Friday, September 24, 2010

House Republicans Pledge to ‘Establish Operational Control of Border,’ But Say Nothing about Border Fence, Worksite Enforcement or Amnesty

While stating that the party would work to give the Border Patrol the “tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border,” the pledge does not mention any specific tools or authorities. Specifically, the word “fence” does not appear anywhere in the document. Nor is their reference to any other sort of structure the Republicans would favor erecting at the border. In a subsection titled, “Establish Operational Control of the Border,” the House Republicans say: “We must take action to secure our borders, and that action starts with enforcing our laws. We will ensure that the Border Patrol has the tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border and prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands. “...more

The whole "A Pledge To America" is a little on the wimpy side, but the section quoted above is important to us in the West.

The words "operational control of the border" are right out of H.R. 5016, which states:

On public lands of the United States, neither the Secretary of the Interior nor the Secretary of Agriculture may impede, prohibit, or restrict activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security to achieve operational control (as defined in section 2(b) of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (8 U.S.C. 1701 note; Public Law 109-367).

That is the bill introduced by Reps Bishop, King, Hastings and Smith. You can read more about it here, here, here, here and here.

Migrants experience deadly year crossing Arizona border

But the Guatemalan woman, who lives in Phoenix, knows those scenarios make little sense. The 13-year-old boy, Nelson Omar Chilel Lopez, would have called if he made it to safety. The coyotes would have demanded ransom if they were holding him. Lopez buries her face in her hands and weeps at the thought of a child she calls Omar becoming a statistic - one of a nearly record 236 corpses recovered so far this fiscal year along the Arizona-Sonora border. Coalición de Derechos Humanos (the Human Rights Coalition), which gathers data on border-crossing fatalities in Arizona, says the body count for fiscal 2010, which ends Sept. 30, is second-highest on record. Fiscal 2005 set the record, with 282 bodies recovered. We've passed the number of remains recovered last year," said Kat Rodriguez, coordinator for the non-profit organization, "and we still have a month to go. . . . This has been a horrid summer." The advocacy group gets data from medical examiners in Pima, Pinal, Cochise and Yuma counties, as well as other sources. Other immigrant-advocacy groups say fatalities appear to be increasing even as the number of illegal border crossers arrested has plummeted over the past five years. Using a formula based on the number of fatalities and arrests, No More Deaths, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid to border crossers, describes the past year as the "most lethal" ever, up 30-fold since 1999...more

U.S. Education Secretary Vows to Make American Children 'Good Environmental Citizens'

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan vowed on Tuesday that his department would work to make American children into "good environmental citizens" through federally subsidized school programs beginning as early as kindergarten that teach children about climate change and prepare them "to contribute to the workforce through green jobs." “Right now, in the second decade of the 21st century, preparing our children to be good environmental citizens is some of the most important work any of us can do. It’s work that will serve future generations--and quite literally sustain our world,” Duncan said at the Education Department’s "Sustainability Education Summit: Citizenship and Pathways for a Green Economy." “This week’s sustainability summit represents the first time that the Department is taking a taking a leadership role in the work of educating the next generation of green citizens and preparing them to contribute to the workforce through green jobs,” said Duncan. “President Obama has made clean, renewable energy a priority because, as he says, it’s the best way to 'truly transform our economy, to protect our security, and save our planet.'...more

What needs savin' is our children from these nitwits.

Congressman Calls For Schools To ‘Promote The Agenda’ Of Climate Change, Population Limitation

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) told at a "Sustainability Education Summit" hosted by the U.S. Education Department on Tuesday that environmental education in schools can "promote the agenda" of climate change and population growth through the influence it has on children. “Like I keep saying over and over again, if you get young people invested in those ideas early on, that will result in those kinds of positive policy developments," Sarbanes told "So, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s population growth, whether it’s all these factors that impact the health of our world, raising that awareness early among young people is only going to promote the agenda.”...more

So public schools should "promote the agenda." At least Sarbanes is honest about it.

Anyone still think our public schools aren't political?

Calif. renewable energy rules likely to advance

A state agency is expected to approve regulations Thursday that could break an impasse in a long-sought goal to require utilities in California to obtain a third of their power from solar and other renewable sources by 2020. The vote by the California Air Resources Board is being watched closely by clean-tech companies, many of which have curtailed expansion of their operations in the state because of the regulatory deadlock. As they wait for a resolution, solar, wind and other alternative power companies say they have been unable to lay out business plans, court investors or attract customers. Many said they were considering focusing their efforts in other states or abroad, where clean-tech policies are more comprehensive. "We're competing against international companies that have strong policies in their home markets that give them a huge advantage now that they're exporting into other markets," said Kevin Smith, chief executive of SolarReserve, which develops renewable energy plants. "We find ourselves behind the curve compared to Europe and China."...more

Don't ya just love these guys?

They need the strong arm of the government and subsidies before they can invest or plan.

And they want us to be more like China.

I hope they all go belly up.

In the meantime, they need to learn the free market is like your bathroom scales.

P.J. O'Rourke explains in this video:

Dog Poop Powering Park Lamp in Boston-Area Park

It stinks and it's a hazard to walkers everywhere, but it turns out dog poop has a bright side. Dog poop is lighting a lantern at a Cambridge dog park as part of a months-long project that its creator, artist Matthew Mazzotta, hopes will get people thinking about not wasting waste. The "Park Spark" poop converter is actually two steel, 500-gallon oil tanks painted a golden yellow, connected by diagonal black piping and attached to an old gaslight-style street lantern at the Pacific Street Park. After the dogs do their business, signs on the tanks instruct owners to use biodegradable bags supplied on site to pick up the poop and deposit it into the left tank. People then turn a wheel to stir its insides, which contain waste and water. Microbes in the waste give off methane, an odorless gas that is fed through the tanks to the lamp and burned off. The park is small but has proven busy enough to ensure a steady supply of fuel...more

This is why they want "open space" in our cities. They will soon be filled with solar panels, windmills and poop converters.

Of course us ignorant rural types try to protect ourselves from the sun, and the wind...and the crap that flows our way from town.

Mont. woman squashes bear attack with zucchini

Police say a Montana woman fended off a bear attack with an unlikely weapon — a zucchini. Missoula County Sheriff's Lt. Rich Maricelli says a 200-pound black bear attacked one of the woman's dogs just after midnight Wednesday on the back porch of her home about 15 miles west of Missoula. When the woman, whom police did not name, tried to separate the animals, the bear bit her in the leg. Maricelli says the woman reached for the nearest object at hand on the porch's railing — a large zucchini that she had harvested from her garden. The woman flung the vegetable at the bear, striking it and forcing it to flee. Maricelli says the woman did not need medical attention. Wildlife officials were trying to locate the bear on Thursday. AP

I'm gonna tread a little more lightly around Sweet Sharon.

Song Of The Day #413

Ranch Radio will wrap up this week's look at 1964 with tunes from Buck Owens and the Willis Brothers. First up is I Don't Care followed by Give Me 40 Acres.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wife Explains Life, Emotions Since Border Killing

But when cameras turn off and legislators go home, Sue Krentz still struggles to regain some sense of normalcy while living in a world of fear. Her husband was gunned down on their property by suspected illegal immigrants. "There's been over 400 people killed in Arizona by illegals, and why did this one galvanize the issue? Why did this one make such a public statement," asked Sue Krentz. Guilt isn't the emotion you'd expect to see playing out across Sue Krentz's face when she talks about her husband's death. "We'd never had anybody do anything until March 27," she said. Add disbelief, a heart-wrenching sadness and the never-ending confusion about what went wrong to the fear and guilt Sue Krentz feels. "We don't know what happened, all I know is it was a real disaster for us, you know," Krentz said. Border-crossers using the Krentz Ranch as part of their path into the U.S. is nothing new. It's so common, the Krentzes would typically help them, Sue said. "They'd (her family) bring them up to the house here and they'd feed them," she said. But Sue said that's all changed. "One time in eight days we had 500 border-crossers removed off the ranch. And they say, for every one they catch, two to three get away," she said. Now as she walks her property, she's painfully aware of what could happen. She said she knows life will never be the same on the Krentz Ranch...more

Over 200,000 People Leave Mexican Border City Due to Violence; 20,000 Homes Abandoned

Some 230,000 people have left Ciudad Juarez, a border city that has become Mexico’s murder capital, in the past three years as the death toll from a gang war topped 7,000, a non-governmental organization said in a new report. About 124,000 people, or 53.9 percent of the total, have sought safe haven in El Paso, Texas, which is just across the border, the Ciudad Juarez Citizens Security and Coexistence Observatory said. The rest have returned to their hometowns, mainly in Durango, Coahuila and Veracruz states, to get away from the drug-related violence. The two Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, or UACJ, professors used National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics, or INEGI, figures, as well as interviews with emigrants’ families, to come up with the population trend figures for the border city. Ciudad Juarez is the scene of a war for control of smuggling routes between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels. The border city, where more than 2,000 people have been murdered this year, has been plagued by drug-related violence for years. More than 20,000 houses have been abandoned in the border city by people who feared they might become murder, extortion or kidnapping victims, Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said...more

Heavily-armed agents raid Texas ranch with cartel links

The FBI raided an East Texas compound early Wednesday morning. Agents said the suspects have ties to drug cartels in Mexico and were trafficking drugs, assault rifles and prostitutes. The FBI used SWAT teams and heavy military equipment in the pre-dawn raid. They were worried about the potential firepower on the compound. They served what is called a "no-knock" warrant — basically went in unannounced and raided the ranch outside Henderson, Texas. Federal authorities believe the ring leader is a man named Victor Hernandez Jr. He lives on the ranch with his brothers and parents. Hernandez is said to have strong links to a violent Mexican drug cartel, and may be supplying them with assault rifles. They believe the clan also traffics in millions of dollars worth of drugs, specifically ICE or methamphetamine. In court documents released Wednesday, the FBI said the Hernandez clan "makes frequent trips to Mexico, taking with them a large number of weapons and then returning with large quantities of drugs."...more

Here is the KENS-TV video report:

Murkowski left in place as top committee Republican

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will remain the ranking Republican on the Senate energy committee despite her running as a write-in candidate for reelection against GOP leadership wishes. In a 20-minute meeting Wednesday, Senate Republicans accepted Murkowski's resignation as vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. They selected Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) to succeed her. But they declined to remove her from the post on the energy committee. GOP leaders have voiced strong displeasure with Murkowski running as a write-in after she lost the Republican primary last month to her conservative challenger, Joe Miller, and they were expected to remove her from the energy committee post, as well as from the conference leadership. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as the panel is formally known, won't be holding any substantive hearings for the remainder of this year...more

It's not the hearings folks are worried about. It's the potential for shenanigans during the lame duck session.

Murkowski has bills that have cleared the committee but have not been acted on by the full Senate. What kind of deals might she cut with the dem's just to get those last bills passed?

Groups want Forest Service to regulate snowmobiles just like other vehicles

A coalition of conservation groups is pushing to change U.S. Forest Service rules so the federal agency regulates snowmobiles on national forest lands in the same manner it treats other off-road vehicles. The groups, including six with interests in Teton County, are circulating a petition and are scheduled to meet with federal officials to ask that snowmobiles no longer be exempt from rules that regulate off-road vehicles. Snowmobiles were excluded from a 2005 rule, a move that contradicts a 1972 presidential order, the groups contend. As a result, national forests in snowbelt states and people who recreate there are being unfairly affected by snowmobiles, the groups say. The goal is not to eliminate snowmobiling, said Forrest McCarthy, public lands director with the Winter Wildlands Alliance in Jackson, but to control their use as envisioned by law to protect resources, skiers, snowshoers and hikers. A snowmobile advocacy group is opposed to the effort said Greg Mumm, executive director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition in Pocatello, Idaho. Adequate regulations exist to govern snowmobiles, he said. “This is just another effort on the part of extremists groups to take another bite at the apple to try and get closures, to exclude any kind of motorized use,” he said in a telephone interview. “We just don’t think it’s necessary at all to even consider this.”...more

No charges in Colorado's most destructive wildfire

Prosecutors said Wednesday they won't file criminal charges against the volunteer firefighter whose fire pit is believed to have started the most destructive blaze in Colorado's history. Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said the applicable charge would be fourth-degree arson, but he didn't think prosecutors could prove the necessary element that the firefighter knowingly started the fire or acted recklessly. The U.S. Forest Service conducted its own investigation and will issue a report, Garnett said. But prosecutors said it "is not expected that these reports will provide significantly different evidence than that which has already been presented."...more

Deficit Hawks Threaten Ethanol's Future

Jim Sensenbrenner pays extra to cruise his pontoon boat across Pine Lake in southern Wisconsin. He's willing to hand over 30¢ more per gallon for gasoline free of ethanol, which he calls "a lousy fuel" that corrodes his two-stroke outboard engine. One boater's opinion might not matter, except that Sensenbrenner happens to be the top Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. His ethanol aversion is a sign that the darling of alternative fuels is hitting a political wall. "People are worried about deficits, debt, and special-interest handouts," Sensenbrenner says. "Ethanol is all three." That sentiment is endangering the $27 billion industry that has grown up since federal support began under President Jimmy Carter amid the 1970s energy crisis. Today the U.S. offers a 45¢ per gallon tax credit to refiners that blend ethanol with gasoline. The government also requires gasoline makers to use a steadily increasing amount of the additive, and it imposes an import tariff to deter foreign competition...more

NY Times supports ban on antibiotics for livestock

Most of the antibiotics sold in the United States — 70 percent — go to the animals we eat, especially pigs and chickens. To speed up growth and to prevent the spread of disease in crowded conditions, growers put small amounts of antibiotics into animals’ daily feed. The result is nearly the same as if we were eating the antibiotics ourselves: an increase in antibiotic resistance in humans and the emergence of drug-resistant microbes. In a July letter to Congress, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that there is “a clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.” Despite that warning, the regulatory agencies have been too slow and timid in their response. After more than a year of review, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to issue an extremely modest set of guidelines, which merely recommend that agricultural producers use antibiotics only under veterinary supervision and only in cases of illness and emergency. We far prefer the approach taken by Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat of New York, who submitted a bill last year that would make those recommendations mandatory, while gradually phasing out the agricultural use of medically important antibiotics...more

Where's the Beef? Not in Argentina as Drought Drives Away Brazil's JBS

Argentines have lost their title as the world’s biggest beef eaters after the worst drought in 70 years and government export limits led ranchers to reduce the number of cattle on the Pampas. Consumption is slumping to 57.3 kilos (126 pounds) a year, the lowest since 1958 and below neighboring Uruguay, where each person consumes as much as 60 kilos annually, according to beef industry associations in the two countries. The decline in cattle numbers will “be even worse next year” because fewer calves were born during the two-year drought that ended in 2009, said Ricardo Buryaile, a rancher and congressman who heads the Agriculture and Livestock Committee in the Lower House. The reduced herd caused shipments from what was once the world’s biggest beef exporter to plunge about 50 percent this year, allowing Uruguay to pass it as a global supplier. The contraction is hurting meatpacker profits, leading Brazil’s JBS SA, the world’s biggest producer of the red meat, to consider selling plants in Argentina...more

Glacier National Park ranger refines poaching skills and eludes capture

Glacier National Park's Belly River is colorful country, so it is fitting that it was home to Joe Cosley, who made his fame not only as the park's first Belly River ranger but also as one of its most sought-after outlaws for poaching. Cosley, a Metis born of a French father and Algonquin mother in Canada, was in Montana by the age of 18. He built the first ranger station in the Belly in 1908 or 1909, and when the area was included in the new Glacier Park in 1910, he became its first park ranger. As a Forest Service ranger, he had been allowed to supplement his meager salary by hunting and trapping. But as a park ranger, he was strictly prohibited from doing so. Cosley openly defied the new rules, hauling his furs into Canada for sale. In 1911, he was fired for trapping at Upper Lake McDonald, but he returned to the Belly country and kept at it. But when, in 1914, Cosley was told he would be killed if caught again, he left and joined the Canadian army, where he distinguished himself in World War I. In 1919, Cosley returned to the Belly, resumed his poaching career and became famous for eluding park rangers. When Cosley was finally caught, convicted and sentenced, friends bailed him out. Cosley set off from West Glacier on snowshoes for a record return to the Belly River and his cache of furs. He beat the pursuit and returned to Canada to sell the furs. Cosley continued to trap and explore in Canada until he died in 1943...more

Judge reverses cowboy boot ban

A Lakeway municipal judge said he's reversed a ban on cowboy boots in the courtroom after an American-Statesman report on Saturday said an Austin lawyer was considering challenging the ban. "Since there has never been a problem with boots (or spurs) in my courtroom, I have reversed the cowboy boot ban, effective Saturday, September 18," Judge Kevin Madison wrote in an e-mail. "Attorneys, witnesses, and court litigants in the Great State of Texas can now breathe a sigh of relief. "I guess the adage 'Don't Mess with Texas' should be changed to 'Don't Mess with Texans' Cowboy Boots!' " Madison was referring to an outcry over the ban from lawyers across the state and from dozens of people who submitted online comments to the story as well as to a American-Statesman column Sunday on the matter. "Oh my goodness, you would have thought I was renaming the state ... New Jersey or something," Madison said Sunday in an interview. "You should have seen the stuff: 'Tar and feather him. Run him out on the rails.' " Lawyer George Lobb, who said he often wears dress cowboy boots — a common sartorial choice among Texas lawyers — and is scheduled to appear in a Lakeway court this week, had called the ban "absurd" and was considering challenging it...more

They need to give this judge the boot.

Song Of The Day #413

Ranch Radio brings you two more tunes from the 1964 charts: B.J. The DJ by Stonewall Jackson and The Cowboy In The Continental Suit by Marty Robbins.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Krentz Widow Speaks Out

"Well it's just been, "Groundhog Day." Every morning you've got to get up and relive it," said Sue Krentz. She clutched a tissue as she talked about her husband, rancher Rob Krentz. Sue could hardly say his name without breaking down. "Rob and I, we grew up together. We've just kind of always been together," she explained. But now Sue is facing life apart -- life without her rock, her husband, life without her best friend. "The emptiness, because Rob and I were such, maybe call us soul mates," she said. The soul mates were separated by a single act Sue said she'll never understand. "So, you know, I just don't know what happened," she said. She was in Phoenix helping her parents when she got the call from Rob's brother. "He said he couldn't find Rob and he'd been missing since about ten o'clock that morning," Sue said. By the time she got back to the home they'd shared for more than three decades, it was too late. Rob Krentz was killed on his own property, gunned down by suspected illegal immigrants. Sue has kept to herself for the past six months. "We still had to ship cattle. We had to get up and still pay the bills. You have to get up and just try to muddle through it," she said. She chose to grieve with her family and find a way to move forward before inviting cameras to see what life is like now. CBS 5 News was invited to walk the Krentz property. Our crew couldn't help but feel the void, the hole Rob's death carved here...more

I've written about human and drug traffickers, wilderness and wildlife areas, Border Patrol deployments and so on. But when you stop to consider the human suffering and loss involved here, all that is diminished and fades away.

God bless Sue Krentz and her family and all their future endeavors.

Environmentalists back on defense

Environmentalists are bracing for a fight that would have seemed preposterous after the 2008 elections: a move to limit the government’s ability to curb greenhouses gases and global warming. Even the proposal’s sponsor — a Democrat — cuts against the story line that predicted the Democratic takeover of Washington would finally lead to action on climate change. But the push by West Virginia Sen. John Rockefeller to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to force reductions in carbon dioxide emissions illustrates how dramatically the environmental community’s fortunes have fallen despite the rise of allies in the White House and Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised Rockefeller a fall floor vote on his plan to block EPA’s climate rules for two years. Green groups are monitoring that effort — and similar ones by Senate Republicans like Kit Bond of Missouri — in a constant struggle to stay one step ahead of agency opponents. Just last week, environmentalists and the Obama administration dodged a bullet when the Senate Appropriations Committee canceled a markup of EPA’s spending bill, in which agency foes could have the votes to cut off climate funds for at least one year...more

Unfreezing Arctic Assets

Imagine the Arctic in 2050 as a frigid version of Nevada—an empty landscape dotted with gleaming boom towns. Gas pipelines fan across the tundra, fueling fast-growing cities to the south like Calgary and Moscow, the coveted destinations for millions of global immigrants. It's a busy web for global commerce, as the world's ships advance each summer as the seasonal sea ice retreats, or even briefly disappears. Much of the planet's northern quarter of latitude, including the Arctic, is poised to undergo tremendous transformation over the next century. As a booming population increases the demand for the Earth's natural resources, and as lands closer to the equator face the prospect of rising water demand, droughts and other likely changes, the prominence of northern countries will rise along with their projected milder winters. Today, scientists studying oil and gas potential—and how shrinking summer sea ice might make it easier to access offshore deposits—are convincing governments and investors that the region has rising strategic value. Private companies have snapped up Canada's northernmost railroad and port of Churchill, bought $2.8 billion in Arctic offshore energy leases, and begun developing specialized tanker ships and platforms for offshore drilling in icy environments. This year, Russia and Norway resolved a four-decade-long boundary dispute in the Arctic Ocean, which could pave the way to more offshore development. Canada, Norway and Russia are bolstering their militaries with ice-strengthened patrol ships, frigates, attack submarines and fighter jets...more

Hillary Clinton: $50 Million - Wants Global Standards For Cookstoves

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Tuesday at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. The goals of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves are multi-tiered. “First, a major applied research and development effort to improve design, lower costs and develop global industry standards for cookstoves”, Clinton said. “Second, a broad-based campaign to create a commercial market for clean stoves, including reducing trade barriers, promoting consumer awareness and boosting access to large scale carbon financing.” The U.S. is to fund $50 million over five years to provide clean cooking stoves to developing countries. Clinton says it’s in order to reduce deaths from smoke inhalation and fight climate change...more

Feds visit Lathrop to see eco-friendly farming

Two high-ranking officials in the Obama administration climbed aboard a tractor Tuesday to hear about gentle treatment of the land. Vegetable grower Dino Del Carlo played host to Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Bob Perciasepe, deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Del Carlo told them about conservation tillage, which involves sowing seeds through the previous crop's stubble and reducing the number of times a tractor runs through a field each season. They talked in a tomato field that had been harvested Sunday and was being prepared for another crop. It was a breezy afternoon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. "Even though there is dust that you can see, it is much less than it used to be," said Perciasepe, who is second in command to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He and Merrigan, who works for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, had a lofty view from the cab of a John Deere 9530T, which did not move while they were on board...more

So why didn't the tractor move?

Was the weight too much?

Did the farmer not want to waste one drop of diesel on these dolts from DC?

Was the farmer told not to start or move the tractor while these two reps of the Obama Fedzilla were aboard?

Why go out in a field, climb aboard a tractor...and just sit there?

A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies

Late summer is chili harvest time, when the entire state of New Mexico savors the perfume of roasting chilies, and across the country the delightful, painful fruit of plants of the genus Capsicum are being turned into salsa, hot sauce and grizzly bear repellent. Festivals abound, often featuring chili pepper-eating contests. “It’s fun,” as one chili pepper expert wrote, “sorta like a night out to watch someone being burned at the stake.” Some experts argue that we like chilies because they are good for us. They can help lower blood pressure, may have some antimicrobial effects, and they increase salivation, which is good if you eat a boring diet based on one bland staple crop like corn or rice. The pain of chilies can even kill other pain, a concept supported by recent research. How did this happen? The story of how chilies got their heat is pretty straightforward. A recent study suggested that capsaicin is an effective defense against a fungus that attacks chili seeds. In fact, experiments have shown that the same species of wild chili plant produces a lot of capsaicin in an environment where the fungus is likely to grow, and very little in drier areas where the fungus is not a danger...more

Desert town's dire puzzle

On a cool, crisp morning, Scott Kemp's battered white pickup truck was the only vehicle in sight along a long, narrow lane lined with desert daisies and curious cows on the eastern flanks of jagged, gray Mt. Whitney. The road streaked across the historic Lubken Ranch, a spread that Kemp and his three sisters inherited from their father, Sandy Kemp, after he died in 2004. Against a backdrop of rippling meadows and sagebrush rising up to the Sierra Nevada, the tall, lean cowboy shook his head and said, "It won't be easy leaving this ranch." The 759-acre spread, which has been in operation for more than a century, is for sale for $6.5 million, down from the original asking price of $20 million. The property has entertained inquiries from Google and the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, according to Beverly Hills real estate broker Crosby Doe, who likes to say "it would be like owning your own national park." ocals are wondering how development of the largest chunk of private property to be offered for sale in Inyo County in 50 years might affect this Eastern Sierra community of 2,200 people straddling California 395. Though Lone Pine is surrounded by open range, almost none is privately owned...more

Song Of The Day #412

Ranch Radio will continue it's look at 1964 with the #5 and #6 tunes of that year: Johnny Cash performing Understand Your Man and Roger Miller singing Dang Me.

FBI gave inaccurate statements on surveillance

The FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public when it claimed a possible terrorism link to justify surveilling an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh, the Justice Department's inspector general said Monday in a report on the bureau's scrutiny of domestic activist groups. Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI had no reason to expect that anyone of interest in a terrorism investigation would be present at the 2002 event sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center, a nonviolent anti-war and anti-discrimination group. The surveillance was "an ill-conceived project on a slow work day," the IG stated in a study of several FBI domestic terrorism probes of people affiliated with organizations such as Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker. Earlier, in statements to Congress and in a press release, the FBI had described the Pittsburgh rally surveillance by one agent as related to a terrorism investigation. In a letter to the IG, FBI Deputy Director Timothy Murphy said the FBI regrets that inaccurate information was provided to the FBI director and Congress regarding the basis for the agent's presence at the rally. Speaking generally of the FBI probes it studied, the IG said a domestic terrorism classification has far-reaching impact because people who are subjects of such investigations are normally placed on watchlists and their travels and interactions with law enforcement may be tracked...more

Gun Ownership Rises to All-Time High, Violent Crime Falls to 35-Year Low

Coinciding with a surge in gun purchases that began shortly before the 2008 elections, violent crime decreased six percent between 2008 and 2009, including an eight percent decrease in murder and a nine percent decrease in robbery.1 Since 1991, when violent crime peaked, it has decreased 43 percent to a 35-year low. Murder has fallen 49 percent to a 45-year low.2 At the same time, the number of guns that Americans own has risen by about 90 million. Predictions by gun control supporters, that increasing the number of guns, particularly handguns and so-called “assault weapons,” would cause crime to increase, have been proven profoundly lacking in clairvoyance.4...more

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Farmers fear dust rules won't reflect rural life

As they begin the fall harvest, wary farmers are watching a federal debate over whether to clamp down on one of rural life's constant companions — the dust clouds that farm machinery kick up in fields and along unpaved roads. Farming groups have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retain its current standards for dust, soot and other microscopic particles, arguing that tighter restrictions would be unworkable and that dust isn't a real pollutant. Grain farmer Charles Schmitt, who farms about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans near the southwestern Indiana town of Haubstadt, called the possibility of tougher rules on dust "ridiculous." The 59-year-old, who's farmed for more than four decades, said there's little farmers can do to reduce dust, especially after a dry summer like this year's that left his fields parched. "Mother Nature has more to do with it than we do — there's going to be dust and dirt no matter what," Schmitt said. The EPA is reviewing its airborne pollutant standards, as required every five years under the Clean Air Act. It's looking both at its standards for tiny particles of industrial pollution, and slightly larger particles called "coarse particulate matter" that include dust...more

Bill would exempt Idaho wolves from protections

U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo say they plan to introduce a bill that aims to exempt wolves in Idaho from federal protections that were restored by a court order in August. Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said the Idaho lawmakers, both Republicans, are still working on the legislation and are in communication with Montana's congressional delegation. "We have been looking at a lot of language and trying to figure out what has the best chance of gaining traction in Congress and getting the job done and addressing the situation here in Idaho," Nothern told the Lewiston Tribune. Idaho's senators hope to find a solution that will work for several different parties and a bill could be introduced as early as next week, Risch spokesman Brad Hoaglun said. "We are trying to see where the common ground is and if legislation can be crafted to meet the needs of a lot of different people," he said. "It's too soon to say if that can be done or not."...more

In Utah, conservation easements key to protecting prairie-dog populations

The government is offering private landowners money to protect southern Utah's prairie-dog populations. Five landowners already have applied for a program that buys conservation easements, leaving land undeveloped for the prairie dogs. Developers can buy so-called habitat credits to evict or work around prairie dogs on other lands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a draft recovery plan for the Utah prairie dog last week. Officials say 80 percent of the colonies reside on private land, so a conservation program is critical to maintaining stable populations. "We believe that recovery of the species will be achieved more rapidly if we increase conservation of the species on these lands in a way that benefits private landowners and Utah prairie dogs simultaneously," said Laura Romin, assistant supervisor for a Fish and Wildlife Service field office in Utah. The recovery plan also seeks to protect prairie dogs on federal land...more

Government panel tackles salmon engineering issues

What if grocery stores could sell salmon that was less expensive, didn't deplete wild stocks of the fish and was cleaner for the environment than the farm-raised variety? Here's the catch: The salmon would be genetically engineered. A government-sponsored panel on Monday wrestled with some of the many questions surrounding genetically modified salmon, examining the still-evolving science before issuing a cautious assessment that moves the idea a small step toward American dinner tables. The panel of outside experts urged the Food and Drug Administration to require more studies to satisfy lingering questions about the safety of genetically engineered salmon, without offering a consensus view about whether or when the fish should come to market...more

Congress toughens anti-fraud Indian-crafts law

Zuni silversmith Tony Eriacho stands behind tables of American Indian jewelry and crafts that are not what they seem. He picks up a necklace of Indian-style fetish animals made in the Philippines; dangles an earring with colored stones made of plastic; explains that what looks like solid turquoise is glued-together dust of turquoise and other rocks; uses a magnet to pick up beads supposedly made of silver, but they aren't magnetic. What bothers Eriacho isn't just that these objects look like something they're not. It's that too often, they're fraudulently marketed as authentic, a violation of federal law. Falsely suggesting goods are Indian- or Alaska Native-made could be harder to get away with now that Congress has approved changes to the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act. The revisions, approved in July as part of the Tribal Law and Order Act, allow all federal law enforcement officers, not just the FBI, to investigate suspected violations. That includes officers working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Parks Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection...more

Trew: English filled with nicknames in everyday life

America seems to always have had a passion for nicknames. Most of our heros have nicknames and obituaries nearly always list the deceased persons nickname so friends will recognize them. Sometimes we do not know the real names of closest friends. This habit also extends to objects. For example, for years I did not recognize the word camera. We called it a Kodak. As shaving progressed from a straight razor they called it, "shaving with a Gillette or Schick" not a safety razor. We did not vacuum the carpet we "Hoovered the rug." Women benefitted greatly with the invention of the Singer sewing machine. Consequently, all "sewed with a Singer." Isaac Singer once received a protest from a labor union against his invention wanting him to stop production. He answered saying, "You want me to stop producing the only thing that will keep a woman quiet for an hour?"...more

Song Of The Day #411

Ranch Radio will take a look at 1964 this week.

We'll begin by offering the #1 and #2 songs on the country charts that year: Once A Day by Connie Smith and My Heart Skips A Beat by Buck Owens.

Wilderness: Expansion and (Lawful) Beneficiary Use

By Stephen L. Wilmeth

New Mexico Senators Bingaman and Udall introduced S.1689, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, in part on the basis of economic growth for southern New Mexico. Senator Bingaman is quoted in a Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces ad campaign that was funded by sources outside the local community that “(public lands) . . . provide significant economic benefit and help attract good companies and jobs to our state.”

It is obvious the senators have relied on models of economic forecasting that require a defined set of circumstances, along with a certain class of higher income residents in order to predict that outcome. If that wasn’t the case, they would be compelled to remind their constituency that pure wilderness economics have combined to make the most wilderness dependent county in the nation, New Mexico’s Catron County, arguably one of the top five most poverty stricken counties in the United States.

This Dona Ana County debate has turned out to be a watershed event. It became a quest for the newly elevated senior senator from New Mexico to create a legacy without the moderating influence and wisdom of now retired New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici. When Mr. Domenici was approached by the EarthFirst! influenced New Mexico Wilderness Alliance to introduce legislation, he demanded that such legislation have community support. When no consensus could be reached the legislation was stalled, and, unfortunately, Mr. Domenici retired. The door was then opened for Senator Bingaman to elevate his own agenda. He not only bought the entire package of ideas for wilderness, he expanded the footprint of the plan to extend outside of Wilderness Study Areas with National Conservation Areas and a heretofore undisclosed Limited Access Area along with at least one withdrawal adjacent to the Texas border.

For the record, business leadership in the community support Mr. Bingaman’s bill to the tune of some 220 coalition members while the larger business community’s coalition against the effort number over 800. From Mr. Domenici’s demand that the community find consensus, any objective explanation of why the entire package was expanded without any discussion remains shrouded with skepticism and mistrust. It certainly wasn’t based on community support. The outcome begs for an assessment of who is really behind wilderness and, why is there such a push to expand wilderness designations.
The United States owns about 29% of the land within its territorial boundaries. A total of 23% of that total land is now in wilderness status. That total alone constitutes seven percent of the land mass within the boundaries of the United States.
It must be acknowledged that there is a growing awareness of the once underground environmental Rewilding Project that seeks to create wildlife corridors up and down the Cordilleran spine, but a more objective assessment of the current set of circumstances should first be presented by a recapitulation of what is being published in the literature. Two definitive issues stand out. The first is why additional wilderness is being sought and the second is who has actually been the beneficiary of wilderness designations (aside from grants and trust fund support extended to wilderness creation businesses and or campaign funds generated for cooperating legislators).

It is interesting to read Aldo Leopold, the original Father of Game Management, and, more recently, the unofficially appointed Father of the American Wilderness Movement from the perspective of an environmentalist versus “a steward too poor to pay for his sport”. Leopold suggested that up to 10% of lands be set aside by the insightful steward for the purpose of land withdrawal ethics, or, as we know it today, wilderness. When the impact of that statement is contemplated, the Leopold benchmark is probably supported by more stewards than anybody would guess. For example, even in California’s most intensively cultivated farm land that figure consistently runs six to ten percent of lands in “out ground”. That figure is made even more meaningful because that habitat is protected through access limitations.

Private lands ranchers can argue that they consistently expand that mark by their rotation strategies. They are doing it in the exact character of stewardship that Leopold described in his writings. They are doing it because of their insight into the rhythms and the cycles they have become so much a part of in their tenure on the land.

What about the federal government? The United States owns about 29% of the land within its territorial boundaries. A total of 23% of that total land is now in wilderness status. That total alone constitutes seven percent of the land mass within the boundaries of the United States. When the realization that the majority of lands owned by the United States exist west of the 100th Meridian, the story starts to emerge that the benchmark is already surpassed, and, in places in the West, it has no resemblance to the ethical suggestion made by Leopold.

When the chief architect of the Wilderness Act, Howard Zahniser, testified to the Senate in 1961, he promised that the “outside maximum” expansion of the wilderness system would never exceed 50 million acres. Today, that number stands at 152.8 million acres of designated wilderness and lands being protected for future wilderness consideration. That expansion is not simply a function of the public’s demand to establish more wildernesses. It is coming from the unseen wilderness management policies of the federal land agencies and their counterparts in universities.

Following the hoopla of the Wilderness Act passage in 1964 and extending to 1994, wilderness visitation expanded 86%. With that expansion and the concern that the wilderness experience itself was starting to harm the wilderness areas, numerous regulations were imposed including limits on visitation.

Permitted entry was started, and history will show that that system of management was a primary cause of impact proliferation and crowding in theretofore lightly used areas. Displaced visitors were redirected to more vulnerable areas and dissatisfaction among visitors and wilderness advocates alike increased.

By 1974, the concept of “recreational carrying capacity” had been advanced. Wilderness scholars were worried about their own assessment of a wilderness experience and started a process to attempt to quantify limits. It was suggested that it wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when” and “how much” limits must be placed on visitor use of wilderness. Additionally, if wilderness use was going to parallel previous utility measures, the only alternative was and is to add more wildernesses to the system. That would be the only way that wildness, “the relative lack of intentional human manipulation” and naturalness, “the relative lack of human influence” could be balanced. The first theorem of modern wilderness science, expansionism, was established. Expansion remains the byword of that position today.
When the chief architect of the Wilderness Act, Howard Zahniser, testified to the Senate in 1961, he promised that the “outside maximum” expansion of the wilderness system would never exceed 50 million acres. Today, that number stands at 152.8 million acres of designated wilderness and lands being protected for future wilderness consideration.
So, if expansion is the salvation of the wilderness experience, who is the beneficiary? For that answer, facts and statistics must be reviewed. Mr. Bingaman wrote that his wilderness legislation “offers special opportunities for families to spend quality time together as they hunt, hike, ride horses and relax.” In reviewing the actual wilderness use statistics, 63.4% of all wilderness visits were made by men. In fact, that statistic remains consistent through time. Wilderness is not a family use destination. It is the domain of the male.

If it is a man’s world, what men use it? Statistics suggest that Hispanic and Latinos as a whole hover around the three percent use mark, Black Americans at consistently less than one percent, and all other categories except the dominant use category run about three percent. It is the one dominant use group, the group made up of white Americans that truly use wilderness. About 96% of all wilderness visitations are made by white Americans and males can be expected to spend about 42% more days per year visiting wilderness areas than females. The second fact of American wilderness use can now be established. Wilderness is the domain of white American men.

And who are those white men? Fully 66% of them have incomes of $75,000 or more per year and nearly 11% of them have incomes of $150,000 or more. By all measures those incomes reach into the affluent levels of society. So, adding to the fact that wilderness is the domain of men, those men are also affluent, white, and more than half of them are older than 40 years of age. Affluent, white men over the age of 40 . . . hardly fits the profile of the typical cross section of Dona Ana County residents does it?

From a practical matter there is logic in this finding. It is only an affluent person who can afford to take the time, afford the equipment, or pay the price of an outfitter to take an extended trip into the wilderness. It isn’t a family on an afternoon jaunt after church, and it isn’t the typical resident of Dona Ana County, so using the patronizing play on words that S.1689 is a benefit for all and will be for years to come is disingenuous. Those words are fundamentally dishonest and misleading.

This debate and the growing awareness of the agenda of the environmental movement will not stop with the passage or the extension of any pending status of S.1689. What will come out of this debate, however, should make Dona Ana County residents more cognizant of the external influences that have made this debate so divisive. Both of the New Mexico senators need to explain their actions and the aggressive intent to expand the scope of this legislation from its original draft. Where Mr. Bingaman could have found community unity, he elected to forgo it with a much more ambitious wilderness plan. Constituents are left wondering why he made that choice. Was it driven by the prevailing environmental agenda that he chose to support or was it driven by thinking S.1689 would secure a personal legacy?

It had to be one or the other because it wasn’t driven by the single factor upon which the community was in full agreement. The original premise of the debate . . . the protection of the Organ Mountains . . . is literally lost out there in the wilderness. That issue is the political high ground of this debate, and that is where an insightful leader would have concentrated. Perhaps that is the real story that has emerged.

In the meantime, the long term usage of the pending wilderness as set forth in S.1689 has been forecasted from data and statistics claimed and provided by those who have pushed the proposal. Maybe Bend, Oregon and Cedar City, Utah can make wilderness a component of economic well being of the community, but our New Mexico examples where communities must depend solely on wilderness for their economic well-being are utter failures. It won’t be because of wilderness that Las Cruces will grow and prosper. That is as much a myth as the representation of who will use the wilderness areas. The real data is contrary to the representations of the proponents, and Dona Ana residents should be aware that hidden little secret exists out there in the wilderness world.

This legislation isn’t for the common citizen. It is for someone and something else.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. He has long been a student of Aldo Leopold, but has a far different interpretation of his concepts than the prevailing environmental representations. His belief in Leopold’s stance on stewardship comes from the fact that Leopold was first and last a farmer. It would have been with that personal commitment to conservation that Leopold would have understood what he wrote when he described the true stewards of the land. Environmentalists today stand in juxtaposition to that understanding of stewardship. Many will already argue that the misinformed have become the misdirected.

Juarez Newspaper Pleas With Drug Cartels

The El Diario de Juarez newspaper wrote an open letter to the city’s drug cartels Sunday asking for mercy. In the editorial, the paper asked the cartels to let the journalists do their jobs without the threat of being killed. Friends and family buried slain photographer Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco Sunday, after he was shot several times Thursday while sitting inside of a car outside of a Juarez shopping mall. Authorities have not linked the death to the drug cartel, but after having two journalists killed, in just two years, the newspaper is now pleading with the cartels through an editorial published Sunday. In addition to last week's incident, the paper cites the 2008 death of crime reporter Armando Rodriguez. He was gunned down in his car outside of his home. The newspaper says in it's editorial, it is clear the cartels are the city's authorities, especially since the Mexican government is not protecting journalists. The editorial said, "We ask you to explain what you want from us, what we should try to publish or not publish, so we know what to expect."...more

Mexico govt rejects call for truce in drug war

Mexico's government has scoffed at the idea of a truce in the country's raging drug war as a Ciudad Juarez newspaper pleaded with drug cartels after one of its photographers was slain. "It simply is not appropriate in any way shape or form, for any party to try to make agreements with, promote a truce with, or negotiate with criminals," said Alejandro Poire, spokesman for security matters for President Felipe Calderon. "We ask you to explain what you want from us, what you want us to publish or stop publishing," a cowed El Diario de Juarez wrote in a front-page editorial in calling for a truce. Unidentified gunmen attacked two El Diario photographers Thursday, shooting dead 21-year-old Luis Carlos Santiago and leaving Carlos Sanchez seriously wounded. Santiago was the second journalist from El Diario killed in less than two years...more

Arizona Lawmaker Questions Border Patrol Strategy

The deployment of Border Patrol agents in Arizona has led one of its members of Congress to question whether Border Patrol operations are as effective as they could be. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) initiated a request to congressional investigators at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last month to examine the problem to determine if Border Patrol were neglecting rural areas, where illegal immigrants have continued to stream into the United States and where Arizona ranchers have seen escalating violence and property damage. "Despite the statements by some that our border is more secure than it ever has been, legitimate and serious questions have been raised by Southeastern Arizonans about the Border Patrol's deployment strategies," Giffords explained in a Sept. 15 statement on the request. "The men and women I represent need to know that our nation's limited border security resources are being used in the most effective way possible, especially in the rural parts of Cochise County. This is why we are asking for an independent review of Border Patrol deployment decisions." Giffords was joined by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, in requesting specifically that GAO take a look at how Border Patrol deploys agents across Arizona. They sought to compare this to how Border Patrol agents are deployed in other southwestern states...more

Cross-Border Tensions Are Seen at Governors’ Conference

There were hearty handshakes and friendly words, but the annual binational conference of border governors wound up here Monday as divided as it has ever been, as well as being a little short on governors. The final communiqué showed a common vision among the participants about cracking down on violence along the border between the United States and Mexico, changing immigration laws and promoting economic development in the border zone. But it was the no-shows that made clear that cross-border unity was seriously frayed. Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona was supposed to host the 28th annual conference in Phoenix, but all six Mexican border governors refused to attend in protest of the immigration crackdown she signed into law. After Ms. Brewer canceled her session, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico stepped in to organize a conference of his own, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California as co-host. Ms. Brewer stayed away, as did a fellow Republican, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Then Mr. Schwarzenegger canceled because he was ill and sent his lieutenant governor, Abel Maldonado, a fellow Republican. That left Mr. Richardson as the lone United States governor in the discussions...more

Border-crossers report two more confrontations

The sheriff’s office says two more groups of undocumented migrants have reported being confronted by masked gunmen in remote areas of the local border region. They are the latest alleged victims in a string of similar incidents that authorities say are so difficult to investigate, they are not even sure if they are happening in Mexico or the United States. In the first incident, deputies met with two Mexican men at the Nogales Border Patrol Station on Monday after they told agents they had fled from masked men who fired a warning shot in the air, said Sgt. Jerry Maldonado of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. The men, aged approximately 21 and 25, told investigators that they had crossed illegally into the United States on foot when they came upon at least two men wearing black clothing and red bandanas over their faces. When the masked men gestured for the migrants to come near, they turned to flee as one of the men fired a rifle into the air. On Tuesday, two more undocumented immigrants detained by the U.S. Border Patrol told sheriff’s investigators that they were traveling in a group of seven people through an area west of Nogales the previous night when they were accosted. “They said two male subjects in camouflage clothing wearing ski masks ambushed them while they were getting something to eat,” Maldonado said. The reporting victims were both men, aged approximately 18 and 28, and one said he was robbed of about $200. “One of them says he was hit because he wouldn’t give up his rosary, and that he was threatened with a handgun,” Maldonado said...more

Monday, September 20, 2010

Las Cruces BLM office has issued border safety warnings to visitors

The Las Cruces office of the BLM has produced a brochure titled Borderland Safeguards which contains border "watchouts" for visitors to the federal lands. The "watchouts" deal mainly with dangers from drug smuggling and human trafficking on federal lands in the district.

The BLM's Eddy Guerrero said other BLM districts in California and Arizona with lands along the border with Mexico had produced similar brochures, but the Las Cruces District's version was prepared to "make it relevant to our situation in New Mexico."

Guerrero said the brochures had been available for over a year.

Some of the items on the "watchout" list are:

° Armed confrontations either by law enforcement and/or illegal entrants

° Small or large groups of people being transported either on foot or in a vehicle

° Accidental witnessing of (large) quantities of drug deals and drug transportation

° Aircraft trying to avoid detection and frequent law enforcement aircraft operations due to these illegal activities

° Locks and fences deliberately knocked down or cut

° Abandoned vehicles either intact or set on fire

° Wildfires caused by abandoned warming and cooking fires

° Trash and high concentrations of human fecal material in heavily used illegal entrants staging areas and routes

Upon request, Guerrero also provided a similar document which was prepared strictly for BLM personnel. The "safety concerns" and "watchouts" listed in that document contained those listed above plus such items as:

° Leaving your BLM vehicle unattended

° Let dispatch & law enforcement know your trip plan

° Large amounts of footprints---these may be headed to your work area

° High-speed driving and law enforcement pursuits in your work areas

° Undocumented Alien (UDA) traveling in vehicles, groups on foot

° New "UDA Layup Areas"

Since these documents have been available for more than a year, that means they were available before Senator Bingaman introduced S.1689, his wilderness bill. The "Fact Sheet" which accompanied the introduction of S.1689 says Bingaman consulted with the Las Cruces BLM Office.

This leads to some interesting questions: Was Bingaman's staff aware of these documents, and if so did they advise the Senator of their existence? Did Bingaman introduce the bill knowing of these concerns? Why would a U.S. Senator introduce a bill that would make the situation even worse?

Personally, I would find it hard to believe Bingaman's staff didn't know of these documents existence. You take it from there.

Travel site discourages visits to Wilderness areas

Yesterday I received the following email from a Las Cruces resident:
I was looking online for local vacation spots, parks and recreation for my family and came across this website. When I clicked on Arizona this is the message I received:

Wilderness Areas of Southern Arizona

Drug and human smuggling activities have made Arizona's wilderness areas extremely unsafe. We no longer encourage you to visit them.

Click on the link and see for yourself.

The Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces continues to lobby for wilderness designations in southern NM, and I continue to wonder why.

UPDATE: The link has been corrected.

Optimism, worries amid new rush to tap oil in West

A well named Jake and a controversial drilling technique are fueling a Western oil rush, raising hopes for economic revival and questions about the environment - and who's going to share in the wealth. Not many wells have been drilled yet, but just about everything else is in place for an oil boom in eastern Wyoming, northern Colorado and western Nebraska, where the Niobrara Shale and its hard-to-tap crude lay nearly two miles underground. Preliminary work is under way to map underground geological formations to figure out the best places to drill. Oil prospectors are poring over courthouse records to see who holds mineral rights so they can negotiate deals. Companies large and small are betting millions that the Niobrara holds gobs of recoverable oil like the similar - and booming - Bakken Shale field in western North Dakota. With oil money leading the way, North Dakota has coasted through the recession with 3.6 percent unemployment, lowest of any state, and a budget surplus of over $500 million. Surely everyone is excited, right? Not exactly, not with so many questions still to be answered...more

Farm bureaus seek to quash lawsuit

The Utah Farm Bureau Federation has joined the fight against a lawsuit it warns would increase the cost of grazing permits and slow down permit approval. The group joined 11 other Western farm bureaus that want to intervene in the lawsuit. The Utah farm bureau says the suit threatens the economic viability of nearly 1,600 sheep and cattle ranchers with grazing permits in Utah. The case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is led by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Watersheds Project. The groups want the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to raise grazing fees to accurately reflect the administrative and environmental costs associated with grazing on public lands. AP

BLM revising tribal consultation agreement

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is soliciting input from tribes, State Historic Preservation Offices and its field offices on revisions to an agreement governing activities on federal lands that could affect historic properties. The revisions clarify the BLM's responsibilities for consultation with tribes. "When examining proposals for activities on the public lands, we must be mindful of our unique relationship with the tribes and carefully consider their views and concerns," said BLM Director Bob Abbey. "Through consultation and with a spirit of mutual respect and understanding, we can help preserve treasured resources on public lands for generations to come." Revisions will be made to the programmatic agreement signed in 1997 between the BLM and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers to guide BLM's planning and decision making under the National Historic Preservation Act. Among other things, the draft revised programmatic agreement emphasizes the requirement for the BLM to consult with tribes in order to obtain their views on the potential effects of actions on resources of significance to tribes and resolution of any adverse effects stemming from those actions, according to the BLM...more

Displaced Community Tries to Reclaim Land

"This is the place where I wish I had grown up cause this is my heritage," said Wilson Moran, as he walked through the national wildlife refuge that was once his parents' neighborhood. Moran wants the federal government to give back land it seized from his parents just before he was born in 1942. They were part of Harris Neck, a small community founded by former slaves, making their livings by harvesting shellfish from Georgia's coastal wetlands. "This was their independence," Moran said. "This was their freedom. This was their life." A cracked runway serves as a reminder of the World War II army airfield that forced residents off their land. While government seizures for the war effort were common around the country, Harris Neck's former citizens believe their community was targeted because of race. "They wouldn't treat their own like that, so what else would it be?" said Rev. Robert Thorpe, who remembers being evicted from Harris Neck as a young boy. "They didn't treat us like human beings." Rev. Thorpe and others from this community are asking Congress to return the land. But Harris Neck is currently a 2,800 acre national wildlife refuge. And its managers say even moderate residential development would disrupt the fragile ecosystem they're trying to maintain...more

Meatpacker JBS beefs up employment in Weld County

For decades, the big cattle slaughterhouse on the north end of town was known as the Monfort plant. Then ConAgra. Then Swift & Co. The facility's current owner, JBS USA, doesn't have the same local history. But what it lacks in institutional tradition, it's making up for in sheer size and growth. Since acquiring Swift & Co. in 2007, Brazil-based meatpacking giant JBS has beefed up the Greeley operation to become the largest employer in Weld County with a workforce of 5,000. Visitors to the sprawling headquarters of JBS's U.S. unit in Greeley receive a quick corporate education via a video screen in the lobby that plays a continuous loop of JBS's vital statistics. Among the company's superlatives: Largest beef packer in the world. Largest meatpacker in the world. One of the three largest meatpackers in the U.S. Major cattle feedlot operator in the U.S. In the second quarter of 2010, JBS USA's beef operations had $3.3 billion in sales, up 14 percent from the prior year. Operating earnings increased 86 percent, to $194.9 million. Greeley is the hub of operations. But with the Swift purchase and other acquisitions, JBS has a national presence with 45 meat processing facilities and 11 feedlots that in total employ 70,000 workers. Since the Swift & Co. acquisition, JBS subsequently has purchased the beef processing operations of Smithfield Foods and acquired poultry processor Pilgrim's Pride. The acquisitions brought hundreds of new administrative workers to the Greeley headquarters. In addition, JBS established a trucking hub in Greeley with 419 drivers and support workers...more

Song Of The Day #410

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio.

How am I gonna pick an uptempo song when I've been sick for three days?

Well, how about Three Days Straight by Ray Wylie Hubbard. He's ill too, although it's self inflicted.

The tune is on his 11 track CD Eternal and Lowdown

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Template

Let me know what you think.

I'm not too hot on the birds, but they come with this version.

I've stretched the post section so you don't have to scroll down so far to see the posts. I looked at it on my wife's Netbook and it looks ok although it does make the print smaller.

I'm still playing around with the colors.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Cowboy loving ways

by Julie Carter

They weren't newlyweds by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, just days after this birthday event I'm going to tell you about, they celebrated their 35th anniversary.

Keeping that in mind, this tale will give a glimpse of the depth of love and tolerance honed over that period of longevity.

It was his bride's birthday and since her favorite thing was to go somewhere and see something notable, preferably historical, he offered a blank check in the "travel" department.

"Where would you like to go?" he asked, knowing she understood that didn't include destinations that required travel agents or airports.

She wasn't caught off guard with the request but truly didn't have a burning desire to visit anywhere in particular. So he decided for her. Also not a surprise.

"We'll go to East Texas," he announced helpfully. "Pick a town in East Texas."

The only town she could think of was Jefferson, selected because it had a rich history and would not require six months of travel time.

They loaded up and headed east, getting as far as Fort Worth. It was lunch time and since Joe T. Garcia's is, according to her, the best place in the world to eat, they stopped and did just that.

A $7 margarita for the birthday girl, reportedly with plenty of kick to it, sufficed as dessert and they soon were back on the road.

"Any place in Fort Worth you'd like to see?" he asked her.

She remembered the Fort Worth Water Gardens downtown and suggested that she would like to see that again.

"It is truly beautiful," she recalled. "A waterfall, a river, a stream, a pond, a cascade and anything else you can imagine doing with water.

It takes up an entire city block and you walk around in it and look at all the ways that water is distributed. It is fascinating."

Aiming to please, the cowboy headed the pickup that way.

He drove around the block a half dozen times looking for a place to park and finding none, he quickly lost interest in this particular destination.

His bride heard it coming as much as saw it. Knowing that when he's about to turn to a "silver-tongued devil," the timbre of his voice changes. So she takes a deep seat because what is next is always a "suggestion."

"You know baby, you have this wonderful memory, actually an amazing memory," he said with a glib smoothness to his words. "Since you have already seen this water display once before, how about you just remember it."

Parking problem solved, the loving couple is once again headed east.

"The east side of Fort Worth does not need seeing," she recalls. "The good news is that it was still daylight and we were relatively safe as long as we kept moving."

The redeeming factor for the trip through the seedier side of Fort Worth was summed up by the birthday girl.

Always looking for the positive aspect of things she said, "If we hadn't gone that way, I would never have known where the Bloody Knuckles Bar was."

Realizing that by now they were way in the hell on the other side of Fort Worth, they finally located the freeway. At first opportunity, they got back on it and began driving at freeway speeds to escape the adventure of the Bloody Knuckles neighborhood.

True to country-folk navigation, they ended up on the west side of Fort Worth again, at about the same point of arrival earlier in the day.

Taking matters into his own hands, the cowboy decided they'd just go on home. If he didn't tarry too long, he could still rope that evening.

Being married to a cowboy for 35 years will teach a gal how to say with a straight face, "It was a wonderful birthday."

Julie can be reached for comment at Visit her website at

It's The Pitts: The Magic Ring

by Lee Pitts

One last time the widow leaned down to kiss her husband as he reclined in his casket at his church funeral. As her bulky necklace dangled over the edge of the coffin the dead man’s hand suddenly reached up as if to grab it. When the widow saw his hand levitate above his body she let out a scream that would have shattered glass.

Ghosts were not responsible for this bizarre phenomenon and I assure you that I am not under the spell of the occult. Let me explain.

Why they called the dead man “Governor” has always been open to conjecture. After all, to the best of everyone’s recollection he had never held a political office of any kind, let alone a governorship. (A previous felony or two may have prevented his candidacy.) He may have been called Governor because he had a “full-of-himself” politician’s bearing, or more likely, because he was about as honest as a WWF wrestling match. The Governor was the kind of guy who would steal a poor man’s shoes.

The Governor was built like a bucket of KFC and had more grease on him than the Grand Champion Steer at the Chicago International in 1952. He wore a 100x Silver Belly hat and his fancy boots were so shiny he could see himself in them. That is, if he could see over and around his quite significant tummy.

Now, after being on both ends of buying and selling cattle for decades I will be the first to admit that there is a fine line between thievery and what some folks will do to eke out a profit on a set of cattle. For example, in my opinion having a cowboy whoop and holler and wade into a set of steers just as they are about to enter the corrals so they have to be gathered again, is not criminal. Neither is a butcher keeping his thumb on the scale. After all, we are just talking small “steaks” here. (Pun intended.) Unethical actions? Sure they are. But not go-to-prison types of crime. Ditto salting a set of cattle and then letting them drink right before they are weighed.

Or leaving them on feed over night when they weren’t supposed to be. These are just tricks that buyers and sellers use to counteract the tricks you know the other guy is trying to cheat you with. But what the Governor did was criminal. He not only crossed over the line, he got so much chalk on his shiny boots that he obliterated the line between right and wrong.

The Governor was able to make old Fairbanks Morris work in his favor with the aid of a huge wedding ring he wore on his right hand. (That he wore it on the wrong hand should have been the first clue to his larcenous nature.) By holding his right hand over the beam of the scale, as he waited for it to settle, he could pull it up, and by keeping it under the beam, he could pull it down, depending on whether he was buying or selling cattle at the time. This was not magic, my friends, but pure physics. You see, in that grotesque ring he wore on the wrong hand was a very strong magnet.

The trick worked every time, although the Governor had to be careful what where he put his right hand at all times. Put it in a pocket and when you brought it out your car key’s and any old steel pennies would be attached to it. Get it too close to the steel cream pot at the coffee shop and it would soon be inching towards you.

Naturally, when the Governor died all three of his sons wanted to follow in their father’s crooked foot steps. But to do so they needed that ring. Wifey number three was unaware of the ring’s special powers and did not understand the strong “attraction” the three boys had for it. So she decided the only way to handle the situation was to bury the Governor’s ring right along with him. And that is how the very dead Governor reached out to his wife while reclining in his coffin. It’s also the primary reason why, ever since the ranching community witnessed that miracle in church, they have sent their cattle to the auction, instead of selling them off the ranch.

Song Of The Day #409

Ranch Radio's Gospel song this Sunday morning is The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash.

The tune is on his 15 track CD American IV: The Man Comes Around.