Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mexico: Soldiers kill 25 in gunbattle near border

A shootout between soldiers and suspected drug cartel members in northeastern Mexico left 25 purported gunmen dead Thursday, the military said. A reconnaissance flight over Ciudad Mier in Tamaulipas state spotted several gunmen in front of a property, according to a statement from Mexico's Defense Department. When troops on the ground moved in, gunmen opened fire, starting a gunbattle that killed 25 suspected cartel members, according to the military. The statement said two soldiers were injured but none were killed. Earlier, a military spokesman had said the shootout happened when troops on patrol in the town of General Trevino, in neighboring Nuevo Leon state, came under fire from a ranch allegedly controlled by the Zetas drug gang...more

Friday, September 03, 2010

Appeals court upholds block of BLM grazing rules

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management broke three laws in 2006 when trying to amend land-use regulations regarding grazing, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Wednesday. The court upheld most of a federal district court’s ruling in its decision, which was enough to ensure that government oversight of grazing operations will not be reduced. The appeals court found that the BLM had violated two federal laws when it failed to consider the environmental effects of the regulation changes. Therefore, the decision states, the district judge was justified in blocking the changes from taking effect. For a third law — the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) — the appeals court sent the case back to the district court to reconsider, as the latter overlooked a precedent-setting case from 1984. But any final ruling on that part won’t have an effect on BLM regulations. “We figure the (FLPMA) claim will be dismissed at this point by the district court,” said Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, a case plaintiff. “The case has been decided on other grounds.”...more

You can read the opinion here.

Group sues to protect lesser prairie chicken

A conservation group is suing to try to win federal protection for the lesser prairie chicken, a bird about the same size as domestic chicken found in parts of New Mexico — including Eddy County — and several other states. A lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians Wednesday in federal court in Denver is challenging the Interior Department's decision last year that the bird's listing on the endangered species list is warranted but is a lower priority than other species. The group says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office responsible for the region where the prairie chicken is found hasn't listed any species since 2005. Besides New Mexico, the birds are found in grasslands in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Biologists estimate there are about 40,000 breeding birds left. A BLM official at the state level said the BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service continue working together enahnce and protect the bird and its habitat...more

Internal documents indicate BLM considered wild horse euthanasia program

News 4 has discovered internal Bureau of Land Management documents that show the government agency was considering euthanizing large numbers of wild horses as recently as last year. The documents include a number of pages detailing how a possible euthanization program could be implemented, even how the horses could be killed. When News 4 went to the BLM to get answers about these documents, we were told they are staff reports, drafted at the request of the previous administration, when funding for the Wild Horse and Burro program was tight and the agency wanted to explore possible cost saving options. BLM Deputy Division Chief for the Wild Horse and Burro program Dean Bostad says the current administration will not be implanting euthanization or sale without limitation. Sale without limitation would allow wild horses to be sold to anyone, including so-called "kill buyers" who resell the animals to slaughterhouses...more

Baucus presses for state control over wolves

Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus yesterday called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move to allow all Montana ranchers to actively protect their livestock. Baucus pressed the Service to make the change now as he crafts legislation to put Montana wolves back under the state’s successful management plan. "This debate on wolves has gone on long enough. I'm working to craft a bill that will put wolves in our state back in our control once and for all, because nobody knows how to better manage wolves in Montana than Montanans,” Baucus said. “In the meantime, the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do the right thing and allow all Montana ranchers protect their livestock regardless of arbitrary boundary lines.” Prior to a recent court ruling, wolves in Montana were removed from Endangered Species Act protections and managed by the state. Baucus has announced plans to introduce legislation to codify the Fish and Wildlife Service's previous rule that delisted wolves in states with federally-approved management plans, including Montana, and put wolf management back under Montana’s jurisdiction. In the meantime, as a result of the ruling wolves in Montana are now back under federal management, which classifies wolves in northern Montana as endangered, meaning they cannot be harmed by landowners unless a human life is in jeopardy. Wolf populations in the southern part of the state, however, are classified as experimental, allowing landowners the right to kill them to protect their livestock...more

Eco-author baffled by a violent fan

The "Ishmael" books are aimed at encouraging radical social change — but their author says hostage-taking is definitely not the change he had in mind. Daniel Quinn's story of Ishmael, a telepathic gorilla who tries to show humans where they're going wrong, has spawned a popular series of books, an eerie Hollywood movie and a movement that takes a critical look at our global industrial society. Unfortunately, it also spawned an escalating series of threats from James Lee, who resented the Discovery Channel so much that he took company employees hostage today. In the hours leading up to the crisis' bloody conclusion, Quinn reflected on the meaning of "My Ishmael," the book that Lee repeatedly cited as his inspiration. Quinn wondered how that meaning could have been misinterpreted so badly...more

Noted anti-global-warming scientist reverses course

With scientific data piling up showing that the world has reached its hottest-ever point in recorded history, global-warming skeptics are facing a high-profile defection from their ranks. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the influential tract "The Skeptical Environmentalist," has reversed course on the urgency of global warming, and is now calling for action on "a challenge humanity must confront." Lomborg, a Danish academic, had previously downplayed the risk of acute climate change. A former member of Greenpeace, he was a vocal critic of the Kyoto Protocol -- a global U.N. treaty to cut carbon emissions that the United States refused to ratify -- as well as numerous other environmental causes. In a book to be published this year, Lomborg calls global warming "undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and calls for the world's governments to invest tens of billions of dollars annually to fight climate change. Lomborg's former foes in the environmental movement are so far unimpressed by news of his conversion...more

Judge rules Salazar exceeded authority in canceling Utah leases

US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar exceeded his authority when he order 77 federal oil and gas leases in Utah withdrawn in early 2009, a federal court judge ruled on Sept. 1 in Salt Lake City. But US District Judge Dee Benson also ruled that plaintiffs waited too long to challenge Salazar’s action. Commissioners from three eastern Utah counties and three area independent producers who brought the suit indicated that the judge’s decision keeps an unacceptable precedent from being established. Salazar ordered the leases canceled early in 2009, soon after he became Interior secretary, after the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a temporary restraining order on Dec. 22, 2008, preventing the US Bureau of Land Management from issuing them. The tracts were among 116 parcels sold at a regularly scheduled lease sale on Dec. 19. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance had sued 2 days earlier to block their being offered. In his decision, Benson said the federal Mineral Leasing Act’s plain language mandates that the US Interior secretary accept bids and issue oil and gas leases as part of the competitive leasing process. The mandate limits discretion which the secretary generally possesses to determine whether to issue a lease, he said. “In this case, the secretary exceeded his statutory authority by withdrawing leases after determining which parcels were to be leased and after holding a competitive lease during which the BLM named the plaintiffs high responsible bidders,” said Benson. “Ultimately, though, the plaintiffs’ claims are time-barred,” he continued. “Faced with a strict statute of limitations, the plaintiffs failed to file their suit within 90 days of the secretary’s final decision.”...more

Investing in Wind Power Is Smart — But Not How We’re Doing It

You’re probably a fan of wind power. It provides a limitless supply of clean energy. The turbines are manufactured primarily in the rust belt, creating much-ballyhooed green jobs for unemployed factory workers. Wind farms generate profits for local utilities, alternative energy companies, farmers, and ranchers, not to mention manufacturers like General Electric. What’s not to like? Well, there’s this: The US is building generating capacity in places that don’t need the electricity. Most wind farms are located in rural areas, where there’s plenty of land and a pragmatic attitude that welcomes wind turbines as a new “cash crop.” Indeed, Texas and Iowa recently surpassed California as the top wind energy states. But the transmission infrastructure to carry that power to cities is missing. Wind farms rely on big tax breaks to be competitive, and right now that money is being wasted. When more people catch wind of that fact, this promising form of alt energy could be labeled a boondoggle for farm states, as corn ethanol has been. For evidence of how ass-backward things have become, consider the curious phenomenon of negative electricity prices. These are just what they sound like: Because of the peculiarities of the energy market, producers of electricity sometimes pay grid operators to take the power they make. In sparsely populated west Texas, where the wind business is booming, the wholesale price of electricity was negative for about 1,100 hours—more than a month—in 2008 and more than 700 hours in 2009. How could this happen?...more

Feds: Don't drink contaminated water in Wyo. town

People shouldn't drink water from 40 wells in and around this central Wyoming farming and ranching community, federal officials said Tuesday. The announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services coincided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency releasing its latest findings from testing water wells in the Pavillion area. Meanwhile, Encana Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of Encana Corp., announced that it has volunteered to pay for those affected to get clean drinking water. EPA testing of 23 water wells in January found low levels of hydrocarbons in 17 residential water wells sampled. Samples from four stock and irrigation wells and two municipal wells did not show hydrocarbon contamination. The hydrocarbons may - or may not - be related to oil and gas drilling in the Pavillion area from the 1960s to the latest day. EPA officials expect more testing, including tests from two just-drilled monitoring wells, to answer that question sooner or later. Either way, it wasn't only hydrocarbons but high levels of sodium, sulfates and other inorganic compounds that prompted the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to urge people Tuesday to treat their well water or find some other source of drinking water...more

Reward in question for forest ranger in escapee's capture

The U.S. Forest Service is reviewing whether an eastern Arizona ranger whose tip led to the capture of two of the most wanted fugitives in America can receive $27,500 in reward money under the agency's ethics guidelines. Apache Sitgreaves National Forest spokeswoman Pam Baltimore said Wednesday local forest officials would like to see the ranger get the money. But she said tentative word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service, is that he cannot. She didn't know what the department's reasoning might be, but said ethics guidelines generally prevent forest employees from receiving gifts over $25. "If it's a negative response from them as far as federal policy dictates, there's nothing we can do," Baltimore said. She added the ranger wishes to remain anonymous. The U.S. Marshals Service and the operator of a privately run prison had offered a combined $40,000 for information leading to the arrest of three inmates who escaped from the state prison in Kingman on July 30...more

Wheels of the West to celebrate military history

When the Central Coast Woodworkers Association [CCWA] began working on Pioneer Day's newest wagon addition, no one could have guessed how important the wooden transport had been to America's military history. The wagon was donated to the Pioneer Day Committee by the Rambo Family, who categorized it as a "farm wagon" despite its immense, heavy-duty wheels and the forgotten military insignia carved into a side panel. It only took a little scratchin', scrapin' and sandin' so uncover the wagon's first intended use: To transport American troops. "We started to strip the paint off it and we saw the Army green," said Pioneer Day Executive Director Wade Taylor. "I started looking at the specifications and going on the Internet. Then we were messing around the other day, and we found 'US 8' stamped on it." The group soon discovered that the wagon, a peeling bright yellow and-blue structure that had once been used for farm work, could likely be an 1863 Army Escort Wagon, which were built until the 1900s. The model was designed to carry about 1800 pounds, about the same weight as the wagon itself, according to experts...more

Song Of The Day #397

Ranch Radio will close this week of country/bluegrass mix with Hawkshaw Hawkins and Reno & Smiley performing If It Ain't On The Menu, Barefoot Nellie, I Wanna Be Hugged To Death By You and Lonesome Wind Blues.


Border activist's littering conviction is overturned

A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned the littering conviction of an Arizona activist who left gallon-size bottles of water for illegal immigrants crossing into the United States through a desert wildlife preserve. Daniel Millis of NoMoreDeaths.org had been convicted of violating a statute prohibiting the dumping of garbage in an area designated as a refuge for endangered species. In a 2-1 ruling, judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said water didn't meet the definition of waste. They also took note of Millis' practice of removing empty water bottles he found while on his missions to avert dehydration deaths in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers stopped Millis and three other activists Feb. 22, 2008. Officer Allen Kirkpatrick spotted the plastic water bottles in the back of Millis' SUV and, upon learning that the occupants had placed other bottles along the trails, cited him for "dumping of waste."...more

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Gulf platform owner says no oil leaking from burning rig and no injuries have been reported

In a statement, officials with Mariner Energy of Houston said it observed no leaking oil from its burning production platform at Vermilion Block 380, about 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Mariner officials also said that none of the 13 workers on board the rig reported injuries, in spite of Coast Guard reports earlier stating that one of the 13 was injured and the other 12 were in anti-hypothermia suits. Vermilion 380 Platform A was in fact producing oil and gas at the time of the accident, again contrary to Coast Guard statements that it was not producing at the time, the statement said. Mariner officials said it produced an average of 9.2 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and 1,400 barrels of oil and condensate a day during the last week of August...more

Ranchers Back Transferring to the State Important, Grazed Acres

Not a lot has changed in Montana’s rural Potomac Valley over the years. And that’s just fine for many of the multi-generational ranching families whose livelihoods are tied to this expanse of waving grass and trees drained by the lower Blackfoot River northeast of Missoula. Today, just as it was nearly a century ago, the Potomac is a working landscape. But faced with the possibility of large-scale changes sweeping across this broad valley and on to the low and rounded Garnet Range to the south, the valley’s ranchers did something that may surprise some. They got behind the transfer of tens of thousands of private acres in the Garnets—lands they’ve grazed their cattle on and cut timber from for decades—to the state of Montana. The Potomac ranchers faced a stark set of choices. Either accept a future where their access to prime grazing lands is threatened by residential development or embrace an alternative that keeps the landscape whole. So, in a place where politics generally fall on the conservative side of the spectrum, they backed the state’s purchase of most of the range’s north-facing slopes. The handwriting was on the wall, said Denny Iverson, a longtime rancher and logger from the Potomac...more

The ethics of wildcrafting

In blatant noncompliance (or perhaps misinterpretation) of its own leave no trace policy, national park managers have been allowing Native Americans to harvest wild plants and roots from parks, according to a letter from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) submitted to the Department of the Interior in August. The letter, which requested Interior conduct a formal investigation into “extensive violations to federal regulations,” cited several cases of illegal wildcrafting – the practice of gathering wild plants from their native habitat – in Zion, Bryce and Pipe Springs national parks. It also pointed to a 2009 incident in Yosemite, where the acting superintendent told some Indians that they could “take any plant they wished and did not need either a permit, or to report what or how much they had taken.” (If only Monsanto were so generous.) Park Service regulations prohibit “possessing, destroying, injuring, removing, digging, or disturbing plants from their natural state” within all national parks, yet permissions in the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) grant Native Americans the right to gather plants from public lands for cultural and religious practices. Confusion over which law supersedes the other is partly to blame for the current uproar....more

AZ Ranchers Dispute Drop In Illegal Immigration

For years, ranchers south of Tucson have been waiting for good news. Many might think numbers released Wednesday from Pew Hispanic Center, indicating a substantial drop in the number of immigrants coming into the United States would be the silver lining… you would be wrong. "Those guys that live on the border have a different perspective from what this Pew report portrays," Arizona Cattleman’s Association spokesman Patrick Bray said. The study conducted from March of 2007 to March of 2009 showed the number of undocumented people in the U.S. went down almost 1 million. Arizona Border patrol data from the Tucson sector, which is also the busiest in the country, showed apprehensions are down from 616,000 in 2000 to 241,000 in 2009. "The Pew report talks about people that are coming here looking for a better life, (but) what is occurring on our southern border is criminal activity and it’s people focused on their livelihoods bringing across drugs," Bray said. The Border Patrol also states assaults on agents are up from 281 last year to 348 this year and climbing. The U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona has also seen more violent offenders. Since 2008, the number of people prosecuted for crossing the border with drugs are up 91 percent...more

Radio Appearance today

I'll be on the News New Mexico radio program on KSNM 570 AM at 8 this morning to discuss the wilderness issue.

Those not within listening distance can listen live by going here.

Nevada Department of Agriculture Brings Criminal Charges against BLM Employees

(Elko, NV) In a complaint filed by Blaine Northrup, Nevada State Brand Inspector, certain Battle Mountain BLM employees will be charged with violations of the Nevada brand law, including a Class C Felony.

The BLM employees in question were in the process of seizing livestock from Dalton Wilson’s ranch in an ongoing quiet title action and civil trespass case before Federal District Court Judge, Edward C. Reed. In an effort to obtain brand clearance certificates, a precursor for the lawful removal and transport of the horses in question, the BLM not only removed the horses from the property without authorization, but then misrepresented the facts to a state official to obtain his approval on the brand certificate.

In an August 26 letter to Ron Wenker, State Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Agriculture Department Director, Dr. Anthony Lesperance, notified the BLM that the Brand Department would not issue any further brand clearance certificates to the BLM, “until the above matter is explained to the Department’s satisfaction, and the Department receives the assurances that correct procedures will be followed henceforth by the BLM…. My policy is such that when facts are misrepresented in regard to brand inspection certificates, I automatically terminate any and all future brand inspection certificates with the party in question until such matter is fully resolved.”

Lesperance wrote, “My initial investigation of this matter indicates BLM employees not only committed fraud to a state official, they also appear to have clearly violated several other provisions of Nevada law and federal criminal statutes as well. This constitutes a serious breach of trust which I, as a state officer by virtue of my oath of office, cannot lawfully ignore. Mr. Blaine Northrop, of the Brands Division, is in the process of filing a criminal complaint against the BLM with the Lander County District Attorney in regard to these matters.”

The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 specifically reserves civil and criminal jurisdiction and police powers to the states respectively. “As a state official, it is my job to enforce the brand laws equally under the Equal Protection Under the Law Clause of the Constitution, and that includes federal employees,” wrote Lesperance.

A Nevada Dept. Ag press release'.

Sheriff Unger Abdicates Law Enforcement Duties to BLM; Armed BLM Bureaucrats Bulldoze Wilson’s Ranch

(Austin, NV) Tuesday, a private inspection of Dalton Wilson’s Grass Valley ranch with a sheriff’s escort revealed RS 2477 roads which were blocked by BLM employees, and that the BLM had bulldozed Wilson’s 100 year-old ranch and home.

Wilson has been in a David and Goliath battle with the BLM and Lander County to quiet title on 80 of 160 acres of what is known as the Brackney Ranch. The BLM sought Wilson’s forcible removal by charging him several years ago with criminal trespass. Wilson said, “I would be in jail right now”, if he hadn’t been acquitted by then Federal District Judge Sandoval, now running for Governor.

The BLM, not satisfied with Sandoval’s acquittal, charged Wilson again, this time with civil trespass raising the issue of double jeopardy. The new federal Judge, Edward C. Reed, rather than hearing the facts of the case, without allowing a single appearance by Wilson, issued what is tantamount to an edict from the bench ordering the removal of Wilson from his property. Wilson appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which granted a stay until the issues were resolved by the lower court and a final order issued. This stay was ignored by Judge Reed, the BLM, District Attorney Hy Forgeron, and Unger.

“In order to deprive anybody of life, liberty or property in this country, there has to be due process of law and that is what is lacking in this situation. There has been no final judgment, no mandatory abstract of judgment filed in the state, and there has been no writ of execution issued. Nobody is above the law, especially public officials,” remarked Ramona Morrison, Director, Nevada Live Stock Association.”

Morrison, who spoke with Unger Tuesday remarked, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially when one has been entrusted to enforce it. The sheriff claims he was unaware of the stay. However, it is hard to believe he was unaware of Chapter 31 of the Nevada Revised Statutes which mentions the word “sheriff” 145 times, and specifically outlines his duties as sheriff to be present to enforce a writ of execution when property is confiscated.”

Unger was not present during the BLM raid to ensure there was a proper writ, to prevent the unlawful closure of the roads in Grass Valley, or to ensure the peace. “The same Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976 under which Wilson was charged with trespass not only protects preexisting rights owned by Wilson but specifically reserves civil and criminal jurisdiction and police power to the states. As a Nevada rancher who is runs cattle on BLM managed lands, I am concerned that Unger believes he is not responsible for keeping the peace on those lands, which is virtually all of Lander County, as state and federal law requires. We’ve had similar experiences with the Battle Mountain BLM office pertaining to preexisting rights. The sheriff’s job is to protect our Constitutional rights, they’ve sworn an oath to do so and they need to be held accountable,” remarked Mike Stremler, NLSA Director.

Wilson, an NLSA Director, who was denied access to his home during the raid, was deprived of his heart medication. He is now in an Ely hospital recovering from congestive heart failure.

“If Unger can ambivalently stand by, in a clear dereliction of duty, while Wilson’s property, livelihood and health are destroyed maybe it’s time for the citizens of Lander County to rethink Unger’s livelihood on the public taxpayer,” commented Don Alt, NLSA Chairman.
# # # # #

9732 State Route 445, #305 ž Sparks, Nevada 89436 ž 775.577.9048
Order and Mandate available upon request.
Contact: Dalton Wilson, 775.934.2281
Don Alt, 775.577.9048
Mike Stremler, 775.635.5445
Ramona Morrison 775.722.2517

Press Release from the NLSA

Judge says seizure of ND rancher's cattle improper

A judge has ruled that law officers improperly seized the cattle of a McLean County rancher, saying the officers failed to prove their allegations that the livestock hadn't been properly fed or watered. The sheriff's department seized 258 cows, calves and bulls from Layton Reynolds of Douglas on Friday. State's Attorney Ladd Erickson said in an affidavit that the cattle kept getting into neighbors' fields because there wasn't enough feed in the pasture where they were held. Authorities testified during a hearing Monday that the pasture was overloaded with cattle, there was no grass for the animals to eat and the cattle had been jumping or squeezing out of the pasture all summer to feed on neighbors' fields and yards. Reynolds testified that the pasture from which the cattle were seized was a holding pasture, and he intended to move the animals to another grassy pasture after he completed fence repairs. His attorney, Jason Vendsel, argued that the state had failed to show the animals had not been properly fed or watered. Judge David Reich agreed with Vendsel in a ruling late Tuesday, according to the Bismarck Tribune. "Based upon testimony and evidence ... the state failed to prove that the cattle seized were not properly fed," Reich wrote. The cattle were removed from the auction block at a Mandan sales barn Wednesday. Erickson said their future was unclear because a bank has a lien on them. Reynolds still faces eight misdemeanor charges in three cases filed last year related to allegations that he allowed cattle to run loose and that he neglected animals. The first two cases are slated for trial in November. AP

'Fire them all,' Says R-CALF Chief

Max Thornsberry, the veterinarian who is president of the Billings, MT-based Rancher-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF, USA) Tuesday called upon BEEF magazine, Drovers, and Beef Today to fire editors and a writer for being "disparaging and immensely disrespectful" to those who want "marketplace enforcement by USDA." The three editors coming in for Thornsberry's wrath are BEEF magazine's Joe Roybal, Beef Today's Steve Cornett, and Drovers' Greg Henderson. Cornett and Henderson should be fired for what they wrote, the R-CALF chief opined. Roybal should be fired for publishing what Troy Marshall wrote. None of them is going to be fired or fall on their swords anytime soon. Roybal told Food Safety News "Troy Marshall's thoughts and those of the BEEF editorial staff are in harmony with what the vast majority of BEEF readership thinks." An online poll at www.beefmagazine.com shows 80 percent of 750 respondents thus far believe the proposed USDA Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule is negative for the U.S. beef industry. Roybal said Marshall has provided BEEF readers with "great insight" in reporting on GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler's prediction that the new rules will "open the floodgates" to litigation in the U.S. beef industry, and on R-CALF founder Pat Goggins' opinion that the rules would be "a devastating blow" to the freedom of U.S. cattlemen...more

Rodeo entertainer aims to motivate kids

Duane Reichert is an unassuming guy. Always has been, according to him. But that changes once he puts his makeup on. For more than 40 years, Reichert has been a rodeo clown, a bullfighter and a barrelman, which comes as quite a surprise to people who ask him what he does. “I’m used to it,” he said about people’s reactions to his profession. A lot of times, he simply says he is a rodeo entertainer. Reichert started clowning when he was a senior in high school and fell in love with it. “I loved both the cowboy protection and the crowds and went from there,” he said. He has worked in 42 states, four Canadian provinces and at nine circuit-finals rodeos in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He has been a barrelman at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo and has worked in three National Finals Rodeo openings. Reichert is on the Contract Personnel Executive Council of the PRCA, the National Finals Rodeo Committee and the National PRCA Convention Committee. This will be the fifth year he has returned to the Denver National Western Stock Show, where he is the lead entertainer for the school tours. He speaks to thousands of children and adults each day of the stock show. For the past 20 years, school kids have gotten to know Reichert through his Backstage with a Rodeo Clown program, where he talks to kids about making the right choices in life. He developed that program after his sister-in-law, Sandy Deering, invited him to speak to children in the Douglas School System, where she taught...more

Song Of The Day #396

Ranch Radio continues with our country/bluegrass mix as they used to be played on country radio stations. Today's artists are Hank Snow and Mac Wiseman performing The Engineer's Child, Remembering, Golden Rocket and Crazy Blues.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Signs on Arizona interstate hwy. warn of smuggler dangers

The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state. The signs were posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, a major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego. They warn travelers that they are entering an "active drug and human smuggling area" and they may encounter "armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed." Beginning less than 50 miles south of Phoenix, the signs encourage travelers to "use public lands north of Interstate 8" and to call 911 if they "see suspicious activity." Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose county lies at the center of major drug and alien smuggling routes to Phoenix and cities east and west, attests to the violence. He said his deputies are outmanned and outgunned by drug traffickers in the rough-hewn desert stretches of his own county. "Mexican drug cartels literally do control parts of Arizona," he said. "They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, they have optics, they have night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has. "This is going on here in Arizona," he said. "This is 70 to 80 miles from the border - 30 miles from the fifth-largest city in the United States."...more

Kane County Wins First RS 2477 Road

Kane County has achieved what is believed to be the first concession in Utah of the federal government agreeing to grant rights-of-way to a disputed road that crosses federal land. The court stipulated change allows the county to assert control and access over 27 miles of the 33-mile Skutumpah road, a road leading to Cannonville within boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The victory comes as a result of a stipulation made by Department of Justice attorneys that could pave the way to resolve such disputes through negotiation, rather than litigation. State Representative Mike Noel (R-Kanab) said this shows that the process can b simple and easy if the federal government cooperates in cases like these where you have roads that are easily determined to be the roads used and maintained within the county. RS 2477 public highway rights-of-way were granted to states and counties from 1866 to 1976 to facilitate the settlement of the West. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 repealed the statute but established "RS 2477" roads were grandfathered as valid existing rights-of-way...more

Defenders of Wildlife ends wolf predation payments

A conservation group is ending its program to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves, prompting criticism from Idaho officials including Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. The program by The Defenders of Wildlife has paid out more than $1.4 million for losses from wolves and grizzly bears since it began in 1987. In a letter this month to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, group president Roger Schlickeisen said the group originally planned to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves until state, federal or tribal programs took its place. "We've honored that commitment and have continued to pay compensation across the Northern Rockies and Southwest," he said. Now that the federal government has created a wolf predation compensation program, Defenders of Wildlife is phasing out its predation payments in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico. The Idaho Statesman reports that the group hopes to spend the money on its programs aimed at helping ranchers better prevent wolf predation in the first place. Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said Monday he remembers a different promise - to pay ranchers until wolves were no longer protected at all - and that the group was backing out of a commitment it made when wolves were reintroduced to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1995. "I think we have a major credibility problem," Groen said. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter accused the group of being disingenuous. "Not only did the Defenders of Wildlife sue to overturn delisting and oppose state management, the group now has announced it will break one of its original promises devised to increase public acceptance of this species that was forced upon us by the federal government," Otter wrote in a statement distributed Tuesday. "The Endangered Species Act does not work and won't work as long as promises are broken."...more

Delays plague solar energy on fed lands


Not a light bulb's worth of solar electricity has been produced on the millions of acres of public desert set aside for it. Not one project to build glimmering solar farms has even broken ground. Instead, five years after federal land managers opened up stretches of the Southwest to developers, vast tracts still sit idle. An Associated Press examination of U.S. Bureau of Land Management records and interviews with agency officials shows that the BLM operated a first-come, first-served leasing system that quickly overwhelmed its small staff and enabled companies, regardless of solar industry experience, to squat on land without any real plans to develop it. At a time when the nation drills ever deeper for oil off its shores even as it tries to diversify its energy supply, the federal government has, so far, failed to use the land it already has — some of the world's best for solar — to produce renewable electricity. Congress in 2005 gave the Interior Department a deadline: approve 10,000 megawatts, or about five million homes' worth during peak hours, of renewable energy on public lands by 2015. Reaching that goal was left to the BLM, which oversees federal land and knows oil, gas and mining leases but is new to solar...more

Burning Man fans say cops too heavy-handed

David Levin represents entrepreneurs, investors and developers in his legal practice. As an aside, he's a Burning Man barrister — offering free legal advice to those who run afoul of the law at the annual counterculture festival on the Nevada desert. The Palo Alto, Calif., attorney maintains law enforcement has become so heavy-handed at the eclectic art and music gathering that he was compelled to form a legal defense team known as Lawyers for Burners to help participants who were cited or arrested. He and other Burning Man fans accuse overzealous officers of destroying the quality of an otherwise peaceful celebration of radical self-expression to be held Monday through Sept. 6. Some 50,000 people are expected to gawk at offbeat artwork, wear bizarre costumes or nothing at all and torch the event's 40-foot signature effigy on the Black Rock Desert, about 110 miles north of Reno. Among other issues, Levin said, female undercover agents in costume have asked male Burners for drugs, drug-sniffing dogs and their handlers have roamed camps, and armed officers have "snooped" on revelers at dances. Last year, almost 300 Burners were cited or arrested by federal officers "It's a police state out there," Levin said. "There's very little criminal activity at the event, but they cite and arrest people in order to justify their existence." Officials from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Pershing County Sheriff's Department cite a new study by U.S. Park Police that concludes an even larger police presence is needed. The two agencies plan to have 80 officers at this year's event — far below the 144 recommended in the Park Police report...more

Environmental groups face their future in climate-change debate

On Thursday, some of the country's most respected environmental groups - in the midst of their biggest political fight in two decades - sent a group of activists to Milwaukee with a message. We're losing. They put on what they called a "CarnivOil" - a fake carnival with a stilt-wearing barker, free "tar balls" (chocolate doughnuts), and a suit-wearing "oil executive" punching somebody dressed like a crab. It was supposed to be satire, but there was a bitter message underneath: When we fight the oil and gas industry, they win. A year ago, these groups seemed to be at the peak of their influence, needing only the Senate's approval for a landmark climate-change bill. But they lost that fight, done in by the sluggish economy and opposition from business and fossil-fuel interests. Now the groups are wondering how they can keep this loss from becoming a rout as their opponents press their advantage and try to undo the Obama administration's climate efforts. At two events last week in Wisconsin, environmental groups seemed to be trying two strategies: defiance and pleading for sympathy. Neither one drew enough people to fill a high school gym...more

Cool-Down Phase

America's media are largely uninterested in what a scientific association is saying about the United Nations' climate change panel. Which tells you that the findings are, indeed, worth knowing. The InterAcademy Council, an Amsterdam-based association of the world's top national science academies, reported Monday the results of its review of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Its criticism of the IPCC, held up as the divine and inerrant voice on climate change, irrevocably tarnishes the panel's credibility and weakens the case for man-made global warming. While the Inter-Academy Council did not "redo the science," as its chairman said, it did scrutinize IPCC practices and methodologies and recommended a "fundamental reform" of its management structure. IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, whose resignation we've called for, dismissed the council's findings, saying "the scientific community agrees that climate change is real." We dismiss his comments as those from someone struggling to hang on to a cushy position from which he can continue to enrich himself through, as reported by Britain's Telegraph, his interests in "banks, universities and other institutions that benefit from the vast worldwide industry now based on measures to halt climate change." Rather than react arrogantly, Pachauri should be fully focused on the "two kinds of errors" the council found in the IPCC's work...more

Helicopters to remove $1M worth of pot plants from Forest Service land Wednesday

Officials are planning to use a helicopter Wednesday to remove thousands of marijuana plants -- worth more than $1 million -- found over the past two days on public land in the mountains west of Lyons. SWAT officers with Boulder County and Longmont police returned Tuesday to the remote national forest area near the towns of Raymond and Riverside, where they had found 3,500 marijuana plants worth $500,000 on Monday. They discovered an even larger stretch of 4,000 marijuana plants, said Boulder County Sheriff's Cmdr. Rick Brough. Officers spent much of Tuesday pulling up plants at the second site, which covered about five acres, he said. Authorities left the scene just before dark Tuesday and planned to return early Wednesday to fly out the uprooted plants using cargo nets and two helicopters supplied by the Colorado National Guard, Brough said. Officers found the first set of plants Monday and launched a massive search for a man "known to be heavily armed" who was suspected of being involved in the illegal growing operation. SWAT teams didn't find the suspect -- described as a 5-foot-6 Hispanic man weighing about 150 pounds -- on Monday or Tuesday, but officers discovered evidence that multiple people are involved in the operation, according to Brough...more

Cloned cattle crowned Iowa State Fair champs

In a way one Siouxland Steer took a top prize at the Iowa State Fair, not once but twice. Their names? Wade... and Doc. You can bet these cloned cattle have many seeing double. This is Wade, the 2008 Iowa State Fair Champion Steer. This is Doc, the 2010 Iowa Champion Steer. Look familiar? Well they should, that's because Doc is a Wade's Clone. "It may sound like science fiction to outside parties but to those in the cattle barn it's really a common occurrence," says Dr. Faber. Dr. David Faber a veterinarian by education, bought Wade for his son at a farm like this a few years ago. Faber liked the steer so much he wanted another, so he just made one. "We decided he was a high quality animal that we wanted a genetic copy of," says Dr. Faber. "Now none of these animals are clones but if a farmer wanted they could be all they'd need to do is take a cell sample from their ear," says Forrest. From there the cattle DNA is extracted from the cell, placed in a embryo, and fertilized. It can be a bit costly at about 17 grand a piece, but you'll still have the genetic reserves if you decide to clone again. "We produce a cell line that has cells that are genetically identical to the elite animal and they can use that cell line repeatedly in the years to come," says Broek...more

Rancher rides herd on effort to name border collie the Oregon state dog

Passing through Oregon cattle country, you see a lot of four-legged companions working with the ranchers. No, not horses -- cattle dogs, many of them border collies. Prized for their intelligence, agility and herding instincts, border collies are a big part of everyday life here and have been for a long time. The connection between rural Oregon and these dogs is so profound, one man has embarked on a campaign to have the border collie declared Oregon's state dog, which means the border collie could join the American beaver, the chinook salmon, the Western meadowlark and the Oregon swallowtail as an official state animal by early next year...more

Colorado ranch horse mutilation investigated (video)

Two horses found mutilated August 11, 2010, by their ranch owners in Rush, Colorado, were investigated by Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) Field Investigator Chuck Zukowski. Two other ranch animals who apparently survived the attacks - a dog and another horse - were found with "unknown marks." A high "electro-magnetic field reading" was measured on the dog. The rancher's wife reports unusual sounds two days prior to the discovered mutilations. Zukowski produced a video about the events and his investigation there - including an interview with the rancher's wife...more

Here is the video:

It's All Trew: 'The Farmers' Almanac' a good guide for life

Among my early memories as a boy was watching my parents and grandparents consult "The Farmers' Almanac" before commencing any serious work. Whether planting crops, working livestock, planning farm work, going fishing or even going to the doctor, out came the almanac for study. Why was this effort important? Because its predictions and advice were almost always right, and if you did not adhere, you probably paid the price. Another publication that was consulted without fail was the feed store calendar that hung on the wall by the crank telephone. This displayed the signs of the moon, any notations of things in the past, such as the date the milk cow was bred, financial obligations to be paid and bills already paid. Research shows that Robert B. Thomas designed the first edition of "The Farmers' Almanac" in 1792, for publishing in the early spring of 1793, during the term of George Washington, our first president. This is the longest publishing tenure in American history. As a reminder of the respect awarded to the originator, Robert B. Thomas, none of the 11 editors since that time have added their names to the book. It is still under his name...more

Song Of The Day #395

Today Ranch Radio features Cowboy Copas doing the country and Jimmy Martin & The Sunny Mtn. Boys doing the bluegrass.

Alaska Sen. Murkowski concedes primary

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) conceded her primary race Tuesday night after she failed to close the gap on attorney Joe Miller in the ongoing vote-counting process. Murkowski gained just 38 votes on Tuesday, coming up well shy of what she needed to win her party's nomination. With new votes tallied across the state, Murkowski cut her deficit early on, but by the end of the day she still trailed Miller by 1,630 votes with approximately 15,000 more ballots counted. Another 10,000 or so are to be counted later. By conceding, Murkowski becomes the third incumbent senator to lose re-nomination this year and the second to lose a primary. Miller enters the general election as a strong favorite to succeed Murkowski. He faces underfunded Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D). A GOP poll this week showed Miller leading McAdams 52 percent to 36 percent...more

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PRV Positive Feral Hogs in Eddy County

Our Wildlife Disease Biologist, Justin Stevenson, reported this today.

We have a positive feral hog PRV (pseudorabies) sample from Eddy County. This disease is not a human health concern but is the one that will kill cattle, sheep, canines and other carnivores if they are exposed to it. It can live in water on feed and in the air for a certain length of time making it a bad one. It doesn't usually kill feral hogs that are infected with it but will kill domestic swine exposed to it.

This is the second county with PRV we've found. Seven feral hogs, all from the same area in Quay county, tested positive for PRV last fall.

Questions should be directed to Justin at 505-346-2640.

Alan May
State Director
USDA/APHIS/WS
8441 Washington St. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
505-346-2640

Independent Audit Panel Slams U.N.'s Climate Group

Acknowledging flaws in its reports and growing public skepticism toward the theory of manmade global warming, the United Nations hired an independent review panel in March to audit its climate-science arm. The group found plenty of problems. The InterAcademy Council, an independent group of scientists representing agencies from around the world, presented the findings of its five-month investigation Monday morning at the United Nations. The group took issue with the structure, methods and leadership of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- the group responsible for a 2007 report that erroneously forecast the imminent melting of Himalayan glaciers, the rate of melt of polar ice caps and dwindling Amazon rainforests. "The IPCC has raised public awareness of climate change, and driven policymakers," said Harold Shapiro, chair of the IAC Committee to Review IPCC and former president of Princeton University. But the controversies that have erupted, and revelations of errors, have put the group under the microscope. "We recommend some significant reforms," he told the U.N..."We found in the summary for policymakers that there were two kinds of errors that came up -- one is the kind where they place high confidence in something where there is very little evidence. The other is the kind where you make a statement … with no substantive value, in our judgment."...more

Corny Capitalism

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued another one of those announcements read exclusively by government bureaucrats and green policy wonks. The EPA decided to delay a decision to increase the concentration of ethanol legal in gasoline from 10% to 15%. So-called E15 fuel would have to wait for approval until November. It was a little-read regulatory decision that barely made a splash in the media. But it was also a rock thrown at Washington's hornets' nest of food and agricultural lobbyists. "We are disappointed," warned food giant Archer Daniels Midland. "We find this further delay unacceptable" and a "dereliction of duty," harrumphed ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy. By delaying the decision, the EPA punted on a crucial decision. The pressure brought to bear against the agency by the agriculture industry has been incredible. It's also been applied well; the EPA will most likely still approve E15 fuel in the fall. That's bad news for any American who likes to drive. In a country powered by the automobile, E15 is an enormous question mark. Since the 1970s when ethanol was first regulated by the feds, concentrations of alcohol in fuel above 10% have been illegal. But the government, lost in a dream world where cars can run on corn, has tied itself in regulatory knots trying to force ethanol into the fuel supply. The history of ethanol is a sad torrid affair of crony capitalism and green fantasies. By jumping in bed with the agriculture industry and blindly slapping on new regulations, the government artificially propped up an industry and put itself in a bind from which there may be no return...more

Obama administration sides with utilities in Supreme Court case about climate change

The Obama administration sided with major utility companies in a Supreme Court case about climate change on Thursday, angering environmentalists who say that the administration's broad argument could hurt their ability to force reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or even to bring other lawsuits. Administration officials said the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory moves to restrain carbon dioxide emissions made the lawsuit unnecessary, and the acting solicitor general asked the Supreme Court to return the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. But environmentalists said that the administration had talked about - but not imposed - limits on emissions from existing power plants. Moreover, environmental groups said, the government's brief went beyond that, employing arguments that threatened to undercut a basis for legal action that have been used for a century, since Georgia sued over damage a Tennessee copper smelter was inflicting on Georgia's forests. "We're very angry and very disappointed that they would take this tack," said David Doniger, policy director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council...more

Wyoming officials not inclined to act on wolves

Wyoming remains committed to classifying gray wolves as predators that can be shot on sight across most of the state despite complaints that its position will stop hunting seasons in neighboring Idaho and Montana. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula, Mont., early this month rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s move to turn over wolf management to Idaho and Montana while leaving them listed as an endangered species in Wyoming. Molloy’s decision blocks wolf hunts that Idaho and Montana had planned for this fall. And ironically, Molloy’s decision also effectively leaves Wyoming — whose wolf management plan the judge excoriated two years ago — in the position of controlling wolf management in the entire Northern Rockies, at least for now. Wyoming has stubbornly opposed the federal wolf reintroduction effort since it began at Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s. Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a popular Democrat now in the final months of his second and final term, said this week that Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter haven’t bothered to ask him whether Wyoming intends to reconsider. “It may be that they’ve known me long enough that I’m not going to change my position,” Freudenthal said of the other governors...more

Public can access documents detailing chemicals used in Wyoming drilling operations

Despite vigorous opposition from industry, it appears state regulators and the general public will have broad access to documents detailing chemicals used in oil and gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other drilling operations. Wyoming is set to implement new rules forcing the oil and gas industry to reveal such information beginning Sept. 15. While the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission doesn't plan to make special efforts to compile and present the information to the public, agency officials say the information will be readily available. Operators must disclose the information within regular permitting, sundry and other documentation they submit to the agency. The documentation is listed on a well-by-well basis on the commission's website (wogcc.state.wy.us). Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process used to crack open rock and shale deep underground to stimulate the flow of hydrocarbons. The process is credited for vastly increasing America's potential natural gas reserve -- by as much as 35 percent in recent years. But fracking has also come under scrutiny in the Rockies and particularly in the eastern United States, for fear the process could contaminate drinking water supplies. Many different chemicals can be used in fracking, and the industry insisted it didn't have to disclose individual recipes because companies considered those proprietary...more

BLM proposes National Academy of Sciences Study on Wild Horse & Burro Program

Following a request by dozens of members of Congress, the Bureau of Land Management has asked the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC) to make an independent technical review of the Wild Horse & Burro Program to ensure that the BLM is using the best science available in managing wild horses and burros on Western rangelands. The request comes in the wake of criticism from animal rights groups who also have filed federal injunctions to try to stop horse and burro roundups in California and Nevada, as Lake County News has reported. Earlier this month, the Animal Welfare Institute also called on Congress to take swift and decisive action “to prevent the BLM from 'managing' our nation's wild horses into extinction.” That call followed a bipartisan letter, signed by 52 members of Congress in late July to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, calling for a National Academy of Sciences study...more

A nice dodge - gets the politicians past this election cycle.

Inspectors: Egg farms in recall unsanitary

Federal investigators found piles of manure up to eight feet tall, live mice, pigeons and other birds inside the hen houses at two egg farms suspected of causing a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness, officials said Monday. Investigators made public their observations of Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, two massive egg producers who have recalled nearly 500 million eggs since Aug. 13. During their inspection of the two Iowa farms in the past two weeks, FDA investigators have documented multiple unsanitary conditions that may have caused eggs to be contaminated. They found dead maggots and live flies that crunched under foot at Wright County Egg, where the FDA also documented a hen house bulging from manure. Investigators made numerous observations about holes in buildings or gaps in structures, which can allow rodents, pigeons and other animals to enter hen houses. On several occasions, investigators saw live rodents running through hen houses at both farms...more

Song Of The Day #394

In the 40s, 50s and some cases into the 60s country music stations played bluegrass music right alongside country. Ranch Radio will try to re-create that sound for the rest of the week.

We'll begin with Hank Williams and Flatt & Scruggs from the year 1949. The tunes are You're Gonna Change or I'm Gonna Leave (March), Down The Road (May), My Bucket's Got A Hole In It (August) and Foggy Mountain Breakdown (December).


Mayor killed in Mexican border state

The mayor of a city in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas was killed and his 10-year-old daughter was injured Sunday, officials said. Marco Antonio Leal Garcia, mayor of the city of Hidalgo, was driving a truck on his property around 4:30 p.m. when he was killed, state prosecutors said in a statement. State prosecutor Hernan de la Garza Tamez said police recovered 18 casings and three shotgun shells at the scene. According to the results of an autopsy, Leal suffered 27 bullet wounds in the head, thorax, abdomen and back regions. Leal's daughter, who was riding with him, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, prosecutors said. She was injured by two gunshots to the leg, which fractured her tibia, officials said...more

Border Patrol to Sheriff's Office: Agent was shot at from Mexico

The U.S. Border Patrol told the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office that one of its agents working in the Nogales area was shot at from the Mexican side of the international boundary early Monday morning. Dispatch received the call at 4:23 a.m., said Lupita Perez of the Sheriff’s Office. She said the Border Patrol contacted her office “out of courtesy,” and that the actual incident occurred around 2 a.m. on the Buena Vista Ranch near Kino Springs. “It was approximately five gun shots coming from Mexico towards his direction,” said Perez, who added that the agent said he could hear the bullets whizzing past him. She said the shots came from a vehicle. “Nobody was hurt and no property was damaged.” Perez said a Blackhawk helicopter was called out and Border Patrol Special Response Teams responded as well. “They searched the area but didn’t find anything,” Perez said...more

Car Bomb Explodes Outside Northern Mexican TV Station

A car exploded early Friday in front of the offices of a major Mexican television station in a northern state where officials are investigating the massacre of 72 Central and South American migrants. The Televisa network reported that the explosion damaged its building and knocked out its signal for several hours in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the drug gang-plagued state of Tamaulipas. It said none of its employees was hurt in the explosion, which was felt for several blocks. Soldiers were blocking access to the building, Televisa said. The network described the explosion as a car bomb, but city, state and federal officials could not immediately be reached to confirm that. The press office at the Defense Department said it had no information.
If confirmed, it would be the third car bomb in Mexico this year -- a new and frightening tactic in the country's escalating drug war...more

3,200 Mexican Police Officers Fired In Anti-Corruption Drive

Mexico fired some 3,200 police officers this year as part of an ongoing crackdown on incompetence, corruption and links to organized crime, said officials on Monday. Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said at a press conference on Monday that the fired officers accounted to almost 10% of the country's federal police force, which has about 34,500 officials. Pointing out that some 465 of the fired police officers are now facing criminal charges, Rosas added that another 1,020 officers are facing disciplinary proceedings for failing in "confidence tests." Rosas also stressed that none of the officers removed from the federal police force as part of the crackdown would be allowed to work in police forces at local, state or federal levels. He insisted that the clean up operations were part of an effort to clean up the country's notoriously corrupt police...more

Border deaths in Arizona may break record

This year, Arizona became known as the state with the toughest policies against illegal immigration. That's why Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Eric Peters didn't think the Pima County coroner would see a surge in migrants killed while trying to cross Arizona's southern deserts. But despite beefed-up efforts to stem illegal immigration and an economy that makes work harder to come by, migrants are still trying to get into the country. And many are dying. In 2007, a record 218 bodies were found in Pima County. This year, the death toll could be worse. Already, authorities have recovered the remains of 170 migrants. "We're kind of looking at a record-breaking year this year," Peters said. July was the worst month of this year so far, with 59 people found dead. More than half of them died from heat-related causes. On July 15, the deadliest day of the month, seven bodies were found, among them the remains of Omar Luna Velasquez, 25. The high temperature that day was 108 degrees. To accommodate the bodies in the summer heat, a 50-foot refrigerated trailer truck has been parked in the coroner's receiving area...more

Ranchers Disappointed With Troop Deployment

As National Guard troops trickled into southern Arizona, rancher Don Kimble was busy trying to plug the problem that he says consistently over runs his property; smugglers and the drugs they carry, "Three days ago we found a couple of bales of marijuana on the ranch. And, then this morning (a worker) found another abandoned (bale) in my pasture. So, it's obvious that smugglers still going through (our ranch)," said Kimble. One big reason why Kimble is not too pleased to hear only 30 troops arrived Monday. And, even those ones are not yet on the border, where the ranchers want them." "It's a good show but when are we going to get some action. And, when is Mexico going to get in gear and stop this drug war from spilling over into the U.S.?" asked Kimble. This administration doesn't take it (border issues) seriously and that's a sign for the cartels to continue to operate the way they do. I'll bet we'll probably see violence increase," added Patrick Bray with the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association...more

Sheriff Babeu: It’s ‘An Outrage’ Obama Stopped Building Border Fence

Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Ariz., says it is “an outrage” the Obama administration has stopped building the double-fencing needed to assist the Border Patrol in securing the U.S.-Mexico border and says it is time for the United States to begin fighting illegal immigration and drug smuggling directly at the border instead of within the country where it harms American citizens and communities. By the time Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, according to the Justice Department, only 108 miles of the 262-mile-long Arizona portion of the 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border had been fenced. “We shouldn’t be fighting this battle in the interior. We should be fighting it directly on our international border,” Babeu said in an "Online With Terry Jeffrey" interview. “And it’s an outrage that our own federal government stopped building the fence.”...more

Drug cartels run wild in Mexico

The big Mexican city on the border -- in fact that country's entire northern region -- has become an anarchic site of murder, mayhem and viciousness. It is a huge mortuary of a city where no one is safe and the silence is broken only by the sound of gunfire. Northern Mexico is the Somalia of the Western Hemisphere with killing fields cultivated and sustained by an enormous flow of cash and weapons from the United States, a steady revenue produced from this nation's huge appetite for drugs. In Monterey recently, U.S. State Department officials there were told to evacuate their children after a private school came in harm's way amid signs the drug cartels now have control of the city. The unstable situation now is threatening to spill over into resort areas, adversely impacting Mexico's vital tourist industry already suffering from fears generated by the constant news of slaughter. Next to the economy, the escalating death and destruction toll in Mexico linked as it is to escalating alarm over immigration is increasingly becoming America 's leading domestic issue. It has serious political ramifications for the Obama administration, which is faced with mounting questions about how to keep the violence from spilling into U. S. border cities and to curtail the mass of money headed south every day...more

Juarez cancels Independence Day celebrations over drug violence

How bad is it in Ciudad Juarez, the murder capital of the world on the northern border with Texas? Bad enough that they are canceling the Sept. 16 Independence Day celebrations. Juarez residents will have to celebrate in the safety of their own homes. "Because of threats, because of criminal activities that exist in Juarez, we don't want to take any risks," Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz told the El Paso Times. “Right now Ciudad Juarez should not be celebrating,” adds Dr. Arturo Valenzuela Zorrilla, head of the volunteer committee of public safety. This isn't any ordinary Independence Day coming up next month either. It’s the bicentennial of Mexico’s 1810 declaration of freedom from the Spanish crown. In the capital and Mexico's other major cities, large celebrations are planned...more

Juárez drug war: El Paso does feel effects

We continue to be a safe U.S. city, but we're fooling ourselves if we think the narco violence in Juárez has not negatively affected our way of life. "Spillover" is the correct word, a bulls-eye definition of what's going on. But it should be looked at in more ways than stray bullets hitting El Paso buildings in the immediate border vicinity. More to the point, the ongoing war to control this sector's drug route is affecting us economically and socially -- and that's "spillover." We rely on trade with Mexico to fuel our economy. It's second only to the money generated here by Fort Bliss. We have family and friends who live in Juárez. Economically: There are two main negative affects the narco war has on trade and business. # Cargo moves slower due to tighter security measures -- drugs and contraband coming this way, and weapons and cash from drug sales going into Mexico. Our international bridges are clogged. Wait times can last hours. # Fewer Juarenses are walking into El Paso to shop at our stores. Data bear that out at both Downtown pedestrian bridges. That means a loss in profits to business owners, fewer dollars in sales tax revenue, and fewer dollars in bridge tolls. Socially: Until 9/11, El Paso/Juárez had essentially an open border. From the 1800s to Sept. 11, 2001, it took little more than a nod to cross into either country. El Pasoans have always had family and friends living in Juárez and the Juárez Valley. Now U.S. citizens are afraid to travel into Juárez, even to visit family and friends. Those traveling to Juárez for the restaurant or night life have found scores of restaurants and nightclubs shuttered and out of business. We have effectively been cut off from our family and friends, and the social amenities once provided in Juárez...more

El Paso declares independence from México

The word is out. People know. El Paso is the city across the border from very dangerous Juárez, México. There was a time when El Paso embraced its proximity to México, but that time has passed. “We used to call ourselves The Gateway to México, says El Paso Mayor John Cook. “Now we are calling ourselves The International City.” The Convention and Visitors Bureau has just launched a new advertising campaign with the tag line “Real Adventure is Still Alive.” It emphasizes the Mexican flavor of El Paso and the scenic beauty of the mountains and desert. The campaign, says Bill Blaziek, CVB general manager, “is meant to be our declaration. El Paso can stand alone and tall.” Of course, after the Aug. 21 shooting in which a stray bullet broke through a glass door at the University of Texas at El Paso, “adventure” may not be quite the right note...more

Monday, August 30, 2010

Management and a forest of poor incentives

Bozeman is clearly the epicenter of the people who have long studied how institutional arrangements affect the quality of natural resource and environmental management. In these arenas, as in all others where chance does not determine the outcome, decisions depend on two things, information and incentives. There are many types of incentives including cultural, financial, religious, reputational and status. Management that produces good outcomes, however they are measured, is dependent on the quality of information readily available and the incentives to act responsibly upon it. To deny this reality and assume that somehow bureaucrats armed or imbued with an ideology based on good intentions and pious pronouncements is worse than naïve, it's morally, economically and environmentally irresponsible. This is one lesson from the great forest fires of 1910 whose centennial we observed last weekend. The Big Burn hit 10 national forests in Idaho, Montana and Western Washington. It covered three million acres, one and a half times the area of Yellowstone Park, and killed 78 firefighters. After the devastation of the Big Blowup, the U.S. Forest Service decided to battle against every wildfire. And, of course, now firefighting drives its budget. The lesson is clear, incentives matter. There is no better illustration of the ecological problems associated with bureaucratic land management than the century-long saga of the United States Forest Service, an agency that was once revered as the world's premiere conservation agency...more

Wolf, grizzly bear cases set back progress, biologists, managers say

Wolves and bears don't behave well in courtrooms. But the two big predators are likely to spend the next 18 months there as their advocates and enemies try to untangle them from the federal Endangered Species Act. Last week, Montana wildlife managers decided to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy's Aug. 5 decision placing the gray wolf back under federal protection. Meanwhile, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Missoula appealed another Molloy ruling that prevented state management of Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly bears. No one knows how the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will settle the two lawsuits. But wildlife managers for both wolves and bears fear that years of cooperation and compromise in the woods may wither while the animals' fate is debated - and ultimately decided - on paper. "If people look in and realize how difficult it is for agencies to work together on anything, they would realize incredible steps were made," said Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game official who is part of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Committee. "All the mechanisms were there for bear recovery - that was the frustrating thing. This relisting put things back 20 years." Molloy's 2009 decision blocked a FWS plan to let states manage about 600 grizzlies living around Yellowstone National Park. His wolf ruling earlier this summer canceled public wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho for the 2010 season. Montana officials hoped hunters would kill 186 wolves and bring the state's population down to about 450 animals. Wolves are blamed for both falling elk and deer numbers and growing domestic livestock attacks...more

Joe Miller wants Alaska to control and develop federal lands

Tea Party-backed Joe Miller, who is threatening to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, has a bold vision for Alaska, one that would entail the state taking over federal lands, including Denali National Park and Preserve. In an interview with Alaska Dispatch, Miller said if elected to the Senate, he will fight for state control of vast swaths of Alaska currently under federal ownership. Promoting resource development on those lands would help Alaska pay its own way and break its dependence on federal money, he said. Miller -- a Gulf War veteran and Yale Law School graduate backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- has fought his way to a 1,668-vote lead over Murkowski in the GOP Alaska primary, with some 20,000 absentee and questioned ballots to be counted starting Tuesday. Miller's idea that the state should own most of the land -- not the federal government -- is far from new in Alaska. Business leaders and Republicans have long complained the feds have "locked up" Alaska, including places like the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and parts of the Tongass National Forest. Miller adheres to the philosophy that the federal government should oversee national defense and border control, and very little else. Miller, who also holds a master's in economics from the University of Alaska, believes Alaska must end federal paternalism and move toward state control of all lands and encourage aggressive resource development...more

Legislators, others oppose NM cap and trade petition

Legislators representing Eddy County, local government officials and industry and business leaders have come out in opposition to a cap and trade petition proposed by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board. The Eddy County Commission in recent months passed two resolutions opposing the petition and, along with a letter, submitted them to the NMED Board. In addition, a representative for the county testified at a recent hearing on the impact it would have in Eddy County if the petition were to be implemented. On Tuesday, the Carlsbad City Council also came out in opposition, voting to submit a letter to the NMED. Russell Hardy, representing the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, in his letter to the editor published Friday in the Current-Argus, explained the petition. "The petition, as currently written, would apply only to rural businesses and industries that produce more than 250,000 tons of CO2 annually and would exempt businesses operating in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and on sovereign Indian Nations," he explained. "Businesses and industries in our area that would be impacted would include potash mines, Navajo refineries in Artesia and Lovington, Excel Energy generating stations in Lea County, not to mention large-scale manufacturing, mining and utility businesses throughout the rural regions of the state." Eddy County Commissioner Lewis Derrick, a rancher in north Eddy County, said the Environment Department's petition will hurt the local economy and will have a far-reaching effect if it passes. "I'm looking at this from the possibility of this petition wrecking our tax base and running off businesses," Derrick said. "It's going to impact not only the oil and gas industry. It will impact farmers, ranchers and the trucking industry. The state should stay out of our business. They need to back off this. It's mind boggling that they would do this to the people of New Mexico."...more

Cap and trade hearing set for Clovis

Clovis is one of five stops on the state Environmental Improvement Board’s schedule to discuss a greenhouse gas emissions program. The hearing is 2 p.m. Thursday at the Clovis Civic Center, and is scheduled to last six hours. “This is a formal public hearing on two proposals to address climate change in New Mexico,” said Jim Norton, a spokesman for the New Mexico Environment Department. “The first proposal is by the New Energy Economy. The second is by the state environment department.” Both proposals are cap and trade programs. Such a program imposes a cap on emissions, and each company is given a number of tons of emissions allowed. A company that releases less than its emission allowance is permitted to sell the allowance on the open market. Curry County rancher Hoyt Pattison attended an Aug. 26 open house the agency held in Clovis and thought it was a propaganda session paid for with money the state doesn’t have. Pattison doesn’t think cap and trade will work in execution, reasoning that power companies will choose to buy up allowances, and simply pass the cost on to consumers. “The danger of it,” Pattison said, “is it’s going to end up costing everybody in higher electricity prices.”...more

Ranchers differ on proposed meat industry regulations

Meat industry professionals clashed Friday about a federal plan designed to preserve competition in an industry increasingly dominated by a few large corporations. The meeting, which drew about 2,000 people to Colorado State University's Lory Student Center ballroom and overflow rooms, is one of five the Obama administration has scheduled for this year to hear about competition in the agriculture industry. Cattlemen, though, heatedly disagree about whether the rule would help or hurt them. Mike Harper of Harper Livestock of Eaton, which markets more than 200,000 head of lambs a year, said government regulation is the cause of the problems he faces, not the solution to it. He said his operation, which he runs with his father, Harold, is fortunate because there are two packers, JBS and Superior in Denver, to sell lambs. Harper told officials the biggest problem he faces is finding lambs to put in the feedlot as there are fewer and fewer producers running flocks. At least part of that is because of government regulations, he said, noting a longtime supplier of lambs in Montana is being forced out of business because the government claims their sheep are spreading disease to Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. Dr. Taylor Haynes is a rancher and urologist from Cheyenne who specializes in grass-fed beef. He said he has seen a “tremendous loss in buyers” because all the small family feeding operations have gone by the wayside, because of consolidation and a takeover of the majority of beef slaughter by three companies, JBS, Tyson Foods and Cargill. “Bring the small and mid-size packers back and you will bring back the small family feeders,” Haynes said. Robbie LeValley, a cow-calf producer from Hotchkiss, said the proposed rules would hurt her. She and her family, along with five other ranching families, own Homestead Meats, which sells meat directly to consumers, retailers, and restaurants. She said under the proposal, she wouldn't be allowed to own the cattle she processes. Those rules, she said, need to take those kind of situations into consideration before they are implemented. “We don't need more government regulation,” she said. “We don't need external people who tell us we are bad.” Bill Bullard, CEO of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, called for the immediate implementation of the new rules and got a round of applause from several supporters in the crowd, most from his home state of Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska...more