several changes Wednesday. Among those changes were provisions to forbid lease bidders from saying they'll graze an allotment without actually intending to do so; requiring Idaho to renew expiring, uncontested leases when there were no concerns about past management, and dumping a plan let the Land Board decide rental rates. Association President Carl Ellsworth, who runs a ranch in Leadore in central Idaho, said his group can live with the new rules, at least for more

Obama's Budget: $500 Million+ Cut to USDA Conservation Programs

Environmental Defense Fund urged Congress to reject a proposal in President Obama's Fiscal Year 2011 budget to cut more than half billion dollars from USDA conservation programs below funding levels mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill. "We recognize that the administration faces tough choices to cut the deficit, but these conservation programs help drive private investment in public benefits – including cleaner water, cleaner air and improved habitat for wildlife – so they are a great deal for taxpayers," said Sara Hopper, director of agricultural policy for Environmental Defense Fund and a former staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "USDA conservation programs assist farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners who offer to spend their own time and money to improve the management of their land to benefit the environment." These conservation programs reward producers for improving the management of farms, ranches and private forest land to benefit water resources, air quality and wildlife; restoring and protecting wetlands; preserving and restoring grasslands; and maintaining farmland, ranchland and private forestland in the face of development more

Visible symptoms of trap ban’s flaws

Olympia’s moles are breathing a bit easier today. The state has stopped using illegal traps to kill them on grounds around the Capitol and the governor’s mansion. The use of “body-gripping” traps for any animal were outlawed 10 years ago by voter-approved Initiative 713. But somehow – even after emotional campaigns for and against the measure – the state didn’t get the memo that it should discontinue using the traps. The Department of General Administration is the agency that’s been using up to 10 spring-loaded traps in late winter to reduce the Capitol grounds’ destructive mole population before the critters start breeding. Ironically, the GA is located right across the street from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is charged with enforcing the trap ban. Although Fish & Wildlife says no private citizens have been fined for using the same kind of illegal traps, some commercial exterminators have been cited – usually after a competitor has complained. The GA will be treated like any other first-time offender – with a warning. The fact that even an agency of state government sees a need for the traps to effectively control moles shows how absurd it is to use a voter initiative to make wildlife more

Red Lodge - Belle Fourche Robbery

Long before Sundance Kid began riding with Butch Cassidy, he was teamed up with Kid Curry. The two outlaws were a lot alike. Both were very fast and deadly accurate with six guns. Both shot and killed lawmen, as well as others who they considered to be threats. Most of all, no matter how hard they tried, neither one could plan a successful robbery. On June 28, 1897, Sundance Kid, Kid Curry, Tom Oday, Walt Puteney, and George Curry, held up the bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. They got away with about $87. When the outlaws reached Hole in the Wall, they found it was a powder keg ready to explode. The big ranchers and local lawmen had reached the end of their tolerance for outlaws rustling cattle and taking them into Hole in the Wall. A posse was being organized that would go behind the red wall and flush out any outlaw that remained. To make matters worse, telegraph wires were buzzing with news about the Belle Fourche robbers. Rewards for their capture far exceeded the few dollars obtained from the robbery. They were wanted by lawmen and bounty hunters, dead or alive. It seemed there was no place to hide. The only thing to do was to run, but even living on the run cost money and they had none to spend. The decision was made to attempt a six-gun withdrawal at the bank in Red Lodge, Montana. They camped outside of town to plan the heist. Sundance Kid and Kid Curry rode into town to get the layout. Unfortunately, the telegraph wires had been busy in Montana too. They were immediately recognized and raced out of town with a posse close more

Song Of The Day #233

Ranch Radio is cravin' some early George Jones. Here he is performing Tall Tall Trees and Too Much Water.

Both tunes are available on the 2 CD collection Cup Of Loneliness: The Classic Mercury Years.

And turn that volume up so your neighbors can enjoy it too.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Covering Greenie Weenies

That's the alternative title that J.R. Absher suggested for my post Condoms to Save the Environment about The Center For Biological Diversity's program of distributing "endangered-species-themed condoms" for free.

Everyone should check out his Free Condoms column at Outdoor Life.

Climate change emails between scientists reveal flaws in peer review

Scientists sometimes like to portray what they do as divorced from the everyday jealousies, rivalries and tribalism of human relationships. What makes science special is that data and results that can be replicated are what matters and the scientific truth will out in the end. But a close reading of the emails hacked from the University of East Anglia in November exposes the real process of everyday science in lurid detail. Many of the emails reveal strenuous efforts by the mainstream climate scientists to do what outside observers would regard as censoring their critics. And the correspondence raises awkward questions about the effectiveness of peer review – the supposed gold standard of scientific merit – and the operation of the UN's top climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) more

No apology from IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri for glacier fallacy

The embattled chief of the UN's climate change body has hit out at his critics and refused to resign or apologise for a ­damaging mistake in a landmark 2007 report on global warming. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said it would be hypocritical to apologise for the false claim that ­Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035, because he was not personally responsible for that part of the report. "You can't expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report," he said. The IPCC issued a statement that expressed regret for the mistake, but Pachauri said a personal apology would be a "populist" step. "I don't do too many populist things, that's why I'm so unpopular with a certain section of society," he more

Countries Submit Emission Goals

The climate change accord reached at Copenhagen in December passed its first test on Monday after countries responsible for the bulk of climate-altering pollution formally submitted their emission reduction plans, meeting the agreement’s Jan. 31 deadline. Most major nations — including the United States, the 27 nations of the European Union, China, India, Japan and Brazil — restated earlier pledges to curb emissions by 2020, some by promising absolute cuts, others by reducing the rate of increase from a business-as-usual curve. In all, 55 developed and developing countries submitted emission reduction plans to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body overseeing global negotiations. Two major nations — Mexico and Russia — had not submitted plans as of Monday more

Largest-ever federal payroll to hit 2.15 million

The era of big government has returned with a vengeance, in the form of the largest federal work force in modern history. The Obama administration says the government will grow to 2.15 million employees this year, topping 2 million for the first time since President Clinton declared that "the era of big government is over" and joined forces with a Republican-led Congress in the 1990s to pare back the federal work force. Most of the increases are on the civilian side, which will grow by 153,000 workers, to 1.43 million people, in fiscal more

Five western states named in EPA lawsuit

The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to meet numerous deadlines for limiting dangerous pollution from tiny airborne particles like soot and dust in Idaho, Alaska, Arizona, Montana and Nevada. In some cases, the deadline for EPA action passed more than 10 years ago. The EPA has violated the Clean Air Act by failing to determine the states are complying with existing standards designed to protect the public from air pollution, and by failing to ensure that states are implementing legally required plans to meet the standards, according to the Arizona-based nonprofit more

Understanding the ‘New’ West: Whither the Public Lands?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a logger, rancher, environmentalist, agency employee, local resident, or someone else with a strong feeling about public land, the past twenty to thirty years can’t be called terribly progressive. For many, in fact, we may be farther away from Stegner’s vision than ever. And as we tip over the top of the bell-shaped curve of the so-called ‘New West’ and enter a period dominated by 21st century anxieties, such as climate change, high fuel prices, water shortages and food security, how we view our public lands will be crucially important. The first step, however, is to actually leave the 20th century behind. This observation struck me a few weeks ago while attending a conference in Boise, organized by the Idaho Chapter of the Society for Range Management (SRM). Titled a “Western Congress on Rangelands,” the two-day event featured hopeful stories of collaboration, wildlife/cattle coexistence, and innovative management by speakers from the ranching, academic, and agency communities. The overall tone, however, was surprisingly “retro.” With a sinking heart, I learned that a handful of anti-grazing activists are still stoking the ‘range wars’ that dominated the 1980s and 1990s. I listened gloomily to the defensive tone of presenters as they catalogued an all-too familiar landscape of litigation, appeals, bureaucratic inertia, and political more

Montana approves removal of wolf pack

State wildlife officials have authorized another Big Hole Valley wolf pack to be wiped out after it repeatedly attacked cattle west of Wisdom. Officials with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks moved to have the remaining one or two members of the Bender Pack to be killed by federal trappers. Last week trappers confirmed that the pack had killed a calf on a private ranch west of Wisdom. The pack had already attacked and killed a calf on a different ranch nearby earlier in the month, prompting FWP to authorize that one wolf be removed. Trappers did that but the pack again got into trouble. "This is the second confirmed depredation and it's consisted of two different ranches," said Nathan Lance, FWP wolf biologist in more

Idaho closes another wolf hunting area

State wildlife managers say another Idaho wolf hunting zone has been shut down after hunters filled a state quota. The Department of Fish and Game has closed the Middle Fork zone, where the limit of 17 wolves was reached Monday. Five other hunting zones have also been shuttered for the same reason. The wolf season closed in the Southern Mountains zone and in the Palouse-Hells Canyon zone in December. In November, the season closed in the Dworshak-Elk City zone, in the McCall-Weiser zone in west central Idaho and in the Upper Snake zone in eastern Idaho. Hunters have claimed 146 of the predators in Idaho. AP

Initiative would ban trappers on public land in Montana

A group seeking to ban trapping on public land in Montana is circulating petitions to put the issue on the November ballot as a citizens' initiative. Footloose Montana was formed in 2007 to oppose trapping on public land after a dog named Cupcake was killed in a trap while she and her owner were walking along Rock Creek east of Missoula. The group has since spawned Montanans For Trap Free Public Lands, which has the sole purpose of promoting the initiative. The initiative — I-160 — is one of a pair that has drawn significant attention from Montana outdoorsmen and women: the other is I-161, a move to eliminate the set-aside for outfitter-sponsored hunting licenses for more

Bison going to Turner ranch

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will place 88 Yellowstone National Park bison from an experimental quarantine program on Ted Turner’s ranch west of Bozeman, the agency said Tuesday. The herd is now in a 400-acre holding facility in Corwin Springs, north of Yellowstone. In sending the 88 bison to Turner’s Green Ranch, which straddles the Madison River and Norris Road, FWP decided against an alternative plan to send part of the herd to a Wyoming state park, a plan that drew protest from Wyoming ranchers. The bison will be housed on Turner’s 12,000-acre ranch, which is adjacent to his Flying D Ranch, for up to five years. During that time they will be tested regularly for brucellosis to see whether quarantine is an effective way to combat the disease. The animals have already tested negative for the disease, which causes many species to abort, but biologists say more testing is needed to prove quarantine works. As part of the plan, Turner will be allowed to keep 75 percent of the bison’s offspring to reimburse the ranch for the estimated $480,000 of costs associated with keeping the bison for five more

Drummond's little blog on the prairie a hit

Ree Drummond traded Los Angeles, law school and lattes for life with her very own Marlboro Man, a fourth-generation cattle rancher from her native Oklahoma. Today she loves rural life, surrounded by 4,000 head of cattle and a herd of wild mustangs. She laughingly calls herself a "desperate housewife" and home-schools her four kids, ages 12, 10, 7 and 5. In 2006, she launched a blog,, to chronicle daily life on the ranch. Last year, the popular blog received three Bloggies and was named among the top 25 blogs by Time magazine. She also wrote and took all the photos for her first cookbook, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl" (William Morrow, $27.50). It has remained in's top 10 since publication in October. She recently answered a few more

Morgan Hill man cooks for cowboys and greenhorns in the high country

The Los Gatos Horseman's Association is best described as an eating and riding club. Members are horse lovers in Los Gatos and nearby cities who generally keep their animals in the foothills of town and have been riding and eating together for more than 37 years. Their rides usually end with a potluck meal, or at a restaurant with a place to tie horses. Nowhere was the happy combination of food and horse more evident than at the club's annual camping trip in the mountains near La Honda. Joining the group of 44 horse people — including 11 youngsters — and 33 horses at Jack Brook Horse Camp was longtime member John Rosica of Morgan Hill. His occasional trail cookout for fellow members in past years is now a nearly a full time job in the Sierra. Rosica is a backcountry chef, serving pack outfits that crisscross the eastern and western slopes of the mountains, some of his 21 mules carrying his collapsible kitchen. As a backcountry chef, Rosica's skills parallel those of chefs in any upscale restaurant, but he creates his dishes under primitive conditions. "I do it because I love it," he says. Another draw of the job is the cosmopolitan people he meets and learns from on his trips. To date, he's been taught how to cuss in Persian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Sicilian, French, Arabic, Spanish and more

On life's trail, Conn left his mark

Veteran journalist Sam Conn, whose colorful prose and persona helped define his "cowboy reporter" image known by many, died Saturday in Silver City after a long illness. He was 47. "Sam passed away peacefully, with his long-time partner and friend Adrian Silva at his side," said Sherry Tippet, Conn's attorney and the executor of his estate. Conn's stories had an impact on community members and those he wrote about, especially his weekly feature, "On the Trail," which focused on the colorful people and places that make the region unique. "He inspired the heritage and preservation of the Old West and was a friend to all," said Tom Johnson of the Palace Hotel, who designed the "On the Trail" stickers for Conn's mobile reporting trailer. To those he worked with, Conn was remembered as a solid reporter with a passion for all things Western. Freelance photographer Kalen "Patch" Severe spent time traveling with Conn, shooting the photos for "On the Trail." "He called himself a simple cowboy but he was much more," Severe said. "He was the cowboy poet of old wrapped up Carhart jeans and a slightly musty smelling leather cowboy hat, hiding out in a nearly obscure corner of southwest New Mexico. He spun his stories with a passion that can only come from doing something you truly love. "Doing 'On the Trail' with Sam was always fun. We would go to what I thought were the most obscure places and Sam would pull the most amazing story out of it (he rarely ceased to amaze) more

Song Of The Day #232

Ranch Radio is featuring some traditional bluegrass today. We'll have two songs performed by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs and The Smokey Mountain Boys: Old Salty Dog Blues recorded in 1952 and the 1953 instrumental Dear Old Dixie.

Both tunes are available on the 4 disc box set Flatt & Scruggs 1948-1959.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Bin Laden: Global warming is US' fault

In a message that would make Al Gore proud, the man behind the Sept. 11 attacks called for the world to boycott American products and the US dollar -- blaming this country for global warming, according to an audiotape released today. In the tape, the terror lord rants of the dangers of climate change and said the only way to stop it is to bring "the wheels of the American economy" to a grinding halt. He called for "drastic solutions" to global warming -- "not solutions that partially reduce the effect of climate change," according to the taped message. The message was played today by the Qatar-based Arab satellite TV channel Al more

Bin Laden's comments will make Al Gore proud. Hey, that must be it - Bin Laden wants a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Death of Global Warming

The global warming movement as we have known it is dead. Its health had been in steady decline during the last year as the once robust hopes for a strong and legally binding treaty to be agreed upon at the Copenhagen Summit faded away. By the time that summit opened, campaigners were reduced to hoping for a ‘politically binding’ agreement to be agreed that would set the stage for the rapid adoption of the legally binding treaty. After the failure of the summit to agree to even that much, the movement went into a rapid decline. The movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics. After years in which global warming activists had lectured everyone about the overwhelming nature of the scientific evidence, it turned out that the most prestigious agencies in the global warming movement were breaking laws, hiding data, and making inflated, bogus claims resting on, in some cases, no scientific basis at more

Alaska Atty Gen outlines endangered species fight

Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan has outlined plans for ramping up the state's fight against expanded use of endangered species laws. Sullivan told the House Finance Committee in Juneau on Tuesday that he will approach other states to tell them about Alaska's plan, which includes a request for $1 million next year to pay for a full-time attorney to focus on the Endangered Species Act and for more contract help from specialized lawyers. Sullivan said he's drafting letters to attorneys general in every state, outlining the Alaska Department of Law's efforts to gain a greater say in federal wildlife protection. Last week, Gov. Sean Parnell said in his State of the State address that the federal government has intruded into areas of state legal responsibility. Sullivan said the state also would look to share more analysis and biological data with the federal government and, when species make it onto the list, find a larger role for Alaska in shaping recovery more

U.S. Navy Sued Over Anti-Sub Training Range Where Rare Whales Calve

ver its decision to build an Undersea Warfare Training Range next to the only known calving ground for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Only about 350 whales of this species remain today. The range is set for a location 50 nautical miles offshore of Jacksonville, on Florida's northeast coast. The Navy plans to place undersea cables and sensor nodes in a 500 square-nautical-mile area of the ocean to create the range for anti-submarine warfare training. The range would begin operating in 2014. The Navy plans to conduct 470 annual exercises on the training range with up to three vessels and two aircraft deploying exercise torpedoes, parachutes and sonobuoys, and sonar and other noise more

Enviros plan lawsuit claiming pesticides are harming endangered species

A conservation group says it plans to sue the federal government, claiming hundreds of protected animal species have been impacted because it has not evaluated or regulated nearly 400 pesticides. The Center for Biological Diversity sent the Environmental Protection Agency a letter of intent to sue on Thursday. It says the agency violated the Endangered Species Act by not consulting with wildlife regulators about the pesticides' impacts. The organization says as many as 887 species may be harmed, including the Florida panther, coho salmon and California more

Enviro group: US must respond to coral concerns

A U.S. conservation group announced Wednesday it would sue the federal government to force a decision on whether to protect 83 coral species it says are threatened by global warming and more acidic waters. The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity has sent notification of its intention to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service because the U.S. agency missed a deadline for an endangered species listing decision for dozens of coral species. A 60-day notification letter is required before a suit can be field. Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the corals, found in Florida, Hawaii and island territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, face a growing threat of extinction from rising ocean more

For environmental crimes, a public mea culpa

The Rockmore Co. has a confession: “Our company has discharged human waste directly into Massachusetts coastal waters.’’ That statement is part of an abject apology that will soon appear in newspaper ads if a federal judge approves a plea deal between the US government and Rockmore, which is accused of illegally dumping waste for years in Salem Harbor and in the Charles River off the Esplanade from its sightseeing cruise ship and its floating restaurant. The agreement would mark at least the fourth time in recent years that federal prosecutors in Massachusetts have required environmental scofflaws to buy large and costly advertisements atoning for their crimes as part of their sentences. Many legal scholars say the apologies foster contrition and save the government the high costs of more traditional punishments, such as incarceration. But some defense lawyers and scholars say the ads represent a throwback to the stocks and pillories of Colonial times and are designed less to educate the public and more to humiliate wrongdoers. “It’s the scarlet letter,’’ said Stellio Sinnis, a federal public more

Obama budget would eliminate funding for Yucca Mountain

President Barack Obama will propose eliminating funding for the Yucca Mountain Project in a new budget he will submit to Congress today, said Nevada lawmakers who were notified over the weekend. Also, White House officials said they will take steps "in the near future" to withdraw a pending license application to build the long-planned nuclear waste repository, which could be a decisive move in ending the government's 23-year focus on developing the Nevada site for radioactive waste storage and disposal. With the formation Friday of a commission to study nuclear waste management, officials said the budget will underscore Obama's "commitment to pursuing a responsible, long-term strategy" for handling waste generated by nuclear utilities and government defense more

I'm sure its just a happenstance that this should aid Harry Reid's re-election campaign.

Green Math Is Bad Math

...The entire renovation costs $133 million. The plants are only one component, but the G.S.A. admits that the renovation is being undertaken for the purpose of making the building "green." Done as a project of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, the renovation is Oregon's largest federal stimulus project. The Obama administration proudly boasts that the effort will dramatically reduce the building's energy use, thereby saving federal taxpayers $280,000 a year in energy costs. Nowhere in the article did The New York Times bother to do the math. So I did. (It wasn't hard, I did it on my Blackberry while setting out for a winter hike.) To recoup its investment in this renovation, the government will have to keep the building running for the next 475 years. To provide a little perspective, the taxpayers are going to shell out $133 million -- more than half the cost of the nearby Rose Garden Arena, where the Portland Trailblazers play -- so the government can annually save the taxpayers $68,000 less than the combined yearly salaries of Oregon's two U.S. senators. This is what passes for a good "green" investment in Washington these more

Los Angeles might require rainwater capture

A proposed law would require new homes, larger developments and some redevelopments in Los Angeles to capture and reuse runoff generated in rainstorms. The ordinance approved in January by the Department of Public Works would require such projects to capture, reuse or infiltrate 100% of runoff generated in a 3/4 -inch rainstorm or to pay a storm water pollution mitigation fee that would help fund off-site, low-impact public developments. The fairly new approach to managing storm water and urban runoff is designed to mitigate the negative effects of urbanization by controlling runoff at its source with small, cost-effective natural systems instead of treatment facilities. Reducing runoff improves water quality and recharges groundwater. Under the ordinance, builders would be required to use rainwater storage tanks, permeable pavement, infiltration swales or curb bump-outs to manage the water where it falls. Builders unable to manage 100% of a project's runoff on site would be required to pay a penalty of $13 a gallon of runoff not handled there -- a requirement the Building Industry Assn. has been more

Long debate stalls NM natural resources bill

Opponents are lining up against a New Mexico bill that would allow the state natural resources trustee to pursue damages from polluters who have compromised groundwater or other natural resources. From ranchers to rural electric cooperatives and the oil and gas industry, critics said the legislation's language goes too far and would essentially transfer power from the Legislature to the trustee, an unelected position without public oversight. They also complain that numerous existing state and federal laws already protect air quality, water, wildlife and other natural resources. "This is just another level of regulation in the state of New Mexico, which is already a difficult place to do business," said Sonia Phillips, a lobbyist who represents Xcel Energy Inc. Dozens of people gathered in the House chamber Monday as a legislative committee considered the bill. The committee was forced to recess after more than two hours, promising to continue the debate more

U.S. Agrees to Timetable for UN Gun Ban

The United Nations and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are moving forward with their plan to confiscate your guns. The United States joined 152 other countries in support of the Arms Trade Treaty Resolution, which establishes the dates for the 2012 UN conference intended to attack American sovereignty by stripping Americans of the right to keep and bear arms. Working groups of anti-gun countries will begin scripting language for the conference this year, creating a blueprint for other countries when they meet at the full conference. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Former United Nation’s ambassador John Bolton has cautioned gun owners about the Arms Trade Treaty and says the UN “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there’s no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.” Establishing the dates for the Arms Trade Treaty Conference is just the first step toward their plans for total gun more

Video: What does the "budget freeze" actually mean?

Song Of The Day #231

Ranch Radio sends this tune out to all you snoopy government types. Listen carefully to Zeke Clements perform It's My Life.

The song is on his 19 track CD Early Star of the Grand Old Opry.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Condoms to Save the Environment

Endangered Animal-Themed Prophylactics Distributed Free

No mammal population has ever grown to as great a size or consumed as many resources as human beings do today, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on January 27, 2010. More than 6,700,000,000 of our species now occupy Earth, according to the most recent government census information—and with our vehicles, buildings, technology, and emissions, an enormous strain is being placed on the other animals with which we share this planet, including endangered species. And with 80 million new humans being brought into the world each year, the C.B.D. is doing everything in its power to raise awareness of the need for population control—including distributing endangered-species-themed condoms for free!

KierĂ¡n Suckling, the executive director of the CBD, is calling for local volunteers to assist in the distribution of these animal-themed prophylactics. Since they first put out the call two weeks ago, she said, “more than 900 people have volunteered to help distribute condoms in their hometowns—an incredible response. I'm so impressed by our supporters' readiness to step up to tackle threats to endangered species.” The last day of signup for new volunteers is Monday, February 1, and the group has voiced a need for 300 additional signups before that time.

Homo sapiens’ overpopulation is becoming a cause for concern not only because of our own crowded cities, but because of the devastating effects it can have on our Earth’s wildlife. Human beings limit populations of various species all the time; the CBD is encouraging us to take an inward look and help to correct our own problem. The animal-themed condoms are designed to make an individual think about the consequences of a pregnancy, but also to begin a conversation about the environmental effects that our overpopulation is having on endangered species.

Looks like the CBD has come up with their own anti-stimulus, cap and no trade program.

UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article

The United Nations' expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world's mountain tops on a student's dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine. The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming. The IPCC's remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change. In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information. However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them. The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps. The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007. It comes after officials for the panel were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC's report about the melting of Himalayan more

Climate chief was told of false glacier claims before Copenhagen

The chairman of the leading climate change watchdog was informed that claims about melting Himalayan glaciers were false before the Copenhagen summit, The Times has learnt. Rajendra Pachauri was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it. He failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists. The IPCC’s report underpinned the proposals at Copenhagen for drastic cuts in global emissions. Dr Pachauri, who played a leading role at the summit, corrected the error last week after coming under media pressure. He told The Times on January 22 that he had only known about the error for a few more

Slowdown in Warming Linked to Water Vapor

Climatologists have puzzled over why global average temperatures have stayed roughly flat in the past decade, despite a long-term warming trend. New research suggests that lower levels of water vapor in the stratosphere may partly explain the anomaly. The study, appearing in the journal Science, points out that the concentration of water vapor in the stratosphere has dropped about 10% in the past decade, triggered by unexplained cooler temperatures at certain high altitudes above the tropics. The study concludes that in the last decade the decline in water vapor slowed the rate of rising temperatures by about 25%, thus partly negating the heat-trapping effect of increasing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. The recent fluctuation—the flattening of temperatures since the year 2000—isn't merely of academic interest. Those skeptical of man-made global warming say the temperature anomaly supports their case. Others say it is merely a blip, and that warming remains the long-term more

Overpaying for Green Power

“How can California encourage investors to generate renewable electricity? How about a guarantee that if they generate the power, they'll be paid at a good price?” suggests Ray Pingle of the Sierra Club. Fair enough. But the price proposed by the Sierra Club and some members of Congress is three to five times more than the current average price of electricity. Green power advocates in the United States have started pushing for a European-style subsidy scheme in which homeowners or businesses that install solar panels or windmills can sell their excess power back to the grid at inflated prices. Utilities are required by the state to pay above-market rates for this environmentally-friendly power. These so-called feed-in tariffs were first devised in Germany in the early 1990s and have been adopted by nearly 20 other countries since then as a way to boost the installation of renewable energy more

In California, quest for cleaner power hits tortoise-sized speed bumps

On a strip of California's Mojave Desert, two dozen rare tortoises could stand in the way of a sprawling solar-energy complex in a case that highlights mounting tensions in the United States between wilderness conservation and the quest for cleaner power. Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource Energy has been pushing for more than two years for permission to erect 400,000 mirrors on the site to gather the sun's energy. It could become the first project of its kind on US Bureau of Land Management property, leaving a footprint for others to follow on vast stretches of public land across the West. The construction would come with a cost: Government scientists have concluded that more than 6 square miles of habitat for the federally threatened desert tortoise would be permanently lost. The Sierra Club and other environmentalists want the complex relocated to preserve what they call a near-pristine home for rare plants and wildlife, including the protected tortoise, the Western burrowing owl, and bighorn more

Environmental group challenges logging plans

An environmental watchdog group is suing in seven California counties in an attempt to block an alleged plan to clear-cut 5,000 acres of forest in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. The Center for Biological Diversity accused the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection of illegally approving 15 timber harvest plans that improperly analyzed the effect of logging on the climate. The logging plans, all proposed by Sierra Pacific Industries, violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the Forest Practice Act by failing to take into account the large amounts of carbon dioxide that would be released into the atmosphere when the trees are cut, according to the more

Tough choices follow in wake of invasive species

Which is worse? Closing two locks on a waterway that's used to ship millions of dollars' worth of goods from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi basin? Or allowing a voracious Asian carp to deplete the food supply of native fish sustaining a Midwestern fishing industry that nets $7 billion a year? And how do you put a price tag on the damage caused by the Burmese python and other constrictor snakes that are strangling the precious ecology of the Everglades? Invasive species, long the cause of environmental hand-wringing, have been raising more unwelcome questions recently, as the expense of eliminating them is weighed against the mounting liability of leaving them be. Those questions became more urgent Tuesday when a team of scientists led by the University of Notre Dame disclosed that silver carp dominating stretches of the Mississippi River and its tributaries had infiltrated Lake Michigan. The federal government had spent $22 million on electric barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to keep carp out, but it clearly wasn't enough. An additional $33 million is going into the effort next year. A coalition of six Great Lakes states and the Canadian province of Ontario sought a preliminary injunction from the Supreme Court to shut down two major locks immediately on the grounds that an Asian carp invasion would cause "irreparable harm." The court declined to grant the injunction this month, but it will accept briefs next month on the broader question of whether to close them at more

U.S. Government Plans to Reduce Its Energy Use

The federal government will take steps to cut its energy use and reduce its heat-trapping emissions by 28 percent by 2020, compared with 2008 levels, the White House announced on Friday. The government is the largest user of electricity and fuel in the country, accounting for roughly 1.5 percent of the nation’s annual energy consumption and emissions of the gases that contribute to global warming. The White House said the emissions reduction goal, if met, would save $8 billion to $11 billion in energy costs over the next decade. The actions would provide only a fraction of the emissions reductions that President Obama has pledged the United States will achieve across all sectors of the economy by 2020: 17 percent below 2005 levels. But he said the federal government must lead by example. “As the largest energy consumer in the United States, we have a responsibility to American citizens to reduce our energy use and become more efficient,” Mr. Obama said in a more

Disquiet on the Western Front: Showdown in the Malheur Marshes

Six hundred miles north of Tonopah, Nevada, in the high desert of central Oregon, lies Harney County, another site of intense confrontation between federal officials and the militant property rights movement. Here federal Fish and Wildlife Service agents sought to fence off a wetland that had been trampled by a rancher’s cows on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge about thirty miles south of the dust-caked town of Burns. In an affidavit, Earl M. Kisler, a Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officer, said that rancher Dwight Hammond had repeatedly threatened refuge officials with violence over an eight year period. On one occasion Hammond told the manager of the federal refuge that “he was going to tear his head off and shit down his neck.” According to the affidavit, Hammond threated to kill refuge manager Forrest Cameron and assistant manager Dan Walsworth and claimed he was ready to die over a fence line that the refuge wanted to construct to keep his cows out of a marsh and wetland. The tensions between the Hammond family and the government started when the refuge, which was established as a haven for migrating birds, refused to renew a grazing permit for Hammond’s cattle operation. Then came the incident over the wetland, which Hammond had been using as a water hole for his more

New Mexico Bill First Step Toward Carbon Storage

Rancher Jack Chatfield sees untapped value in the spaces that lie beneath New Mexico's dusty landscape. But he said the state needs to first decide who owns them. Scientists are looking at underground fissures and caverns as places where carbon dioxide emissions captured from fossil fuel power plants can be stored. Carbon emissions are among the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The underground space also could store compressed air as part of a process to generate clean electricity. "This is a huge issue for our society today. It's technology that is on the cutting edge and if New Mexico blinks, we'll be left in the dust. Let's don't do that. Let's be ready," said Chatfield, who is leading an effort to settle the ownership of the underground spaces in the New Mexico Legislature. The ownership of the spaces has become a hot topic across the West. Wyoming was the first state to tackle pore space ownership. Montana and North Dakota followed, and dozens of states — from Texas to Michigan — are considering legislation that would lay the groundwork for carbon capture and more

PETA Calls for Robotic 'Phil' at Groundhog Day Festival

An animal rights group wants organizers of Pennsylvania's Groundhog Day festival to replace Punxsutawney Phil with a robotic stand-in. According to the longtime tradition, if Phil the groundhog sees his shadow on the Feb. 2 unofficial holiday, then there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not appear to see his shadow, there will be an early spring. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it's unfair to keep the animal in captivity and subject him to the huge crowds and bright lights that accompany tens of thousands of revelers each year in Punxsutawney, a tiny borough about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. PETA is suggesting the use of an animatronic more

Brand inspector Lynn Gibson works to solve Indian Valley rustling case

Where a city person sees a herd of generic cattle, Lynn Gibson sees breeds, brands, earmarks and tags identifying each cow and its owner. Ownership has become an issue in the 2,800 square miles he roams as an Idaho brand inspector. Cattle rustling, a crime usually associated with the Old West, is alive and well there. A mirror of hard times, rustling is thought to be responsible for the disappearance of more than 2,000 cows in Oregon, Nevada and Idaho since 2007. Other neighboring states have reported smaller losses. In Idaho, the hot spot is the Indian Valley area, part of Gibson's two-county territory. Rustlers are suspected of stealing more than 300 cows worth more than $250,000 there in two more

It's All Trew: It was burdensome training the beasts

Here is an interesting thought. For every mule, horse, oxen, steer or jackass used as a work animal down through history - and there were probably millions - someone had to train or break the animal to work. Those animals raised on a farmstead were somewhat gentle, but those raised on the range or captured from the wild were more like wild animals. Few journals or historical interviews record this particular phase of the Old West. Here and there, tidbits explain how the beasts of burden were trained. The early Spanish trained rookie jackasses and mules by catching and installing heavy halters and lead ropes, then tying them to big logs. They could drag the logs, but not far. They quickly became used to being tied, and to humans bringing them hay, grain and water. A second process saw a personal rawhide pack saddle called an aparejo soaked, cut and fitted to the mule's size and back contours, then stuffed between the layers of leather with prairie grasses for padding. The mule wore the wet pack saddle until it dried, then he was loaded, placed between two mule veterans, his lead rope tied to the mule's tail in front with the following mule's lead rope tied to his more

Song Of The Day #230

We'll get your heart started this Monday morning with Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan and The Texas Playboys performing Ida Red.

This version is from there 3 CD Box Set Encore.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Planking your entry fees

Julie Carter

Yesterday, Jess electronically transferred funds from a bank in Texas to a bank in New Mexico for a roping to be held in Oklahoma the end of May.

This was done via a cell phone and even though it is smaller than a deck of cards, in the cowboy world it's the smartest widget in the world. It bounced the message off a satellite somewhere close to Pluto.

Jess accomplished this miracle from his office desk with his feet propped on same.
Adding to the technology advancements of the sport, notification of this roping had been received from the producer over the Internet.

The event will be held in a covered, climate-controlled arena complete with a snack bar, real bar, lights, an adequate-sized pen to rope in, padded bleacher seats with good views for the ropers' wives, a gift shop with all sorts of desirable goodies (also for wives), a second arena and practice steers for those so inclined.

This arena will come with first class announcers and a good sound system, flag men who do not go to sleep, correct sized steers, a light bar barrier system and various other cushy amenities.

While warming up Flint to practice yesterday afternoon, Jess got to thinking about how far the system and sport has come. When he first started competing in college, he had to live with his heeler in order to keep track of him.

For this upcoming roping, he merely entered as a header and his heeler would be selected and announced later. While "good" heelers seem to be scarce, there are good ones around and for the most part, they can be trusted out of the header's sight.

Jess distinctly remembered that the communication for a roping back when was based on calling around to everybody you knew until somebody knew the where and when information.

There was no such thing as entering six months in advance. You entered when you got there because you always needed to allow time for flats, horses that could not be caught, girlfriends who were late, the possibility that you might have to study a little bit to get out of school and various other emergencies.

Entering when you got "there" usually involved some place in somebody's pasture that had been semi-cleared, a hog wire and cedar post pen built, steers of assorted sizes on both sides of ideal.

Most of these makeshift arenas had an announcer's box built up on poles with a set of steep steps for access. With no thought of a sound system, the announcer simply yelled for ropers to get in the roping box.

To enter, the ropers would troop up the stairs, standing one on every step with a line snaking around on the ground while they waited to pay their entry fees. This was accomplished by laying their entry fees down on the 1-inch x 12-inch board that served as a counter in front of the roping secretary. This process was known far and wide as "planking your E.F.s".

That was a phrase every roper understood and often during the week among the ropers could be heard, "You got you E.F.s saved up?" or "You ready to plank your E.F.s this Saturday?"

Ropers started saving up their E.F.s every Monday. The process hinged on whether the horse needed shoes, the truck broke down and how much anti-dehydration beverage was required during the week.

Sometimes Jess and his partner met these challenges and sometimes they simply planked a hot check, counting on winning enough to buy it back. That did not always happen.

The miracle in all this is not the evolution to today's electronic equipment, communications systems, classy arenas and the "big business" that the sport has become.

The miracle is that, having been a team roper all his life, Jess actually now has any E.F.s to plank.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Video: Obama's Jobs Success

The Forfeiture Racket

Over the past three decades, it has become routine in the United States for state, local, and federal governments to seize the property of people who were never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Nearly every year, according to Justice Department statistics, the federal government sets new records for asset forfeiture. And under many state laws, the situation is even worse: State officials can seize property without a warrant and need only show “probable cause” that the booty was connected to a drug crime in order to keep it, as opposed to the criminal standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, owners of seized property all too often have a heavier burden of proof than the government officials who stole their stuff. Municipalities have come to rely on confiscated property for revenue. Police and prosecutors use forfeiture proceeds to fund not only general operations but junkets, parties, and swank office equipment. A cottage industry has sprung up to offer law enforcement agencies instruction on how to take and keep property more efficiently. And in Indiana, where Anthony Smelley is still fighting to get his money back, forfeiture proceeds are enriching attorneys who don’t even hold public office, a practice that violates the U.S. more

UN wants internet treaty; calls for ‘driver’s license’ for Web users

The world needs a treaty to prevent cyber attacks becoming an all-out war, the head of the main UN communications and technology agency warned Saturday. International Telcommunications Union secretary general Hamadoun Toure gave his warning at a World Economic Forum debate where experts said nations must now consider when a cyber attack becomes a declaration of war. He proposed an international accord, adding: "The framework would look like a peace treaty before a war." Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, said "there are at least 10 countries in the world whose internet capability is sophisticated enough to carry out cyber attacks ... and they can make it appear to come from anywhere." "We need a kind of World Health Organization for the Internet," he said. "When there is a pandemic, it organizes the quarantine of cases. We are not allowed to organize the systematic quarantine of machines that are compromised." He also called for a "driver's license" for internet users. "If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance." more

TSA’s Airport Security Is Always a Step Behind

After a Nigerian terrorist tried to bomb a Christmas flight to Detroit in the last hour of the flight, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rushed in with ridiculous “solutions,” including banning any activity—such as reading a book or getting into one’s carry-on bag within an hour of landing. This security theater approach is tantamount to banning all flights on Christmas Day or to Detroit—totally immaterial and irrelevant. A terrorist can just as easily detonate an explosive device at the beginning of the flight, or in the middle. But TSA is not interested in common sense. Rather than preventing real terrorism, it retroactively reacts to each particular terrorist scenario as it comes along. With a different, more relevant, approach, TSA could actually be far more more

The Value of Government Surveillance of Citizens

It’s amusing to watch U.S. officials protest the Chinese government’s surveillance of its own citizens. After all, isn’t it the U.S. government that secretly and illegally conspired with private telecom companies to record telephone conversations of private American citizens? And isn’t it the U.S. government that secured both civil and criminal immunity for the telecoms’ decision to sell out the privacy of their customers to the feds? One of the aspects of the federal government’s telecom surveillance scheme that is rarely mentioned by the mainstream press goes to the heart of why government surveillance of its citizens is so valuable — to provide a means to keep the citizenry subdued and subservient through an subtle form of more

Incompetence, Power Struggles Hinder Govt From Preventing Terrorist Attacks in U.S.

Former senators Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.) said at a news conference on Tuesday that the Obama administration is ill-prepared to protect the United States from a biological terrorist attack and that incompetence and the reluctance to share information and power led to the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack by an Al Qaeda operative on a Northwest airliner. The pair answered questions after presenting a report card on the government’s ability to prevent America’s enemies from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The report card awarded the Obama administration and Congress three “Fs” -- failing grades for the inability to prevent and respond to a biological terror attack, lack of congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence, and no programs in place to train the next generation of national security more

The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved

The investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks ended as far as the public knew on July 29, 2008, with the death of Bruce Ivins, a senior biodefense researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md. The cause of death was an overdose of the painkiller Tylenol. No autopsy was performed, and there was no suicide note. Less than a week after his apparent suicide, the FBI declared Ivins to have been the sole perpetrator of the 2001 Anthrax attacks, and the person who mailed deadly anthrax spores to NBC, the New York Post, and Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. These attacks killed five people, closed down a Senate office building, caused a national panic, and nearly paralyzed the postal system. The FBI's six-year investigation was the largest inquest in its history, involving 9,000 interviews, 6,000 subpoenas, and the examination of tens of thousands of photocopiers, typewriters, computers and mailboxes. Yet it failed to find a shred of evidence that identified the anthrax killer—or even a witness to the more

Investigator in Calif. official’s slaying killed

The lead investigator in the slaying in Mexico of a Southern California school board member has been killed in an ambush, authorities said Saturday. Mexican officials wouldn't say whether investigator Manuel Acosta's killing was related to the killing of Agustin Roberto "Bobby" Salcedo last month. Acosta, 42, was ambushed near his office Jan. 15 by gunmen in a pickup truck. He was shot several times in the chest and torso, but survived in critical condition. He succumbed to his wounds more

Pentagon Report Calls for Office of ‘Strategic Deception’

The Defense Department needs to get better at lying and fooling people about its intentions. That’s the conclusion from an influential Pentagon panel, the Defense Science Board (DSB), which recommends that the military and intelligence communities join in a new agency devoted to “strategic surprise/deception.” Tricking battlefield opponents has been a part of war since guys started beating each other with bones and sticks. But these days, such moves are harder to pull off, the DSB notes in a January report (.pdf) first unearthed by The U.S. can’t wait until it’s at war with a particular country or group before engaging in this strategic trickery, however. “Deception cannot succeed in wartime without developing theory and doctrine in peacetime,” according to the DSB. “In order to mitigate or impart surprise, the United States should [begin] deception planning and action prior to the need for military operations.” more