Friday, July 09, 2010

Climategate: reinstating Phil Jones is good news

“Move along now, please… Nothing to see here…” was the predictable burden of Sir Muir Russell’s investigation into Climategate. Are we surprised? Any other conclusion would have made world headlines as a first for the climate change establishment. This is the third Climategate whitewash job and it would be tempting to see it as just as futile as its predecessors. That, however, would be to underrate its value to the sceptic cause, which is considerable. This is because Russell’s “Not Guilty” verdict has been seized upon as an excuse to reinstate Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia CRU, this time as Director of Research. That is very good news. It spells out to the world that the climate clique looks after its own; that there is no more a culture of accountability and job forfeiture for controversial conduct in AGW circles than there is in parliamentary ones; that it is business as usual for Phil and his merry men. Or, to put it more bluntly, the brand remains toxic. Apart from Michael “Hockeystick” Mann, there is no name more calculated to provoke cynical smiles in every inhabited quarter of the globe than that of Phil Jones...more

Climategate probe proves nothing

An independent investigation into the leak of hundreds of e-mails from one of the world's leading climate research centers largely excuses the scientists involved, claiming their research was reliable. The e-mails, which originated from Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., created a sensation when they were first published online in November. The communiqués revealed well-known climate researchers speaking in baseless terms about their critics, discussing clever ways to sidestep colleagues skeptical of manmade climate change, devising plans to freeze opponents out of peer-reviewed journals and systematically manipulating the earth's temperature record. In summation, the panel of inquiry, led by Muir Russell – a high profile educational bureaucrat from the United Kingdom – requires 158 pages to accomplish two items. First, the report excuses the intemperate language found throughout the e-mails (such as one "cheering the death" of global-warming skeptic John Daly; or another threatening to "kick the crap" out of another denier) as being "characteristic of the [Internet] medium." Second, the panel gently finds fault with the scientists in question for being "unhelpful" in dealing with Freedom of Information Act requests for data and for failing to share their data with other researchers holding different points of view...more

These guys agree with Tommy.

Montana sets wolf-hunt quota, awaits fed ruling

Montana wildlife regulators have set this year's wolf-hunt quota at 186, more than doubling last year's quota, with the aim of reducing the state's wolf population for the first time since they were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in 1995. The quota was set Thursday, even as the state awaits a federal judge's ruling that may determine whether there will be a wolf hunting season at all. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy has yet to rule after hearing arguments last month in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups seeking to restore Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho. Opponents of the wolf hunt argued the commission should end the hunt before the courts act. Ranchers and hunters say the wolf population has grown too high, which has led to more attacks on livestock and game. AP

Nevada water authority must relinquish water rights

For the time being, the Southern Nevada Water Authority will have to relinquish the water rights that the agency had obtained in four eastern Nevada valleys for a pipeline to Las Vegas, State Engineer Jason King said Wednesday. The action stems from a June 17 opinion by the Nevada Supreme Court, he said. The court ruled the state engineer must re-notice the applications and reopen the protest period in the aftermath of a case that challenged the validity of the groundwater applications underpinning the multibillion-dollar project. "We are just now letting the water world in Nevada know how we interpreted that decision," King said late Wednesday from Carson City. He issued a two-page response to inquiries received by his office after the Supreme Court ruling. The response said that "water rights issued to the Southern Nevada Water Authority under the 1989 applications in Spring Valley, Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley and Delamar Valley will revert to application status." King said he will re-notice the applications and hold hearings on them. He will have a year after the two-month protest period to make a decision on each of the district's some 20 applications...more

Maybe King can't handle this, but Dave Houston could.

Federal panel issues ruling in NM falcon case

A panel of judges has dealt a blow to environmentalists who questioned the legality of a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that cleared the way for the reintroduction of the rare northern aplomado falcon in southern New Mexico. Environmentalists had alleged the designation of the falcon as a nonessential, experimental population in New Mexico and Arizona violated federal policy and stripped the bird of needed protections under the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Judge William Johnson dismissed their arguments in a 2008 ruling. The three-judge panel for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in an opinion issued Wednesday. Despite the legal battle, efforts to reintroduce the falcon have continued. The Peregrine Fund says releases are in full swing at three sites in New Mexico and more are planned. AP


FOREST GUARDIANS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
THE PEREGRINE FUND, Defendant-Intervenor-Appellee.

No. 08-2226.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

July 7, 2010.

Read the case here.

Montana OHV Case Reopens Trails

On July 2, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana remanded the Travel Plan for the Little Belt, Castle, and North Half Crazy Mountains Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision to the Lewis and Clark National Forest and directed the Forest to reopen certain motorized routes and to restore dispersed camping on over 80,000 acres. Previously, the Court ruled on March 10, that the 2007 Travel Management Plan issued by the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Montana Wilderness Study Act (MWSA). The Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) had joined a coalition of recreation groups in filing a lawsuit challenging the Plan...more

Bear attacks trio of cyclists

Three mountain bikers who were knocked down by a brown bear on the Resurrection Pass Trail were able to escape with minor scrapes on Tuesday. KTUU-TV reports the cyclists came across the bear sow with cubs at Mile 7 on the popular Kenai Peninsula trail. One of the bikers used bear spray on the bear. She left, and they rode back to the trail head, where they met a Forest Service crew...more

Cattle can be a conservation tool

Cattle are roaming Bead Mountain and the Murphy ranch in the Wildcat Hills, just as they have for generations. The cattle are steadily gaining weight, and the local ranchers who own them are pleased. There's one subtle difference in this Wildcat Hills ranching practice from years past. While maximizing the health of the cattle and the land remains a goal, the cattle are now part of a plan to enhance wildlife habitat. This ecologically optimized landscape is an asset for multiple users, such as hunters, hikers and birdwatchers. The Bead Mountain and Murphy tracts are owned by Platte River Basin Environments Inc. and The Nature Conservancy, respectively, and are open to the public. PRBE has developed a management plan that includes three objectives: to improve ecological conditions, optimize biodiversity and "continue the livestock grazing heritage of this region." "That's one thing we feel really strongly about is to keep that heritage," said Bob Smith, PRBE manager. Including cattle grazing in the management plan for the PRBE properties is not a nod to nostalgia. It is critical for the ecology and biodiversity of the area...more

Navajo DOJ: Ranch program under investigation

An investigation into allegations of illegal and unethical behavior by Navajo Nation government employees has been expanded to include the tribal ranch program, a Navajo justice official said. The Navajo Nation leases more than two dozen tribal ranches on about 1.5 million acres that are divided into range units, most of which lie in New Mexico. Henry Howe, assistant attorney general for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, said the department petitioned a special panel of judges to add the tribal ranch program to the investigation after allegations of improprieties in awarding ranch leases surfaced. “We received sufficient credible evidence that convinced the attorney general that further investigation was warranted,” he said. A special investigator is looking into the tribe’s contractual relationship with a Utah-based satellite Internet company, a tribal loan guarantee to a Shiprock, N.M., manufacturing company and discretionary funding doled out by Tribal Council delegates. Tribal Agriculture Director Leo Watchman Jr., whose department oversees the ranch program, said improprieties were made known in a 2009 audit of the tribal ranch program. He said the department is working to address the audit findings and would fully cooperate with the special prosecutor...more

‘Exceptional’ Drought in Hawaii Worsens

Hawaii's ‘exceptional’ drought conditions have gone from bad to worst, sparking fears that ranchers and farmers on the Big Island could lose their livelihoods. "From livestock to coffee, macadamia nuts, avocados, ornamentals - it's covering all bases in terms of the agriculture side,” said National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama. “Certainly it's not getting better, it's growing in coverage,” Kodama said about the lack of rain. “We have the worst drought conditions in the country right now,” said Kodama. Hawaii gets a majority of its precipitation during the rainy season, from the beginning of October through the end of April. However rainfall the past two seasons has been well below normal, in part because of the El Nino weather pattern. “With El Nino the statewide drought kicked in and so we never really got the winter rains that we needed,” explains Kodama. “As we've gone into summer it's just persisted and gotten worst.”...more

Farmers' groups urge Congress to expedite Korea FTA's ratification

A group of 42 agricultural and food organizations sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday to call on them to cooperate with President Obama for the rapid ratification of the pending free trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. In the letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several other congressional leaders, the group welcomed Obama's announcement late last month of "his intention to set a November deadline for removing outstanding obstacles to the implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement." Among the groups are the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, U.S. Apple Association, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and Produce Marketing Association. "This is very welcome news for America's farmers, ranchers, food industry workers and exporters," the letter said. "Our organizations are grateful to the president for his new initiative, and we hope that you will work closely with him to ensure timely action on the implementing legislation."...more

Song Of The Day #354

Ranch Radio will close out this Light Crust Doughboys week with their song She's Too Young (To Play With The Boys).

The tunes by them featured this week are available on their 20 track CD Western Swing Memories 1936-1941 on Bronco Buster records.

Kyle & McCain - Gov't is failing border residents

Many communities in the country deal with effects of illegal immigration, but none like those near the border in Arizona. There, American citizens no longer feel safe in their homes and worry about the security of their property – indeed, the failure to secure the border is altering their way of life. One of the government’s most basic duties is to ensure the security of its citizens. For many Arizonans, the government is failing miserably in that regard. They are angry, and rightfully so. We recently saw that anger and frustration firsthand when we visited Douglas and ranch country, in the southeast corner of the state. We toured with the Border Patrol, met with local ranchers and their families, and heard many concerns from local residents during a town hall meeting. The residents – including some families who have called the area home for four or five generations – told us to go back to Washington and tell our colleagues about what they have to live with every day and what they need from their government. Ranchers and residents told us that they are suffering and are tired of living with the effects of illegal immigration. The ranches on which many of them live used to be safe, but today they must carry weapons when they leave home. Some travel in pairs. The tragic murder of Robert Krentz proves that the danger is real, and that Arizonans lives are at risk. Southeast Arizona residents are also tired of seeing the drug and human smugglers destroy the environment. Paths through the desert – now off-limits to Americans since human and drug smugglers have taken control of them – are littered with garbage. The effects of the unsecured border on the environment and local residents are quite simply devastating...more

Border violence spills onto Mexican ranches, farms

Mexican rancher Isidro Gutierrez watched with disgust as federal inspectors here chalked a long stripe on his steer's hindquarter. The animal could not be imported because its breed can be vulnerable to disease. If inspections were still being done across the Rio Grande in Mexico, routine rejections like that would be just an inconvenience. But drug violence in the border region has chased American cattle inspectors back to the U.S. side, so Gutierrez has to pay brokers in both countries and hire a truck to take back rejected animals. "It's cheaper to kill him here," Gutierrez said. The drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border is now spilling into the region's agriculture, threatening the safety of ranchers and farmers, slowing down what was expected to be the best harvest in years, and raising the risk that some crops will rot in the fields. Ranchers like Gutierrez have trouble getting their animals to market. Farmers who once toiled long hours in the fields now fear being attacked in the dark. Some are even being forced to pay protection money to keep from being kidnapped or having their harvest stolen...more

Thursday, July 08, 2010

July 8, 1947: Roswell Incident Launches UFO Controversy

Days after something shiny crashed in the New Mexico desert, the Roswell Army Air Field issues a press release that says the military has recovered the remains of a “flying disc.” Although quickly discounted as erroneous, the announcement lays the groundwork for one of the most enduring UFO stories of all time. The military’s initial press release was straightforward in its handling of the discovery of wreckage by rancher W.W. “Mac” Brazel. “The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County,” the press release read. “The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.” The Roswell Daily Record headlined the story “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region,” providing a historical artifact that, in retrospect, seems ready-made for fueling an episode of The X-Files. But press accounts the following day told a much more mundane story: The military had determined the recovered debris to be the wreckage of a weather balloon and related equipment. No flying saucer — a term that had just been coined by newspapers to describe the first widely publicized UFO sighting — had been found...

Bill would limit Presidents monument efforts

Rep. Devin Nunes of Fresno has introduced a bill to limit the president's power to establish national monuments that he says would endanger the livelihoods of thousands of loggers, miners and farmers. Nunes would let lawmakers weigh in on a president's designation of public land as new national monuments. The Republican congressman thinks this will restrain what he calls the president's "unfettered discretion." Nunes is reacting to information suggesting that the Obama administration plans to nominate new monuments or add to current monuments. He was further motivated by recollections of President Bill Clinton's creation in 2000 of the 353,000-acre Giant Sequoia National Monument in the southern Sierra Nevada. Kent Duysen, general manager and president of Sierra Forest Products, said he had no choice but to shut down one of his mills and let go nearly 250 employees after Clinton's decision. Under Nunes' bill, any new monument nominations must receive congressional approval within two years, or the lands will revert back to their original status, allowing miners and loggers to use the properties again...more

British Panel Criticizes 'Climate-gate' Scientists but Clears Them of Bias

A British report released Wednesday on the "Climate-gate" scandal criticizes a key group of scientists for lack of transparency and other problems with how they presented their data, but it concludes that their underlying scientific work is sound -- and one of the top scientists is getting his job back. Climate change experts at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit found themselves under intense scrutiny in November when over 1,000 internal e-mails were obtained and uploaded to the Web by hackers. Some climate change skeptics accused the scientists of manipulating data to suppress evidence. But the new report on the scandal found that the experts' overall "rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt." The report was requested and paid for by the university, and the panel that conducted the investigation was led by Muir Russell, a retired civil servant and educator...more

Critical of Climategate report

Leading academics were called for written and oral evidence before the Russell enquiry, and in many cases the report accepts their account of events. The subjects of their criticism were not invited, not were climate scientists critical of their behaviour. For example, in their capacity as IPCC gatekeepers, the academics are cleared of excluding critical evidence, and yet bending the rules to include supporting studies. To reach this particular conclusion, for example, the report finds a criterion: a "consistence of view" with earlier work. The earlier work here was in fact produced the academics under scrutiny. So, having compared the CRU academics' work against their previous work, and found it to be consistent, they are cleared of malpractice. Despite the gentlemanly and clubbable tone, the report nevertheless has deep systemic criticism of the institution and the team's processes. UEA "fell badly short of its scientific and public obligations", according to one review panel member, Lancet editor Richard Horton...more

Environmental Law's Greatest Tragedy

Like many others, I think the nation’s system of environmental laws and regulations, both at the state and federal level, is broken and its problems need to be addressed. One of the biggest problems can be summed up in two words: “agency deference.” “Agency deference” is the judicial doctrine that precludes judges from revisiting administrative agency decisions (s/a those made by the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service) except in the most extreme circumstances. It’s also the doctrine that has made it nearly impossible for there to be any independent and dispassionate review of decisions made by federal agencies that have become more like industry enablers than hard-nosed neutral regulators. The seminal case outlining the doctrine of agency deference is the 1984 decision in Chevron v. NRDC. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly outlined the “agency deference” doctrine. The agency deference doctrine essentially stakes out the territory of administrative agencies and courts in preventing and remediating pollution. The Supreme Court essentially determined that a court’s role in engaging the environmental law framework is very limited; the primary responsibility for environmental protection rests with administrative agencies. When a court reviews an agency determination about an environmental matter or an interpretation of an environmental statute or regulation, it must assume an exceptionally deferential posture, only re-visiting the agency decision if it’s “arbitrary”, “capricious” or “manifestly contrary to the statute” – vague concepts that readily give judges the opportunity to evade deciding a difficult issue because they’re perceived as too technical or complicated...more

Give most federal lands to Montana DNRC

If elected in November, state senate candidate Patty Lovaas said she will seek to transfer management of most federal lands in Montana to the state. In fact, if she hadn't gotten so deeply involved with property tax issues, Montanans might have decided the issue themselves. Patty introduced an amendment to the Montana Constitution last July invoking state sovereignty rights so that most public lands would be managed by local communities and state agencies. "This absolutely has to happen, for the health of our state, for the health of our people, and for the health of our economy," she said. "It would be better to transfer these public lands to local control. There is a code in the Federal Regulations that allows for local control of the public lands. It is absolutely a viable option." The constitutional amendment would not apply to national parks and wilderness areas. She was forced to postpone the public lands effort when she started fighting property tax reassessments, but promises that public lands will be atop her legislative agenda. "That's what needs to happen, because the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM never get anything accomplished, due to political bureaucracy," she said. Patty made the remarks in response to a query from the Chronicle, asking community leaders how to increase local decision-making in the federally-managed forest lands. Patty said she has been deeply involved with the issue for the past 10 years in Beaverhead County, which is about 60 percent public land...more

U.S. Forest Service worker retires at 91

Mary Merrill has three passions in life: the United States Forest Service, Weber State University basketball and the Utah Jazz. After Tuesday, the 91-year-old Roy resident will have a lot more time to watch basketball because she retired from the Forest Service office in Ogden after working there 31 years. "It's sad," Merrill said during her retirement party Tuesday at the Federal Building. "I'll miss everyone here. I love my job." Merrill worked as an office clerk for the Forest Service, doing manual jobs that required penmanship, archiving maps and photos, and other clerical tasks. Merrill said one of her favorite parts of her job over the years was writing on the backs of photos and archiving them for the Forest Service. Supervisor Sean Harwood said it was sometimes difficult working with Merrill, only because they would run out of things for her to do. "I'd give her a project that would take a week, and she'd have it done in two days," he said. "Our toughest job is keeping her working."...more

Bear shot after attack at NM scout camp

A 150-pound bear has been killed at Philmont Scout Ranch after it bit a 14-year-old camper. A spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Marty Frentzel, says a Philmont employee shot the bear early Wednesday after it jumped on a tent and injured the camper. Game officials say the scout's injuries include a bite to the hand and a deep scratch on his head. He was taken to Santa Fe for treatment. The bear will be tested for rabies. Game officials say the 2- to 3-year-old male bear was killed within two miles of a previous attack on a camper at Philmont last month. Late last month, authorities shot one bear and sought a second after incidents that injured a camper and a goat at Philmont. AP

New Mexico seeks feds’ help on off-road vehicles

The New Mexico Environment Department is requesting help and funding from federal officials to address the unauthorized use of off-road vehicles threatening rivers and streams in national forests in the state. NMED Secretary Ron Curry sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting assistance and expressing concern about the impact on the environment and water quality that results from the use of unauthorized trails and roads by off-road and all-terrain vehicles in national forests. He also requests $150,000 to finance an assessment of water quality impacts caused by ATVs and ORVs in the Jemez Mountains in the Santa Fe National Forest. “These informal motorized routes follow or criss-cross streams, damaging stream bank integrity and riparian vegetation, accelerating erosion and creating deep gullies and headcuts that are particularly devastating in New Mexico’s fragile arid landscape,” Curry wrote in the letter. He said he toured an area of the Jemez Mountains affected by the vehicles in 2009 and expressed concern to the Santa Fe National Forest supervisor. “One year later, ORVs and ATVs are still uncontrolled on our national forest public lands, destroying fragile soils and riparian ecosystems that have been entrusted to the Forest Service,” Curry wrote...more

Feral burros compete for dollars, habitat

What is it about burros that causes otherwise intelligent people to lose their objectivity and capacity for rational thought? And, where in the world are the environmental groups? Where is the Sierra Club? Where is the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, besides stopping badly needed thinning projects? Why have they not been calling for, yelling for, ecological balance? In mid-June, Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles told the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board that federal proposals to change how wild horses and burros are managed must have a goal of ensuring a thriving ecological balance between horses and burros and wildlife, and include the involvement of state wildlife agencies. Seems like a no-brainer, but the burro program is totally out of whack. The BLM spends millions of dollars on burros in corrals waiting adoption and in rounding up more burros to put in those corrals. By some counts they spend more on burro management than they do on native wildlife. Would you believe that the BLM 2011 budget lists horse and burro management as one of their top six priorities -- costing $76 million -- an increase of $12 million over their 2010 budget. This does not include $42 million to purchase land for a wild horse preserve...more

Slaughtering horses illegal in US, people abandon instead

Over the last several years, hundreds of starving horses have been seized by authorities across the country. This is a result of the rising costs of hay and fuel, a depressed economy and the dubious political actions of animal rights activists that have led to the closing of the now much-needed equine slaughterhouses in the United States. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the number of horses whose owners will not or cannot care for them is rising at an explosive rate. Americans own more than 9 million horses today, up from just 6 million in the mid-1990s. With the state of the economy, many of these horse owners are unable to afford the costs of equine care. The price of hay alone has more than doubled this past year because of rising fuel prices. In the past, this set of circumstances might not have led to quite the crisis horse owners face today. Until recently, a market for unwanted horses existed in equine slaughterhouses which, according to a Department of Agriculture report, processed upwards of 70,000 horses annually for human consumption in Europe and Japan. Unsavory as it might seem to the sentimental, such slaughterhouses played a vital role in this country until they were shut down in 2007 because of pressure from animal rights activists. Today, while some unwanted horses end up in Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses, thousands more are left to suffer and starve...more

Song Of The Day #353

Continuing with the Light Crust Doughboys, here they are performing Bear Creek Hop.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

As hysteria subsides, a calm second look

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, you're obviously not going to be at home in Washington. We were all supposed to be dead by now. Avian flu was supposed to get most of us, or maybe it was AIDS, SARS, Hong Kong flu, killer tomatoes, poisoned peanut butter, global warming or strangulation by kudzu, all once-familiar doomsday threats to the planet. Sometimes, it's hard to keep up with the reasons we're all dead. Earlier this year, it was swine flu, and a polite cough or an innocent sneeze was enough to call the undertaker to reserve a suitable coffin against the day when none would be available, so great would be the demand. The feds announced last week, in a footnote to the latest hysteria, that vaccine stockpiled for treating swine flu, once worth $250 million, would be disposed of since this year's killer flu was a big bust. The only people who get anything out of these exercises are the government bureaucrats, who never let a crisis go to waste, which is why they have become so skilled at manufacturing crises. You could follow the money, and see whose agencies grow in the wake of hysteria. British Petroleum, or whatever the BP executives are calling themselves this week, is spending billions to clean up the mess they made, but the betting here is that this is a paltry sum compared with what President Obama and his spendthrifts will eventually spend in creating new government programs to "prevent" future disasters...more

Monument plan will hurt landscape, local economy

Concerning the proposed Siskiyou Crest National Monument, Danielle Linder writes:

Our opposition is based on the history of other monument designations and on professional expertise in natural resources. The proponents of the monument state on their website that the monument needs to be designated in order to protect the environment from the perceived threats from public land sales, road building, private logging, cattle grazing and off-road vehicle use. They have, in a sense, stated that any human influence on the landscape is detrimental to the environment and thus they need to restrict activities that are historical to Siskiyou County and the foundation of our rural economy. The proponents claim jobs will be created by thinning forests and decommissioning roads. However, look at what has happened since the designation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument just over the Siskiyou County border in Oregon. This national monument encompasses approximately 53,000 acres. The management plan proposes thinning 5,000 acres (none done to date), eliminates grazing, does not allow Christmas tree or firewood cutting and will close or decommission 74 miles of road. This would equal 800 miles of road if the same percentage of roads were closed in the proposed national monument. When one looks to other national monuments in the state, we can see that thinning projects, as were proposed in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, were vehemently opposed by the Sierra Club and these projects are still held up in court to this day. Don't be misled to think that projects would go forth without additional controversy if these lands were given monument status. Since most federal lands within Siskiyou County over the past 20 years have had large areas limited to management, the economy has significantly declined. Unemployment and welfare rates are at all-time highs, currently exceeding 19 percent. Mills have closed. Working families have left the area and schools are suffering steep declines in enrollment and quality of education. The economy of this county certainly is not robust or diversified, and creating the monument will only continue the financial decline...more

DeGette may adjust wilderness proposal in Carbondale area

Two areas in Pitkin County are ripe for a wilderness designation, according to U.S. Rep Diana DeGette, but the congresswoman said Tuesday she is considering adjusting the boundary of one to remove a mountain biking trail. The Assignation Ridge/ Thompson Creek area that is part of her bill encompasses some 25,000 acres, including the Braderich Creek Trail. DeGette said she is considering removing the trail from her proposal so that mountain bikers can continue to use it. DeGette's bill proposes designation of 34 areas comprising 850,000 acres in Colorado as wilderness. That is down from 63 areas covering 1.6 million acres when she began the effort 11 years ago, she said...more

Here is the interesting part for everybody:

Now, the Natural Resources Committee, on which she sits, is contemplating putting forward an omnibus public lands bill this fall. The “stars are aligned” to push through some of the wilderness in her bill, DeGette said. “What we're trying to do is figure out areas that are appropriate for wilderness designation right now so they can be included with this bill in the fall,” she said.

If Rep. DeGette's information is correct, we are heading for another omnibus bill this fall. Rather than having an up or down vote on each bill based on its merit, they lump them all together and ram them through with one vote.

Montana wildlife officials recommend wolf hunting quota of 186

State wildlife officials will recommend increasing the quota of wolves allowed to be killed by hunters this year to 186, compared to 75 in last year’s inaugural hunt. The increased hunting quota could decrease the state’s wolf population for the first time since the gray wolf was reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in 1995. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission will meet Wednesday and Thursday to set the parameters of this year’s wolf hunt. The commission started taking public comment in May after approving quota alternatives of 153, 186 or 216 wolves — targets the agency estimated would reduce wolf numbers in Montana between 8 percent and 20 percent. The agency received about 1,500 comments over that time that were “very diverse,” said state wolf program Coordinator Carolyn Sime. After receiving those comments, the agency decided to recommend a 186-wolf quota over 13 wolf management areas, an expansion from the three management areas in last year’s hunt. Montana’s wolf management plan calls for a population of at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. There were an estimated 525 wolves and 37 breeding pairs at the end of last year...more

Argus Hamilton sez

President Obama demanded amnesty for illegals Thursday, the same day he slapped a tax on tanning salons. What fun. Only a Democrat would subsidize brown people who want to be Americans, then turn around and tax Americans who want to be browner people.

BP pointed out Thursday the oil spill has resulted in thousands of new jobs in the Gulf. They have every right to brag. It just shows a private company can create more jobs when it's screwing up than a government can when it's firing on all cylinders.

Argus Hamilton

Attack creates worries in West about sheep dogs

Two sheep dogs' attack on a Colorado mountain biker has prompted ranchers in the West to seek better ways to manage the large dogs that protect their herds against predators. The American Sheep Industry Association has been working with state groups and federal agencies to address the problem as more people make their way into once-remote areas where sheep graze. With more hiking and biking trails being cut through public lands the federal government leases to ranchers, sheep herders and outdoors enthusiasts say it's a problem that has become more urgent. "We have more and more dogs in use and more and more encroachment into traditional agricultural areas, and we're running into the need for more management of our dogs and education for the public as to why the dogs are there and what they do," said Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry Association. The dogs, typically Great Pyrenees, protect sheep against coyotes, mountain lions and bears and have become more common since the 1970s and 80s, when the government banned traps and poisons as ways to control predators. Without them, everyone agrees sheep ranchers would suffer huge losses to predators and might give up the business...more

High drama

During the last year the entertainment industry has stepped up its portrayal of agriculture in a negative light. So many of these attacks are based on unsubstantiated information and emotional pleas. No doubt you've seen some of these television episodes, like the couple who dined at a fashionable bistro and died —one from a fast-moving E. coli infection and the other from botulism. The show's detectives determined E. coli originated in a water supply on a cattle ranch and ended up in the woman's salad. Her dining companion contracted botulism from genetically engineered corn. Plenty of other anti-agriculture episodes have aired along with talk-show programs that also target farmers and ranchers, especially on their care and handling of livestock. One particularly outrageous television show featured a character who tried to convince her friends to help her save a pig from becoming bacon. Laughable? Hardly. And when another character refused to participate, she was accused of ignoring the "alleged" ugliness of animal production. What's going on here is "high drama" in the entertainment business. Unfortunately, viewers watch this programming and ratings are high. Hollywood has taken irresponsible liberties with the truth and turned farmers and ranchers into villains...more

Rural Crime Watch targeting crime with computer callouts

The South Cariboo Rural Crime Watch (RCW) has a computer phone fan-out warning system that is aimed at putting a crimp in crime. The computer keeps RCW members’ phone numbers, and when a crime occurs the “investigating” member records a message explaining the situation. The computer then calls everyone on the list and provides the information. RCW spokesperson Jon McCormick notes that one weekend they produced a fan-out warning members of a phone/credit card scam that asked for a donation to a local children’s charity. By using the fan-out system, he adds, RCW was able to reach 650 people with the information. He notes members include ranchers, farmers, resort owners, businesses and homeowners, and they all have an interest in protecting their investments...more

Song Of The Day #352

As we stated yesterday, this will be Light Crust Doughboys week on Ranch Radio.

The Light Crust Doughboys were one of the original western swing bands and early on featured the combined talents of Bob Wills and Milton Brown. W. Lee O'Daniel went on to become the Governor of Texas.

This song is about something everybody should have some knowledge of...if you are a cat owner.

Here's the boys performing Pussy Pussy Pussy.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

If the U.S. Won’t Drill Oil Offshore, Other Nations Will

Although President Obama’s executive order imposing a six-month moratorium on drilling for crude oil and natural gas in ultra-deep waters within the 200-mile territorial limit recognized by international law has at least temporarily been suspended by a federal district judge, offshore drilling will not come to a screeching halt even if that precipitous action ultimately is determined to be within his constitutional powers. As reported in the Wall Street Journal on Friday. July 2, Respol YPF SA, a Spanish company, has announced that next year it will begin drilling exploratory wells off the northern coast of Cuba, just 60 miles south of Key West. Industry experts as well as the U.S. Geological Survey seem confident that substantial deposits of crude oil and natural gas are there for the taking. America’s oil companies cannot participate in exploiting those deposits because of our long-standing and counterproductive trade embargo against Cuba. The point is that if the United States commits to bypassing offshore drilling at depths greater than 500 feet, we will be cutting off our collective noses to spite our collective face. Spain, China, Venezuela and other nations will continue to exploit potential reserves of fossil fuels, wherever they may be found. As a result, more of the world’s supply of crude oil and natural gas will fall into the hands of unfriendly nations...more

Seizing BP Assets: Compounding One Disaster with Another

The April 20 explosion and subsequent round-the-clock oil spill from a BP-operated deepwater drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico 40 miles off the Louisiana coast has generated justifiable anger across the nation. It's also generated calls for strict sanctions against BP, the most drastic of which is confiscation of all company assets. The front line of this campaign is an ad hoc organization calling itself "Seize BP," which already has organized dozens of rallies across the country. Its mission mirrors its name: persuade the Obama administration to seize assets of the British-based oil company and use the proceeds for compensating victims and family members for loss of life, health, and property. Were it only that simple. Surely, heartbreaking accounts of the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico coastal region damaged by oil toxicity and oxygen depletion make such impulses understandable. At least 100 million gallons of crude oil have spewed from the broken well and onto beachfront and other properties. Yet such a move in the long run would set a precedent whose effect would be to chase away private-sector oil drilling from that region. And given the experiences of nationalized oil industries elsewhere, it is not likely to prevent further spills. Market logic, unfortunately, rarely appeals to the impatient. Apparently, it doesn't appeal to the Obama administration. President Barack Obama, under enormous public pressure to "do something," has already embarked on a course of de facto nationalization. In a private June 16 White House meeting, Obama coaxed BP chief executive Tony Hayward into "donating" $20 billion to a new escrow account earmarked for payment of damage claims — the president called it "a good start."...more

Gulf oil spill may boost ethanol in nation's energy debate

With regulators and legislators poised to decide issues that will shape ethanol's future for years to come, the ethanol lobby is increasingly making the scene unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico — with tens of thousands of barrels of crude still flowing daily from BP's deepwater well — a backdrop for the nation's energy debate. "The choice between the dangers of our addiction to oil and the promise of American renewable fuels is as clear today as the contrast between the blackened estuaries of the Gulf Coast and the sparkling green fields of rural America," said Robert Dinneen, president of the Washington-based Renewable Fuels Assn. Now producers and corn growers are looking to expand their market by increasing the level of ethanol in gasoline to 15%. The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing a waiver request to allow billions more gallons of corn-based fuel in the nation's gas tanks. A decision is expected this summer. The ethanol industry is also lobbying Congress to extend a tax credit for blending ethanol with gasoline and maintain a tariff on imported ethanol — measures implemented years ago to help a fledgling industry grow. Both the tax credit and tariff are set to expire at the end of the year...more

Using a crisis to suckle even more at the government teat - and the D.C. deep thinkers will probably go for it.

Audit faults NOAA on fishermen’s fines

An audit of how fishery police used millions in federal fines collected from fishermen has found they misspent it on such items as cars for managers, a $300,000 luxury undercover boat, and a weeklong training workshop in Norway. The audit, released yesterday, was commissioned earlier this year after the inspector general of the US Department of Commerce found mismanagement by the law enforcement office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Inspector General Todd Zinser investigated after fishermen complained for years about arbitrary enforcement of fishery laws, saying the fines amounted to a bounty because NOAA kept the money. Gloucester fishermen Richard Burgess, who has fought $85,000 in fines, said NOAA should repay fishermen every dime. “We’ve all known that they’re criminals,’’ Burgess said of the law enforcement office. “Every one of them has got to go.’’...more

Will Congress Kill Volunteer Fire Departments?

Volunteer fire departments are about as American as apple pie. But under legislation moving quickly in Congress, this staple of American life could soon be a thing of the past. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D.-S.C.) wants to include the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act as part of the war supplemental coming before the House this week. The bill forces state and local governments to collectively bargain with police, firefighters and emergency workers. Its critics say it would compel volunteer firefighters to join unions, threatening the survival of America's nearly 26,000 volunteer fire departments. The act would affect some states more than others. In North Carolina and Virginia, for example, collective bargaining is currently prohibited. Eighteen other states have limitations on bargaining. The legislation would likely force those governments to abandon merit-based promotions for public safety workers and shift instead to a collectively bargained seniority schedule, which unions prefer. Critics of the bill call it anything but reasonable. The Heritage Foundation's James Sherk documented the consequences to volunteer firefighters last time the bill was this close to passage in 2007. Sherk noted that nationwide 72% of firefighters are volunteers, serving mostly communities with fewer than 25,000 people. Under the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, also known as PSEECA, the International Association for Fire Fighters stands to gain. The union, which represents career firefighters, strongly opposes volunteers and prohibits its members from belonging to volunteer departments, even when they're not on duty...more

Chicago approves new handgun restrictions

Grumbling about a U.S. Supreme Court they say is out of touch with America’s cities, Chicago aldermen voted 45-0 today to approve a rushed-through compromise gun ban. The law, weaker than the gun ban tossed out Monday but with some even stronger new provisions, allows adults in Chicago to buy one gun a month, 12 a year, but they must pay registration and permit fees and take five hours of training. Within 100 days, anyone who wants to keep a gun in the city will have to register, get their training and pay the fees. Also within 100 days, any of the estimated 10,000 Chicagoans convicted of a gun offense will have to register at their local police station like sex offenders. The aldermen did not hold back their contempt for the five members of the U.S. Supreme Court who threw out the city’s gun ban Monday. “No Supreme Court judge could live in my community and come to the same conclusion they did a couple days ago,” Ald. Sharon Denise Dixon (24th) said. “I find it hard to believe that the Supreme Court justices that voted to strike our handgun laws have spent any time in the communities that many of us represent,” Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said...more

Someone please explain to the aldermen that your constitutional rights are not dependent on where you are geographically located in the U.S. Would they say the same thing about the first and fourth amendments? This is scary.

The alderman should read this.

You will be happy to see how Obama is spending your money

Here are some examples that hit the news in the last week:

Feds Wasted Millions in Utilities Program for Poor
A government program that's supposed to help impoverished families heat and cool their homes wasted more than $100 million of taxpayer dollars paying the electric bills of thousands of applicants who were dead, in prison or living in million-dollar mansions. The Department of Health and Human Services spent $5 billion through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in 2009, doling out money to states with little oversight. An investigation by the Government Accountability Office found about $116 million in improper payments to seven states in 2009. The program helped pay the electric bill of a Chicago woman who lives in a $2 million home and drives a Mercedes.
The study found HHS paid $3.9 million to 11,000 applicants who used the identities of dead people...

Millions of Swine Flu Vaccine Doses Have Expired About a quarter of the swine flu vaccine produced for the U.S. public has expired -- meaning that a whopping 40 million doses worth about $260 million is being written off as trash. "It's a lot, by historical standards," said Jerry Weir, who oversees vaccine research and review for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The outdated vaccine, some of which expired Wednesday, will be incinerated. The amount, more than twice the usual leftovers, likely sets a record. And that's not even all of it. About 30 million more doses will expire later and may go unused, according to one government estimate. If all that vaccine expires, more than 43 percent of the supply for the U.S. public will have gone to waste...

FEMA Workers Ran Up $247,100 in 'Improper Purchases' on Government Credit Cards--Including $4,318 in 'Happy Birthday' Cards One employee used a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) credit card to buy $4,318 in “Happy Birthday” gift cards. Two other FEMA officials charged the cost of 360 golf umbrellas -- $9,000 -- to the taxpayers. Other FEMA officials used funds allocated for disaster relief in Oklahoma to buy 19 portable ceramic heaters for the office at a cost of $1,098. In all, $247,100 in “improper” expenses was made to FEMA credit cards, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General...

U.S. Has Paid $1.44 Million for Project That is Studying the 'Social Milieu' of Male Prostitutes in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has so far awarded $1.44 million in federal funds to a project that, among other things, is estimating the size of the population and examining the “social milieu” of male prostitutes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam...

U.S. Spent $550,496 on Study That Did 'Focus Groups and In-Depth Interviews' To Learn About the Sex Lives of Truck Drivers The federal government has spent $550,496 on a project that involved conducting “focus groups and in-depth interviews” with American long-haul truck drivers to learn about their sex lives in order to assess their risk of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. The project has failed to find any instances of HIV among the truck drivers studied...

California welfare recipients withdrew $1.8 million at casino ATMs over eight months
California welfare recipients using state-issued debit cards withdrew more than $1.8 million in taxpayer cash on casino floors between October 2009 and last month, state officials said Thursday. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order requiring welfare recipients to promise they will use cash benefits only to "meet the basic subsistence needs" of their families. The order also gave the state Department of Social Services seven days to produce a plan to reduce other types of "waste, fraud and abuse" in the welfare program. The moves came after The Times reported Wednesday that officials at the department failed to notice for years that welfare recipients could use the state-issued cards to withdraw taxpayer cash at more than half of the tribal casinos and state-licensed poker rooms in California...

Artists design sheep wagon for the 21st century

Artists in the state of Colorado want to makeover the rustic sheep wagons used by immigrant workers across the West, suggesting the portable homes be spruced up to look like futuristic space vehicles with gardens and solar panels. Immigrants from Peru, Chile, Mexico and Nepal who come to the U.S. on temporary work permits sometimes live in worn-out one-room trailers in desolate landscapes, including in Wyoming, California, and Utah. The working conditions caught the attention of Colorado lawmakers this year, but no legislation materialized. Artists with the Yuma-based non-profit M12 say the debate doesn't have to be contentious. They created three proposals to revamp the sheep wagon — known to the workers as "campitos" — and will show the designs on the walls of a trailer turned into a gallery, along with an old sheep wagon for comparison. "We decided to take on the campito as a design problem. These things look like covered wagons because they were designed in the 19th century at a time when that made sense," Saxton said. "Our question was, what would a campito look like for the 21st century?" What M12 came up with were tricked-out wagons that look like they came out of "The Jetsons." One design looks like a roly poly, folding into a ball to be towed by a truck and unfolding into a tent-shaped wagon when it's parked. In another design, the wagon looks like a space capsule with wheels similar to those of a Mars rover. The third design is made up of three modules for a garden, bed, and kitchen — features that all the designs have, along with a global communications system to make phone calls...more

Leon Metz: Baseball trip turned violent for El Pasoans - Who was that cowboy?

As a local historian, I've never encountered any particular early day period of El Paso's history when the saloons and gambling houses were closed. But it actually happened during one 1892 Sunday afternoon in Deming. And what was the occasion? Well, it seems that the fat men of El Paso took time off from their many labors and went to Deming to play baseball with the fat men of that town. A local El Paso man named M.F. McLean managed the "El Paso Fats," and he chartered a train just for this particular occasion. Over 200 local business and professional men went on the excursion to witness the game. To show El Paso support, the principal local saloons and gambling houses in this city closed their doors so that 200 El Paso proprietors, employees, business and professional men could take time off to go watch the big event. At Deming, the El Pasoans were seemingly met by the entire population. A brass band played thunderous music. Also present was an immense cannon made of cardboard. Its barrel bore the legend: PROTECTION FOR THE EMPIRE...

Here's the part of Metz's column I like:

On the trip home, a hefty New Mexico cowboy tagged along with a quart of whiskey in one hand and a pistol in the other. He wanted everybody to take a drink. Within minutes, an El Paso player named Charles B. Dowd managed to get the gun and the whiskey, and threw both items out the car window. Well, that riled the cowboy, and within a few minutes he had everyone on that car engaged in a free-for-all. Later, as things quieted down, and the cowboy went to sleep, someone woke him. In a few minutes he would have the whole car fighting again. According to witnesses, fighting broke out at least six times between Deming and El Paso, even though in a caboose behind the fight car were Judge J.E. Townsend, Mayor Johnson, M.F. McLean and a writer who jotted down all of these events. Then oddly, but perhaps not surprisingly, upon reaching El Paso, J. H. Boone, who later became Sheriff of El Paso, heard about the exploits of this New Mexico cowboy. So the two men met at El Paso's Astor house, where an angry Boone offered to give him a good trimming. But it was that cowboy's night to fight and he overcame Boone in short order...more

Who was that cowboy? Anybody from Deming or El Paso know?

Song Of The Day #351

We missed Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio, but we will make up for it with James Talley performing W'Lee O'Daniel and the Light Crust Doughboys. The rest of the week will be Light Crust Doughboys songs.

Arizona's Closed Federal Parkland is a No-Man's Land

The number of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers crossing through this magnificent national parkland in southern Arizona has "decreased significantly" in the last four years, park officials say. But there's a dark cloud to this silver lining: To make it happen, the refuge had to close a sliver of this slice of heaven to the quarter-billion American taxpayers who own it -- essentially creating a no-man's-land on which only drug smugglers, gun-runners, human traffickers and the Border Patrol agents who track them down dare to tread. And with rival Mexican drug gangs gunning each other down less than 50 miles away, the chance that the closed portion of the wildlife refuge will reopen in the foreseeable future appears to be between slim and none. For the time being, officials say, this public land will be closed to the public. In 2006, the refuge manager at the time, Mitch Ellis, saw that the smugglers and drug-runners were winning, and his solution was to close 3,500 acres of this 118,000-acre natural habitat. He cited increased violence in the area due to “border-related” activities, including assaults on law enforcement officers and migrants, as the reason for the closure. Back then, says Sally Gall, the park's acting refuge manager, it was estimated that as many as 4,000 people a day were crossing illegally into the U.S. from Mexico, tramping across public land that's home to nearly 330 species of animals and hosts up to 40,000 visitors annually. Tom Kay, 68, whose Jarillas Ranch features more than four miles of border fence and shares its western boundary line with the Buenos Aires refuge, estimated that up to 400 illegal immigrants walk onto his 15,000-acre land every day. But after years of never locking his door or removing keys from vehicles, Kay has found it necessary to change his ways. “I gotta lock the barn up now,” he said. “If I don’t, I wake up and find people in the hay."...more

And Bingaman's S.1689 would designate a quarter of a million acres as wilderness on or near our border with Mexico. If the bill becomes law, "no-mans land" is heading our way.

More than immigration at stake on border

The same routes and crossing points, the same coyotes and smugglers who manual laborers rely on to enter the United States can also be used by intruders with far less benign objectives. The armed groups that have turned Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, into a war zone — 200 people dead in only one week last month — have distribution networks that crisscross this country. The cartels, their paramilitary enforcers and street gangs move illicit drugs north and cash and guns back south. In the multi-billion-dollar drug trade, the border is irrelevant. And there’s no reason to believe the people doing the beheadings and assassinations will indefinitely be solicitous about keeping violence on one side of an international boundary, as the alleged plot to blow up Falcon Dam suggests. In May, the Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement officials in Texas of the potential illegal entry from Mexico of a suspected member of the al-Shabaab terrorist group, an al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia. Why would terrorists from Somalia or anywhere else choose to clandestinely enter the United States from Mexico? Because if millions of Mexican laborers can do it, so can they. That’s the troubling fact at the heart of what the U.S. government calls “special interest aliens” — illegal immigrants from countries that pose a national security threat. Hundreds of them are apprehended in the United States each year. No one knows how many are being missed. A recent report from the U.S. Southern Command obtained by the Washington Examiner raises a warning flag. “Of particular concern is the smuggling of criminal aliens and gang members who pose public safety threats to communities throughout the border region and the country,” it cautions. “These individuals include hundreds of undocumented aliens from special interest countries, primarily China, but also Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.” People who wish to do harm to the United States can and are entering the country undetected. That ought to be the starting point of any national discussion about the border...more

Drug gangs terrorize residents in small Mexican villages on Arizona's doorstep

Very few residents dare to drive on one of the roads out of this watering-hole for migrants, fearing they will be stopped at gunpoint. They worry they will be told to turn around after their gas tanks are drained or, worse, be kidnapped or killed. A shootout that left 21 people dead and six wounded on the road last week is the most gruesome sign that a relatively tranquil pocket of northern Mexico is quickly turning into a hotbed of drug-fueled violence on Arizona's doorstep. Nogales, the main city in the region, which shares a border with the Arizona city of the same name, has had 131 murders so far this year, nearly surpassing 135 for all of 2009, according to a tally by the newspaper Diario de Sonora. That includes two heads found Thursday stuffed side by side between the bars of a cemetery fence. Many people have fled in the last few months, said one resident whose family has longtime roots in a village near the shootings. He asked that his only his first name, Luis, be published because he fears for his safety. His relatives abandoned their homes this spring to join him in a larger city where he lives. Luis said schools closed early this year without explanation. Soft-drink vendors and electricity meter readers refuse to come...more

12 people killed during elections in Juárez

A man was beaten to death and hung from his house's fence in Juárez this morning, Chihuahua state police said. Police arrived to the Los Almendros subdivision about 6 a.m. to respond to the murder. They have not identified the man who appears to be between 35 and 40 years old. Police reported threatening messages were written on the man's chest and back. In total, eight people were killed in Juárez on Sunday, when thousands headed to the polls to elect the mayor and Chihuahua governor. Four have been killed today, state police said. Among the murders, a man found close to midnight Sunday appeared to have been tortured. Police said the unidentified man was pierced from his mouth to his genitals with an iron rod...more

Drug war casts shadow over Mexico elections

Presumed enforcers for drug gangs hung four bodies from overpasses before dawn on Sunday in Chihuahua, the capital of a violence-wracked Mexican state that borders Texas and New Mexico, as Mexican voters went to the polls to pick new state and local leaders. A local newspaper, El Heraldo, reported on its website that two of the four bodies found dangling in Chihuahua victims may have been guards at a local prison. In the capital of Tamaulipas, another border state, 30 bodyguards protected Egidio Torre Cantu as he cast a ballot. Torre's brother was the 2-to-1 favorite to win the governorship of Tamaulipas before gunmen ambushed his convoy June 28, the highest-level political assassination in more than a decade. The brother assumed the candidacy on behalf of a PRI-led coalition. Federal police arrested Gregorio Sanchez, the PRI's candidate for governor of Quintano Roo, home to the resort of Cancun, on May 25 on charges he was linked to the Beltran Leyva and Los Zetas drug gangs. Even so, the PRI candidate who replaced Sanchez was on track to victory...more

Officials make arrests in US Consulate deaths

An alleged gang leader arrested in Juárez told Mexican authorities that a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband were targeted for assassination because the woman provided visas to a rival gang. Officials said Friday that Jesus Ernesto Chávez Castillo, 41, described as a top Azteca gang member who led hit squads, is suspected of ordering the slayings of Lesley Enriquez Redelfs and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, both of El Paso. Chávez, known as "El Camello," or the camel, told investigators after his arrest that Enriquez Redelfs was the target of the attack on March 13 because she had been helping the rival Sinaloa drug cartel. His allegation was met with skepticism by U.S. officials and contradicts the story of another suspect arrested earlier this year. The FBI, which has been investigating the slayings, said his claim is unverified...more

Mexican authorities: Federal agents could have fired bullets that struck City Hall

Mexican authorities said the seven bullets that pierced the walls of El Paso City Hall on Tuesday could have been fired by Mexican federal agents. Federal police spokesman José Ramón Salinas said that six agents stopped a vehicle Monday afternoon to inspect it and that the driver and passengers attacked the agents. A shootout erupted, and a federal agent and a woman were killed. Salinas said the fact that the vehicle the agents had stopped was later found with bullet holes and blood showed that federal agents had fired shots. Salinas said these findings were preliminary because the shootout is still under investigation by the Chihuahua state attorney general's office. "The order is always to avoid firing, but the police officer is the one who makes the decision at the moment," Salinas said. Generally, criminals in Juárez have been using the AK-47 rifles, or what they call "cuerno de chivo," Spanish for goat's horn, because the ammunition clip curves like a horn. But Salinas said some federal police officers are also armed that type of gun. It fires a round that can easily reach El Paso from Juárez. No Mexican agency, however, is taking responsibility for the bullets that hit City Hall...more

Shootout At El Paso City Hall

In his speech Thursday, President Obama assured us that our "southern border is more se cure today than at any time in the past 20 years." So why is El Paso's City Hall taking fire from Mexico? The president made his pitch for "comprehensive immigration reform" by assuring us problems on the border were already taken care of, so the next course of action was a modified amnesty program for 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. But a funny thing happened on the same day he was urging Americans to go along: El Paso's City Hall found itself in a war zone as gunfire from the Mexican side from either traffickers or the Mexican lawmen trying to fight them pocked the edifice. News reports said as many as seven bullets hit the building. No one was hit — this time. It's another sign of the horror in Mexico spilling onto the U.S. side. Further down the border on the same day, 12 miles from Nogales, Ariz., 21 people were massacred in a fight between rival smuggling gangs over the right of way to bring their illegal immigrant "shipments" and narcotics into the U.S. It all gives the president's assurances to Americans that the border situation is being dealt with an aura of unreality...more

Arizona Dems contest Obama's assertions on border security

Anticipating a furor of voter criticism over the July Fourth recess, Democratic lawmakers from the border region shot back at the White House last week, challenging the president’s speech on immigration in which he said that the southern border is secure. Arizona Democratic Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords joined a growing Republican chorus in denouncing President Barack Obama for not pushing for more specific action in his Thursday speech on the nation’s immigration and border security issues. Obama said that the U.S.-Mexico border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years. But the three Arizona Democrats disagreed. “The crisis on America’s borders won’t be addressed with words,” said Giffords. “I was disappointed to hear the president give short shrift to border security concerns by saying that our nation’s southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years. “That is not a sign of progress, it is a statement on the poor job we have done in securing the border for the past two decades.” As their constituents continue to clamor that more must be done to secure the borders, the first- and second-term Arizona Democrats are increasingly bucking their own party’s stance on border security. “As any politician knows, it is easier to make speeches than it is to make progress, and we need more than talk from the White House and Congress right now,” said Kirkpatrick...more

Wells Fargo, Wachovia Involved in Numerous Mexican Drug Laundering Schemes

Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet. They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else. The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue. This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo, which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine. Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history — a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product...more

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Headin' down the rodeo road

by Julie Carter

It's the Fourth of July holiday and all roads lead to a rodeo arena somewhere.

As we honor America, our freedoms, and the price paid for both, I find myself also giving some reverent honor to the cowboy as well.

This particular holiday is his "Cowboy Christmas," the most lucrative run of rodeos for the season.

Rodeo rigs are progressively bigger, fancier, and technology has kicked rodeoing up a notch from the days of standing in a pay phone booth to enter a rodeo or find out when you drew up. While so much is different, much is still the same.

Rodeo roots run deep in the heart and soul of the American cowboy. It began as a good-natured competition among the working cowboys.

During more than a century, it has evolved to be a major league sport complete with television media coverage, sponsors and big money.

Today's rodeo, with the exception of the events themselves, resembles little of its beginnings on the open range. The cowboys have advanced to be defined athletes and fewer have ranch cowboy roots.

The addiction to the adrenalin remains the same as does the dedication to the competition.

One of the differences in the sport lies in the technology used to "phone home" reports from the rodeo (aka excuses, near death experiences at the bucking chutes, requests for money, etc.).

Instead of using a pay phone at the local honky tonk, the cowboy now sends a text message to a loved one's cell phone or an email from just about anywhere he is at the

That's progress. And you will find that today's rodeo cowboy has no idea how anybody managed to get it done without all the current gadgets.

It has been said that rodeoing is an addiction and the only cure for it is more rodeo.

In two ever-popular songs, it is referred to as that "damned old rodeo." Back in the '60s, iconic Ian Tyson, a Canadian rodeo cowboy turned singer, penned a song called "Someday Soon."

The song lamented the love a rodeo cowboy has for the sport and the pain it causes those that love him. "He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me." The song stayed popular for decades with new recordings of it by Judy Collins, Lynn Anderson, Chrystal Gayle, Suzy Bogguss and Chris LeDoux.

Garth Brooks recorded a timeless song about the sport called simply "Rodeo." The lyrics sum it up about as well as any written.

Well, it's bulls and blood
It's dust and mud
It's the roar of a Sunday crowd
It's the white in his knuckles
The gold in the buckle
He'll win the next go 'round

It's boots and chaps
It's cowboy hats
It's spurs and latigo
It's the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo

She knows his love's in Tulsa
And she know he's gonna go
Well it ain't no woman flesh and blood
It's that damned old rodeo

Fourth of July rodeoing is defined by road-weary cowboys, tired horses, pickups filled with dirty clothes, fast-food wrappers and muddy boots.

A dashboard full of rumpled rodeo programs, Copenhagen cans, empty coffee cups, dusty sunglasses, gas receipts, a ball cap or two and a road map paints the classic scene.

For me, it wouldn't be the Fourth of July if I wasn't in the hot sun, beating rain or dusty wind waiting for the next rodeo event to move the entertainment along.

So that's what I do. However, now I carry a camera and put what I know of rodeo in print.

I don't suppose I'll ever be anywhere else but at a rodeo grounds somewhere on the Fourth of July. However, the option has crept into the recesses of my mind, only to be banished by the sounds of the National Anthem and the bucking horses kicking in the chutes in unison.

Let's rodeo!’

Julie can be reached for comment at Visit her website at .

The Folded Flag

Welda McKinley Grider

In this patriotic time of year, between Memorial Day, Flag Day and the 4th of July, do we give much notice to the symbol of freedom?

Sadly, I ask this. We give little thought to those who came to this country for that freedom and those who paid the ultimate price.

Those of us who were born into this country and those of us who have not been handed a perfectly folded flag, know little of who we are as a nation or why we are a nation.

Two hundred and forty years ago the rebels who lived on American soil took up arms, did not do so to fight for freedom, they took up arms for the idea of freedom.

A free country at that time was only a concept - not a right and certainly not a reality. But for this idea they pledged their lives and all they had in property, knowing they could be killed as a traitor because they were indeed traitors. Some were killed and some died as paupers.

We are guaranteed to be created equal and be born free. After that, it is up to our wits, our mind and our strong back to create life we either strive for or settle for.

Sadly, if we do not grasp the full meaning of freedom, we will not die free.

"Leveling the playing field" means you have equal opportunity to succeed; it does not mean everyone else should fail at the same level.

I've learned a lot from the legal immigrants I've been fortunate enough to know.

One fellow named Peter came out of the Czech Republic in the luggage department of a bus. If he got caught, he would die.

He is very concerned about the direction of our nation. He lived through socialism and communism and he doesn't want his new country, the United States, to take the same road.

Another fellow came out of Russia and no matter how hard I tried, he wouldn't tell me how he got here.

I have a friend who cleans houses so her boys can have good clothes, iPods and a good education.

Fernando, 17, recently was selected for a trip to Washington, D.C. He saw first- hand the monuments of the country his parents sacrificed so much to come to.

He is the son of immigrants who did not come to this country to take advantage of it but to add to it.

It is immigrants like that that make us proud to be a nation of immigrants. However, that is being lost in the debate of how much we should give to illegal immigrants who have no desire to be part of this country or give anything back.

These new Americans had to take lessons in our history and they were made to swear to uphold the American Constitution. I wonder how changed we would be if we really understood our history and had to swear to uphold our Constitution?

Think about this: Men before 1776 had such a strong belief in freedom they were not only willing to fight and die for that generation, but for all the generations that followed.

The men who fought in the World Wars and the women who took up the nations labor force, not only fought for that generation but to end all wars for future generations.

All the other wars fought since then have not been for American freedom alone, but for the unwavering belief that all men should have the chance at freedom.

America has been accused of "interfering" in other nations. Does giving someone the opportunity to be free sound like interfering to you?

Would your life be different if the only desire you had for your kids was for them to be free?

There are only two reasons that there are wars: To cause oppression or to buy freedom. The rest is secondary.

How much would you sacrifice for freedom?

On the other hand, how much are you willing to throw out to oppress? Because every law that we allow passed that takes away God given rights is an act of oppression.

As you fly Old Glory this month - think about the fact you are flying the Flag and not being handed the Folded Flag.

To those who have been handed the Folded Flag - because I have not paid the ultimate price, nor has my immediate family, my heart goes out to you. I will pray for you and yours.

I will do anything in my power to not let your sacrifice go unnoticed. I am fully aware that the red strips in our American Flag signifies the color of Blood - those who went before and those who follow.

There are only two people who offered to die for you - Jesus Christ and the American soldier.

One died for your soul and one died for your freedom. Never take either one of those for granted.

America’s Destiny Must Be Freedom

by Ray Nothstine

Ralph Waldo Emerson described America as “the land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming.” Many Americans don’t feel that way as pessimism has replaced a once vibrant optimism about the future. Economic malaise, crippling debt, and a mammoth oil gush in the Gulf Coast are daily reminders of seemingly unmovable obstacles.

Bob Herbert wrote a New York Times column echoing the sentiment of an aimless America titled “When Greatness Slips Away.” While many claim to have the answers to our economic woes and lack of confidence, we would do best to return to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the American Founding, and our freedom narrative. In past crises, they have been sources of American endurance and strength. They can be again.

Those sacred words from the Declaration—“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”—have been an inspiration to billions of people at home and abroad for centuries. Freedom from excessive centralization of power and the right of the citizenry to flourish without undue interference are hallmarks of what it means to be American. And while the federal government has used activism for good at times, most notably for securing civil rights in the American South, it is revealing itself more and more as the obstacle to progress.

Many in the academy and the modern left scoff at what they call the “Horatio Alger myth.” Alger wrote stories such as “Ragged Dick” and “Only an Irish Boy.” He told stories of poor children achieving the American dream through hard work, determination, and virtue. But Alger also depicted an important spiritual component to his impoverished characters. He gave them dignity and natural rights, just as our founding document did. His tales reflected the kind of egalitarianism that asserts that the value and dignity of a destitute human person is equal to that of another born into prominence and prosperity. These ideas grew right out of our religious heritage and founding.

But if Alger’s stories were not myths before, they will be soon. Future generations’ enjoyment of the liberty to flourish is in jeopardy. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, last week called the $13 trillion national debt the “biggest threat to our national security.” Annual interest on the national debt in 2012 will grow larger than the entire defense budget. Currently 43 cents of every federal dollar spent is borrowed.

This kind of dependency is antithetical to our tradition of self-reliance. Pick up any honest textbook about American history and the march of America is about freedom and opportunity. On the day of the invasion of the greatest army of liberation ever assembled, General Dwight D. Eisenhower told his armed forces “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.” These men are often called “The Greatest Generation.

Succeeding generations may call our own “the debt generation” as their dreams become enslaved to deficits so colossal that they sap their entrepreneurial spirit, savings, and earning potential.

Big government activists are already using the BP oil spill to double down on their claim that the federal government is too small, even while the federal response is crippled by a multilayered bureaucratic decision making process and excessive regulation. Others say the BP oil spill is the perfect sign that America’s economic and moral might has peaked.

In his 1993 Inaugural address, President Clinton said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” It’s a simple yet profound point. Similarly, the primary reason Russell Kirk penned The Roots of American Order in 1974 was to remind his country of the moral bedrock at its base, and to thereby show the way to how it could maintain greatness. In the first chapter, Kirk quotes a passage from the book of Job saying if the nation lacks foundation and order “even the light is like darkness.”

As American citizens pontificate about the future of America this July 4th, they should ask themselves what they can do to curb the contraction of liberty and promote its expansion. It is the citizens, thankfully, who will decide America’s destiny.