Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sue Krentz Update 10-8-10

From: Patrick Bray []
Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 1:53 PM

Sue has made some incredible strides in the last few days towards recovery. She is still in the ICU and on pain medication. She is alert and talking with family members at the hospital. Today the doctors have approved her to eat regular food. She is aware of what has happened and the Kimble in her is pushing her to get out of the hospital as soon as possible.

The following information is from the family:

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to heal
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Through your gracious prayers, thoughts and gifts we are all helping Sue progress.

This will be her time to heal.

We appreciate all the support the Cattle growers and extended community have offered. Once again, your love, support and prayers will help to give Sue the strength and courage to improve. Sue has been able to hear the thoughts and prayers from family who has read cards and letters to her.

Thank you all, from Krentz, Kimble, and Pope Families.

Remember she is still in the ICU and cannot receive anything at the hospital.
Hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, October 08, 2010

NRA’s incumbent-friendly policy may boost 58 House Democrats in November

Not a lot of things have gone the Democrats’ way this year, but dozens of their House candidates are getting a late boost from an unusual source: the National Rifle Association. So far this year, the NRA has endorsed 58 incumbent House Democrats, including more than a dozen in seats both parties view as critical to winning a majority. The endorsements are not because of a sudden love for a party with which the NRA is often at odds. Rather, it is because the powerful group adheres to what it calls “an incumbent-friendly’’ policy, which holds that if two candidates are equally supportive of gun rights, the incumbent gets the nod...more

A reasonble policy most of the time, since over 95% of incumbents are re-elected.

However, this is an unusual year and the majority is at stake in the House. In other words, NRA policy may result in Nancy Pelosi remaining as Speaker. Pelosi is not exactly renowned for her pro-gun, pro-hunting stance on the issues.

This is Pelosi's record on gun control, from On The Issues

* Voted NO on prohibiting product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers. (Oct 2005)
* Voted NO on prohibiting suing gunmakers & sellers for gun misuse. (Apr 2003)
* Voted NO on decreasing gun waiting period from 3 days to 1. (Jun 1999)
* Rated F by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun control voting record. (Dec 2003)

NRA policy may result in a person they give an "F" on gun control being Speaker of the House.

What grade would you give the NRA policy?

Was Obama’s Oil Spill Response ‘Not Fully Competent’ or ‘Not Fully Candid’?

On August 4, Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox News morning shows to declare Mission Accomplished on handling the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Specifically, she told the Today show: “I think it’s also important to note that our scientists have done an initial assessment and more than three-quarters of the oil is gone, the vast majority of the oil is gone.” Now it appears that Browner spoke too soon and, even worse, suppressed criticism of the Obama administration’s assessment of the spill. When scientists from the University of South Florida (USF) had the audacity to question the Obama administration’s “science,” the White House pushed back hard. William Hogarth, dean of marine sciences at USF, told the St. Petersburg Times that administration officials pressured him to retract USF’s public announcement, and he compared it to being “beat up” by federal officials. University of Southern Mississippi oceanographer Vernon Asper also drew Obama administration ire: “We expected that NOAA would be very pleased. NOAA instead responded by trying to discredit us.” Yesterday, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling issued four preliminary working papers on the Obama administration’s response to the oil spill. Their paper titled The Amount and Fate of the Oil reads:
By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.

The Foundry

The Rules of Salazar

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar enjoys wielding power. Remember, during the Gulf oil spill he firmly stated that he would put “a boot on the throat” of British Petroleum. He has now issued a memorandum for the use of science in decision-making, according to The New York Times Oct. 1 Green blog. Salazar declared: “The American people must have confidence that the Department of Interior is basing its decisions on the best available science…free of improper influence.” But it was Salazar who attached his Gulf drilling moratorium surreptitiously to a National Academy of Engineering report that did NOT recommend stopping drilling. Trying to play the big shot again, Salazar issued his science policy rule because the White House Office of Science and Technology has dilly-dallied since March 2009 when President Obama told it to come up with guidelines to ensure government science was conducted without political influence. Other federal agencies have been willing to wait for White House policy guidance on science—even for18 months. But Salazar, showing his chutzpah, moved ahead on his own, saying his science policy will “ensure that scientists will not be coerced to alter scientific findings. Even though it was okay to reverse their findings, as he did on the drilling moratorium mandate...more

NRC Chairman Killing Yucca Mtn. Without Authority

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko has ordered his staff to stop the review of the nuclear materials repository at Yucca Mountain. Aside from the harmful policy implications of this action, the chairman seems to be moving forward without any authority to do so. President Obama has made it clear that he supports terminating the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository. And despite there being no scientific or technical evidence to support the decision and the fact that he has no plan for how the United States should manage its nuclear waste absent Yucca, he has that right. But neither he, his Administration, nor the NRC has the right to ignore existing statute, the legal process, or the will of Congress. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended, clearly states that the federal government is responsible for managing America’s commercial nuclear waste, and the Yucca Mountain Development Act of 2002 explicitly identifies Yucca Mountain as the location of the nation’s nuclear materials repository. No Congress has passed any bill to reverse these laws. Thus it becomes very questionable how the Administration or NRC can shut down all Yucca activities without either a plan to replace Yucca or congressional authority to terminate the project...more

Federal officials deny Montana wolf hunt request

Federal officials on Thursday denied Montana's request to hunt gray wolves in response to increasing attacks on livestock and elk, leaving a settlement with environmentalists as the most immediate hope for the state to regain control over the endangered predators. State wildlife officials hoped to exploit a loophole in the Endangered Species Act and hold a "conservation hunt" for up to 186 wolves this fall. In a letter denying the request, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Daniel Ashe wrote that the proposal was unlikely to survive a legal challenge. "We fully support sport hunting as an important and effective management tool for wolves managed under state law," Ashe wrote. "However ... we have concluded that the likelihood of successfully defending such a (hunt) in light of existing case law is remote." Idaho also has proposed a public hunt. The state's Republican governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, met with federal officials in Boise on Thursday, but it was unclear if Idaho's proposal had been rejected. Otter spokesman John Hanion described the meeting as productive but declined to release details. Montana officials said Thursday that a settlement with the 13 groups involved in the federal lawsuit is possible. That could bring a quicker resolution to the issue than the two alternatives: a pending appeal of the August court ruling or action by Congress...more

Sarah Palin backs Hatch's wolves bill

An effort to control Western wolf populations is getting a little help from above, as it were. Sarah Palin fired of a whole round of tweets earlier today and among them was this one: "Support sportsmen & ranchers who need responsible predator control regulated by states, not federal bureaucrats." That's a reference to Sen. Orrin Hatch's bill to remove the gray wolf from the Endanged Species list. Palin linked to Hatch's press release...more

Otter backs down on wolf ultimatum

The clock reached zero and then kept ticking on the Oct. 7 ultimatum Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, insisting on state control of wolf management. But rather than end his state’s cooperation regarding the federally protected predator as he had warned, Otter just pushed his deadline into the unforeseeable future. Otter met Thursday afternoon with Steve Doherty, senior Northwest advisor for the U.S. Interior Department, and representatives from the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to push for a new wolf management agreement. Otter spokesman Jon Hanian said everything was on the table and the governor considered the meeting a good exchange of concerns. Idaho was not given control of wolf management, Hanian said, but Otter’s deadline was set just to emphasize the urgency. When asked if Otter pushed back the deadline because he was content with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joining Idaho and Montana in appealing the court ruling that put wolves back under federal protection, Hanian said it was welcome but Otter expected more...more

Virginia fight over climate documents will continue

The University of Virginia said Monday that it would continue to fight state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II's efforts to obtain documents related to a climate scientist's work, just hours after Cuccinelli reissued a civil subpoena for the papers. The new Civil Investigative Demand revives a contentious fight between Cuccinelli (R), a vocal global warming skeptic, and Virginia's flagship university over documents related to the research of Michael Mann, who worked at the university from 1999 to 2005. A judge blocked Cuccinelli's first bid to obtain the documents. Mann, whose research concluded that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming, works at Penn State University. Cuccinelli has been trying to force the public university, technically a client of his office, to turn over documents related to Mann's work since April. Cuccinelli has said he wants to see the documents to determine whether Mann committed fraud as he sought public dollars for his work...more

Environmental Skeptic Offers Fresh Perspective on Global Warming Debate

If you take Al Gore and replace his global warming apocalypticism with a careful pragmatism and his insistence for energy taxes with a love for human innovation, research and creativity, you will end up with someone similar to Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjorn Lomborg. At The Heritage Foundation Bloggers Briefing this Tuesday, Lomborg said he considers global warming to be a legitimate threat – one that is exaggerated and can be handled through the power of human ingenuity. Lomborg shows his other way to tackle global warming in his new film Cool It. Forget about onerous cap-and-trade legislation, which Heritage estimates would cost the average family of four $3,000 by 2035. Instead, Lomborg sees solutions in further research and experimentation. One of many possible solutions mentioned in the film is predicated on something Benjamin Franklin discovered when a volcano in Laki, Iceland erupted in 1783. Franklin made a connection between the volcano’s eruption and the change in the climate. His theory was confirmed in 1991 when scientists determined that the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines cooled the earth’s overall temperature by almost one degree Fahrenheit...more

Government Appeals Hage Case

After 18 years in one court, Hage v. United States officially moves to the next level at the U.S. Court of Appeals after the U.S. Department of Justice filed its appeal on October 1, 2010. “The government had too much at stake to let the Court of Claims decision stand,” said Margaret Hage Byfield, daughter of Wayne and Jean Hage and executive director of American Stewards of Liberty. No briefing schedule has been issued, but hopefully, the case will be heard and decided in a much more expedited fashion and no matter the decision, Hage will probably end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. Since this has been appealed to the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., whatever decision is made will have binding precedent throughout the U.S., unless and until it is appealed to the Supreme Court...more

For background on the Hage case, go here.

FTC revises guidelines for products claiming to be eco-friendly

It's an inconvenient truth: Many of the environmental claims in advertisements and packaging are more about raking in the green than being green. Aiming to clear up confusion for consumers about what various terms mean, the Federal Trade Commission has revised its guidelines for businesses that make claims about so-called "eco-friendly" products. The proposed new version of the agency's Green Guides was released Wednesday, with recommendations for when to use words like "degradable" and "carbon offset," in advertisements and packaging, and warnings about using certifications and seals of approval that send misleading messages. It's an inconvenient truth: Many of the environmental claims in advertisements and packaging are more about raking in the green than being green. Aiming to clear up confusion for consumers about what various terms mean, the Federal Trade Commission has revised its guidelines for businesses that make claims about so-called "eco-friendly" products. The proposed new version of the agency's Green Guides was released Wednesday, with recommendations for when to use words like "degradable" and "carbon offset," in advertisements and packaging, and warnings about using certifications and seals of approval that send misleading messages...more

Hitler Learns About the Climate 10:10 Video

Hitler Learns About the Climate 10:10 Video from Steve Hayward on Vimeo.

Maybe you can take it with you

Stimulus Checks Sent to the Dead

Young bullfighter brave beyond years

At the tender age of 12, Michel Lagravere is a sensation in bullfighting circles, the youngest bullfighter in the world. He displays little fear before snorting, charging bulls, some of which weigh around 900 pounds. By his own reckoning, he already has slain hundreds of them. So far this year, he has unsheathed his sword and waved his cape in 46 bullrings around Mexico, among them the famed Plaza Mexico in the capital. He has challenged bulls in Colombia, Peru and France and has his hopes set on Spain. Known simply as ``Michelito,'' the seventh-grader is the latest of a breed of ever-younger extreme athletes. So far this year, records have been broken for the youngest person to scale Mount Everest -- 13-year-old Jordan Romero, an American -- and the youngest person to sail around the world alone, 16-year-old Jessica Watson, an Australian. As adolescents gain attention for athletic achievements at younger ages, the focus now falls on a precocious bullfighter who stands all of 4 feet 10...more

U.S. May Need ‘Strategic Hamburger Reserve’ after Obama EPA Implements New Regulations

According to a representative of the cattle and beef industry, America may need a “strategic hamburger reserve” if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implements proposed new reguilations for cattle producers. “From where I sit, (the Obama administration) appears to be aimed at destroying the cattle industry in America as we know it,” Tamara Thies, the chief environmental counsel at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said on Capitol Hill last week. “It is ironic that as we work to become less dependent on foreign oil, Obama policies are likely to make us more dependent on foreign beef. Maybe we’ll need to start a strategic hamburger reserve after the Obama administration is finished with us.” Thies' comments came at a hearing conducted by the House Republicans’ Rural America Solutions Group about the EPA’s proposed regulations on the industry, which include the toughest dust regulations in history – one which would significantly impact the rural economy by imposing steep fines on cattle producers who, Thies said, most likely cannot afford them...more

They Figured Out What Was Killing the Bees

The plight of the honeybee, which saw a 20 to 40 percent "colony collapse" since 2006 in the U.S. alone, has confused scientists for years. Who would want to hurt a sweet, industrious honeybee that only wants to make you delicious honey and maybe insert its stinger, ever so gently, into your skin? Scientists suspected that pesticides or genetically modified food might have caused the troubling phenomenon, best chronicled in Elizabeth Kolbert's 2007 New Yorker article. But there were no real answers until military scientists and entomologists teamed up and made a breakthrough: In every colony collapsed, they found the combined effects of a fungus and a virus, neither of which were deadly on their own. Like any compelling murder mystery, there are still some threads left open. Scientists aren't sure how exactly the virus and fungus interact or what makes the bees fly off alone in seemingly random directions when they're close to dying, a factor that complicates bee autopsies...more

Modified Corn Aids Nearby Farmers, and Vice Versa

A long-term study of corn production in the Midwest has found that the widespread use of varieties engineered with a bacterial gene that kills insect pests has had big benefits in adjacent fields of conventional corn — cutting infestations there and boosting farmers’ income by billions of dollars. The paper, “Areawide Suppression of European Corn Borer with Bt Maize Reaps Savings to Non-Bt Maize Growers,” is being published in the Oct. 8 edition of the journal Science. The genetically modified variety, known as Bt corn, debuted in the Midwest in 1996 as a means of cutting losses from the European corn borer, a pest that spread to the United States in 1917. It now accounts for more than 60 percent of the American corn crop. A press release from the research team, led by scientists at the University of Minnesota and the Department of Agriculture, summarized the financial findings: The researchers estimate that farmers in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin received cumulative economic benefits of nearly $7 billion between 1996-2009, with benefits of more than $4 billion for non-Bt corn farmers alone. The scientists estimated that in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, borer populations in adjacent non-Bt fields declined by 28 to 73 percent, with similar reductions recorded in Iowa and Nebraska. According to the paper, maintaining “refuges” of conventional corn varieties helps prevent the corn borer from developing resistance to the engineered variety, and the yields in such areas — because of a combination of reduced insect damage and lower costs of the non-engineered seed — ensure that such plantings are profitable...more

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The New Yorker reports on the demise of the climate change bill

This is a detailed, behind the scenes look at what happened to the climate change bill. Read if you want to see how the Senate works. Read it if you want to see what's wrong with the Republican party. Read it to find out how federalized energy policy is made.

Here are some excerpts:

...Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman knew that Obama’s advisers disagreed about climate-change legislation. Browner was passionate about the issue, but she didn’t have much influence. Axelrod, though influential, was not particularly committed. Emanuel prized victory above all, and he made it clear that, if there weren’t sixty votes to pass the bill in the Senate, the White House would not expend much effort on the matter. The Democrats had fifty-nine members in their caucus, but several would oppose the bill. “You’ve had all these conversations, you’ve been talking with industry,” Emanuel said. “How many Republicans did you bring on?” Kerry, the de-facto leader of the triumvirate, assured him that there were five Republicans prepared to vote for the bill. One of them, Lindsey Graham, was sitting at the table. Kerry listed four more: Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, and George LeMieux. With five Republicans, getting sixty votes would be relatively easy. The Obama White House and the Three Amigos would be known for having passed a bill that would fundamentally change the American economy and slow the emission of gases that are causing the inexorable, and potentially catastrophic, warming of the planet...

And how about John McCain?

...By late January, 2009, the details of the Lieberman-McCain bill had been almost entirely worked out, and Lieberman began showing it to other Senate offices in anticipation of a February press conference. The goal was to be the centrist alternative to a separate effort, initiated by Barbara Boxer, a liberal from California and the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee. But the negotiations stalled as the bill moved forward. In Arizona, a right-wing radio host and former congressman, J. D. Hayworth, announced that he was considering challenging McCain in the primary. McCain had never faced a serious primary opponent for his Senate seat, and now he was going to have to defend his position on global warming to hard-core conservative voters. The Republican Party had grown increasingly hostile to the science of global warming and to cap-and-trade, associating the latter with a tax on energy and more government regulation. Sponsoring the bill wasn’t going to help McCain defeat an opponent to his right. By the end of February, McCain was starting to back away from his commitment to Lieberman. At first, he insisted that he and Lieberman announce a set of climate-change “principles” instead of a bill. Then, three days before a scheduled press conference to announce those principles, the two senators had a heated conversation on the Senate floor. Lieberman turned and walked away. “That’s it,” he told an aide. “He can’t do it this year.”...

Notice the "this year." Thank you, J.D. Hayworth.

And that vermin, Senator Lindsey Graham:

On October 28, 2009, Graham was eating dinner at the Capital Grille, an expense-account steakhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue, with Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, and Rick Davis, a Republican consultant who had managed McCain’s two Presidential campaigns. The E.D.F., virtually alone among green groups in trying to form bonds with Republicans, prides itself on being the most politically sophisticated environmental organization in Washington. Krupp, who has short gray hair and a Brooks Brothers look that announces his disdain for hemp-wearing environmental activists, had helped to educate McCain on climate change, and the two men became close. Now he wanted to do the same for Graham. He called Davis, who was an E.D.F. board member, and arranged the dinner. Graham came to the issue strictly as a dealmaker. He saw the Democrats’ interest in capping carbon emissions as an opportunity to boost the nuclear industry and to expand oil drilling. But now Krupp explained the basics of global-warming science and policy: how carbon trading worked, how farmers could use offsets to earn an income from growing trees, and how different lobbyists would affect the debate. Krupp told Graham that the crucial feature of the policy was the hard cap on emissions. The House bill required American carbon emissions to be seventeen per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. As long as that number held, environmentalists would show flexibility on most other issues. The dinner lasted three hours. The next day, Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman held their first meeting as the triumvirate that became known to everyone following the debate as K.G.L. Heckled at home, Graham began to enjoy a new life as a Beltway macher. “Every lobbyist working on the issue wanted time with him, because suddenly it became clear that he could be the central person in the process,” Krupp recalled. All sectors of the economy would be affected by putting a price on carbon, and Graham’s campaign account started to grow. In 2009, he raised nothing from the electric-utility PACs and just fourteen thousand four hundred and fifty dollars from all PACs. In the first quarter of 2010 alone, the utilities sent him forty-nine thousand dollars. Krupp introduced Graham to donors in New York connected to the E.D.F. On December 7th, Julian Robertson, an E.D.F. board member and a hedge-fund billionaire, hosted Graham at a small gathering in his Manhattan apartment. Some New York guests gave money directly to Graham’s campaign account. Others, at Krupp’s suggestion, donated to a new group called South Carolina Conservatives for Energy Independence, which ran ads praising Graham in his home state. For years, Graham had lived in McCain’s shadow. But, as the rebellious politics of 2010 transformed McCain into a harsh partisan, Graham adopted McCain’s old identity as the Senate’s happy moderate...

For your reading pleasure: As The World Burns by Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker Magazine.

Dem's pressure Hillary for "global climate fund"

Senior Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are urging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to press for an independent “global climate fund” that helps developing countries. The Democrats want Clinton to push for the fund at the United Nations climate summit late this year in Mexico. In a letter Tuesday, the chairmen of five subcommittees say the fund – which would help developing nations adapt to climate change and curb emissions – must be independent of existing financial institutions. The call for an independent fund comes as some non-governmental groups fear that a program under the World Bank or other development banks would face undue influence from large corporations and rich nations. UN climate talks are underway in Tianjin, China this week ahead of the major summit in Cancun that begins in late November. The House Democrats’ letter says that helping to establish the fund will re-assert U.S. credibility on climate change in the absence of a U.S. emissions law...more

Style Over Substance - Solar Panels At The White House

President Obama made a big show this week of installing solar panels at the White House, calling it a "commitment to lead." It's not. It's feel-good political symbolism masquerading as a real energy policy. One could almost feel the prickly sweater of Jimmy Carter descending over the White House as news of solar panels gracing the roof of the residence, as they once did in 1976, was announced Tuesday. Back then, Carter made symbolic gestures like installing panels and wearing sweaters to set a personal example for conserving energy, while ignoring the shortages, gas lines, rationing and inflation that came with high energy prices. Inexplicably, the current president is copying him. But in reality, the panels remain costly, and experts estimate the White House installation to cost $100,000. A price tag like that means such panels will remain a rich man's plaything, no matter how much they demonstrate a commitment to green energy. In the White House case, the panels also represent politics. Democrats have been desperate to enact a green agenda as midterm elections approach, having failed repeatedly as their proposals collided against economic reality. So instead of grinding the economy to a halt with an economy-killing cap-and-trade law, for now the White House will have to do with its symbolic solar panels. As harmless as this symbolism may seem to some, it amounts to a substitute for a real energy policy. The symbolic act also amounts to a planted flag for the radical green agenda instead of an energy agenda that serves the people...more

Congressional report: “The War on Western Jobs”

The Congressional Western Caucus, headed by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, have just released a report titled “The War on Western Jobs.” From the report’s introduction: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the West reported the highest regional jobless rate in August, at 10.8 percent. The western region has maintained the highest regional unemployment for the past year. At the same time, six of the top twelve states with the largest declines in the employment to population ratio since the recession began in 2007 are western states. According to The Associated Press Economic Stress Index, 3 of the top 5 states showing the most stress in June were western states: Nevada, California, and Arizona. There’s a lot of reasons that job numbers are flagging in the West, but the purpose of the report is to identify the ways which Washington, D.C. is exacerbating the situation. “Instead of making it easier for western businesses and communities to create new jobs, this Administration enforced an anti-business, anti-multiple use agenda that only makes the situation worse,” said Barraso.To that end, the report focuses at 10 areas where the Obama administration is making things worse...more

You can view the report here.

Panel: Gov't thwarted worst-case scenario on spill

The White House blocked efforts by federal scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could have been. That finding comes from a panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the worst offshore oil spill in history. In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission reveals that in late April or early May the White House budget office denied a request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make public the worst-case discharge from the blown-out well. BP estimated the worse scenario to be a leak of 2.5 million gallons per day. The government, meanwhile, was telling the public the well was releasing 210,000 gallons per day - a figure that later grew closer to BP's figure. AP

There's the vaunted Obama "transparency" for you.

Gaia's Jolly Jokesters

I have previously posted about the enviro ad No Pressure. Here again is the 4 minute video. Watch it and then read the powerful comments by William N. Grigg.

...Were an inmate of the government school system in either the People's Republic of Blighty or the U.S.S.A. to submit a student film depicting fantasies of mass murder, he would be charged with terrorism and consigned to the nearest psychiatric gulag. Yet when the same diseased fantasy is submitted by a government-aligned eco-lobby, the sternest adjective used to describe it is "inappropriate." There's something other than the storied British understatement at work here. The 10:10 campaign's official reaction is a variation on the familiar non-apology, "I'm sorry that you were offended" -- a formulation commonly used by people seeking to deflect blame for genuinely offensive acts. "Many people found [No Pressure] extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn't and 10:10 would like to apologise to everybody who was offended by the film," stated 10:10 global campaign director Lizzie Gillet. Fanny Armstrong, founder of 10:10, recited the same potted non-apology: "When the film was released ... lots of people found it funny, but many others were offended. Out of respect for those we offended, we immediately apologised and withdrew the film." I'm struck by the fact that 10:10's "apology" follows the same collectivist logic displayed in its perverted mass murder fantasy: The enlightened understand the joke, even if a few reactionary holdouts aren't enchanted by it. Pity, isn't it, that we don't have a master detonator that would reduce such charmless people to a bloody mist? The real problem for 10:10 is not that the stolid bourgeois didn't find No Pressure funny; instead, it's that the film laid bare the totalitarian misanthropy that resides at the core of the radical environmentalist movement...more

A Soft Spot for Public Lands

John D. Leshy, a former Interior Department solicitor, likes to say, “There’s no square yard of public land that somebody doesn’t love.” Indeed, the era when the word “swamp” was accompanied by the adjective “pestilential,” or the word “desert” by the word “barren,” is long past. Biologists and lovers of the land have ensured that wetlands (no longer “swamps) are productive cradles of both aquatic and terrestrial life and that deserts are far from barren, nurturing everything from Dr. Seussian Joshua trees to big-horned sheep and flat-tailed horned lizards. Mr. Leshy’s observation has particular relevance this week as this environmental sensibility collides with an environmental imperative: remaking the world’s energy portfolio by quickly expanding renewable energy projects to rein in the carbon-dioxide emissions that cause climate change. As coal’s supporters are fond of pointing out, electric generation powered by fossil fuels takes up comparatively little space on the ground, whatever it may do to raise levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. By contrast, solar and wind projects require a very large footprint to even begin to generate the power that an average coal-fired plant does...more

Wind farms can change the weather

Large wind farms can influence local air temperatures, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The data was collected over seven weeks in the summer of 1989 at the San Gorgonio wind farm near Palm Springs, Calif. The study revealed that the wind farm caused the local area to cool down during the day and warm up at night, according to authors Somnath Baidya Roy and Justin J. Traiteur of the University of Illinois. For instance, on one day of the study, the temperature at 1:00 p.m. upwind of the wind farm was about 100 degrees, but was about 93 degrees downwind, due to the effects of the windfarm. The authors theorize that the turbulence generated by the turbine rotors, which can enhance the vertical mixing of warm and cold air, led to the temperature changes. Because many wind farms are located on agricultural land, the scientists say, local weather changes can affect crop productivity...more

I always said going to DC was dangerous, but still...

People who visit the Capitol Visitor Center may be exposed to a number of health and safety risks, including lice and body fluids on Capitol tour headsets and a lack of rapid medical attention during weekends, according to congressional testimony and interviews. Visitor Center employees say that some of the headsets used for audio tours — worn by as many as 12,000 tourists a day — recently had to be replaced after guides reported seeing lice crawling on the foam pads. Other tour guides have reported seeing guests with ear sores wearing the headsets, which, in one case, resulted in blood being smeared on the equipment...more

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Note to readers

As you know, I've spent the last two weeks trying to save my ass.

To that effect I read When Pressure Sores Occur handily provided by Accordant Care.

One of the symptoms it listed for an infected sore was CONFUSION.

Sweet Sharon immediately called the EMTs.

I sadly report that the guys in the ambulance didn't know of a file storage service that would let me embed a music player either.

If you know of such an animal, please advise. I do experience small smidgets of time where I'm not so confused, and would like to obtain such a program to continue the Song Of The Day feature.

I've taken Sweet Sharon's phone away, so please don't let her borrow yours.

Wolf opponents broaden tactics

Opponents of a federal court decision ordering the protection of wolves have responded with tactics ranging from a suggestion to stake out shelter dogs as wolf bait to pending bills in Congress and appeals of the decision. With efforts aimed at removing wolves from the Endangered Species Act on the rise, the issue has shifted from the reasoning behind the decision to how opponents can circumvent it. The most recent move to restore state management of wolves came in the form of an appeal from Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden on Friday, who filed an appeal of U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's ruling in August to relist wolves under the act. Their action, undertaken on behalf of the state of Idaho, followed appeals from the state of Montana and from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "We're all looking for the same thing—state management of wolves," Otter spokesman Mark Warbis said. The earliest congressional bill proposed to amend the Endangered Species Act to exclude wolves was introduced on July 30, six days before Molloy's district court ruling. Since then, three more bills have been brought to the House and Senate floors, all of which propose making an exception to the act for wolves...more

Obama October energy surprise before Nov election

The Obama administration could announce several energy initiatives this month to try to influence the mid-term congressional elections on Nov. 2. An October surprise on energy policy could help Democrats keep congressional seats, especially in the House of Representatives, where Republicans have a chance of taking majority control. It would also show voters that the administration is taking some action on
energy issues after Congress failed to pass a comprehensive climate change bill this year. The following energy initiatives could be viewed as positive to local voters, with the White House hoping it would tip the vote toward Democratic candidates in close races. ENDING OFFSHORE DRILLING MORATORIUM EARLY: LIKELY U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could announce he's lifting the ban early on offshore deepwater drilling that is set to expire Nov. 30. In place since shortly after BP's massive oil spill, lifting the ban would bring hope to thousands of idled rig workers and to the thousands of onshore workers who support offshore drilling. This would help Gulf Coast Democrats although the administration would still be vulnerable to criticism that it dragged its feet on lifting the drilling ban that hurt local economies almost as much as the spill. HIGHER ETHANOL BLENDED GASOLINE: LIKELY The Environmental Protection Agency could boost the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline to 15 percent from 10 percent. Having higher ethanol-blended gasoline, known at E15, would appeal to corn growers because most U.S. ethanol is made from corn, which would provide a boost to Midwest Democrats in the nation's cornbelt...more

Two more examples of why you shouldn't federalize energy policy. The minute you federalize it, you politicize it.

Interior denies protection for Calif. fish species

The Sacramento splittail fish does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday. The decision puts the Obama administration on the same side as a former Bush administration official who was accused of improper political interference in dozens of endangered species cases, including a 2003 decision to remove the Sacramento splittail from the threatened species list. Julie MacDonald resigned as deputy assistant Interior secretary in 2007 after the department's inspector general found that she bullied government scientists to alter their findings about endangered species and improperly leaked information about species protection decisions to private groups and industry officials. Biologists in the Sacramento field office had concluded the fish, which is found only in California's Central Valley, should remain on the threatened list, but were overruled by higher ranking officials, including MacDonald. Protections for the small fish could have required flooding the area near MacDonald's property. That could have had an impact on crops or required farmers to pay to install fish screens. In its latest decision, the Fish and Wildlife Service said scientific data failed to show a significant long-term decline of splittail populations. Instead, the agency cited "natural fluctuations" that demonstrate a pattern of successful spawning during wet years, followed by reduced spawning during dry years. An environmental group blasted the decision, which it said was made without up-to-date fish-count surveys.

Interior Dept. approves first solar projects on federal lands

The Interior Department approved the first solar projects on public lands Tuesday, a move aimed at shifting the type of energy development on federal property in the years to come. The two ventures green-lighted in the Californian desert - the Imperial Valley and Chevron Lucerne Valley solar projects - could provide energy for hundreds of thousands of homes, though neither would start generating electricity for more than a year, at the earliest. Those projects still face hurdles. The Imperial Valley solar project, for example, hinges on a new multibillion-dollar transmission line that crosses sensitive habitats. Many companies also have complained that the administration has been slow to issue promised loan guarantees. The Solar Energy Industries Association says that only one loan guarantee has been issued under Section 1705 of the federal program and that 13 others are still "conditional." Renewable energy projects must start before Dec. 31 to qualify for federal grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Earlier this year, Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey testified that the agency hoped to sign off on 34 such projects before the end of 2010; on Tuesday, BLM officials said they may approve 14 at most...more

Here's an example of where BLM's ineptitude may save us all money.

In those instances where BLM is not inept, it provides an example of how Congressional land-use designations and environmental laws have restricted any productive use of the lands in question.

Salazars: Colorado’s ‘first family’

Growing up humbly to Henry and Emma Salazar in Los Rincones, the Salazar children grew up with loads of work and integrity. In good company, the eight children grew their own food and were taught honesty and how to get along. “Our parents were adamant about education,” Rep. John Salazar noted. Even without electricity and running water, the eight Salazar children were able to become the first generation of college graduates in the family. “We read the bible and other books by the light of an oil lamp. With no T.V., we became pretty close knit,” the congressman said. After the United States victory against Mexico, the Salazar family began farming along the Rio Grande and Chama River in New Mexico. Antonio de Salazar had requested land in 1714 and it was in the 1850s when the Salazars moved north to Los Rincones, just four miles southeast of Manassa. John and Ken Salazar’s great-grandfather, Francisco Esteban de Salazar spent the duration of his life in Los Rincones and was the first to be buried in the region. Today, the family has resided in Colorado for five generations, farming the land their ancestors have for hundreds of years. “When I was a young man there were 10 homes in a three- mile radius,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. Today their ranch is the only one that remains...more

Carbon Cap Hearings Wind Down, Heat Up in Santa Fe

Hearings on a proposal to cap and reduce New Mexico's climate change pollution continued to heat up even as they were winding down in Santa Fe on Tuesday. Disputes over perceived conflicts of interest and the economic impacts of shifting to more renewable energy colored what otherwise was a very technical discussion. Some Republican state lawmakers charged that members of the Environmental Improvement Board holding the hearings have a "green agenda," and should recuse themselves. But former Republican lawmaker, rancher Tweeti Blancett, calls the conflict of interest charges a distraction from the main issue. "It's not a liberal or conservative issue, it's everybody's issue. And we need to be aware of it, because we all live here together, and we all need to be working together to have the best environment that we can have." While at least two of the board members have histories of environmental activism, they say they don't stand to profit from the proposed rules in any way. Other board members also have ties to oil and gas and other affected industries in the state...more

Wish I had a picture like that with Richardson's face.

County wants out of cattle guard business

A state highway official said it appears Eddy County has washed its hands of maintaining cattle guards, although it receives $500,000 from the state for cattle guard maintenance and other road work. But county leaders say it's not the county's responsibility to maintain them. The majority of cattle guards are on state roads and therefore they are not the county's responsibility. Ralph Meeks, NMDOT assistant district engineer for District Two, covering Eddy, Chaves and Lea counties, told the Eddy County Commission that for several years his agency and the county's road department worked together to address cattle guard issues, but in recent years the county has adopted a "hands off cattle guard position." County Manager Allen Sartin said that of the 83 known cattle guards in Eddy County, 72 were installed by the state and are the state's responsibility. The issue of fencing and related cattle guards on state roads has long been a source of consternation for the county. The county maintains that it is not responsible for repairing fences on state rights of way and cattle guards, especially in areas where oil field traffic is heavy and causes damages to cattle guards and fences. County Road Superintendent Frank Weldon told the commission that he has had several conversations with Meeks about cattle guards. He said from the road department's perspective, cattle guards installed by the state are an integral part of a fence, and the county doesn't work on fences...more

Baxter Black takes on the HSUS

...Staring up at me like an obscene gesture in a passing car window was listed the Humane Society of the United States. I wrote back to the publisher expressing my regret that I would not be able to pass along or recommend the book because of their association with HSUS. A group that has such a poisoned reputation in the horse world among so many veterinarians, horse raisers, trainers, cowboys, auction operators, trail riders, packers, breeders, performance and show people, not to mention many horse-related associations. HSUS bears a chunk of the responsibility for the tragedy of animal suffering and abandonment that has befallen the magnificent equine. It was at the front of the ill-fated closure of horse slaughter plants, which severely diminished the value of all horses. HSUS is the Rod Blagojevich of the horse world. I admit I didn't ponder long on my decision, because of my familiarity with HSUS. I do feel sympathy for the author and artist. They mean well and are genuine in their concern for the problem. But they are simply innocent of the HSUS that continues to be exposed for its less-than-honest portrayal of itself as a benign fundraiser that cares for abandoned or abused horses...more

Border Patrol Projects Caught Up for Months in Red Tape, Government Study Shows

Border Patrol agents trying to keep up with the pace of illegal immigration along the southwest border have gotten stuck in a kind of bureaucratic limbo, with a new government report showing federal regulations have stalled projects for months. In one case, it took the Bureau of Land Management almost eight months to issue a permit allowing Border Patrol to move an underground sensor in New Mexico. In another, Border Patrol officials were denied permission to improve maintenance on roads and surveillance in California, forcing the patrol routes north. In another, it took more than four months for the agency to get permission to move "mobile" surveillance in Arizona -- by that time, illegal immigrant traffic had shifted. These anecdotes are included as part of a Government Accountability Office study, a draft version of which was obtained by The report was commissioned to review lawmakers' concerns that environmental and preservation regulations are hampering efforts to secure the border and found that those regulations had in fact limited agents' access to the land they're supposed to patrol. This inter-agency conflict might ordinarily amount to a typical bureaucratic turf war -- but it's gotten more attention in recent years as agents have driven illegal immigrant traffic away from urban crossings and diverted a lot of it into the remote, tough-to-patrol federal land mass that makes up more than 40 percent of the southwest borderland. As a result, large swaths of America's wilderness and park land, hit by a wave of smuggler traffic, have been deemed too dangerous for visitors. Much has been closed off to the public. Border Patrol has nearly doubled its patrol force in the last five years but has run into roadblocks in trying to get better access to the land. According to the GAO report, supervisors at 17 of the 26 federal land stations said their access had been limited over land management laws, "resulting in delays and restrictions in agents' patrolling." Often, this meant they couldn't get permission for routine projects in a "timely manner." New Mexico agents said it could take six months to obtain permission to maintain or improve a road, or move surveillance equipment. In the case of the eight-month delay, the Bureau of Land Management had to take extra time to perform a "historic property assessment." In another case, Border Patrol was prohibited from placing a sensor tower inside Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona because of its status as "wilderness." They had to move the site to a state-owned portion of the monument, an area that gave the tower a smaller range...more

Finally, the governments own study is showing what I and many others having been saying for months: federal lands, especially those designated as wilderness, are an impediment to border patrol activites and provide a safe haven for drug and human traffickers.

I will withold further comment until I receive the final report.

Wife, Mom Calling on Obama to Intervene in Search for Body of 'Victim' in Alleged Mexican Pirate Attack

The wife and mother of an American allegedly shot to death by Mexican pirates on a border lake in Texas are angrily demanding that Mexican authorities allow U.S. investigators to join the search for a body -- and stop questioning whether the attack ever happened. Search teams scouring the U.S. side of Falcon Lake have turned up no sign of David Michael Hartley, 30, five days after his wife said he was shot in the head by Mexican bandits marauding on the U.S.-Mexican border lake. Tiffany Hartley, 29, accused Mexican authorities Tuesday of "not looking" for her husband's body and called on President Obama to pressure the Mexican government into allowing U.S. authorities to search the Mexican side of the lake. Hartley went on to make a personal plea to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene in the case by sending U.S. authorities to search the Mexican side of the lake for her son's body. "Hillary Clinton, she's a mother. She can understand," she said. Mexican authorities investigating the alleged shooting reportedly say they have not yet found any evidence of the crime...more

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I know, the damned music player turns on whether you want to hear it or not. I'll keep looking...or maybe you like it that way? Let me know.

Interior Dept. sets new offshore drilling rules

The Obama administration on Thursday imposed new rules to make offshore drilling safer, but said it was not yet ready to lift a temporary ban on deepwater drilling. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called offshore drilling inherently risky and said, "We will only lift the moratorium when I, as secretary of Interior, am comfortable that we have significantly reduced those risks." White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called the new regulations "a big step forward" and said they moved the administration closer to lifting the deepwater drilling ban. The new rules, which take effect immediately, include many recommendations made in a report Salazar released in May, including requirements that rigs certify that they have working blowout preventers and standards for cementing wells. The cement process and blowout preventer both failed to work as expected in the BP spill. The new rules, which take effect immediately, include many recommendations made in a report Salazar released in May, including requirements that rigs certify that they have working blowout preventers and standards for cementing wells. The cement process and blowout preventer both failed to work as expected in the BP spill...more

Interior Secretary Salazar Is Costing America Plenty

After toeing the White House line before the BP Oil spill commission on the future of offshore energy exploration, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar continued his public relations tour last week with a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center. In the speech he outlined the Obama administration’s stance on energy policy, and specifically offshore exploration. Secretary Salazar continues to justify the offshore drilling moratorium, which has cost thousands of jobs even by his administration’s own estimates. Yet his ongoing spin cycle is only a small part of a larger effort to portray the image-conscious Salazar as a hero in the BP debacle. Unfortunately, Secretary Salazar’s carefully maintained image as a “boots and a suit” independent belies a stringent partisan with a lengthy history of fighting domestic energy exploration at every turn. From the Eastern Plains of Colorado to Alaska’s idled energy riches to the now desolate drilling rigs of the Gulf Coast, Secretary Salazar’s legacy of job killing enmity toward domestic energy is reaching its pinnacle...more

Western lawmakers turn sights on endangered wolves

Two decades after the federal government spent a half-million dollars to study the reintroduction of gray wolves to the Northern Rockies, lawmakers say it's time for Congress to step in again — this time to clamp down on the endangered animals. To do so they are proposing to bypass the Endangered Species Act and lift protections, first enacted in 1974, for today's booming wolf population. Critics say the move would undercut one of the nation's premiere environmental laws and allow for the unchecked killing of wolves across the West. But bitterness against the iconic predator is flaring as livestock killings increase and some big game herds dwindle. And with state efforts to knock back the predators' expansion stalled in court, senators from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah want to strip wolves of their endangered status by force...more

States, Feds & Others Appeal Wolf Decision

Montana and the federal government both filed appeals Friday, asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the Aug. 5 ruling that relisted gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and federal Department of Justice joined Idaho, the Idaho and Montana Farm Bureau federations, and the Mountain States Legal Foundation in asking the court to revisit Judge Donald Molloy’s ruling. In Molloy’s opinion, gray wolves can’t be considered a recovered species in Idaho and Montana while remaining listed as endangered in Wyoming. Also joining the appeal Friday were the National Rifle Association of America and Safari Club International. “Montanans look to us to manage a viable and connected wolf population while reducing wolf impacts on big game populations and livestock producers,” FWP Director Joe Maurier said on Friday. “Today’s appeal is one of the avenues FWP is pursuing to regain the management authority it needs to meet Montanans’ expectations.” The paperwork that was filed only stated that the various entities want the ruling appealed. But Bob Lane, FWP’s chief legal counsel, said they will present legal arguments asserting why they believe Molloy erred and that the region’s recovered wolves should be returned to a delisted status...more

Ranchers not just crying wolf

Dick Thoman, a fourth-generation sheep rancher in Wyoming, woke up one morning and found 42 of his sheep bloody and dead on the open range. They had been slaughtered by wolves. The wolves didn't kill only what they needed to survive, and they didn't kill because they were hungry, as some like to claim. They killed for sport; they killed because that's what wolves do. Not one of the sheep had been eaten. "Just killed 'em and left 'em," says Thoman. Thoman's summer range borders Yellowstone. He loses 300 to 400 sheep a year to wolves, or about 10 percent of his herd. Why would they chase wild game in the park for hours on end when they can find them all bunched up and defenseless on adjacent ranches? It's like a grocery store on hooves. Did anybody not see that coming? "They've slaughtered us since they brought them back," Thoman says. "It's terrible." This doesn't even take into account Thoman's other losses. With wolves around, sheep are nervous. Imagine having a terrorist loose in the neighborhood each night, trying to get into your house to kill you. The sheep don't sleep or eat as well. "We probably lost 15 pounds per lamb over the summer, and at a dollar a pound and over 3,000 lambs, that adds up," says Thoman...more

Arizona's bald eagles lose federal protection

Arizona's bald eagles suffered what wildlife advocates called a crushing setback after a judge ruled that the birds can be removed from the federal threatened- and endangered-species list. A conservation group said it would file a new lawsuit Monday seeking to keep the state's eagle population on the list. U.S. District Judge Mary Murguia did not address the larger issue of whether Arizona's desert nesting eagles deserve greater protection than other eagles. Rather, she said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had complied with her earlier order to review the status of the population, which biologists say is separate from other eagles in the contiguous 48 states. Her ruling was dated Thursday. The Wildlife Service's review concluded that the Arizona eagles were not biologically distinct enough to warrant continued protection. The agency removed the bald eagle from the threatened list in 2007, declaring that the species as a whole had sufficiently recovered...more

A Wyoming wonder

In 1999, we published a feature story that followed biologist Jonathan Proctor around the northern Great Plains as he tried to convince ranchers that prairie dogs are beneficial for their land. Proctor’s a tall guy, but his task was undoubtedly taller, if not colossally unrealistic. Affectionately termed “range rats” by some, prairie dogs are one of the most contentious species in the West – arguably on par with wolves – primarily because they eat grass ranchers would rather see disappear into the rumens of their cows. ESPN, for instance, encourages shooting prairie dogs for sport. In 2009, though, after a decade-long effort from Proctor and nearly five years of government-led negotiations involving numerous proposed management alternatives, draft revisions, and sit-downs with private landowners, the U.S. Forest Service announced a new management plan that involved translocating – instead of killing – a colony of black-tailed prairie dogs from the edge of private ranch land to a core recovery area within northeast Wyoming’s Thunder Basin National Grassland. And now, three months of fieldwork, 550 prairie dogs, and 192 acres of new habitat later, the move is mostly complete. It’s the first-ever prairie dog relocation project carried out by the Forest Service on a national grassland, and the first large-scale one performed on public land...more

Everglades Relisted as Endangered

Agreeing with a request by the Obama administration, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) returned the Everglades National Park to the List of World Heritage in Danger. According to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, the action symbolizes the United States commitment to restoration of the Everglades ecosystem and the administration’s efforts to restore the role of sound science in the decision-making process. The List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions that threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List and to encourage corrective action. The park was first listed by UNESCO’s 21-nation World Heritage Committee as a world heritage site in 1979. It was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger after Hurricane Andrew struck in 1993. The park was removed from the danger list in 2007 at the request of the Bush administration. blr

Washington Wants Even More Acres To Mismanage

The next Congress should enact a moratorium on land nationalization. The feds should stop fleecing exhausted taxpayers for fresh billions to purchase new acreage for Uncle Sam to mismanage. Washington, D.C. already lords over some 650 million acres, or 29 percent of America’s land. The federal government owns 45.3 percent of California, 48 percent of Arizona, 57.45 percent of Utah, 69 percent of Alaska, and 84.5 percent of Nevada. No state from the Rockies west is less than 30 percent federal, as are Montana and Washington. But that is not enough. Uncle Sam is like a hyperactive brat who trips over his abandoned train set and stumbles over his Legos while running out to slap a shiny, new dirt bike on Daddy’s credit card. Washington constantly expands the federal estate, even while mishandling its existing properties...more

Farmington: $11.4 million in stimulus money for new BLM office

Construction is under way on the Bureau of Land Management's new $11.4 million building that will triple the size of the bureau's current building. Construction began last summer on the new 36,000-square-foot building off College Boulevard north of Sandalwood Drive. Crews are completing the foundation of the stimulus-funded building that's located on 26 acres north of Piedra Vista High School. The Farmington BLM is one of four district offices in the state and it oversees two field offices: one in Farmington, the other in Taos. It also contains the Federal Indian Minerals Office. Bureau employees said they are looking forward to moving out of their cluttered quarters on the La Plata Highway in Farmington. About 115 employees work there. Cubicles occupied by petroleum engineer technicians, geologists, archaeologists, administrators and other employees fit tightly into the 10,000 square-foot building built in 1988. "The building is starting to show its age," said Joel Farrell, the bureau's assistant field manager...more

New Zealand: 6 days of blizzards cause hundreds of thousands of lamb to die

Following a reasonably benign winter, the Southland region of New Zealand (NZ) has in the past week been hit by “the worst spring storm in living memory” according to the NZ Herald. Six days of blizzards have caused deaths among new lambs numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and raised concern over the welfare of ewes yet to lamb. Besides the effect of the cold weather itself, the continued snowfall has not allowed snow on the ground to thaw, making it much harder for stock to feed. This makes ewes about to lamb particularly susceptible to metabolic illnesses from a lack of nutrients...more

Children's book penned by local rancher spins amusing tale on four wheels

It's not easy being a rancher. It's even more difficult being a rancher's truck. Oh, the stories they could tell...Well, thanks to long-time Cuero rancher Stayton Weldon, at least one truck did get to tell his story. After years of making up stories to tell his grandchildren, Weldon finally wrote down those stories, which was turned into the children's book "Whitey on the Ranch." Told from the truck's point of view, who was nicknamed Whitey (which "should immediately have shown me the intelligence and mind-set of my owner," as Whitey puts it), the book is based on Weldon's real-life experiences with his truck over the years...more

Trew: Book spurs memories of ol' saddle houses

Down on the Parsell Ranch on the Canadian River we had a large wooden barn with a hallway running between stalls, feed bins and milk stanchions. We hung our saddles from ropes tied to the rafters and our saddle blankets rested over a long pipe held up by barbed wire to keep the rats from chewing on the gear. We were constantly hunting cats, especially mamas with kittens, to help with the rats. The local coyotes seemed to appreciate our cat-hunting efforts. My favorite saddle house was on the ranch in New Mexico. It had a concrete floor, was built of rocks, had a low tin roof and a tin-clad tight door. The feed bins were located on the other end of the long shed so we had few mice problems. We learned to feed the barn cats inside the saddle house and leave them shut inside until the next morning. There were eight wooden saddle racks, and many had the initials of old previous cowboys who had worked on the ranch once owned by Jules Bivins. There was a coal oil lantern hanging by the door if you left that early in the morning. You could smell leather when the door was open, and a work bench held all the tools for replacing horse shoes and trimming horse's feet. An exposed two-by-four overhead held a rusty collection of worn-out horseshoes of every size and design. Here at the Trew Ranch, our wooden saddle racks are 60 years old as I built them myself right after we bought the place...more

Monday, October 04, 2010

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ravaged by disease

Across the northern Rocky Mountains, bighorn sheep are dying by the hundreds from pneumonia and alarmed wildlife officials are hunting and killing the majestic animals to halt the spread of the disease. Since winter, nine disease outbreaks across five states in the West have claimed nearly 1,000 bighorns, prized as a game animal for the prominent curled horns of the adult males, or rams. Scientists recently confirmed what they long suspected — the cause of the plague is contact between the wild bighorns and domestic sheep flocks. Putting the blame on domestic sheep has heightened a furious debate between advocates of the wild bighorns and sheep ranchers — one skirmish in a bigger war between proponents of economic interests and those seeking protection of remaining wild areas and species in America’s West...more

Flares, chaff at center of debate

In addition to quadrupling the space bomber pilots have to train in, the proposed new Powder River range will allow the use of two defensive measures that are prohibited in the area. Flares eject from the B-1 bombers to distract heat-seeking missiles. Chaff deploys to block enemy radar. Both have ranchers and residents under the proposed area confused and fearful. To give pilots more realistic training, the Air Force has proposed increasing their range from 7,000 to 28,000 square miles in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The training includes allowing supersonic flights, training flights as low as 500 feet and the use of chaff and flares. The public has until Nov. 13 to comment on the proposal that will be decided next fall. Representatives from Ellsworth Air Force Base recently took Rapid City Journal reporters behind closed doors to a munitions facility for a close look at the two technologies. If the proposal to expand the bombing range is finalized next fall, magnesium pellet flares that can burn as hot as 1,200 degrees will be ejected throughout the 28,000-square-mile area during training missions. The temperature is hot enough to melt aluminum and similar to that of lava spewing from a volcano. The flares need to be hotter than the afterburner of a B-1 to attract the heat-seeking missiles bombers could see in combat. Marvin Kammerer, a Rapid City rancher who lives near Ellsworth Air Force base, said he is concerned about the possibilities of a fire, no matter how slim the threat. “Whether these people realize it or not, when we hear a lightning storm, some of us go to the hilltops and check for fires,” he said. “Do we need to do that every time an airplane flies over?”...more

Oregon reworks controls on wolves

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has re-evaluated the state’s wolf management plan, including relaxing guidelines to allow ranchers to “harass” wolves causing problems with livestock. Gray wolves, which were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, have migrated west to Oregon in recent years, decades after the predator had been killed off. The five-year plan approved Friday attempts to adjust to a growing number of wolves in the state. State officials have agreed on wolf population goals to get the animal off Oregon’s endangered species list. In the original plan, ranchers could get permits to harass wolves after the animals caused problems with livestock over a 48-hour period. Now the commission has changed the guidelines so that any wolf-livestock conflict is enough to furnish a permit. But some ranchers attending the meeting were not pleased that the state is not considering easier guidelines for them to kill wolves that hunt livestock. “As a rancher, I’ve got to have the tools in my toolbox to protect what’s mine,” said Tik Moore, a Baker County rancher, who had several calves hunted by wolves in 2009...more

'The Buzzard of Backcountry' Strikes It Rich in National Parks

The luxury home that Thomas Chapman built on the lip of the magnificent Black Canyon here isn't just an investment. It's a provocation. Mr. Chapman, a small-town real-estate broker, has made a controversial career trading scattered parcels of private land that sit inside national forests and national parks. On behalf of his clients or his business partners, he talks up plans to develop the parcels: a subdivision at a scenic overlook, an RV park on a canyon rim, a rustic estate inside a remote wilderness area. Sometimes he even brings out the bulldozers. Environmentalists sound the alarm. And often, the government or conservationists come with money or a land swap to buy him out, saving the cherished parcel from development—and making Mr. Chapman money. Now, as the Obama Administration launches a "Great Outdoors Initiative" aimed at expanding protection of America's scenic spots, Mr. Chapman has made his boldest move yet. He and his business partners bought a 112-acre parcel within the boundaries of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in rugged western Colorado. They spent $240,000 for land the federal government had recently appraised at $175,000. When no conservationists stepped forward to buy the land, Mr. Chapman raised the ante: He built a 4,800-square-foot home on the canyon rim, which he has put on the market for $13 million, helicopter included. And he sold off a second home site—on higher ground, with even more spectacular views—for $2.1 million...more

Local rancher worships the cowboy way

His skin toughened by the sun and wind, cattle rancher Sam Noble sees God everywhere he looks. That may be why he was asked to create a cowboy-themed inspirational Christian service as part of the Durango Cowboy Gathering 22 years ago. "I started writing cowboy poetry because of this event," said Noble, a leader in Durango Cowboys for Christ. "I wrote one the first year, but it took me a year to memorize it so I didn't use it until the second year." The service, called A Cowboy & His Creator, will take place twice during the Cowboy Gathering this weekend - this afternoon in the Pullman Room at the Strater Hotel and Sunday morning in the Henry Strater Theatre. It will include cowboy songs, verse and rhyme on Christian themes. "I'm the only one that I know of that only writes cowboy gospel poetry," Noble said. "There's one I do for the kids about 'Old Cowboy Noah' and one about Adam and Eve." Noble also occasionally writes a poem for a special occasion. This year, Bob Brittain from Grants, N.M., will give the message at the service. Noble met him at a Baptist senior retreat in Tajique, N.M. "He knows the words to every song and gives a great message," Noble said about Brittain. A Cowboy & His Creator drew about 15 people the first year, when it was held at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Now, Noble said, it has grown to the point that it fills the Henry Strater Theatre...more

Song Of The Day

File Factory has things all screwed up. The Music Player is now called a Folder Widget and there are no buttons to play the song. If this new set up is permanent, I'll have to find a new way to share music.

Mexico roiled by grenades, bombings in bloody weekend (47 deaths)

Northern Mexico was shaken by a weekend of violence, with 47 deaths blamed on drug cartels and a series of grenade attacks that injured a dozen people, officials said Sunday. Twelve people, including six children, were hurt in a late night grenade attack at a busy plaza outside Monterrey, according to officials who said it was one of four bombings to rock the industrial border city over the weekend. Authorities said Sunday that the grenade was thrown by unidentified assailants at about 11:00 pm Saturday (0400 GMT Sunday) near the town hall in Guadalupe, a suburb of the bustling city near the border with the United States. Earlier Saturday, three explosive devices were detonated, including one near the US consulate and another not far from a prosecutor's office that wounded a guard. The blasts damaged roads and nearby vehicles, said police, who have yet to identify the culprits. Monterrey, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the US border, has been the scene of brutal violence blamed on feuding drug cartels fighting over control of trafficking routes into the lucrative US market...more

Number of Officers Killed in Mexico Border City Tops 100 as Drug War Drags On

Mexican officials say a shooting attack has killed a policeman in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. The death raises the number of officers killed in the drug violence-plagued city this year to 102. State prosecutors say Friday's attack on a police station also wounded two officers. Ciudad Juaraz, which sits next to El Paso, Texas, is a battleground between two rival drug cartels and has become one of the most violent cities in Mexico. Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for Chihuahua state prosecutors, says attacks on law enforcement in Ciudad Juarez this year have killed 44 city officers, 21 state officers, 29 federal policemen, three transit officers, three prison officers and two investigators for prosecutors...more

Investigation of Mexican pirates killing of American tourist intensifies

Following the murder of a U.S. citizen boating on Falcon Lake, Texas law enforcement agencies are advising visitors to stay away from the Mexican side of the popular lake while they are intensifying their investigation of a crime that angered the nation. “The Zapata County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department are telling boaters on Falcon Lake to stay on the United States side of the lake and not venture into Mexican waters,” said a statement released yesterday by the Texas DPS. Mexican pirates trolling the waters of the U.S.-Mexico border lake shot and killed a tourist while his wife escaped a hail of bullets and raced her Jet Ski back to American soil. The incident has renewed calls for federal action by border security advocates. Search and rescue teams patrolled the U.S. side of Falcon Lake this weekend searching for the body of Colorado tourist David Michael Hartley, 30, whose wife, Tiffany Hartley, told police he was shot in the back of the head Thursday after being ambushed by gunmen on boats. The Texas Department of Public Safety announced during a press conference that Hartley was believed to have been killed but his body had not been found. The gunmen are suspected Mexican pirates who prowl Falcon Lake, a favorite spot for water-skiing and bass fishing. There have been five previously reported pirate attacks on that lake this year...more

Double murder raises questions of 'spillover' violence from Mexico

Brownsville police are still investigating the gruesome murders of two Mexican Nationals discovered Thursday night. “The two people were identified as the driver José Guadalupe Perez Chavez , 38 years of age, and Omar Castillo Flores as being the passenger the Mexican Consulate has been informed," said Eddie Perez with the Brownsville Police Department. The shooting happened on FM 511 just feet away from Rancho Viejo Elementary School, steps away from the Brownsville Border Patrol station, and just around the corner from the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department. Justice of the Peace Linda Salazar was one of the first to arrive at the scene. According to Salazar the shooting looked execution style...more

Mexican drug war crimes go live on the Internet

In the midst of the brutal drug trafficking war encroaching on their lives, thousands of Mexicans every morning check social network websites to see if they will encounter any unpleasant surprises on the way to work or school. But they are not the only ones. While average citizens go online to let others know where in their neighborhood a body has been uncovered or if they can expect disruptions from cartels or the Mexican military, the drug gangs themselves also use the tools to manipulate public opinion by making threats and warnings. The spread of vital information ahead of the daily commute, via social networking technology and sites like Facebook and Twitter, is especially useful in the country's north, near the US border, which has become ground zero for the country's drug war...more

U.S. Worsens Mexican Violence by Returning Criminal Aliens to Border Cities, Mayors Say

A coalition of Mexican mayors has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in the U.S. to Mexican border cities, saying the deportations are contributing to Mexican border violence. The request was made at a recent San Diego conference in which the mayors of four Mexican border cities and one U.S. mayor, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, gathered to discuss cross-border issues. Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes blamed U.S. deportation policy for contributing to his city's violence, saying that of the 80,000 people deported to Juarez in the past three years, 28,000 had U.S. criminal records -- including 7,000 convicted rapists and 2,000 convicted murderers. Those criminal deportees, he said, have contributed to the violence in Juarez, which has reported more than 2,200 murders this year. Reyes and the other Mexican mayors said that when the U.S. deports criminals back to Mexico, it should fly them to their hometowns, not just bus them to the border...more

Smugglers of Drugs Burrow on Border

Drone aircraft patrol the United States-Mexico border from the skies. Fast boats look out for smugglers at sea. And tens of thousands of Border Patrol agents use trucks, horses, all-terrain vehicles and bicycles to stop unauthorized crossers on land. But there is another route across the border, one in which smugglers slither north. As enforcement efforts have increased and border barriers have been built, tunneling has gained in popularity, with Nogales becoming the capital. On Thursday, the Border Patrol was filling an underground tunnel that had been discovered right under the immigration checkpoint in Nogales. But even before the concrete was poured to make that tunnel inoperative, another subterranean passageway was discovered a block away. The second tunnel, which had been used to bring bales of marijuana from Mexico, will be filled as well. There are patches, in fact, all across this city, where the authorities have tried to tap the tunnels that traffickers build off the extensive underground storm drain system that connects Nogales with another city by the same name across the fence in Mexico. With profit margins so huge, drug traffickers pushing their wares across the border are an enterprising lot. No matter how much the United States government pours into the region to stop them, there always seem to be novel attempts to elude detection...more