Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reminder: Cowboy Dinner & Dance - Tonight

I'll see you there!

Police Arrested In Northern Mexico Mayor's Killing

Six city police officers were arrested Friday in the killing of a mayor in northern Mexico, as the country's escalating drug violence targets more public officials. The suspects included the officer who guarded the house where Santiago Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos was seized on Sunday. The officer had said he was kidnapped with the mayor and later freed unharmed. Adrian de la Garza, head of the police investigations agency in Nuevo Leon state, told a news conference that the police officers received 6,000 pesos ($700) per month to cooperate with criminals "in different ways and different affairs," with some allegedly acting as lookouts. "They were employees" of a criminal gang, De la Garza said at a news conference where he displayed security-camera footage from Cavazo's house, showing armed kidnappers arriving at the home on Sunday night in five SUVs. Nuevo Leon state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza said the officers confessed to being involved in the Cavazos' killing, though some declared their innocence while being presented to the press. "We are still looking for others who were involved as well," Garza y Garza said...more

Friday, August 20, 2010

Group sues over lynx protection in NM

Environmentalists are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the Canadian lynx. The agency issued a finding in December that the lynx in New Mexico warrants federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, but the agency didn't act immediately because it must finish work on other higher-priority listings. The environmental group WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit this week, saying the animal will likely not receive protection for a decade or more because it has been put at the end of a line of 245 species awaiting listing. Lynx have been reintroduced in southern Colorado over the past 10 years, and some have wandered into New Mexico. Although the federal government lists the elusive animals as threatened in Colorado and 13 other states, they have no federal protection in New Mexico. AP

Unguarded border bridges could be route into US

On each side of a towering West Texas stretch of the $2.4 billion border fence designed to block people from illegally entering the country, there are two metal footbridges, clear paths into the United States from Mexico. The footpaths that could easily guide illegal immigrants and smugglers across the Rio Grande without getting wet seem to be there because of what amounts to federal linguistics. While just about anyone would call them bridges, the U.S.-Mexico group that owns them calls them something else. "Technically speaking it's not a bridge, it's a grade control structure," said Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission, which maintains the integrity of the 1,200-mile river border between the U.S. and Mexico. The structures under the spans help prevent the river -- and therefore the international border -- from shifting. Whatever they're called, there are fresh sneaker tracks on the structures -- indicating they're being used as passages into the country. In a border tour with the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Office in March, Associated Press journalists happened upon the bridge moments after a man with a bicycle used the bridge to cross the river from Mexico. The border crosser, who told authorities he was only trying to fish from the north side of the river, was promptly arrested. "If he can do it, so can drug cartels with loads of narcotics of any kind," Hudspeth County Sheriff's Lt. Robert Wilson said. "Even a terrorist could pass here with weapons of mass destruction and be in the United States and up on the interstate and gone in a short time." It's unclear how often the bridge is used, but it's common to see people on the Mexican side lingering around the crossing or others playing in the river in the area...more

Land Swap Triggers Colorado Dust-Up

Billionaire energy magnate William Koch's 4,500-acre cattle ranch in western Colorado is split in two by a large strip of federal land—and he wants to change that. The government land includes a road that takes hunters and hikers into a popular national forest, but some visitors stray and trespass onto Mr. Koch's property, according to his ranch manager. So Mr. Koch wants to take title to the federal land—and close the road—by swapping the parcel for land he owns elsewhere in the West. But the way the swap would be executed has drawn criticism in the region. Because the proposal involves multiple federal agencies and land in two states, the deal can't be dispensed with through normal administrative process, which include local public hearings and a thorough environmental review. Instead, it must be handled by Congress, through legislation mandating the swap. That legislation has been introduced by Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat who represents the region (and who is the brother of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) and who has received campaign contributions from Mr. Koch. Federal officials at a Bureau of Land Management field office raised several concerns about the proposed swap in a draft memo that was leaked to environmentalists. The proposed deal would give Mr. Koch about 1,800 acres of BLM land, including the road that bisects his ranch and some additional mountainous parcels. In exchange, Mr. Koch would deed over to the public about 1,000 acres of land including a small parcel of historic value that sits inside Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. The deal also includes five luxury-home sites in Colorado that he bought for $2.7 million and that have long been coveted by the National Park Service for their scenic value and because they provide habitat for the sage grouse...more

BLM always hates it when they lose land and another agency, even one inside the Dept. of Interior, gains land. I don't know about this particular exchange, but the BLM would oppose it even if it made good sense and was in the public interest. Thus the leak to the enviros.

$40M To Restore Forests in Jemez

A restoration plan for more than 200,000 acres in the southwestern Jemez Mountains will receive up to $40 million in federal funds over the next 10 years, Santa Fe National Forest officials announced this week. The Southwest Jemez Collaborative Restoration Program was among 10 projects around the country selected by Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack under a federal grant program called the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, created last year by legislation sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lawrence Lujan said the selected area, which includes the Valles Caldera National Preserve, is fire-prone, and much of the money will go toward addressing that issue through thinning on 90,000 acres and prescribed burns on 76,000 acres. Bruin said she collaborated with 30 different organizations — including Santa Clara and Jemez Pueblo leaders, state and federal officials, and nongovernment environmental activist groups — to form the grant-winning pitch...more

$200 an acre to thin it or burn it...those enviros don't work cheap.

Oregon sawmill to shut down

The Swanson Group said Thursday it is closing its Glendale sawmill indefinitely and scaling back operations at its studmill in Roseburg, blaming the federal government for conditions it said led to the cutbacks. Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., seconded Swanson’s complaints, criticizing the Obama adminstration for a loss in the supply of timber from federal lands and both the Bush and Obama administrations for not protecting the Northwest from what he said were subsidized Canadian imports. Swanson is based in Glendale, north of Grants Pass, and also operates mills in Noti and Springfield. The Glendale mill will stop operating as soon as it uses up its current inventory of logs and may never reopen, Swanson officials said in a written statement. Operations at the Roseburg mill will be scaled back from 60 hours a week to 20 hours per week. All told, about 90 employees will be affected by the two actions, the company said. After the cuts, the company said it will have about 650 employees. The federal government’s timber sale program, particularly on Bureau of Land Management properties, “has gone from bad to worse,” Swanson officials said. “The situation in southwest Oregon, where the federal government manages more than 60 percent of the forestland, is dire.” The Medford BLM district, which has historically provided the majority of logs needed to run the Glendale mill, now provides less than 4 percent, the company said. “Without a significant increase in timber offerings by the U.S. government, this sawmill may never re-open,” company officials said...more

Forest ranger released from a hospital after attack in Angeles National Forest in Azusa

U.S. Forest Service officials said Thursday the ranger who was knocked unconscious during an attack at the East Fork Ranger Station north of Azusa has been released from the hospital. Sheriff's investigators don't know who struck the ranger in his face, knocking him unconscious around 4 p.m. Wednesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Joseph McDonald said. "We're just getting started on our investigation because it just occurred last night," McDonald said. The ranger was flown to a trauma center where he underwent treatment for his head injury and contusions on his legs and stomach, officials said. He has since been released, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Wagner said, who declined further comment. The ranger was allegedly attacked after he opened the station's door to a let a man use the telephone, officials said. "We don't know whether its retaliation from a prior contact; we're still trying to determine that," McDonald said. The man was described as a Latino, standing about 6 feet tall, McDonald said...more

Song Of The Day #385

Ranch Radio is probably over doing it, but today we give you over 10 minutes of different types of rural music on 78s.

Moonshine In The North Carolina Hills by The Swing Billies.
Get Along Cindy by Lulu Belle & Scotty.
Deep Elem Blues by The Shelton Brothers.
Fan It by Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers.

Firearms and the Constitution Versus Treaties

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under that Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” – Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution

Recently I attended a gun show, where I handed out information material and answered questions on the Tenth Amendment Center. Several people were concerned about the U.S. making a treaty that would gut the U.S. Constitution and potentially take away firearms from law abiding citizens here in the U.S. They argued that the paragraph above from the Constitution places treaty law above the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Our Founders very clearly stated the conditions under which the U.S. Constitution could be amended, or changed, in Article 5. It is quite illogical to conceive that our Founders would write such a brilliant document to be the foundation of our union, only to create a giant backdoor for foreign governments to come in and destroy the liberty we had worked so hard to achieve. In fact, our Founders themselves said otherwise...more

Cost of Government Day Arrived on August 19, 2010

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate Cost of Government Day. This is the day on which the average American has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state, and local levels. In 2010, Cost of Government Day falls on August 19. That means working people must toil 231 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government. In other words, the cost of government consumes 63.41 percent of national income. “Two years ago Americans worked until July 16 to pay for the cost of government: all federal, state and local government spending and regulatory costs. That government was too expensive and wasteful. Two years later, we work until August 19 for the same bloated government. We have lost an additional full month of our income to pay the cost of government in just the last two years,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform...more

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Agencies start refocusing on climate change challenges

Starting this year, top Forest Service managers are encountering an added yardstick in their performance evaluations: how well they are meeting benchmarks for confronting the effects of climate change in the national forests? The standards will apply to some 80 Senior Executive Service members, said David Cleaves, the forest service's climate change adviser. In addition, forest managers will be expected to monitor for the effects of climate change on watersheds and wildlife, set targets for reducing adverse environmental impacts from their operations, and have at least one employee serving as a point person for climate change issues, according to a scorecard released last month. "We're looking for 100 percent compliance by 2015," Cleaves said. The move puts the Forest Service at the forefront of federal agencies looking to retool for a warming planet. The long-term challenges are immense: Not only are billions of dollars worth of government real estate potentially at risk, but officials could be faced with politically delicate decisions on how to run programs and manage resources. Ten months after President Obama issued an executive order summoning federal agencies to "lead by example," many are still in the study phase...more

Idaho fights judge’s wolf ruling: Agency says it doesn’t want to pay for poaching enforcement

While the Idaho Department of Fish and Game doesn’t want people to poach or illegally kill wolves in Idaho, it doesn’t want to pay to enforce those rules either, its spokesman said. “We definitely feel with the current state of the status of the wolves, the federal government has an obligation to pay,” spokesman Ed Mitchell said, emphasizing that the department won’t turn a blind eye to illegal wolf killings either. “(Funding is) going to have to come from somewhere and the (Fish and Game Commission) determined that as long as we don’t have a funding source, i.e. tag sales, the funding should come from the federal government.” That’s just part of the latest salvo since a federal judge returned gray wolves to the endangered species list at the beginning of the month. On Monday, the Fish and Game Commission passed a resolution pledging its support for overturning U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy both in the courts and in Congress, and laid out its objections to his decision: it’s “contrary to State management of wildlife, the intent and purpose of the Endangered Species Act and the clear biological recovery of wolves.”...more

Artifact dealers, collectors reflect on raids

The nation's largest and longest-running Indian artifact show opened last year under a cloud of fear and uncertainty as a federal investigation into the sale of Native American artifacts intensified throughout the Four Corners region. Since then, suicide has claimed the government's informant and two defendants, the prehistoric Indian art market has bottomed out, some collectors' lives have been turned upside down and several federal indictments have resulted only in probation for some of those accused of plundering artifacts from federal lands. Now, artifact dealers and collectors attending the 32nd annual Whitehawk Antique Show in Santa Fe are sharing their concerns over how the government handled the case and the way authorities are interpreting federal laws designed to protect the nation's archaeological sites and cultural heritage. "We have suffered a stigma for so many years. I think it's time for people to stand up for their rights to collect and enjoy things that are old," Dace Hyatt, a restoration expert from Show Low, Ariz., told The Associated Press. Hyatt and other members of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association organized a special panel discussion before the start of the show Monday to talk about the federal raids, informant Ted Gardiner and the laws that govern everything from arrowheads to centuries-old pots...more

Tea Party-Style 'Shadow A Senator' Initiatives Planned By Green Groups To Push Climate Legislation

Remember those chaotic town hall meetings last summer with irate Tea Partiers confronting Congress members about death panels and socialized medicine? A coalition of activist-oriented green groups are drawing inspiration from those town-hall scenes in a new push to force senators to answer for their failure to pass clean-energy legislation., 1Sky, Clean Energy Works, the Blue Green Alliance, and other groups are urging volunteers to track down swing-vote senators during the August congressional recess. says it's already signed up more than 2,500 volunteers to track down senators (both Republican and Democrat) at recess events. "[L]et senators know it's not okay to quit working to stop climate change," says "The basic idea is to attend an event where your senator is speaking. Have a few friends stand outside with signs, and then have one or two people inside the event and ask the senator when they plan to actually pass a climate bill."...more

Nearly 600 horses caught so far in federal roundup

Federal officials said Wednesday that they had collected nearly 600 wild horses from the range near Susanville, about a third of the number they hope to round up by September. The Bureau of Land Management said it had gathered 592 wild horses since the roundup began Aug. 11 with a helicopter herding them into trap sites. An aerial survey of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area that was taken before the roundup detected about 2,000 wild horses and more than 200 burros. Officials say they intend to leave 450 wild horses and 72 burros in the 800,000- acre range when they finish, probably sometime in September. Officials released 27 stallions and six mules back into the wild Wednesday, with 14 mares set to be released today after they are treated with a temporary fertility control vaccine. BLM officials say no serious injuries to horses have been recorded since the gather began...more

Property owners lose bid to de-list kangaroo rat

Fifteen years after Riverside County property owners petitioned to remove the Stephens' kangaroo rat from the endangered species list, the federal government has issued its final answer: No. Despite efforts to protect them, populations of the big-eyed hopping rats are declining, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded. Recent surveys determined that invasive grasses from suburban landscapes are shrinking the rat populations, even in protected areas. The invading plants make it more difficult for the animals to forage for seeds and dig burrows for shelter, said Jane Hendron, a wildlife agency spokeswoman based in Carlsbad. The decision announced Wednesday was bad news to developers and property owners who have been coping with rat protections for more than two decades. The rat favors habitat that is prime for building -- flat, open areas. The listing, which jeopardized or delayed residential and commercial development on about 22,000 acres, triggered an outcry and became the bane of developers in western Riverside County...more

Shallow-water drillers fear for their businesses

A post-oil-spill delay in issuing new federal drilling permits in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, at first an inconvenience, has suddenly emerged as a real threat to the future of companies in the business, industry executives said Wednesday. While no one is talking about bankruptcy filings, shallow-water drilling contractors say the holdup in permitting is cutting into the bottom line a bit more each day they have rigs sidelined and idled workers on payroll. "At some point," said Randy Stilley, CEO of Houston's Seahawk Drilling, "it becomes a viability issue." So far, permitting delays have idled 14 of the 46 available jackups in the Gulf and forced offshore companies to cut several hundred jobs. Each rig employs about 100 workers and supports many additional indirect jobs at supply boat companies, oil field services companies and other businesses. If the situation doesn't change, 25 rigs will be idle by the end of August and 30 by the end of September as existing permits expire, according to figures provided by the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, an industry group formed in May to call attention to the issue...more

Forest Ranger Attacked, Knocked Unconscious

In a bizarre incident, a U.S. Forest Service employee was assaulted at a ranger station in the Angeles National Forest. The attack happened around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the East Fork Ranger Station in the Azusa Canyon area. The ranger was there alone. Someone knocked on the door, asking to use the phone. When the ranger opened the door, he was hit in the head with an unknown object. The ranger was knocked unconscious, and when he came to, called 911. He was airlifted to USC Medical Center, and he is reportedly in and out of consciousness. Police believe the suspect is a Hispanic male, who may be driving a green Mitsubishi. Deputies were reportedly conducting vehicle stops in the area looking for the suspect. Nothing was stolen from the station. KTLA

Fire-breathing bartenders arrested, face 45 years

Two fire-breathing bartenders face up to 45 years in prison each for performing flaming bar tricks. Jimmy's Old Town Tavern owner Jimmy Cirrito said his bartenders have been entertaining his customers -- by juggling bottles of alcohol and spitting out streams of flames using matchbooks and lighters -- for more than a decade and no one's complained. But shortly after midnight on July 24, two of his longtime employees were hauled out of the Herndon bar in handcuffs and charged with three felonies each plus other misdemeanors. "They were being treated as if they were terrorists, charged as if they intentionally tried to burn down the tavern," Cirrito said. Fairfax County fire investigators charged Tegee Rogers, 33, of Herndon, and Justin Fedorchak, 39, of Manassas, with manufacturing an explosive device, setting a fire capable of spreading, and burning or destroying a meeting house. They also were charged with several state fire code misdemeanors. Both men have worked at the tavern nearly since it opened. They both recently became fathers and are very anxious about facing serious criminal charges, Cirrito said...more

Los Payasos - Government at work.

Books received for review

Roy And Lillie: A Love Story, by Loren D. Estleman. "a unique new novel about love, history and the social constraints to which one must submit. The bond between Judge Roy Bean and actress Lillie Langtry blossomed across of land and ocean."

Tears Of The Mountain by John Addiego. "...chronicles a single day in one man's life - July 4, 1876 - along with a series of alternating flashbacks that all lead up to an eventful Centennial Independence Day in Sonoma, California. However, as he reflects on past love, the pioneer journey of his youth, and the many violent conflicts of the West, voices of the long dead come to him, and old wounds resurface, threatening everything he holds dear."

Wyoming Range War: The Infamous Invasion of Johnson County by John W. Davis. "It is a story outlandish enough to defy credibility. Wyoming's infamous Johnson County War exploded on the local and national consciousness in 1892 and has never lost its imaginative power. The basis for such classic novels as The Virginian and Shane...Now Wyoming attorney John W. Davis retells the story of the West's greatest range war. The result is an all new interpretation." This is the book I'm reading now.

The Light of Day by James Byrd. "Those who hate humanity have taken over the environmental movement. The environmental movement has taken over the world's government. Those governments have joined together to form The World Consortium...and have moved everyone underground to isolate people from the environment...However,not everyone wants to live underground. Not old man O'Hara. That's why he joined the Resistance, but that was years ago...It would be a dismal existence if not for his grandson Jeff. Jeff is everything he imagined his son would be: smart, independent, inquisitive, defiant, everything except free, but that's about to change."

The 2012 Codex by Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug. "Inspired by the visionary works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Gary Jennings' Aztec Series...In the arid canyonlands of Mexico, the race is on for the ultimate end-of-the-world codex - the final prophecy of the god-king Quetzacoatl, who ruled Mexico 1000 years ago. Archeolinguists Rita Critchlow and Cooper Jones are on the hunt for that sacred codex, while 500 years ago Pakal, a young slave-scholar, sets out on the same deadly quest."

Song Of The Day #384

The old time country artists had a lot of fun with their music, and Ranch Radio brings you two examples of that today.

Today's 78s are Burglar Man by Claude Boone and Shut That Gate by the Buchanan Brothers.

Body of kidnapped mayor dumped in northern Mexico

Security forces found the body of a slain mayor on Wednesday near Mexico's richest city, days after he was abducted by hitmen in the latest attack on a public official from increasingly bold drug cartels. President Felipe Calderon, who has staked his presidency on a faltering drug war, condemned the "cowardly assassination" of Edelmiro Cavazos, the mayor of a town on the outskirts of Monterrey, an industrial center with close U.S. business ties. "The murder of Edelmiro is an outrage and forces us to redouble our efforts to fight these cowardly criminals," Calderon wrote in a Twitter update. Cavazos, a 38-year-old, U.S.-educated mayor from Calderon's conservative National Action Party, was found dumped on a rural road early on Wednesday outside his town of Santiago. He was blindfolded and his hands were tied. Heavily armed soldiers swarmed the crime scene while frightened residents of the popular colonial tourist town stayed indoors, leaving normally busy streets deserted. The attorney general in the border state of Nuevo Leon, which includes Santiago and Monterrey, which is 140 miles from Texas, confirmed the body discovered was Cavazos' and said drug cartels were behind the killing...more

One Cop Dead, 6 Wounded in Separate Incidents in Mexico

A rural police officer was killed and three others were wounded in a shootout with marines in northeastern Mexico, while three Federal Police officers and a gunman were wounded in a gunfight in the border city of Juarez, officials said. Officer Juan Carlos Ponce Garcia was shot several times and died Tuesday in a community in Hidalgo, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. Three Federal Police officers, meanwhile, were wounded when gunmen attacked them on Tuesday as they were driving near the hotel being used as housing for officers deployed to fight crime in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital. One of the suspected gunmen was wounded in the gunfight. Ciudad Juarez is the Mexican city where the most attacks against Federal Police officers have been registered this year. The eight attacks staged against federal officers in the border city have left 11 officers dead and more than a dozen others wounded. A car bombing in Ciudad Juarez targeting Federal Police officers killed four people – a physician, two officers and a firefighter – on July 15...more

Federal Lands - Crime, Violence and Environmental Damage on the Border - video

Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee highlight the crime, violence and environmental damage taking place on federal lands along the U.S. border. House Republicans have introduced legislation (H.R. 5016) that would simply give Border Patrol both the authority and access to effectively monitor and protect our federal lands on the border.

Some sites on border called 'too dangerous'

Border Patrol officers are being told by supervisors to stay out of certain areas as too dangerous, Cochise County's top law enforcement officer said Tuesday. "Agents have told me - this isn't secondhand - that there are places where they don't work right along the border because it's too dangerous," Sheriff Larry Dever said, adding that line officers told him they are simply listening to what they are told by their superiors. "There is concern at the management level, at a certain level, that it's too dangerous right there on the fence," Dever explained. And he said there also is the fear of getting into a confrontation with illegal immigrants and smugglers right along the border that would create an "international incident … with across-the-border shooting." Keith Bocharski, a vice president of the union representing area Border Patrol officers, said supervisors do tell staffers to use caution. And he said there are times individual agents decide not to try to apprehend someone right at the border. But Bocharski, of Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council, rejected any assertion there is a policy, official or otherwise, of declaring certain areas unsafe. "That's the type of work that we do. It's inherently dangerous," Bocharski continued. But, he said, "I haven't known one person to avoid that." Dever stressed he wasn't saying there was a general order issued. In fact, the sheriff said, the directions given to officers vary from location to location. "It's not every Border Patrol manager," he said. "It's not every place along the border."...more

Juarez kidnapping takes toll on both sides of border

The situation in Juarez, Mexico is only getting worse. The quiet streets of El Paso might be the last place you expect to see spillover from the violence in Juarez, but this is spillover of a different kind. The kidnappings of a woman's parents there has a Texas teacher speaking out while most usually suffer in silence. Morayma Chavez-Esquivel says her parents were abducted in Juarez. They were there babysitting their youngest grandchildren. But sometime after the kids were picked up - the couple vanished from the home they own in Juarez. Chavez-Esquivel says the doors to their home were left wide open and the lights were left on. The cars were still parked in the garage, and her mother's shoes were found nearby. That was last Wednesday, and still there Chavez-Esquivel has heard no word of ransom from possible abductors. To add to her concern, Chavez-Esquivel says her mother is diabetic and depends on insulin. As they worry and wait for answers, the family is seeking help from the U.S. Consulate and police in Juarez. But the vast majority of violent crimes in Mexico go unsolved...more

Here is the KEN-TV video report:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bingaman: No bills before November

Sen. Jeff Bingaman said Thursday that he doubts Congress will pass any major legislation before Election Day, including a pared-back energy bill focused on responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. “I think the Republicans are reluctant to support anything that might result in another signing ceremony between now and the election,” the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee told POLITICO after a Mexican lunch here with Rep. Harry Teague and other local Democrats. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) punted last week on energy legislation that would eliminate the $75 million liability cap on damages oil companies must pay in the case of spills and other disasters and beef up the federal government’s role in managing offshore drilling operations. But Reid said he’d try again when lawmakers return next month, perhaps even expanding the scope of the proposal to include other energy provisions, like a renewable electricity standard, that were dropped from when the energy and climate bill died in July. Bingaman said he was in the dark about Reid’s plans for the floor debate. Even so, he said he didn’t think Democrats can muster 60 votes on the oil spill proposal given expected GOP opposition. “It may well be that we have to wait until a lame-duck session to pass whatever we’re able to pass,” he said...more

Navajo Nation - The life and death of Desert Rock

In 2003, the Diné Power Authority, created by the tribal council to develop the tribe's energy resources, announced that the 1,500-megawatt facility would be built by the German company Steag Power (acquired the following year by Sithe Global Power) on Navajo land about 25 miles outside of Farmington, N.M. The tribe itself would own up to a half stake, exploit its large coal reserves, and, when the plant was finished as projected in 2005, send electricity off to markets with its own 500 kilovolt transmission line, which has been in the works since the 1990s. At the time it was proposed, the plant seemed to have a solid foundation: The economy was swinging back from a mild recession, real estate was hot and construction was booming, especially in the Southwest and California. To keep pace with a projected doubling in electricity demand, the International Energy Agency called for $1.6 trillion in energy investment through 2030 in Canada and the United States. Regulatory agencies were generally more permissive, and Congress was nowhere near to passing legislation to rein in carbon emissions, while the Bush White House was refusing to acknowledge climate change. Yet despite the tribe's optimism, a closer look at how it and its partners went about obtaining permits and securing funds shows that Desert Rock always rested upon shaky ground. This March, after seven years of planning and with millions of dollars poured into attorneys, consultants and travel junkets, Sithe Global not only delayed the project once again -- beyond 2015 this time -- but said it is considering changing it extensively...more

Slain rancher honored in son's donations

Las Crucen Andy Krentz walked through the halls of his former workplace Tuesday, the athletic training office at Mayfield High School, and quietly handed over a $1,000 check. The donation, when compared to the district's overall yearly budget, might seem small at first glance. But the story behind it is not an insignificant one. Krentz, 29, is the son of Robert Krentz Jr. - a 58-year-old rancher who was fatally shot, possibly by a drug trafficker, as he worked his southeastern Arizona cattle operation in March. The incident prompted a firestorm of debate in Arizona about illegal immigration, which quickly spread to the national level. Andy Krentz grew up on his family's ranch, just west of the New Mexico border in Cochise County. He attended high school in Animas, N.M., about a 50 miles trip one-way from the family's ranch home. He moved to Las Cruces in 1999 to attend New Mexico State University, where he eventually earned a bachelor's degree in physical therapy and a master's degree in education...more

The entire family has exhibited nothing but class during this entire sad episode.

New Mexico ranchers' use of technology to track wolves debated

Should ranchers have access to the technology that allows humans to track endangered Mexican gray wolves? One advocacy group says no, given that the number of Mexican wolves living in the wild in the Southwest has dropped from 42 to 39 in recent weeks. Radio-telemetry receivers used by ranchers to track Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona should be returned to federal wildlife authorities, according to the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, which is worried about illegal killings of the vanishing predator. Ranchers, though, say they use the equipment to locate dead cattle, not to hunt wolves. Finding the location of a collared wolf with the receiver is not an exact science, said Laura Schneberger, who has a ranch on the north edge of New Mexico's Gila National Forest, where Mexican wolves are trying to establish packs. Schneberger, president of the Gila Livestock Growers, said the receivers have been used on her ranch. "If you are on a ranch with 42 square miles, you're going to need that monitor," Schneberger said. "It will get you in that general area, then you look for buzzards. You use it to make sure the wolves are out of the cows. They (wolves) know you're coming way before you get there and find what they've been eating." A rancher can legally kill a wolf caught attacking livestock on private property, Buckley said. On public land, which includes the Gila National Forest grazing allotments, they must have a permit. It is not legal to shoot a wolf walking through or near cattle, he said. Schneberger said no permits have been issued in Arizona or New Mexico, even in cases where ranchers had confirmed wolf kills...more

Grizzly in maulings near Yellowstone was stressed, had parasites

A grizzly bear that mauled three campers outside Yellowstone National Park had parasites and was struggling to feed her cubs, according to a report released Monday. But state and federal wildlife investigators said those factors alone were not enough to explain such predatory behavior. "We looked at food habits, body condition of the bear, past behaviors -- none of those stand out as a reason that would indicate why this bear would do this," said investigation leader Chris Servheen with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was killed and two people were hospitalized when the 216-pound grizzly tore into their tents in a nighttime attack July 28. The bear was captured a day later at the Soda Butte Campground near Cooke City, Mont., then was euthanized. Its three cubs are now in a Billings zoo. DNA tests on strands of hair found at the campground linked the mother bear to the attacks. Tests for rabies and other diseases came back negative following a necropsy...more

Have a ball at the Testicle Festival

Rocky Mountain oysters. Cowboy caviar. Prairie oysters. Swinging sirloin. Calf fries. Huevos del toro. Criadillas. In plain English, they're bull testicles, and they'll be served up soon for whoever wants some. The second annual Testicle Festival on Aug. 28 will give those who have never sampled the culinary delicacy a chance to do so, and those who love them a nearly endless supply. The event, held by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau and Agri-Culture groups, is a benefit for the bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher program. The main attraction will be served as hors d'oeuvres. They got the name Rocky Mountain oysters because of their resemblance to a shucked oyster when cut in half. Last year the festival, which drew 115 guests, used about 50 pounds of testicles and ran out in an hour. This year there will be 120 pounds, with about 200 people expected. The huevos del toro are prepared in batter, then deep fried. The testicles will be provided by Freedom Meat Lockers & Sausage Company in Watsonville, and are USDA-approved...more

USDA approved? Do the inspectors have some kind of a testicle tester?

Or do the USDA inspectors grade them, and if so, by what criteria...size, shape?

Most importantly, did these delicacies carry the proper identification? I mean we can't have these livestock parts crossing state lines without the proper ID, right?

I'm sure that Obama and Vilsack are right in their belief our Founding Fathers intended the Commerce Clause to cover calf fries.

Artificial meat? Food for thought by 2050

Artificial meat grown in vats may be needed if the 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2050 are to be adequately fed without destroying the earth, some of the world's leading scientists report today. But a major academic assessment of future global food supplies, led by John Beddington, the UK government chief scientist, suggests that even with new technologies such as genetic modification and nanotechnology, hundreds of millions of people may still go hungry owing to a combination of climate change, water shortages and increasing food consumption. In a set of 21 papers published by the Royal Society, the scientists from many disciplines and countries say that little more land is available for food production, but add that the challenge of increasing global food supplies by as much as 70% in the next 40 years is not insurmountable. Although more than one in seven people do not have enough protein and energy in their diet today, many of the papers are optimistic...more

Artificial mountain oysters?

Maybe if they're artificial they won't need any damn ID.

Tales for O.C.'s 'cowboys at heart' (Baxter Black Interview)

Last week he headlined at Grainstock – Woodstock for agriculture folk in Soda Springs, Idaho – and now cowboy poet and humorist Baxter Black is set to perform in San Juan Capistrano this weekend. Black is an author, a radio commentator and a large-animal veterinarian. Though the Arizona resident's presentations of cowboy poetry – a genre that began as tall tales and folk songs – typically take him to rural landscapes in states like Montana, Black says there's still a place for cowboys in Orange County: "There are a lot of reasons why you need cowboys," he said as he thumbed through one of his books, "Blazin' Bloats & Cows on Fire!" "The world needs cowboys for the same reason we need knights, punt returners, banjo players and Marines. You have to have someone you can send in first. There are a lot of people who ride horses in San Juan Capistrano. They may not be working with cows, but they come out there and bring their horses and ride on this beautiful Rancho Mission Viejo. "That's how I know about Orange County. They're cowboys at heart, but they may not be cowboys in real life." Q. You perform for a lot of different groups: the agriculture folks, cowboys and now in Orange County. Do you cater your performance to the different audiences? A. I have to divide my material into "cowey" and generic. ... Farming isn't very funny, so I don't have too many farming stories, but cows and horses are funny. You can have so many cow wrecks, and cowboy poetry is about wrecks. I have concluded after writing my column over the years that, just like there's an infinite number of love songs, there's an infinite number of ways a cowboy can get bucked off. ... It's the truth in humor that makes it funny. That's why there are no science-fiction jokes...more

Song Of The Day #383

Ranch Radio continues it's 78s week with Quarantined Love by Bob Newman and Unpucker by The Carlisles.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Environmental rules tightened for deepwater oil drilling

The Obama administration announced Monday it is requiring environmental reviews for all new deepwater oil drilling. That means an end, at least for now, to the kind of exemptions that allowed BP to drill its blown-out well in the Gulf with little scrutiny. The announcement came in response to a report by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which found that decades-old data provided the basis for exempting BP's drilling permits from any extensive review. The Interior Department said the ban on so-called "categorical exclusions" for deepwater drilling would be in place pending full review of how such exemptions are granted. "Our decision-making must be fully informed by an understanding of the potential environmental consequences of federal actions permitting offshore oil and gas development," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. For now, new deepwater drilling is under a temporary moratorium in the Gulf. Once that's lifted, though, Interior's new policy is likely to make it much more time-consuming for oil companies to move forward with new deepwater projects, since environmental assessments will be required along the way. Shallow-water drilling will also be subjected to stricter environmental scrutiny under the new policy...more

Fox News: Rep. Bishop Discusses Secret DOI Documents

Here's the video report:

New diversity plan for the Interior Department

The Interior Department is implementing new workplace rules for diversity and inclusion amid years of reports that it hasn't done a good job hiring and promoting minorities. A study conducted by the department's black employees last year found that Interior was the only Cabinet-level agency falling below "relevant civilian labor force" representation for African Americans and was experiencing more departures of black employees than new hires. The poor numbers prompted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to call for changes and he announced a series of changes last month, including a decision to link performance evaluations and awards for senior executives to their progress on hiring diversity. He also ordered managers to file monthly diversity reports. On Monday Salazar tapped John Burden -- a veteran of diversity offices at Interior and the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- to serve as the department's first chief diversity officer. Managers across the department also will have to draft their own diversity plans by Sept. 30...more

Politics, public pressure keep firefighting costs high

As the Northern Rockies prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Big Blowup, the fire season is looking pretty tame. It's the second year in a row that the region, which has been burned hard and often since 1988, has had a relatively easy year. That has allowed firefighters to let fires burn to help reduce fuels and restore the ecological integrity of the forests. Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, an organization that has pushed for a shift in fire policy from suppression to letting more fires burn, has released a report by its executive director, Timothy Ingalsbee: "Getting Burned: A Taxpayer's Guide to Wildfire Suppression Costs." It lays out the economic case for reduced suppression in the backcountry in the face of larger fires and increasingly costly and long fire seasons. You may not agree with his conclusions, but the report is filled with good data about what is going on in our forests both near our homes and out in the wilderness...more

PPL Asks US Supreme Court to Hear Dams Case

PPL Montana is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the state of Montana from seizing ownership of riverbeds and forcing rent payments, arguing other states may copy the move. PPL Montana is fighting for relief from a state Supreme Court decision forcing it to pay $40 million in current rent, as well as damages for not paying rent for land its dams sit on from 2000 through 2007, plus even more in future rent. The court decision means the land under the dams is like other public land that is rented out, such as to those who graze cattle or drill for oil. PPL Montana said the state overstepped its authority and asked the nation's high court Thursday to intervene in the case. PPL said the state's high court was wrong in claiming Montana ownership over 500 miles of riverbeds under multiple hydropower facilities...more

Cow pie patrol

What goes up must come down. That’s gravity. What goes in must come out. That’s the rule of mazes, freeway tunnels and, in bovine and all other species I know of, digestion. I’ve been combining my knowledge on the two rules of digestion and gravity as I venture into a new area of modern ranch management and cattle nutrition. Here’s the deal. I walk nonchalantly into a herd of my grazing cows and look for five to 10 fresh cow pies — really fresh cow pies. I reach down for a little piece of each pie, so to speak, about a spoonful, and put it in a resealable plastic bag for a little laboratory analysis. According to the folks at the lab, the sample would be even better and fresher if I could catch a spoonful in midair, or next best, from the pie that just hit the ground that very second. I want to send the best sample I can, so this becomes a waiting game for me and my cows. I stand there amidst the herd with sharpened senses, my eyes furtively searching for a rising tail or a look of alternating bovine concentration and relief, my ears tuned keenly to listen for the sound of a “plop, plop, plop.” Like a stakeout in law enforcement, it’s tedious. The reward is a nice bag full of . . . used grass to send to the college lab down in Texas...more

Song Of The Day #382

Ranch Radio will continue blowing the dust off the old 78s this week.

Today we bring you Texas Sand by the Tune Wranglers and Rhythm In The Hills by Tom Emerson's Mountaineers with Polly Shaffer doing the vocal.

51 people killed in Juárez over weekend

The rampant bloodshed continued today in Juárez with nine homicides by this afternoon, Chihuahua state police said. Fifty-one people were slain during the weekend from Friday to Sunday, including 24 on Sunday, making Sunday one of the deadliest days of the year, a police spokesman said. Victims included two members of the state Cipol police killed Friday when their patrol truck was fired upon. Authorities said investigators were still trying to identify many of the victims and that were was a backlog of cases. Government and federal law enforcement officials will be meeting in Mexico City to come up with strategies to diminish the number of killings. Juárez is known as the murder capital of Mexico and one of the most dangerous cities in the world...more

Obama Border Czar Alan Bersin: Thirty Years to Secure Border Between Mexico and US

Even though the Obama administration admitted they’ve yet to find a “clear definition” on what “secure the border” means, they have come up with a “30 year plan” which was discussed at a recent border security conference at the University of Texas-El Paso, UTEP, a conference sponsored by several corporations which the government has awarded multi-million dollar contracts to “secure the border”. Just in case you haven’t heard, the Obama administration believes it will take the U.S. thirty years to secure the border and fight Mexico’s organized crime, the drug cartels, one of the tidbits revealed at last week’s seventh annual Border Security Conference held by UTEP, the University of Texas at El Paso. Elliot Ness, American Prohibition Agent and his agents, dubbed the Untouchables, by now, are whirling in their graves. Attending the conference, two Obama Czars, Border Czar Alan Bersin, Commissioner U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Drug Czar R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy...more

Arizona rancher faces border issues alone - video

An Arizona rancher says he is the one dealing with the border issues that the federal government won't handle. Rancher Jim Chilton spends his days on horseback, tending to his cattle on his 50,000-acre ranch that stretches to the border of Mexico, and he says he’s not the only one navigating the rough terrain. “You can assume that all these mountains have cartel scouts on them,” said Chilton, pointing to the peaks around him. Chilton estimates 20,000 to 30,000 illegal immigrants cross through his ranch every year, and he says he fears for his life, suspecting a criminal from south of the border murdered his friend and fellow rancher, Rob Krentz. “We’re getting really concerned now, because the tables have turned,” said Chilton. “Used to be, it was the coyotes bringing people through. Now, the drug cartels have taken over the people moving business.” His ranch is marked by a visible path beaten by the migrants who cross through the land, and the garbage they leave behind. “I’ve just learned how to ride in garbage, that's all,” said Chilton. But litter is the least of the rancher’s worries. He says he’s always heavily armed because he has no idea who is coming over the mountains on his horizon...more

Here is the ABC video report:

Danger stalks the line: Arizonans are living and dying under the gun

Imagine if, on a regular basis, you had drug runners with machine guns trespassing into your backyard from a foreign country and looking at you as if you're the one with the problem. This is not a fictional scenario. It has happened to several of my friends in Arizona who own ranches near the U.S.-Mexico border and have had the bad luck to be stationed at crossing points for drug runners coming into the United States. Ranchers and others in Arizona deal with these dangerous situations on a regular basis, and when the Border Patrol is called in, the suspects often have disappeared. There's an even worse situation to consider. One friend of mine who has a ranch on the Arizona-Mexico border was awakened late one night by his dog barking. When he went to the window, he saw several men in military helmets and full body armor marching across his land, just a few feet from his house. That was strange enough, but when he heard them speak, a chill ran through him. My friend served with the U.S. Army in the Middle East and clearly recognized that the men were speaking Arabic. Because of his ranch's location near the border, it was logical to assume that they were crossing from Mexico. He shuddered when he thought of where they might be heading and what they might be planning. Once again, when the Border Patrol arrived, the men were long gone, and they were never found...more

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gov: feds should pay for wolves in Wyoming

Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Wednesday that if the federal government wants to set the rules for wolves in Wyoming, it can pay for their management. Freudenthal made his comments in Jackson before visiting with federal officials from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, although wolves were not specifically on his agenda. He spoke a few days after a federal judge put the wolf in Montana and Idaho back under federal Endangered Species Act protection, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could not delist the species there while keeping it protected in Wyoming. The ruling hasn’t swayed the governor’s position that wolves should be killed by any means at any time in 80 percent of the Wyoming. If the federal government wants to set the rules, it can pay the price, Freudenthal said. “I don’t want to spend any state money on it,” he said of wolf management. “Let the feds do it. Why should I pay state money to be a toady to the federal government?” Freudenthal said he would rather spend state money on improving wildlife habitat...more

BLM moves forward with state's largest mustang roundup this year

Federal officials have begun a six-week operation to gather horses from one of the state's biggest mustang herds, a roundup that's expected to be California's largest this year and the second largest in the nation. The roundup of wild horses and burros from the 798,000-acre Twin Peaks herd management area – located 25 northeast of Susanville along the California/Nevada state line – began Aug. 11, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Eric Curtis. “Our goal is to round up as many of the horses as we can and leave about 450 of them on the range,” said Curtis. A roundup in the area hasn't taken place since 2006, Curtis said. The operation started the same day the federal Ninth Circuit Court denied an injunction to stop it, the BLM reported. District Manager Nancy Haug said BLM crews found that the more than 2,000 wild horses and more than 200 wild burros due to be rounded up appeared in good condition and showed no visible signs of dehydration. However, Haug stated, “The current population of wild horses and burros remains far above the number the range can handle, and this roundup is necessary to keep both horses and range in that healthy state.” She said the BLM was taking special precautions for the heat during August and early September. Helicopter gathers aren't conducted during the foaling season, which Haug said happens between March 1 and June 30, in order to ensure foals are strong enough to be moved with their mothers...more

Giant fire set pace for Forest Service

Each year major wildfires in the West are fought like military battles, with firefighters deploying by ground and air, bombers dropping retardant on flames, and incident commanders plotting strategy behind the lines. These often epic campaigns are largely the result of the Great Fire of 1910. The largest in U.S. history, it burned an area the size of Connecticut, wiping out whole towns and killing 86 people in remote areas of Idaho, Washington and Montana. This is the 100th anniversary of the Aug. 20-21 firestorm that ended the era when wildfires were often allowed to burn themselves out. The fire, also known as the Big Burn, spawned a wildfire-industrial complex that employs thousands of people to extinguish forest fires each year, even though many think those efforts will likely result in larger, more destructive fires. "For decades, the Forest Service told a clear and compelling story of firefighting as good versus evil, the moral equivalent of war," Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a spring speech in Boise, Idaho, commemorating the Great Fire. Things are different now. Fire is seen as necessary and beneficial, although the decision on when to let it burn and when to put it out continues to spark lots of debate...more

We keep trying to stop the fires

Scorched earth and gnarled oaks lit up like flares. Blackened skies and the whomp-whomp-whomp of helicopters aloft as evacuees huddle in a local school. This quick-cut imagery can mean only one thing in California: The summer fire season has begun. Although the first major fires in the Southern Çalifornia counties of Kern and Los Angeles have been contained, the larger lessons to be drawn from this trio of late-July fires already are obvious. The stunning devastation from last summer's Station Fire, and the political inferno it ignited, is driving a much-more aggressive firefighting response this summer. Take the wind-whipped Bull Fire. It started July 26 in the Sequoia National Forest, and within three days had swept through 16,000 acres of grass and brush along the Kern River, near the town of Kernville. Nearly 2,400 fire-fighting personnel battled the blaze, at their command an impressive arsenal of 124 fire engines, five bulldozers, 16 water tenders, and 14 helicopters. That ground and air technology, combined with 99 hand crews doing the essential back-breaking labor to clear fire lines around the perimeter, was a sign of the seriousness with which this early outbreak was taken...more

Armed rally held near Capitan

It wasn't the largest armed rally in U.S. history, as organizers had hoped, but an estimated 350 people attended the"Restore the Constitution Western Rally," held Saturday near Capitan. The event, held on private land owned by Billy Weddige eight miles north of Capitan on Highway 246, coincided with an Eastern rally staged in Greensboro, N.C. It was broadcast live on at least 12 radio stations, with a feed by Ruidoso's KEDU-FM. Supporters of various political candidates set up booths and passed out pamphlets while prominent members of both major political parties were in attendance. A Nogal-based band, the Longhorn Dance Band, entertained the crowd with county music. At least half the attendees carried weapons, from M-16 rifles to pistols as an affirmation of the Second Amendment that gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms. But the rally reached beyond the Second Amendment in support of states' rights, enforcement of immigration laws, the Bill of Rights and other articles and amendments of the Constitution. Among the speakers was Steve Pearce, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Another speaker was Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, author of the controversial SB 1070 immigration bill...more

When rancher Marie Scott died in 1979, her will ignited a turf war that still rumbles 30 years later

From a cabinet in her china hutch, Frances Talbert pulls out a bundle of papers that is so thick and weighty she needs both hands to lift it. "Parts of this will always be a mystery," says the feisty retiree as she snaps off a rubber band and begins to sift through the yellowed letters, legal forms and check stubs. The mystery — and the attendant hard feelings that years haven't softened — centers on a little flame-haired, bow-legged woman dead for nearly 31 years, the storied Marie Scott. When Scott died in her modest home down Colorado 62 from the Talbert place in the winter of 1979, she was a land baron without equal. But she had no immediate relatives and no shirttail kin — at least that she would claim. In a story told and retold so often that it is worn at the edges of memories like an old book, Scott divvied up what was left of a ranching empire that once stretched for 100,000 acres from Ridgway into Utah. Scott split her estate among a dozen friends, neighbors and business associates. They were mostly hardworking people who had pleased Scott by loving the land as much as she did or by doing things for her as simple as opening gates or stringing straight, strong fence. During her lifetime, Scott never tolerated what she termed "monkey business." And she was often quoted as saying, "The more I know of people, the more I like my dog." That quip may have been prescient. What some people did as soon as Scott was laid to rest under a pine tree — some say even before — would not have pleased her...more

Birthing camel babies is not for the faint of heart, Perry farmers say, video report

It's hard to say who was groaning the most — the baby camel or Wynona Passow. Lanky legs and neck sprawled too far forward, then too far backward. That black, furry newborn was going to stand and nurse somehow, Passow decided. The mother camel blinked long, dreamy eyelashes and watched carefully as Passow coaxed the big baby to the mother's side. "The females are lovely," Ralph Passow said, watching his wife try to turn the baby toward the patient mother. "But the male camels will kill you." About 30 minutes earlier, Ralph Passow had helped the camel deliver by tugging on the baby's legs. Wynona's usual task of getting mom and baby together began soon after and continued, off and on, more than an hour later. Ralph, 72, and Wynona, 69, have been raising camels for a decade. The Passows found that camels are not only good for eating thistles; people rent the dromedaries for birthday parties and other events for $500. Customers from Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and numerous states in the U.S. have bought camels from the Passows. This year, the couple sold 11 camels at $2,500 for the males, which become placid once they're castrated, and $4,500 for the females.....more

Here's the video report:

USDA to ban antibiotics?

A USDA official has told a Congressional panel there is likely a link between agricultural antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in humans. "USDA believes that it is likely that the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture does lead to some cases of antibacterial resistance among humans and in the animals themselves, and it is important that these medically important antibiotics be used judiciously," Dr. John Clifford, APHIS's deputy administrator for veterinary services, told the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health during a hearing last month. To date, there is no conclusive scientific evidence indicating that the judicious use of antibiotics in cattle contributes to antimicrobial resistance in humans. In fact, the non-scientific removal of antibiotics in Europe actually led to increased animal disease and increased use of therapeutic antibiotics with no demonstrable improvement in human antibiotic resistance patterns. Denmark banned sub therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animal production in 1998. In a column he wrote for Feedstuffs, Trent Loos, a rancher and farm advocate, described "an enlightening discussion" he had with two Danish veterinarians who told him that since 2002, the rate of Danish people who were found to harbor bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics has increased six-fold. They also indicated that antibiotic treatment in the human population has increased from 350mg to 1400mg in order to overcome bacterial infections...more

Cattle 'cloned from dead animals'

Some of the cattle cloned to boost food production in the US have been created from the cells of dead animals, according to a US cloning company. Farmers say it is being done because it is only possible to tell that the animal's meat is of exceptionally high quality by inspecting its carcass. US scientists are using a variety of techniques to assess which animals have exceptional qualities. These attributes include meat quality, productivity or longevity. These exceptional animals are cloned to be used as breeding stock, with the aim of raising the quality of herds on beef, dairy and pig farms in the US. There is a long tradition of resurrecting dead animals for cloning - Dolly the sheep being a case in point. The head of the leading US animal cloning company has said that European farmers will fall behind the rest of the world unless they are allowed to use such techniques to improve the productivity of their livestock. The aim of livestock cloning is to clone the best animals to produce the best beef. But some cattle farmers believe it is impossible to pick the best quality animals until their meat has been properly analysed. That is why there are cloned bulls here that have been produced from the cells taken from the carcasses of dead animals. Brady Hicks of the JR Simplot company in Idaho said his organisation was among many that had tried out the technique successfully...more

The ways of natural horsemanship

I once saw a seahorse and I've seen many sawhorses, but this is a first: a horse seesaw. A teeter-totter for ponies. The heavy tippy timber is one of several teaching tools at a corner of Trail's End Guest Ranch that Chris Benz likes to call the playground for her four-legged staff. Upon the plank, horses develop dexterity and confidence with balance, just as a nearby obstacle course of old tires fine-tunes the rhythm of a trot and a skeletal tunnel of soft PVC pipe anchored with elastic cord helps conquer any fear of entering a trailer or a shed. Many hours are spent here, riders teaching horses -- and horses teaching riders -- in the ways of natural horsemanship, a training philosophy that says humans must work with the instincts of the animals to build a partnership, not break down the will to subservience through harsh discipline...more

Sculpture champions spirit of state fair

Arms raised in triumph with a smile emblazoned across her face, the young girl holds a “grand champion” rosette high in the air as she perches on her father’s shoulders. It’s a touching scene of a moment at the state fair in Douglas. And now it’s captured forever in bronze. “The Champion,” a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of a rancher carrying his prize-winning daughter, will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Monday at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds in Douglas. The sculpture, by Lander artist David Alan Clark, will stand in front of the new horse barn/livestock barn recently constructed at the fairgrounds. Clark, a 1997 graduate of Green River High School, said the sculpture aims to capture the excitement of families competing at the state fair. “Basically, the idea is to kind of celebrate the fact that most of the folks that are involved with the fair are agricultural families,” he said...more

A Look Back: Tarwater Store in Murrieta

A loyal friendship between a Basque sheep rancher and one of the townships' first settlers may have everything to do with one of Murrieta's oldest landmarks. Tarwater Store, known today as the Murrieta Country Market, was built in 1917 on the corner of Washington Avenue and B Street by one of Murrieta's pioneers, B.W. Tarwater. He established the small store after purchasing land from his longtime friend, Juan Murrieta, for whom the township and later the city, was named. A native of Spain, Murrieta moved his sheep farming business from the San Joaquin Valley in the 1870s and joined two partners to purchase 52,000 acres of land (at the cost of $1 per acre) that included Temecula and Pauba Ranchos and what is now the Murrieta Valley. "As the only little store at the time, it served as the main meeting place and the center of activity," said Ayleen Gibbo, chairwoman of Citizens for Historic Murrieta who also lives in the Tarwater family's original Murrieta home, built in 1888. The store sold a little bit of everything, including produce, household goods, supplies for livestock and clothing. It also was a place to discuss politics while grabbing a cup of coffee, which was constantly brewed over a pot belly stove, said Gibbo, who is 79...more

Song Of The Day #381

Ranch Radio will dust off the 78s this week. Its Swinging Monday and Ranch Radio brings you a triple whammy of swinging 78s: Cow Town Swing by the Universal Cowboys, Swing Time Cowgirl by Patsy Montana and the slightly risque Feels Good by Hartman's Heartbreakers.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Have you met a Leatherman?

by Julie Carter

Back in 1975, a man named Tim Leatherman was traveling through Europe on a shoestring budget in a cranky car with leaky pipes.

It was during this trying time he birthed the idea of pocket survival tool. That tool today is known simply as a "Leatherman."

By 1977 the tool had taken on a rough form and in 1980 "Mr. Crunch" was patented.

Through the '90s and with more than 200 employees, new and better designs were released setting the standard in the all-purpose pocket tool industry.

For those of you that are still in the dark ages, the Leatherman tool is a fold up tool that incorporates all the following tools in one handy frame: Needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, clip-point knife,serrated knife, diamond-coated file, wood saw, scissors, extra small screwdriver, small screwdriver, medium screwdriver, large screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, can / bottle opener, wire stripper and lanyard attachment.

In the West, the land of "real men carry pocket knives", the Leatherman phenomenon was at first slow to catch on. A Leatherman was deemed pretty pricey for a pair of pliers, and "I already have a good knife" made it easy to blow off the multipurpose handy for anything tool.

The tool would sometimes show up under the tree for a Christmas gift and promptly end up in the drawer next to the initial embroidered hankies and ugly boxers.

In the meantime, the world knew something we didn't. Other tool companies began manufacturing acceptable, affordable imitations of the revered original. Gerber, Seber, Sears and an assortment of companies not proud enough to even put their name on the tool, flooded the market in every shape size and color.

Someone even put a teensy version on a key chain, handy for nose picking and nail cleaning.

Then it happened. Some "real" man dared to show up in the branding corral with one of the versions of that "fad" on his belt, neatly snapped in a little case.

He used it to pull cactus out of a horse's leg and change the needles on a vaccine gun. He loaned it to a kid to use for a cooking utensil while they cooked calf fries on the branding iron burner. He twisted and tightened the wire on a gate that was doubling as a hinge. He tightened a screw in the emasculators and popped open the lids on an assortment of things.

That amazing day of demonstration opened the eyes and the dresser drawers of those "real men with pocket knives." No longer did they break the good blades on their high dollar pocket knives prying and digging with them.

No longer did they have to stick their heads under the seat of the pickup breathing unmentionable kinds of dust to find that pair of pliers or a wrench they knew was there somewhere.

Today it's standard equipment on more belts than not. The women wear them or carry them in their purse. You will see the daintiest and most delicate of well-coiffed, finely garbed ladies slip a Leatherman from their fine leather purse and go to work with the tool like she'd been doing it forever.

The list of uses is as varied as the number of tools all hooked up into that one handy dandy tool.

There are stories of lives being saved, babies being birthed and legendary feats all because of a Leatherman.

Tomorrow when you strap yours on your hip, know it just might go down in history next to Smith and Wesson.

Julie can be reached from comment at

Activist ‘Green’ Lawyers Billing U.S. Millions in Fraudulent Attorney Fees

by Richard Pollock

Without any oversight, accounting, or transparency, environmental activist groups have surreptitiously received at least $37 million from the federal government for questionable “attorney fees.” The lawsuits they received compensation for had nothing to do with environmental protection or improvement.

The activist groups have generated huge revenue streams via the obscure Equal Access to Justice Act. Congressional sources claim the groups are billing for “cookie cutter” lawsuits — they file the same petitions to multiple agencies on procedural grounds, and under the Act, they file for attorney fees even if they do not win the case. Since 1995, the federal government has neither tracked nor accounted for any of these attorney fee payments.

Nine national environmental activist groups alone have filed more than 3,300 suits, every single one seeking attorney fees. The groups have also charged as much as $650 per hour (a federal statutory cap usually limits attorney fees to $125 per hour).

In well over half of the cases, there was no court judgment in the environmental groups’ favor. In all cases, whether there was any possible environmental benefit from the litigation is highly questionable. Most cases were simply based upon an alleged failure to comply with a deadline or to follow a procedure.

A whistleblower who was employed for 30 years by the U.S. Forest Service told Pajamas Media:

Some organizations have built a business doing this and attacking the agencies on process, and then getting “reimbursed.”

This week a bipartisan group of congressional members introduced legislation to end the secrecy of the payments and force the government to open up the records to show exactly how much has been paid to the groups and the questionable attorney fees. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah).

Congressional sources have said the disclosure was necessary to determine the extent of fraud and abuse. The $37 million is considered only a fraction of what has been paid out to the activist groups.

“For too long, taxpayers have unwittingly served as the financiers of the environmental litigation industry,” Rep. Bishop, who also is the chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, said.

Rep. Herseth Sandlin remarked: “Simply put, this legislation is about ensuring good and open government.”

“It’s time to shine some light [on the program],” explained Rep. Lummis, who said the groups have created an industry that “supports their ‘stop everything’ agenda.”

The $37 million figure is considered low. It includes less than a dozen groups and only accounts for cases in 19 states and the District of Columbia. There are hundreds of eco-activist groups in the United States.

According to the whistleblower who served in the U.S. Forest Service, environmental activist groups typically file identical lawsuits to multiple agencies on procedural grounds, such as a missed deadline.

The identity of the huge revenue stream was established by the Western Legacy Alliance (“WLA”), along with Wyoming-based attorney Karen Budd-Falen. Western Legacy Alliance was founded in 2008 by ranchers and resource providers who raise beef and lamb on public lands of the West. What they found was astounding.

Examining court records in 19 states and in the District of Columbia, the total amount paid to less than a dozen environmental groups exceeded $37 million. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Budd-Falen. “We believe when the curtain is raised we’ll be talking about radical environmental groups bilking the taxpayer for hundreds of millions of dollars, all allegedly for ‘reimbursement for attorney fees.’ And what is even more maddening is that these groups are claiming that they are protecting the environment with all this litigation when not one dime of this money goes to projects that impact anything on-the-ground related to the environment. It just goes to more litigation to get more attorney fees to file more litigation.”

The whistleblower, speaking anonymously, told Pajamas Media the payments to the activists groups were “quite astronomical.” The former government agent was a line officer in a high-ranking position. That whistleblower added that the filings by the radical groups often were “canned” petitions that contained little research. In this way, environmental groups could pepper government agencies with a flood of lawsuits without much work.

“They will send a myriad of lawsuits across the bow to try to stop a number of projects or programs and then they hopefully will score with one or two,” he said. He saw a lot of the activist lawsuit filings because he had been attached both to the Forest Service’s Washington headquarters and to its field offices. “Then they will send in bills that are quite frankly, quite astronomical compared to the actual work they had to do to file an actual lawsuit. Many of the lawsuits are filed under a lot of canned material, yet the hours and rates that they charge were quite high.”

Here is a sampling of the number of assembly line “lawsuits” filed between 2000 and 2009 that have been painstakingly identified by the Western Legacy Alliance and Budd-Falen. Activist group Western Watersheds Project filed 91 lawsuits in the federal district courts; Forest Guardians (now known as WildEarth Guardians) filed 180 lawsuits; the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed at 409 suits; the Wilderness Society filed 149 lawsuits; the National Wildlife Federation filed 427 lawsuits; and the Sierra Club filed 983 lawsuits. These numbers do not include administrative appeals or notices of intent to sue.

Even local or regional environmental groups have figured out ways to turn on the taxpayer spigot. WLA found the Idaho Conservation League filed 72 lawsuits and the Oregon Natural Desert Association filed 50. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed 88 lawsuits. At last count, just eight local groups in nine Western states have filed nearly 1,600 lawsuits against the federal government.

On the national level, over the last decade nine national environmental groups have filed 3,300 cases against the federal government. As is usual, the vast majority of the cases deal with the alleged procedural failings of federal agencies, not with substance or science.

Said the Forest Service officer: “A lot of times they will sue on process, and not on substance. And substance means what difference does it mean for the resource, or what’s going in on the ground? A lot of times, it will be a process lawsuit and a lot of times the agency either missed something. … The bottom line is many, many times, when you look at the results on the ground, it [the environmental group winning the litigation] would have made very little difference.”

Karen Budd-Falen said that the cases amounted to a ripoff of taxpayers and rewarded radical groups with millions of dollars. “Although those of us involved in protecting property rights and land use in the West were aware that radical groups were getting exorbitant fees simply be filing litigation against the government, we had no idea of the magnitude of the problem.”

Budd-Falen highlighted one case that typifies the gravy train that has flowed to environmental groups. In 2009, the Earthjustice Legal Foundation represented the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, and the Vermont Natural Resources Council in a case dealing with the process used by the Forest Service to adopt some regulations. The Earthjustice Legal Foundation filed for attorney fees for that single case that took only one year and three months to complete.

The same suit was filed by the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of other environmental groups. The seven total attorneys who worked on the case billed the federal government $479,242. They charged between $300 to $650 per hour, far above the statuary federal cap of $125. The case was resolved at the district court level and the federal government did not appeal.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) also files a significant amount of litigation and receives lucrative attorney fees. In Washington State Federal District Court alone, CBD received attorney fees totaling $941,000 for only six cases. In the District of Columbia, it received more than $1 million in fees.

Fourteen groups identified as recipients of the Act’s funding are: the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Forest Guardians, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Western Watersheds Project, Defenders of Wildlife, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, WildEarth, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Oregon Wild, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Wyoming Outdoor Council.

One of the fourteen groups, the Center for Biological Diversity, called the two Republicans and one Democrat “rabid right-wingers” and said that the charges of abuse was “patently false and patently ridiculous,” according to Bill Snape, senior council for CBD.

Another study from Virginia Tech University discovered similar findings as a result of a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act request to five federal agencies. The Virginia Tech study also revealed that two of the agencies could provide absolutely no data on the Act’s payments.

Environmental organizations are among the most financially prosperous non-profits in the country. The Sierra Club alone in 2007 reported its total worth as $56.6 million. According to 2007 Internal Revenue Service records, the top ten environmental presidents receive as much as a half million dollars a year in annual compensation. Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, Inc reported $492,000 in executive compensation in 2007. The top ten highest grossing environmental executives all received at least $308,000 in compensation.

Environmental activist groups also have been among the most influential in throwing around political money. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, between 2000 and this year activist environmental political action committees have given $3.4 million in campaign contributions to candidates for federal office. About 87% of the money went to Democrats.

Richard Pollock is the Washington, D.C., editor for Pajamas Media and the Washington bureau chief of PJTV.