Friday, July 23, 2010

Senate rejects $3B Indian trust settlement

The U.S. Senate has rejected a $3.4 billion government settlement with American Indians that had been added to a much larger war-funding bill. The Senate passed the almost $60 billion bill funding President Barack Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan late Wednesday — but not before stripping out the settlement and $20 billion in other domestic spending approved by the House. The Senate’s approval would have given the Obama administration the authority to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. Between 300,000 and 500,000 Native Americans claim the Interior Department mismanaged billions of dollars held in trust by the government. The House attached the settlement to the war-funding bill earlier this month. [link]

NM reps Heinrich & Lujan vote against hunters, handicapped community

Yesterday the House Resources Committee marked up Heinrich & Lujan's H.R. 5388, a bill to expand the boundaries of the Cibola National Forest. As part of the expansion the BLM Manzano Wilderness Study Area would be transferred to the Forest Service and designated as wilderness.

During markup, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) offered an amendment which would have allowed hunters and the handicapped community to use "wheeled, muscle-powered carts for the removal of shot game" in the wilderness. Both Heinrich & Lujan voted against the amendment and it failed. Note the "muscle-powered" limitation. No motor, just a cart with wheels (which the agencies say is mechanical transport and disallowed by the Wilderness Act).

Interestingly, during the markup several weeks ago of H.R. 3914, the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, the full committee approved the language allowing the game carts. Coloradans will be authorized to use the game carts in their new wilderness, but thanks to Heinrich & Lujan, hunters and the handicapped in NM will be prohibited from using game carts.

Rep. Bishop said, “The right to hunt shouldn’t just be limited to those physically fit enough to carry their game out on their backs or who can afford to hire expensive guides and pack animals." Apparently Heinrich & Lujan think hunting should be limited to a select few.

And do Heinrich & Lujan really believe a wheeled cart with no motor will destroy the resource or ruin someone's wilderness experience? Are they so anxious to do the bidding of the enviros that they will oppose any amendment to the Wilderness Act no matter how reasonable? The ability to use the carts would expand the hunting opportunities for many New Mexicans, but apparently environmental lobbyists come first.

Heinrich & Lujan are all for expanding the federal domain, but oppose expanding hunting opportunities. Shame on them.

Let this also serve as a lesson to all those who continue to say the Border Patrol will have adequate access to Bingaman's proposed new wilderness designations in southern NM. They can't even patrol in a motorless wheeled cart!

Judge, attorney hammer away at Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to pull Utah oil leases

A federal judge on Wednesday grilled an attorney defending Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to pull 77 oil and gas leases that were successfully bid on at a Salt Lake City auction in 2008, asking repeatedly how the federal government can get around the language of the law that said the leases should have gone through. "You are fast and loose with the terms 'offer' and 'acceptance,' " Judge Dee Benson said during the questioning of Department of Justice attorney Tyler Welti. "You keep telling me your conclusions, but tell me why … tell me how you get around the plain language?" Benson asked. The federal judge did not issue a decision in the hearing, but he indicated at its conclusion that he would rule quickly on the issue. That "plain language" is the key component of the statute governing such sales and leases. It says that, once parcels are offered at auction, the government shall award the bid to the highest qualified bidder and shall issue the lease. Welti had argued that Salazar continued to have discretion to pull the leases even though money had changed hands, because the leases had yet to be physically issued with an official signature. In a suit brought by the impacted Utah counties of Uintah, Duchesne and Carbon and joined by three oil and gas companies, attorney Robert Thompson said there was nothing in the statute or corresponding regulations that support Salazar's February 2009 decision...more

Oil chiefs urge lifting of deep-water ban; Propose $1 billion response plan

Four major oil companies' new $1 billion plan for a quick-response system to fight oil spills should help soothe concerns about the safety of deep-water drilling and prod regulators to lift a temporary ban, executives with Chevron Corp. and Shell said in interviews Thursday. Marvin Odum, who heads Houston-based Shell Oil Co., the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, sees the four companies' initiative working in concert with new offshore drilling standards from the Interior Department and a separate ongoing industry effort to develop better oil cleanup technology. "I think the elements combined should solve the problem," Odum said. Chevron Corp., Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips on Wednesday announced plans to spend a combined $1 billion on a system for containing blown-out wells in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. It would be faster to deploy, more robust and more flexible than tools BP is using on damaged Macondo well. Targeted for completion within 18 months, the system will be capable of mobilizing within 24 hours of a spill, working in up to 10,000 feet of water — twice the depth of Macondo - and collecting 100,000 barrels per day of leaking oil, the companies said...more

Moratorium process investigated

The U.S. Interior Department’s inspector general is conducting an investigation into how the Obama administration came up with its recommendation for a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall sent a letter to two of the seven congressmen who requested the probe, notifying them of the decision. The congressmen made the request after seven members of a science panel that reviewed safety concerns related to the moratorium complained that their names were used to appear that they supported the ban. U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, among those who sought the review, called the news of the investigation bittersweet. “It’s just bad that we’re losing these jobs,” said Cassidy, who has introduced a bill to repeal the moratorium. “To the degree that we can prevent science from being corrupted to support bad political decisions then we’ve accomplished something.”...more

Range Rider Will Discourage Wolves From Targeting Livestock

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying a new approach to decreasing the conflict between wolves and the owners of livestock. The Fish and Wildlife Department is using federal grant money to help a rancher in Wallowa County employ a range rider. The rider will track and document wolf activity, and use non-lethal methods to discourage any wolves that are targeting livestock. ODFW's Rick Hargrave says this pilot program could be a model for other areas. Rick Hargrave: "I think people just want to see, the fact that we have a range rider out there and kind of see how things work. And we're hoping to be positive that this will be a step, a non-lethal deterrent that will keep these conflicts from happening."...more

Wow, a game dept. trying to work with and assist a rancher.

I wonder if that concept will ever be tried in NM?

Lightening strikes 17 in Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued 16 climbers injured in a lightning storm on the 13,770-foot Grand Teton on Wednesday but had to call off the search for a 17th at dark. The 17 were caught in the storm, which reached a crescendo between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Jenny Lake climbing rangers used two helicopters to evacuate the 16, all of whom were injured by lightning strikes. All were higher than 13,200 feet. The event was likely the largest search and rescue operation in Grand Teton since the early 1960s. Rangers accomplished the rescue after being dropped on the mountain’s summit pyramid from a rope dangling beneath a helicopter, then plucking nine of the injured off the peak using the same dangling “short haul” technique. Skaggs said a lightning map showed at least six or seven strikes in the area...more

Critics blast oil-gas hire

Former Bureau of Land Management District Manager Steve Henke's hire as president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association has drawn the ire of environmental groups that requested federal investigation into Henke's BLM tenure. A half-dozen environmental advocacy groups on Wednesday submitted a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. BLM Director Ben Abbey expressing concern that Henke's hire as president of the state's largest oil and gas lobbying group raises questions about his work as district manager of the BLM Farmington Field Office, where he oversaw oil and gas development in northwest New Mexico for nine years. Henke resigned from the BLM in May after applying for the industry job. He begins work as NMOGA president Aug. 1. The coalition has requested an investigation into whether Henke was improperly influenced by the oil and gas industry during his BLM tenure and seeks a two-year restriction from lobbying his former co-workers at BLM offices across New Mexico, according to the letter. The coalition of environmental groups also expressed concern that Henke had access to confidential, proprietary information through his dealings with the BLM, which now can be shared with industry leaders, although it remains unavailable for public release, Nichols said...more

New Mexico Apache tribe wins natural gas appeal

An appellate court in Washington, D.C., has ruled in favor of northern New Mexico's Jicarilla Apache Nation in a dispute over natural gas royalties dating from more than 20 years ago. The decision could mean millions of dollars for the tribe. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled last week the U.S. Department of Interior improperly relied on regulations that went into effect after the 1984-1988 period in question. The judges reversed part of a federal court summary judgment in favor of the department. They returned the case to that court with instructions to send it back to the agency to fix how it calculated natural gas royalties. "We have waited long enough for our rights to be protected and now look forward to working with the Interior Department to swiftly conclude this matter," Jicarilla President Levi Pesata said in a news release. The judges said the tribe "likely will receive additional revenue" if Interior reverses course on computing royalties. Attorney Steven Gordon of Washington, D.C., who represented the tribe in the appeal, said it's his understanding the royalties plus interest would total about $6 million. The Jicarilla tribe, with more than 4,000 members, is a large natural gas producer and receives royalty payments for leases for production on its 1 million acres of trust land...more

Luna County takes step closer to wind energy

An inducement resolution to pave the way for the Macho Springs Wind Energy Project was unanimously approved during a Thursday special meeting of the Luna County Board of Commissioners. The resolution is the first of many steps to help Oregon-based Element Power erect 28 wind turbines in Northeastern Luna County. The resolution outlines the responsibilities of each party for the project and, according to Luna County manager John Sutherland, it keeps the county from any liability in the event the project fails before the 30-year agreement reaches its endpoint. Before the commission voted, it heard a wide range of thoughts and questions from the public. Proponents and opponents of the measure were heard in detail. Local rancher Joe Bill Nunn came out fully against the measure, saying that by approving the proposal, the county is "helping the decimation" of property rights in the area. "Livestock production is still the second-highest cash crop in New Mexico and I, as a rancher, don't get any of the incentives these guys do," he added. The incentives to which Nunn referred come in the form of benefits attached to an industrial revenue bond, which will be the next step of consideration for the county. An IRB would put the project lease in the county's name, which would give the developer a tax-exempt status in the applicable areas. However, the developer will be required to make payments in lieu of taxes to the county and Deming Public Schools District to the estimated tune of $8.6 million, instead of $8.5 million over 30 years via traditional taxation. The company plans to build 28 wind turbines in Luna County and another 28 in Sierra County...more

Audit picks a bone with US relics office

To scientists, ancient human bones and artefacts from Native American burial sites can offer a unique window onto history. But to some modern Native American tribes, allowing researchers to study these remains amounts to desecration. Long-standing tensions between the two groups were meant to be eased by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, which allows tribes to reclaim many remains held in museum collections. But the first official audit of the government agency that administers NAGPRA portrays a troubled organization that has failed to serve tribes well, and does not always give a fair hearing to scientists' claims. The final report, from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), is expected by autumn, but Nature has obtained a draft that is currently under review. Yet as NAGPRA administrators struggle to manage these disputes, the GAO report finds that the NAGPRA office — which has an annual budget of US$1 million — is beset by problems including inadequate resources and poor record-keeping. These can delay repatriations and make it harder to reach decisions on contentious cases. The report also suggests that the NAGPRA office has manipulated the make-up of the seven-person committee, weakening scientists' voices in its decisions. The committee comprises three tribal members, three representatives of scientific organizations and an independent member agreed on by the others...more

Tenn. Man Jailed For Fishing After Conviction

A Tennessee man has been sent to jail for nearly two years after he was caught fishing in northern Georgia after being barred for 20 years. The Tennessean reported Georgia wildlife agents were tipped by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that 31-year-old Kurt Wesley Ellis of Cleveland had been fishing under an assumed name. Ellis had served a short jail stint in Bradley County, Tenn., and was on intensive probation for multiple wildlife violations. Authorities said Ellis was supposed to leave his home only to shop, work and worship...more

Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat three meals a day for nearly two years.

Ranchers Have a Cow Over Financial Regs - Video

The funny, far-reaching business of regulatory reform. "I don't think anybody has read it," says cowboy Brett Crosby of the 2,300-page FinReg bill. "War and peace is only 1,400 pages, for crying out loud, and people don't even read that." Crosby is very concerned that somewhere in the just-signed monumental piece of legislation are rules that will hurt his ability to manage risk at his Wyoming cattle ranch. This self-described "MBA Cowboy" has been using futures contracts for years to provide a hedge against the often volatile price of cattle. Crosby prefers feeder cattle futures, as they most closely match his business. An agricultural economist for Wells Fargo recently encouraged farmers to use more tools like futures contracts to stabilize cash flow. However, the new legislation will move many futures contracts onto exchanges where they can be better regulated and monitored, and speculators who don't own any of the underlying commodity—in this case, cattle—will have to put up more cash on margin. Some believe even commercial hedgers, people who, like Crosby, actually own cows, will have to also put up more money. "Feeder cattle futures may not survive," says Crosby, though he admits that is a "doomsday scenario". Crosby says more than 90 percent of the most recent open positions on feeder cattle were held by speculators or index traders, the very people about to face higher hurdles to trade. If they decide it's not worth it and walk away, there may no longer be enough of a market to make the hedge a hedge...more

Here is CNBC's interview with Brett Crosby.

Bill seeks to end vet shortage

Ending a shortage of rural veterinary medicine is the aim of bipartisan legislation introduced today by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) with Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) as an original co-sponsor. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act would bolster our nation´s veterinary work force by eliminating taxes on programs that encourage veterinarians to practice in underserved areas. Nationwide, there are 500 counties with at least 5,000 farm animals but with no local veterinarians in the area to treat the animals. This shortage could have dire consequences on human and animal health, public safety, animal welfare, disease surveillance and economic development. The demand for veterinarians across the United States could increase 14 percent by 2016. The Crapo-Johnson legislation would provide a federal income tax exemption for payments received under the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and similar state programs that encourage veterinarians to practice in smaller and rural communities...more

Song Of The Day #364

You can't have a last name like DuBois and have kinfolks in East Texas and La. and not like cajun music.

So Ranch Radio will close out the week with a rousing cajun number by Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys titled Le Dans de Mardi Gras. You'll find the tune on their 16 track CD Best of Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys.

Five Federal Lands in Arizona Have Travel Warnings in Place

Imagine the federal government closing a section of the Lincoln Memorial because it was under the control of Mexican drug lords and bands of illegal immigrants. That scenario is playing out as reality in southern Arizona, where parts of five federal lands -- including two designated national monuments -- continue to post travel warnings or be outright closed to Americans who own the land because of the dangers of "human and drug trafficking" along the Mexican border. Roughly 3,500 acres of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge -- about 3 percent of the 118,000-acre park -- have been closed since Oct. 6, 2006, when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials acknowledged a marked increase in violence along a tract of land that extends north from the border for roughly three-quarters of a mile. Federal officials say they have no plans to reopen the area. Elsewhere, at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which shares a 32-mile stretch of the border with Mexico, visitors are warned on a federally-run website that some areas are not accessible by anyone. "Due to our proximity to the International Boundary with Mexico, some areas near the border are closed for construction and visitor safety concerns," the website reads. On another page titled "Border Concerns," the website warns that visitors should be aware that "drug smuggling routes" pass through the park...more

8 suspects killed in clash with Mexican soldiers

Eight suspected drug gang gunmen died in a battle with Mexican soldiers in the remote mountains of northern Chihuahua state, the federal Public Safety Department said Thursday. The department cited an internal army report saying the clash occurred near the rural town of Madera, about 145 miles (230 kilometers) south of the U.S. border. The gunmen apparently opened fire on an army patrol, but the Defense Department did not offer any information on the attack or the identity of the attackers. The area is frequently used by gangs to produce and traffic drugs. Also Thursday, the army command in the border state of Tamaulipas said soldiers seized two extended pickup trucks painted with Mexican army emblems and colors near the border community of Ciudad Mier. A statement by the Eighth Military Region command said drug traffickers had painted the trucks "to disguise themselves as military personnel" and "confuse the public and cover up their illegal acts." The army has been the subject of numerous human rights complaints since it moved into a front-line role against drug gangs in late 2006. The military claims drug gangs have used army uniforms to discredit troops. On Wednesday, the border city of Nuevo Laredo was practically paralyzed by late-night gunbattles in which gangs forced citizens from their cars and used the vehicles to block streets. The sound of gunfire alarmed Texans on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. The Nuevo Laredo city government posted messages on its Facebook page warning citizens to stay indoors as shooting erupted at several intersections in the city across from Laredo, Texas. Frightened people on the U.S. side of the border called emergency dispatchers after hearing the gunfire, Laredo police spokesman Joe Baeza said Thursday. But he said there was no spillover violence...more

Undocumented Immigrants Increasingly Filling Arizona Prisons

New data from the Arizona Department of Corrections shows that undocumented immigrants are increasingly over-represented in the state's prison population. In June 2010, undocumented immigrants represented 14.8 percent of Arizona state prisoners, but accounted for only 7 percent of the state's overall population according to the Department of Homeland Security. The new data also revealed for the first time a breakdown of crimes for which undocumented immigrants were incarcerated. For example of all the prisoners serving time in Arizona state prisons for kidnapping, 40 percent were undocumented. Of those in prison on drug charges, 24 percent were undocumented. And 13 percent of those serving time for murder were undocumented immigrants, according to the new data from the Arizona Department of Corrections...more

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NM man accused of cattle rustling

A New Mexico man is accused of stealing 200 head of cattle from an Arizona ranch, packing them into trailers, then moving them out of state. Authorities recently brought charges against 34-year-old Jason Kirby of Datil, N.M. An Arizona grand jury indicted Kirby on charges of fraudulent schemes, trafficking in stolen property and two counts of theft. Arizona Department of Agriculture investigators say Kirby was hired to tend the cattle on a piece of land near Superior in eastern Arizona. Kirby allegedly moved 202 head of cattle, worth an estimated $200,000, across two states with the intention of selling them to a buyer in Texas. Kirby faces a pretrial conference Monday. AP

The Arizona Republic reports:

Jason Lon Kirby, 34, of Datil, N.M., was indicted by an Arizona grand jury on charges of fraudulent schemes and artifices, trafficking in stolen property and two counts of theft. Kirby was picked up in Georgia on a warrant and arraigned June 18 in Pinal County, said Molly Edwards, spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General's Office. His next hearing is a pretrial conference scheduled for Monday. Zeke Austin, special investigations supervisor for the Arizona Department of Agriculture, said he has not seen a crime involving movement of that many cattle during his more than 20-year career as a livestock investigator. Early last year, Kirby entered into an agreement with Jay Platt, of the Plateau Partnership, based in northern Arizona, to tend up to 500 cattle on a piece of land near Superior, Austin said. According to the pasture agreement, the Plateau Partnership paid Kirby $10,000 up front, with Kirby to be paid $10 per animal per month. The contract covered January to May of last year, Austin said. Platt said he met the ranch manager through Kirby's wife, Toni, who worked at New Mexico's Natural Resources and Conservation Service. Platt said he checked up on Kirby's reputability as a ranch manager before entering into the pasture agreement with him. Austin said 19 of the cattle were sold to a cattle owner in May 2009, and 183 of them were sold to a cattle buyer in July 2009, both sales occurring in Texas. Austin said the latter sale happened at Friona Feedyard in the Texas panhandle...

Senate Shelves Efforts to Cap Carbon Emissions

The U.S. Senate is shelving efforts to pass legislation that would limit emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to climate change, dealing a major blow to one of President Barack Obama's top priorities. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Thursday that neither he nor the White House had persuaded 60 senators to support even a limited proposal seeking to restrict emission from electric-power companies. Mr. Reid offered no timetable for action on such a bill, but said Democrats would continue trying to build support for such legislation. Mr. Reid said the party's leadership will push instead for more limited legislation, aimed at holding oil giant BP PLC "accountable" for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Specifically, he said the measure would include a provision to remove the cap on economic damages paid to residents and small businesses by oil companies after oil spills. Mr. Reid said the bill would also include incentives to encourage the production and purchase of vehicles fueled by natural gas, and to fund various land and water-conservation programs...more

Wife Still Reeling from Loss of Rancher Husband

The unsolved murder of Douglas, Ariz. rancher Rob Krentz spurred Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigration. In this exclusive story, Rob's wife Sue Krentz tells FOX 10 about her husband, her experiences with illegal immigration, and the emptiness of her husband's passing...more

Here is the Fox-TV video report.

Song Of The Day #363

Ranch Radio brings you two different versions of the same song, Cruel Willie.

The song originated as a traditional fiddle tune, and we provide the version arranged and played by Howdy Forrester. That is followed by the song with lyrics as performed by Kenny & Amanda Smith on their Live and Learn CD.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wolf Recovery Sought Across Country: West Coast, New England, Colorado and Great Plains

Gray wolves should be recovered in multiple, connected populations throughout the United States, according to a scientific petition filed today by the Center for Biological Diversity with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The petition asks for development of a national recovery plan for the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act to establish wolf populations in suitable habitat in the Pacific Northwest, California, Great Basin, southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and New England. “Existing recovery plans for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest are out of date and apply to a small fraction of the wolf’s historic range,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “It’s time to develop a national recovery plan to facilitate true recovery of the gray wolf.” Currently, gray wolf populations are limited to the northern Rocky Mountains, western Great Lakes and Southwest, which makes up less than 5 percent of their historic range. In part, this reflects the fact that the gray wolf has never had a national recovery plan, though it has been listed in the entire conterminous United States since 1978. Instead, individual recovery plans have been developed for only the three areas that now harbor populations. These plans were developed in the late 1970s and 1980s and are now outdated. Besides failing to recognize that wolves can be recovered to other areas, the plans set population goals well below what are now considered necessary for population health and survival. In the northern Rocky Mountains, for example, the recovery plan only called for 30 breeding pairs, split between three subpopulations. Small, isolated wolf populations are a recipe for extinction,” said Robinson. “Science teaches us that we need far more wolves that range across a much wider swath of the continent than the current minimalistic approach.” The Center’s petition starts a process in which the Fish and Wildlife Service must make a determination on whether to develop such a recovery plan based on the science in the petition and the requirements of the law. The Endangered Species Act requires recovery of endangered animals and plants throughout all significant portions of their range...more

Groups at odds hinder wildlife conservation efforts - wolves

State and federal agencies have spent more than $20 million over 30 years to restore the Mexican gray wolf to its native habitat in eastern Arizona, an effort now teetering toward failure as the dwindling wild population struggles to survive. What has happened has exposed troubling weaknesses in the wildlife conservation system. Politics, competing interests and drawn-out lawsuits hinder on-the-ground work to protect the species, while three groups that should work together - state regulators, the federal government and environmental organizations - are too often at odds. Emotions have magnified the conflicts over the wolf's return, but most of the arguments surface repeatedly in other cases. Wildlife agencies say courts, ruling on suits filed by environmental groups, increasingly trump science in management decisions. Environmental groups accuse the agencies of dragging their feet and favoring hunters and ranchers over native species...But ranchers resisted, arguing that wolves kill their livestock. They lobbied Congress and their state lawmakers and sued the federal government. The result, environmental groups say, is a program that was designed to fail. First, the government decided to release wolves under rules that give agencies more leeway to remove or kill a wolf if it is caught preying on livestock. Such latitude is unusual in an endangered-species case. Then, the federal agency limited the wolf packs to territory in Arizona after New Mexico gave in to protests by ranchers and refused to allow wolves in the wild. The wolves are the only endangered species limited by political boundaries, said Michael Robinson, who works on wolf issues for the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity...more

Wolf shot in AZ; officials probe use of radio tracking

Another endangered Mexican gray wolf was found shot to death this week in Arizona - and one of the possibilities authorities are looking into is that ranchers or others may have used radios to track and target radio-collared wolves. Environmentalists are pushing the feds - "as a precaution" - to take back the radios loaned to ranchers and others in Arizona and New Mexico that allow the wolves to be tracked. Ranching groups deny the "ridiculous" suggestion that any ranchers would use the radios to target wolves for shootings. They say they only monitor the wolves to try to keep them from attacking their cattle or getting too close to homes. Agents for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have drawn no conclusions as to whether the receivers are being used to target wolves, said Nicholas Chavez, the service's Southwest law enforcement chief. "We put everything into the realm of possibility. We always look into that but we have not confirmed that at all," said Chavez, whose agents have investigated more than 30 Mexican wolf shootings. The radios are loaned to two groups of people: those wishing to protect livestock against wolf attacks and those wishing to protect their property against nuisance wolves, says a document written by officials with the federal wolf reintroduction project. The latest dead male wolf, a yearling, was found Thursday near Big Lake, in Eastern Arizona, about two miles from where an adult alpha male from the same pack - the Hawks Nest Pack - was found shot to death June 18. On June 24, another adult alpha male - the leader of its pack - was found dead in southern New Mexico under "suspicious circumstances." Authorities won't know if that one was shot to death until a necropsy is done...more

The enviros have written to Salazar, asking that the radios be assigned only to government employees.

Bear researchers gamble with lives of citizens

One June 17, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team gambled that nobody would happen upon a trap site near Yellowstone Park where a 430# male grizzly had just been caught in a foot snare, tranquilized, and released. Wrong. The bear killed 70 year-old botanist Erwin Evert. The government gambled. A citizen lost. Evert, a prominent botanist from Oak Park, IL, had a summer cabin on Kitty Creek, roughly seven miles from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. There were 13 other cabins in the area. A U.S. Forest Service road ends just beyond the cabins, then trail # 756 leads up Kitty Creek into the Shoshone National Forest. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) gambled there was no need to warn cabin owners it was trapping grizzlies up Kitty Creek. The IGBST gambled there was no need to post warning signs at the trailhead. The IGBC gambled that all it had to do was post sign warning signs in the immediate area surrounding the bear trapping site. The IGBST gambled, Erwin Evert died. The IGBST could easily have prevented Evert's death by closing the Kitty Creek trail and drainage. Instead, the IGBST gambled that it could just close a tiny trapping site--now Erwin Evert is dead. A July 16 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report says that after releasing a grizzly at bear trapping site #3, IGBST employees took down their warning signs and left. That fatal mistake cost Erwin Evert his life. But even if signs had been left up at the trapping site, why would the IGBST gamble by allowing citizens to get so close to grizzlies?...more

Feds snatch counties’ share of money from geothermal leases

Rural Nevada counties have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in income over the past year because of a federal money grab that has yet to be reversed. Ten months ago, the U.S. Interior Department, in its annual budget request to Congress, commandeered counties’ share of revenue generated from geothermal energy rent and royalties. The move diverted to the department’s programs millions of dollars destined for rural county coffers across the West. The change, which affected at least six states, was overlooked by the congressional delegations of every major geothermal energy state, including Nevada and California. In March, several politicians, including Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign as well as Rep. Dean Heller, introduced legislation that would return the revenue. But the legislation was attached to an unrelated bill, which failed to pass. That was more than four months ago and 12 rural Nevada counties are still struggling to maintain roads and pay teachers. The Interior Department was able to take the money because the 2005 law that created the revenue-sharing system made it optional, at the discretion of Congress and the Interior Department. When the department submitted its 2010 fiscal year budget to Congress, the Senate reallocated counties’ share of the revenue to the Interior Department, of which the BLM is a part. The House version left it intact, but its bill was superseded by the Senate version. Now counties want the income to be permanently guaranteed and they want it protected from state and federal money grabs...more

Ca. rancher furious over oil sump on his property

A rancher is angry about an oil drilling sump on his land and worried about its impact on wildlife and his animals. On Tuesday, the drillers were ordered to remove oil from the material in the sump and get it cleaned up. Wendell Weller, 89, has owned land on South Granite Road for about 70 years, but the Bureau of Land Management has the mineral rights. For about two years Bonanza Creek Energy has leased the site from the BLM, and they've been drilling wells on the rolling hills where Weller pastures cattle and horses. Recently one horse died, and Weller is more worried than ever. Tuesday Weller went to the current drilling site demanding to look at the sump. He said a bulldozer had started that morning to clear out the sump. "I want to get a sample of this right here," Weller said -- pointing at the large sump. By his estimate, it's 300 feet long, 20 feet wide, and ten to 15 feet deep. "They wouldn't have touched this," Weller told Eyewitness News, "Had I not gotten a hold of you to come out. They wouldn't have touched it."...more

Lawsuit paints bull’s-eye on Fossil Creek grazing

The Forest Service’s decision to let some 300 cattle graze near Fossil Creek violates the law and will harm the Chiricahua Leopard Frog and other endangered species, according to a lawsuit filed by the Centers for Biological Diversity. The alarming deterioration of the condition of the watershed had prompted the Forest Service to suspend grazing permits for more than 500 cattle several years ago, but after a study the Forest Service renewed the lease to a unit of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. “Even the Forest Service’s own wildlife specialists concluded this is more than double (the number of cattle) the range can support,” said Jay Lininger, with the Centers for Biological Diversity. “Despite all the work that’s gone into restoring flows, this will wipe out the soil, change the hydrology and harm endangered species." Spokesman for the Coconino National Forest declined to comment, due to the pending lawsuit and referred all questions to the information in the Environmental Assessment posted on its Web site...more

Logs fly to Skokomish river rescue

A stretch of degraded habitat on the South Fork Skokomish River once slated to be a dam reservoir will soon house 28 large woody debris structures to provide refuge for fish and improved water quality. More than 2,000 whole trees pulled out of an Olympic National Forest stand are being transported about one mile this week to a big bend in the river, about 11 miles upstream from where it empties into Hood Canal in Mason County. The transporter is a twin-rotor, heavy-duty helicopter hired by the U.S. Forest Service to strategically place the trees, which will be arranged in engineered log jams. The large woody debris piles, which will be buried in the stream bed and river banks, will serve multiple purposes, Forest Service fish biologist Marc McHenry said. “They provide places for fish to hide, help cool the water and retain spawning gravel for the fish to use,” he said. This section of the river upstream of the Skokomish River gorge was heavily logged in the 1950s and ’60s to prepare a lake reservoir for a dam that was never built. Starved of trees, the river grew wide and shallow, causing water temperatures to rise and fish to lose habitat...more

Lawsuit Opposes California Mustang Gather

Wild horse advocates are seeking a federal court order to prevent the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from removing approximately 2,000 mustangs from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area near Susanville, Calif. The gather is slated to begin in August. The complaint alleges that the gather violates the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 because it endangers horses. The act protects mustangs and burros from harassment, capture, or death, and places the animals' management under BLM jurisdiction. The complaint also alleges that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act. That act requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts of their proposed actions and offer reasonable alternatives to those actions. The complaint alleges that the BLM failed to prepare an environmental impact study demonstrating that animals residing in the Twin Peaks management area exceed levels appropriate to maintain that range's ecological balance, and that the agency failed to offer alternatives to the gather to maintain such an appropriate ecological balance...more

It's a wonder BLM ever gets anything done.

Flagstaff Snowbowl water dispute back in court

A federal judge Tuesday postponed a request for an injunction against the Arizona Snowbowl to keep the Flagstaff ski area from starting construction on a pipeline that would carry reclaimed wastewater 15 miles from town to produce artificial snow. Judge Mary Murguia asked the resort and the Native Americans who brought suit to discuss whether they can reach agreement on when land clearing can begin. Injunctions are imposed only in emergency situations, and Snowbowl argued that there was hardly an emergency if there was no chance of actually making snow until November 2011. If necessary, Murguia will reconsider the issue Thursday. Snowbowl and its landlord, the U.S. Forest Service, have been locked in litigation with several tribes and environmental groups since 2006 over whether the resort can make snow at all, let alone from reclaimed wastewater. Snowbowl and the Forest Service won in District Court and in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and in June 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reconsider that ruling. Attorney Howard Shanker, who represented the Navajo, Hopi and other tribes, immediately filed a new lawsuit zeroing in on whether the government had adequately analyzed the possible ill effects of ingesting artificial snow made from what he called "sewer water."...more

California's New Pot Patch

Northern California's so-called Emerald Triangle, famous for marijuana farms that supply much of the U.S. with high-quality pot, is facing competition from hundreds of miles away—in Los Angeles County. As this year's marijuana-harvest season gets under way, law-enforcement officials are focused on the Southern California county, which by some measures has bloomed into the nation's most productive pot garden. Law-enforcement agents seized more than 734,000 pot plants in Los Angeles County last year—the highest number of seizures in the country for that year. The haul surpassed those even in California's most-prolific northern counties, with the biggest 2009 seizure coming from Shasta County at 629,000 plants. Law-enforcement officials have seized 103,000 plants in Los Angeles County since April, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which takes the lead in pot seizures in the county. Recent seizures in Los Angeles County have astonished even veterans of the state's long drug war. On a single Friday in late June, law-enforcement agents destroyed 19,000 plants with a street value of $39 million, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said. Most of the county's marijuana plants are grown in the Angeles National Forest, a rugged wilderness stretching over 650,000 acres east of Los Angeles, according to U.S. Forest Service records. Forest Service and Sheriff's Department officials recently warned hikers about the presence of pot farms in the forest—along with the armed guards and booby traps that come with them...more

Groups Ask For End To Ethanol Subsidies

“Although we support the need to advance renewable and alternative sources of energy, we strongly believe it is time that the mature corn-based ethanol industry operates on a level playing field with other commodities that rely on corn as their major input. Favoring one segment of agriculture at the expense of another does not benefit agriculture as a whole or the consumers that ultimately purchase our products.” That’s what the nation’s largest livestock and poultry trade associations (including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Meat Institute) said in a letter sent to Senate leadership Friday, They asked Senate leadership to allow a 30-year-old tax credit and a protective tariff for ethanol to expire as scheduled at the end of the year. The Senate Finance Committee now is considering whether or not to extend the ethanol blender’s credit and the tariff on imported ethanol. The groups noted their concerns over the negative economic effects on animal agriculture stemming from the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and the import tariff on foreign ethanol. “The blender’s tax credit, coupled with the import tariff on foreign ethanol, has distorted the corn market, increased the cost of feeding animals, and squeezed production margins, resulting in job losses and bankruptcies in rural communities across America,” they say...more

It will never happen while the Dem's are in control, and probably won't happen while Iowa stays so important in the Presidential primary.

Doesn't hurt to ask though.

Kansas heat wave has killed 2,000 cattle

The intense heat and humidity that blanketed central Kansas since late last week have killed more than 2,000 cattle and one state official called the heat-related losses the worst in his 17 years on the job. However, conditions for the cattle improved somewhat on Tuesday as the humidity has decreased and the wind has picked up, state and feedlot sources said. Kansas is the third largest cattle state with more than 2 million cattle in feedlots. "It is all cattle in feedlots. It is more the humidity than the heat," Ken Powell, environmental scientist with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said of the more than 2,000 cattle deaths. The cattle deaths have overwhelmed rendering plants and some feedlots are burying the carcasses in accordance with state regulations, said Powell...more

Song Of The Day #362

Ranch Radio wasn't able to broadcast yesterday, so we'll have a double whammy today.

There will be no theme or particular era this week, just whatever strikes me.

Several recent happenings have got me to thinking about my youth. So here are two songs that may make you think of yours. They are both in the Texas country or alt-country style. Some of those are too rocky, some too folky, but most are more country than what you hear on top 40 radio. Many of them tell a great story, which I like in a song.

Here is James McMurtry performing See The Elephant from his Childish Things CD. And yes, novelist Larry McMurtry is his father. That's followed by Mark David Manders performing My Old Friend from his Cannonball CD.

Did you get to see the elephant? I did, and a helluva lot more than I should have.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


My apologies for the short version this morning. My internet connection was so slow I couldn't even upload the Song Of The Day.

It's been like this for the last three hours, and of course, just before I started typing this it returned to DSL speed.

Thank you Qwest.

James Gammon, Character Actor, Dies at 70

James Gammon, a squint-eyed, froggy-voiced character actor who was best known as the manager in the baseball film comedy “Major League,” one of the rough-hewn American types — cowboys, rednecks and the alcoholic family patriarchs in the plays of Sam Shepard — that were his specialty, died Friday at his home in Costa Mesa, Calif. He was 70. The cause was cancer of the adrenal glands and the liver, said his wife, Nancy. With a bushy mustache, large, weathered-looking features and a voice full of gravel, Mr. Gammon was a natural for roles that called for men with the experience of dusty roads, out-of-the-way saloons, physical work and family travails written on their faces. And he became a familiar presence on television and in the movies, lending a seeming authenticity to settings where the townsfolk wore 10-gallon hats or overalls — or both — and did a lot of spitting. He began his career in the 1960s, appearing on “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “The Wild Wild West,” “The Virginian” and other television westerns; he made his movie debut in 1967, as a member of the chain gang in “Cool Hand Luke.” He played a redneck murder victim in “Natural Born Killers” and the revered cattle rancher Charles Goodnight in the television mini-series based on Larry McMurtry’s novel “Streets of Laredo,” a follow-up to “Lonesome Dove.” He also appeared in “Cold Mountain” “Urban Cowboy” and “Appaloosa.” “Major League” (1989) was the biggest hit of his career...more

I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to visit with Gammon. He was a close friend of Max Evans, who introduced us. That kind of ornery, yet fun-loving squint was there in real life too.


A Rancher's Personal Border Battle

This Arizona rancher is on the front lines of the border battle, living not far from a nearly non-existant border fence east of Douglas in the southeastern part of the state.

It's where cowboys and their families deal with illegal aliens, drug runners, and thieves -- something they never expected to live with, but now have to fight.

When Ed Ashurst hears the statistics that border crime is going down, he says, the crime in his neighborhood is tenfold what it was five years ago.

FOX 10's John Hook reports.

Here is the video report. If you want to see what it's like to ranch or live on the border surrounded by federal land, then watch this tv news report

Churches (must) pay cartels to operate

The President of the National Fraternity of Evangelical and Christian Churches, Arturo Farela, revealed that various community churches in the State of Michoacán have been threatened by criminal organizations and must pay for the right to operate. He said says that this is a delicate situation they must get through, not only in Chihuahua, Tamaulipas and Michoacán but in other states as well. There have been threats from different people claiming to be members of organized crime. The churches are told they must pay weekly fees according to the number of members, or the number of seats available or else there will be kidnappings or assassinations of the member or of the member’s family. The most recent incidents occurred in Michoacán, Cuidad Juarez, Chihuahua City and some in the northern regions of Tamaulipas...more

Politicians, border residents say National Guard just a start

Word that National Guard will deploy to the border August 1st is news politicians and border residents have been waiting a long time to hear but they are looking for more. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords all basically said the National Guard deployment is good but Arizona needs much more to be safe. All the Guardsmen will be assigned to do surveillance and intelligence work for the Joint Counter Narco-Terrorism Task Force. Attorney General Terry Goddard says going after the smuggling cartels is the best way to boost border safety. He's happy to see the Guard assigned to the drug task force but KGUN9 News asked if putting Guardsmen on short term assignments will help much. Goddard says, "No, I think a three month rotation or some kind of short term assignment on the border is not gonna be effective because, bottom line, we need to have people that know the problem who are experienced in observation; these are subtle investigative signals that have to be picked up on." The idea that Guardsmen may not be right there on the border disappoints border ranchers and the association that represents them. Patrick Bray of the Arizona Cattlemen's Association says, "Our intent for the Guard to be down there was to basically be that presence with full law enforcement authority on the border." Cochise County Rancher Gary Thrasher thinks assigning the Guard is a start. "…But I think it's not nearly enough. And I also think that once people get down here they'll probably see that it's not enough and they can help influence Washington a little bit more to get the help that's really needed through the entire border."...more

An AP story says, "The 1,200 troops will be distributed among four border states, with Arizona getting 524; Texas, 250; California, 224 and New Mexico, 72. Another 130 would be assigned to a national liaison office."

Over 10% are "assigned to a national liaison office." What the heck is that?

The same story reports, "The troops will be armed but can use their weapons only to protect themselves, Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told a Pentagon news conference."

That ought to strike fear into the heart of every drug runner!

Let's remember George Bush sent 6,000 troops to the border in June of 2006, which also just happened to be during a midterm election.

This looks like nothing but political showmanship to me.

Border security must be viewed with an eye on terrorists

Border security is national security. The latest confirmation of what should be an obvious statement came last week from Uganda. What does the East African nation have to do with America's porous borders? Terrorists struck in the capital Kampala as fans watched the World Cup championship. Suicide bombers set off lethal charges at a mass viewing party and a crowded restaurant. Seventy-six people were killed. The group claiming responsibility for the deadly attacks is al-Shabab, an Islamist group not well-known in the United States, but one that is waging an insurgency against the Somali government. “Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy,” Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander in Mogadishu, told the Associated Press. “May Allah's anger be upon those who are against us.” As I discussed recently, the Department of Homeland Security in May warned Texas law enforcement officials of the potential illegal entry from Mexico of Mohamed Ali, a suspected member of al-Shabab. A Homeland Security intelligence assessment produced before the Uganda bombings and obtained by the Associated Press warned, “We cannot exclude the possibility that U.S. persons aligned with al-Shabab in the Horn of Africa may return to the U.S., possibly to carry out acts of violence.” Let's acknowledge that the overwhelming number of unauthorized immigrants entering the United States are simply seeking better lives and economic opportunity. Let's also acknowledge that in most cases, they are compelled to break the law because of irrationally restrictive U.S. immigration policies. Those are arguments in favor of reforming immigration. They are not reasons to ignore the federal government's responsibility to secure the border. And they are certainly not reasons to legally challenge states that act to remedy the federal government's delinquency. In most cases, unauthorized immigrants come here to cut American lawns, make American beds and pick American crops. But some of them want to come here to cut American throats. And there's no way to turn a blind eye to the former without also enabling the latter...more

Slain officer call lured police to site, mayor says

Terrorism, similar to that found in the Middle East, has taken root in North America's most violent city. Drug cartels orchestrated a Thursday car bombing that lured police to a fabricated homicide call at a busy downtown intersection. A car exploded, killing three people and injuring seven others. Rigged in the car was Composition 4, or C-4, a plastic explosive often used by the military, Juárez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz said. He said federal officials found a detonation device with batteries inside another car. Initial reports said a city police officer was killed, too, but Reyes Ferriz said the man was not an agent and was there to serve as a trap for law enforcement. They did not release his name. Officers were lured into the deadly trap Thursday night when they thought they were responding to a homicide, Ferriz said. Officers were dispatched thinking a city police officer was slain on the busy 16 de Septiembre Avenue. Reporters also traveled to the scene thinking it was an attack on an officer. Police and paramedics arrived at the scene and noticed that the man posing as a police officer was still alive. Other officers became suspicious when they noticed that the man was not wearing a badge and that his belt was different than the official police uniform. They proceeded to treat the area as a crime scene. Three rescue workers began to treat the decoy. "They were working on him ... about four meters from the car. Then, additional federal police officers came and the car then exploded," Reyes Ferriz said...more

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Food Czar? Really?

You may laugh about the White House assistant chef being appointed "Senior Policy Adviser." You'll stop laughing when you realize that those in power really do want to tell you what to eat. You just can't cook these things up. The 29-year-old Chicago chef that the Obama family for years paid to be their private cook, Sam Kass, was quietly promoted last month from his job as assistant chef at the White House residence and "food initiative coordinator" to the position of "senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives." The long-suffering American people don't get to know if an increase in salary is involved, because Kass is on the residence staff rather than the West Wing's. But we should know how much the taxpayers are paying this "bald, intense young man" who, according to the New York Times, is "part chef and part policy wonk" and is "reinventing the role of official gastronome in the Executive Mansion." He plays golf with the president at Martha's Vineyard, attends the administration's child-health briefings, and quizzes senior White House staff about policy. Of course, it all begs the question: Why on earth do the American people need a government-paid "food initiative coordinator"? This administration has been attempting to elevate nutrition to the level of a civil rights issue...more

Well, I have my own Culinary Queen, otherwise known as my Burrito Babe, right here and she never tells me what to eat. I either eat what she fixes, or I don't eat.

However, I do agree food should be a "civil rights issue".

Starting today, I'm forming the National Association for the Advancement of Fatty Foods (NAAFF).

First, we need an anthem.

The highly-successful civil rights movement had We Shall Overcome, which went:

We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.

The anthem for NAAFF will be We Shall Overeat, which goes:

We shall overeat, we shall overeat,
We shall overeat each day;
O, deep in my gut, I do believe,
We shall overeat each day.

Of course we'll need to raise money, so I'm establishing the Fatty Foods Foundation.

Our first event will be a National March Against D.C. Salad Bars. Finally, a green movement I can support.

This is in it's infancy, so if you have comments or suggestions on the name of the org., the anthem, the foundation or future events, use the comments section or email me (

Eat Free or Die.

The Feds' $95 million Breastfeeding Boondoggle

The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service has set up a network of "lactation consultants" and "breastfeeding peer counselors," which is a strange use of the word "peer," since the counselors are paid $50-60,000 a year, plus benefits, to be your peer. A job notice for a lactation consultant in Washington State notes: This position is covered by an "Agency Shop" provision. Therefore as a condition of employment, the incumbent of this position must either join the union and pay union dues, or pay the union a representational or other fee within 30 days of the date you are placed into pay status. Hmm... funny how the union label seems to pop up on every idea endorsed by the Obamas. President Obama's 2010 budget allocates $14.85 million for unionized peer support, which funds the Loving Support© Peer Counseling Program, the latest in a line of initiatives which all have the words "Loving Support©" in their titles: Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work; Using Loving Support to Build a Breastfeeding-Friendly Community; Using Loving Support to Implement Best Practices in Peer Counseling. In addition to Loving Support funding, we read at the USDA website: The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (Public Law 111-80), provided $80 million for WIC State agencies to build upon and expand breastfeeding peer counseling efforts...more

There is also a description of a $350,000 USDA contract for a "train-the-trainer" curriculum.

The author, Peter Wilson, says "This contract will pay advisors to advise trainers who train trainers -- three bureaucratic levels removed from the actual act being targeted. Breastfeeding requires the assembly of two working parts, a mouth and a nipple."

Talk about milking the taxpayers...Obama is applying a breast pump to your paycheck.

Woolly mammoth hunters helped change climate

Ancient hunters who stalked the world's last woolly mammoths likely helped warm the Earth's far northern latitudes thousands of years before humans began burning fossil fuels, according to a study of prehistoric climate change. The demise of the leaf-chomping woolly mammoths contributed to a proliferation of dwarf birch trees in and around the Arctic, darkening a largely barren, reflective landscape and accelerating a rise in temperatures across the polar north, researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science concluded. The northward march of vegetation affected the climate because of the "albedo effect," in which replacement of white snow and ice with darker land surfaces absorbs more sunlight and creates a self-repeating warming cycle, the study found. If mammoth hunters helped hasten Arctic warming, that would potentially be the first such human impact on climate, preceding that caused by ancient farmers, Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and a co-author of the study, said on Tuesday. With the advent of agriculture about 7,000 years ago at more southern latitudes, humans are believed to have modified the climate through deforestation and cultivation of new plants, he said...more

Wouldn't you know it...even thousands of years ago, hunters and ag producers were the bad guys. Oh well, at least they were breastfed.

Beyond Politics? BP & Obama

Oil firms have been lumped into one big, bad group by the U.S. drilling moratorium. But they're not all alike. BP's green politics played a big role in the Gulf spill. That's what should be repudiated, not drilling. No. 1, BP's been a big-foot lobbyist on Capitol Hill, spending $15.9 million to influence legislation — and not in the interest of producing oil. According to the American Thinker, BP played a key role in writing the economy-killing Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill that President Obama wants to ram through Congress. "BP is a strong White House and Democratic ally on the cap-and-tax issue," wrote Brad O'Leary. It also went green in the campaign sense, doling out cash to leftist candidates who opposed oil drilling. Obama took more than any other candidate BP financed, $77,051, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. BP and its employees gave more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years. Few were champions of producing oil. The politics gets even seedier. Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel took a rent-free apartment from a BP consultant who helped create BP's sanctimonious "Beyond Petroleum" campaign. Worse, news is out that the $20 billion BP fund to compensate residents of the Gulf ruined by the spill could mean tax savings for BP. BP's $5 billion yearly outlay over four years can be written off as a business expense, according to tax law cited by O'Leary. None of the other oil companies shut down by the moratorium will get that. So in the wake of its disaster, BP gains...more

Ethanol Industry Scrambles to Keep Incentives

The once-popular ethanol industry is scrambling to hold onto billions of dollars in government subsidies, fighting an increasing public skepticism of the corn-based fuel and wariness from lawmakers who may divert the money to other priorities. The industry itself can't agree on how to persuade Congress to keep the subsidies, which now come in the form of tax credits worth about $6 billion annually. One industry group, Growth Energy, made the bold move Thursday of calling for the tax credits to be phased out completely in favor of spending the money on more flex-fuel cars and gasoline pumps that support ethanol. A rival group, the Renewable Fuels Association, said it's too late in the year to make such proposals -- the tax credits expire at the end of the year, and legislative days are numbered. As the industry bickers over what to do, Congress is signaling it's growing tired of paying for ethanol. The House Ways and Means Committee is considering slashing the tax credit by 9 cents a gallon, from 45 cents to 36 cents, when it looks at a wide range of energy tax credits as early as next week. That would be the second cut in the credit in as many years. A key senator also expressed skepticism this week. Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Democratic chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a longtime supporter of renewable fuels, said Congress should "weigh all factors, including the credit's very high cost to taxpayers," when looking to extend the credit. Bingaman noted that the ethanol industry is protected by congressional mandates for its use...more

Go Jeff, you are right on this one.

Agents raid farm...again

When the approximately twenty agents arrived at her farmhouse door at 7 a.m. last Wednesday--from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Ventura County sheriff, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture--Sharon Palmer didn't know what to say. She had just the previous day pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of mislabeling goat's milk cheese that took more than a year to materialize from two previous raids in late 2008 and 2009, pushed by CDFA. She thought that at the least the authorities would leave her alone until that case was resolved, since she had made no attempt to get back into her original business of selling raw goat's milk and cheese. But her 12-year-old daughter, Jasmine, wasn't the least bit tongue-tied. "She started back-talking to them," recalls Palmer. "She said, 'If you take my computer again, I can't do my homework.' This would be the third computer we will have lost. I still haven't gotten the computers back that they took in the previous two raids." Alas, the agents took nearly six hours to conduct their "search," and took the replacement computer, along with goat's milk Palmer feeds her chickens and pigs, since she can't sell it--"The chickens get the curd and the pigs get the whey," she told me. The raid last Wednesday on Sharon Palmer's farm was carried out on the same day as a raid on Rawesome Foods, the Venice, CA, buying club run by nutritionist and raw-food advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz. The main difference seems to be that her raiding party didn't include agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Canada, as did the Rawesome raid. Because the CDFA had previously suspended her dairy license, in late 2008, Palmer says she had worked hard to survive without selling dairy products, instead selling beef, pork, chickens, and eggs she raises on the farm. "They nearly forced me out of business with the previous raids," she says. She and her three children "are barely surviving."...more

Why Did the National Road Fail?

“Let’s build a national road across the I country!” many Americans cried in I the early 1800s. The idea of a national road was appealing because it would encourage settlement by connecting the east coast with the interior of the recent Louisiana Purchase. So popular was the idea that in 1806, Congress voted to fund such a road, and Thomas Jefferson signed the bill. Constitutional arguments were important in this debate. Those who favored the road argued that it was a “post road” for mail delivery, and thus was consistent with Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution. But would the national road — which would eventually stretch from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois — be economically sound? Put another way, even if the road was a good idea, was government funding the best means to achieve it? After more than 700 miles and $7 million in construction costs, we can answer that question. No, the national road was not sound. Nor was it particularly helpful to westward settlement. By 1850 it was little used, and soon after that it was almost abandoned. What went wrong and why? Three problems inherent in government funding help explain why the national road largely failed...more

The West: Locked in a spell of deep wonder, poetry and awe

Writing in 1973, Andy Russell, the Lethbridgeborn trapper, grizzly bear hunter, photographer, trail guide, rancher and writer, exulted in the classic Western vista. And the love was obvious. He gloried in the "sprawling peaks of the Great Lewis Overthrust," and of how "mountains, meadows, lakes and ageless stone couple into solid magnificence." In a description of the sunrise at the foothills of the Rockies, he characterized the moment as "sudden-bursting life, a marriage of light and life," and wrote of how "the mountains light up at first sun in deep rose, swiftly changing to gold, and all shot through with deep purple's shadow." It was, he wrote, as if "the whole universe pauses for a long, heart-stretching moment, locked in a spell of deep wonder." Such awe at the natural world is at the heart of the Western experience and explains much about the West and the optimistic, open spirit that lies at its core...more

Song Of The Day #361

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio.

So here is a nice little swing tune by the Asylum Street Spankers titled Move Up To The Country, Paint My Mailbox Blue.

The tune is on their 14 track CD Mercurial.

Top Secret In America: A hidden world, growing beyond control

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine. The investigation's other findings include: * Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. * An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 11/2 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. * In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space. * Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored...more

NSA Executive Leaked After Official Reporting Process Failed Him

A former NSA executive who is fighting government charges of leaking classified information was part of a group that pursued several sanctioned paths to report concerns about an agency spy program, but was repeatedly frustrated by the government’s inaction, according to a report Wednesday. Thomas Drake, now reduced to working at a Washington, D.C.-area Apple store while awaiting his trial, first notified his superiors at the National Security Agency, then looked to Congress to address his concerns, and finally worked with a group that went to the Defense Department’s inspector general, according to The Washington Post. When all of these avenues failed to net results, he took his information to a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. Drake now faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison if convicted of mishandling classified information and obstructing justice. Drake’s information involved a data-mining program called ThinThread that, after the Sept. 11 attacks, was going to be replaced by a more expensive, less efficient and less privacy-friendly program called Trailblazer. When he expressed concerns that the new program would ignore constitutional safeguards around wiretapping, he was reportedly rebuffed by his superiors. “He tried to have his concerns heard and nobody really wanted to listen,” attorney Nina Ginsberg, who is representing a former Capitol Hill staffer but is not representing Drake, told the Post...more

And from the Washington Post

Drake, 53, may pay a high price for going nuclear. In April he was indicted, accused of mishandling classified information and obstructing justice. His supporters consider him a patriotic whistleblower targeted by an Obama administration bent on sealing leaks and on having something to show for an investigation that spans two presidencies. Many in the intelligence community, by contrast, view Drake as the overzealous one, an official who disregarded his oath to protect classified information so he could punish the agency for scrapping a program he favored...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The pocket watch

by Julie Carter

I lay deep in the dust, unseen and missing to the world. As the winds of time put layer upon layer of corral dirt over me, I slipped into history without notice.

Quietly, I remained in my unintended grave, enduring the seasons that came and then left - the long deep winters of driving frost permeating the soils, the warming sun of spring that brought soft living-giving rains and the gentle warmth of summer that delivered the sustaining harvests.

I saw both ends of a family generation make their living off the land near where I rested. As the older ones faded from the horizon, they made way for the young as they too changed, grew, and moved on in one fashion or another.

The circle of life, fueled by a never-ending source of time, continued.

This silent, stationary journey began when I fell from the pocket of a young cowboy easing into his teen years.

The buck deer engraved on my gold cover was the reason his grandmother selected me as a gift for him. He was so proud, feeling rich and elevated in status to own such a fine item - a pocket watch.

He braided a leather fob for me and would often sit and just stare at this treasure of his, flipping the cover open, closing it again. There he scratched his name, laying an eternal claim to me with the "brand" given to him by his parents. It simply read, "Blayke".

For the first couple years, we were inseparable. Then one day in the course of some of the usual cattle work that happened regularly in the family's old pole corrals, fate parted us.

The punchy young cowboy was riding a newly acquired bronc his dad had brought home from the sale barn.

While a little on the spooky side, the short-coupled sorrel, sporting one white sock on a hind leg, a snip of white on his nose and pig eyes that indicated some stubbornness, was the perfect horse for sorting in a corral.

Afternoon rain showers made the ground slick, and in the instant of a quick move by the sorrel to turn back a calf, all four hooves were simultaneously in the air. In a blur of motion, the horse fell hard to the ground, landing with thud on the corral floor.

The cowboy's quick instincts flashed a signal to his brain and he was able to kick loose from his saddle at the onset of the wreck. He hit the ground with a rush of air leaving his lungs, only to return in short gasps as he pulled himself to his feet.

It wasn't until a day later that he realized his gold pocket watch was missing. He returned to the corrals, kicked around in the area of the fall but he never saw me lying in the dirt where momentum had flung me.

A sadness for the loss registered in his heart and as years continued to tick away in the life of the cowboy, that day was moved to share the memories that recorded a sweeter time in his life.

Recently and some 25 years later, I was unearthed by another generation of that family who was cleaning the corrals. My face is still intact and my cover still has the name of the boy that scratched his mark there.

When he was told that I'd resurfaced, basically unscathed by the experience and the years, the cowboy retrieved the memories of that day and period in his life.

In recall, they erupted in Technicolor and were accompanied by emotions now felt deeper by a wiser adult that had seen a lot of country, done a lot of living.

I'll be glad when he has me back in his pocket. We have a lot of catching up to do. Time doesn't stand still, but timepieces can.

Real-life details provided by Blayke Cardenas. Julie can be reached for comment at

13th Annual Corona Days

Song Of The Day #360

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is Shine Your Light sung by Ginger Boatwright. You'll find the tune on her 12 track CD Fertile Ground.

Drug violence kills 19 in Mexico

The latest spate of drug-related violence in Mexico left 19 people dead, including five factory workers near the US border and four police officers in Acapulco, officials said. The Chihuahua state prosecutor said the workers were gunned down when armed men burst into a party at a house in Ciudad Juarez late Friday. Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas, is a key battleground for drug traffickers seeking routes to the United States. It is also home to many factories, called maquiladoras, for US firms that can use Mexican workers. Six other violent deaths were recorded in Ciudad Juarez, including a man and his daughter, who were shot by gunmen who entered his home early Saturday, authorities said. In other municipalities of Chihuahua, which shares a long border with Texas, there were four killings late Friday, prosecutors said. Separately in Acapulco, four policemen were shot dead Saturday by unknown assailants on a rural road near the port in the Mexican resort, state officials said...more

Gun Battles in Mexican Border City Leave at Least 12 Dead

At least 12 people were killed in three gun battles involving Mexican army soldiers and suspected drug cartel hit men in the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo, officials said. “Nine criminals, two civilians and a soldier were killed in the three clashes between elements of the National Defense Secretariat and members of organized crime, and 21 people were wounded,” the Government Secretariat said in a statement. The secretariat added that seven of the wounded – including three minors – are in serious condition and are being treated at a Social Security clinic in Nuevo Laredo, while the other 14 are in “delicate but stable” condition and receiving treatment in that city’s general hospital. For its part, Sedena said in a statement that it repelled four attacks Friday by armed gangs in different parts of Nuevo Laredo. It confirmed the deaths of the suspected cartel members, the soldier and the civilians, as well as the seizure of several weapons and vehicles...more

Border Patrol Catches Convicted Sex Offender in California Desert

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to Calexico Station arrested a convicted sex offender who was illegally present in the United States early Thursday morning in the desert east of Calexico, Calif. On July 8, at approximately 5:45 a.m., agents encountered a 41-year-old male approximately 16 miles east of the downtown Calexico port of entry. It was determined he was a citizen of Mexico without any legal immigration documents. He was subsequently arrested and transported to the Calexico Border Patrol Station for further processing. At the station record checks revealed the man had previously been convicted of Lewd and Lascivious acts with a minor in Santa Paula, Calif. The individual is being prosecuted for 8 USC 1326 re-entry after deportation. [link]