Saturday, December 18, 2010

Feds Force Bank to Remove Crosses, Bible Verses, and Christmas Buttons

A small Oklahoma town is enraged after Federal Reserve examiners told a hometown bank that it must remove crosses, Bible verses, and Christmas buttons from display because they could be offensive. The bank says the Fed told it the Christian paraphernalia violated federal bank regulations.

KOCO-TV reports:

Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to make sure banks are complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners came to Perkins [the town] last week. And the team from Kansas City deemed a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller’s counter and buttons that say “Merry Christmas, God With Us.” were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank’s Internet site also had to be taken down...

TV Video Report



UPDATE The Hill

The Federal Reserve quickly withdrew an order to an Oklahoma bank to remove religious items from public view on Friday after two Republicans blasted the action as an "assault on faith." Sen. James Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma sent a pointed letter to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday asking him whether he stood by a Federal Reserve examiner who told Payne County Bank officials to remove the religious references from their business... 

UPDATE



Friday, December 17, 2010

Reid files water, lands, wildlife omnibus in eleventh-hour push for environmental victory


Paul Quinlan, E&E reporter
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed omnibus legislation today containing 110 bills aimed at improving and protecting public lands, waterways, ocean resources and wildlife -- which Republican leaders have already threatened to block.
"I want to get this package done before Congress adjourns," Reid said. "I sincerely hope that the delays and obstruction we are seeing from my Republican colleagues will not prevent us from taking up this critical legislation."
Advocates say the bill represents a rare opportunity for an environmental legislative victory in the closing days of a Congress better known for major defeats on climate change and oil spill legislation.
"This bill has just gone from life support to hyperventilating," said Joshua Saks, senior legislative representative for water resources campaigns at the National Wildlife Federation. "This could be one of the most enduring actions of the 111th Congress."
Called the "America's Great Outdoors Act of 2010," the bill includes bipartisan measures that would designate new wilderness areas in three states; add 4,600 miles to the national trail system; preserve battlefield sites; protect marine turtles, sharks and great cats; and restore water bodies like Lake Tahoe, the Columbia River and the Long Island Sound, according to a news release. The bill would also slow the decline in the world's shark populations and permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The bill combines measures from four Senate committees: the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee. Half of the bills have passed the House with broad support, according to Reid's statement.
Reid defended the bill against recent Republican attacks that the planned measure would amount to a "Frankenstein omnibus," in the words of Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), cobbled together behind closed doors. Reid's statement said that Republicans for the past six years have "intentionally and methodically obstructed normal consideration of these bills," forcing them to be packaged into massive measures that could attract the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
It's unclear when the Senate will take up the measure or if time enough remains before Congress adjourns. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D) said this week that the bill had enough Republican support to get 60 votes. Oklahoma Republicans Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn have both threatened to block the bill, citing concerns about its size and cost and, at the time, uncertain contents.
"There is nothing divisive about protecting historic battlefields, improving our most critical water sources, or making sure that our best wildlife habitat remains wild and healthy," Reid said. "These are things that people in Nevada and across America want, and they expect us to work together to achieve them."
Reporter Phil Taylor contributed.
This is a shortened version of The Westerner. A request for some wilderness analysis and a pending deadline for a print publication has kept me away.

Interior Dept. identifies solar-energy zones in West

The Obama administration issued proposed guidelines Thursday for solar development on public lands in the West, a move that could speed renewable-energy projects that have been mired in environmental controversy. The detailed analysis, known as Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, identifies 24 "solar energy zones" in six states that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said would be most suited "for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production." Under the 10,000-page plan, which is now subject to public comment for 90 days, developers would have a higher level of confidence that they could receive federal permits establishing solar ventures in specific areas in states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Right now, there is a serious backlog of applications for projects dating back to the George W. Bush administration. In the past three months, Interior has approved eight utility-scale solar projects in California and Nevada that will collectively generate 3,572 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 1 million homes. But there are 104 active solar applications pending at the Bureau of Land Management, covering 1 million acres, both inside and outside the proposed zones, that developers estimate could generate an additional 60,000 megawatts of power...more

Let's see, 10,000 pages in 90 days. That's over a 100 pages a day. Have had it folks.

Officials Back Plan to Restore California Bay Delta

Federal and state officials said Wednesday that they supported construction of a massive structure around California’s environmentally crippled delta to make deliveries of fresh water to farms and cities more reliable. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said such a structure would divert water from north of the delta, where the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers meet, to water users in the Central Valley and in the southern part of California. It would be accompanied by the restoration of “tens of thousands of acres of marshes and flood plains” in the delta to bolster populations of endangered and threatened fish, he said in a telephone news conference. Farmers and cities in Southern California have been at loggerheads with environmentalists over how significantly water flows to the south should be restricted to help threatened species recover. The delta is the central switching yard where water from the Sacramento River is either sent south to agribusinesses and cities or to the west, where it supports diminishing stocks of native fish as it flows into San Francisco Bay...more

PLC, livestock groups say secretarial order may threaten grazing

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, on Nov. 15, signed a Secretarial Order elevating the Office of the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the level of a directorate within BLM. In response to the Secretarial Order, the Public Lands Council, American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and 19 other livestock groups sent a letter to Secretary Salazar, voicing their concern that the Order could threaten livestock grazing on BLM lands. The National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) was codified in the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009 in order to “conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes.” It consists of approximately 10 million acres of national monuments, national conservation areas, and other specially designated BLM lands. By merit of statute, livestock grazing occurs on much of NLCS land. According to PLC president John Falen, the laws mandating grazing on NLCS lands are not given due consideration in the Order. “The Order says multiple uses such as grazing may be allowed, as long as they are not ‘in conflict’ with the ‘values for which [NLCS components] were designated’,” said Falen. “That leaves a lot of room for litigious environmental groups to claim that grazing is ‘in conflict’ with conservation—even though well-managed grazing is documented to actually promote healthy ranges. In fact, grazing on federal lands keeps many ranching families in business, which is critical in preserving vast open spaces. We are a vital part of the conservation effort, not a burden to it.” Steve Foglesong, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, expressed concern regarding the possibility of expansion of the NLCS portfolio. “The Secretary stated that NLCS is a ‘successful model for our nation.’ If NLCS continues to grow, managed under the concepts put forth in the Order, we have a lot of questions about the direction it will take the BLM, whose mission is based on management for multiple use,” said Foglesong. “Our members need assurance that they will continue as part of a vibrant, working landscape.” Press Release

Regulatory Grinches Threaten Obama’s Natural Gas Christmas Wish

Santa may see a similar item on this year’s Christmas wish lists from members of both sides of the political aisle — more natural gas development. The administration reiterated its support of the clean burning fuel yesterday, just one week after U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) — future chair and ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee respectively — issued a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the very same subject. Though this bi-partisan support marks a positive step forward, extensive regulatory obstacles still threaten to hinder this potential tool of economic recovery. With a handful of officials pushing for onerous restrictions on hydraulic fracturing — the process necessary to extract gas resources — potential investors in this lucrative industry have taken a wait-and-see approach. Development is further hampered by another limiting factor: agencies’ inability to handle increased demands brought about by added rules in a reasonable timeframe...more

Richardson dumps plan for wild-horse haven to help shore up budget

The state won't buy a private ranch to expand the Cerrillos Hills State Park and establish a wild-horse sanctuary south of Santa Fe, Gov. Bill Richardson's office said Wednesday, calling the move "unfeasible." Richardson had been heavily criticized for the idea, which would draw millions of dollars from a pot of federal economic-stimulus funds that are being spent at the governor's discretion. Instead, Richardson will use $3.1 million to help stave off additional state-employee furloughs and layoffs amid a projected state budget shortfall of $400 million. "While the purchase of the ranch was a great opportunity for the state, and would have been a big boost to tourism and the local economy of the Galisteo Basin, moving forward at this time is unfeasible," Richardson said in a statement. The governor is in North Korea on an unofficial diplomatic mission...more

Looks like the trip to N. Korea accomplished one good thing at least.

Song Of The Day #460

Those damn fools just won't boogie out of town. Let's keep trying with Christmas Boogie by the Davis Sisters. And yes, that is Skeeter Davis you hear singing along with Betty Jack Davis (they weren't sisters). Their I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Now was a No. 1 hit in 1953. Tragically, Betty Jack was killed in a car wreck not long after the song was released.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, (Original) Tea Party!

There are taxes, regulation, a massive corporate bailout, and a popular uprising called "the Tea Party"—but it’s not 2010. It’s 1773, and today marks the 236th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The similarities are illuminating. By the 1760s, American colonists consumed more than a million pounds of tea each year. Britain, which produced the stuff in India, should have been swimming in revenues from the trade. But taxes and regulation, as they often do, fouled the situation. Parliament’s taxes doubled the cost of British tea compared to rival (and illegal) imports. So rather than pay the taxes, the colonists smuggled their tea. Conservative estimates suggest that more than three-quarters of the tea consumed in America was bootlegged. One Massachusetts governor wrote that “carts and other carriages are heard to be continually going about in the dead of night, which can be for no other purpose than smuggling.” The practice was so widespread that the famed evangelist George Whitefield preached against it when he visited the colonies: “What will become of you who cheat the King of his taxes?” As new taxes were levied, the colonists imposed widespread boycotts on British goods, including tea. Taxes and tax evasion weren’t the only problems, however. British trade regulations prevented the British East India Company, a private corporation of merchants, from selling their tea directly to the colonies. Instead, the company was forced to sell the tea to auction houses in England, an intermediary step that further drove up prices. To make matters worse, inefficiency, incompetence, and corruption marked the organization in the late 1760s. Ruin was inevitable. By the fall of 1772, the British East India Company owed the government more than £1 million. The British government had no desire to see its debtor go out of business. It was, in the parlance of our time, too big to fail. So early in 1773, Parliament pushed a bailout package for the British East India Company called the Tea Act. The bill extended a massive loan—well over what was already owed—and more government control over the company’s governance...more

The TSA Song "Help You Make It To Your Flight"

Haussamen - Cartels are as big a threat in U.S. as terrorism

When I pause to think about it, it seems surreal that I live in the United States, and I also live 45 miles from one of the biggest war zones in the world. And yet, it’s true. That reality – the drug war that has plunged Mexico into chaos – is as big a threat in the United States as terrorism, one border security expert is arguing...A 2007 report to Congress on Mexico’s drug cartels cited the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in stating that the Ju├írez Cartel has a presence in Southern New Mexico. The report also cited the 2007 National Drug Threat Assessment as saying there is a cartel presence in Las Cruces. A 2009 federal report tells the story of a teen who smuggled drugs into New Mexico on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel. The cartel had him killed in a “remote area of New Mexico” because he owed the cartel money. In January 2009, according to the report, another drug trafficker was shot and killed “in a remote area of Silver City” for failing to pay a drug debt. A week later, the wife of another drug trafficker who owed money was found dead in the same location. The report states that cartels “also engage in other crimes, including alien smuggling, auto theft, kidnapping, murder, and weapons smuggling to further their criminal enterprises and generate illicit proceeds.” “Many of these violent traffickers obtain firearms by burglarizing businesses, private homes, and vehicles in the New Mexico (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) region,” the report states. Have you considered the possibility that the burglary you recently read about in the newspaper might have been a cartel-related crime?...more

A new problem for Mexico

For American border cities, the most disturbing of the WikiLeaks documents revealed last week were those offering a snapshot of Mexico's difficult and deadly fight against the monstrous drug cartels that threaten the security of our southern neighbor. So far, only a small number of the estimated 2,600 U.S. diplomatic cables dealing with Mexico have been released. But they paint a grim picture. In one, U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual, writing to the State Department last November, just three months after assuming his post in Mexico City, said, "Mexico's use of strategic and tactical intelligence is often fractured, ad hoc, and heavily reliant on the United States for leads and operations." He lamented the turf wars and "entrenched mistrust" between Mexico's numerous security agencies. And he said the rival agencies "would rather hoard intelligence than allow a rival agency to succeed." Release of the correspondence sparked outcry in Mexico, prompting Pascual to issue a statement saying the cables merely reflected "a moment in time" and did not reflect U.S. policy. But the truth often hurts, and Pascual's correspondence to Washington was not the only revealing document. Another indicated a senior Mexican official was worried about his government "losing" control of territory to the cartels and warned that "pervasive, debilitating fear" was taking over the people in the countryside. Another revealed that cartel killers are targeting the intelligence sources and contacts of U.S. agents, murdering 61 of them over two years. A top Mexican official was quoted as saying that the violence "is damaging Mexico's international reputation, hurting foreign investment and leading to a sense of government impotence."...more

Document: Mexico can't control border

The Mexican government has no control of its 577-mile border with Guatemala, where arms, drugs and immigrant smugglers appear to have free rein, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable disclosed recently by WikiLeaks. The document says that Mexico does not have enough resources to patrol the border. "Limited resources also undermine the effort: while there are 30,000 U.S. CBP officers on the 1,926-mile Mexican/U.S. border, only 125 Mexican immigration officials monitor the 577-mile border with Guatemala," the document states. "The weakness of the state (Guatemalan government), the pervasive violence, the widespread corruption, and the country's strategic location for drug trafficking are creating a very dangerous cocktail." The state of lawlessness in Guatemala is such that residents rely on the Zetas instead of police to provide security, the released documents say. The Zetas, who formerly worked for the Gulf cartel, are reported to be making inroads in Chihuahua state. In another recent document, U.S. diplomats voiced concerns that Mexican drug dealers could end up buying certain high-tech weapons that Russia had sold to Venezuela. Such weapons are capable of shooting down U.S. combat helicopters...more

'Mexico supplies the drugs. We supply the users'

Over the border and through the cartels to Abuelita's casa we go. A scary new reality arrived with the long Christmas season in Mexico. For generations, families have driven across the border from the U.S. to spend much of December and into January visiting relatives. This year, the Mexican government put out stark warnings to such merry travelers. Travel in convoys, in daylight and if possible, contact federal authorities for a military escort through the portions of Mexico where the drug cartel violence has been particularly gruesome. Feliz Navidad. And most of us are worried about overly exuberant security agents touching our junk as we travel for the holidays. The U.S. is forever proclaiming its war on drugs. And if you live in an urban community where police regularly stop folks in search of those carrying contraband, you'd be justified to feel under siege. But if you want to know what a real drug war is, behold Mexico. The scale of the casualties (more then 28,000 in four years) and disruption to daily life is difficult for most in the U.S. to grasp. Mexico's version of our Health and Human Services secretary told the Los Angeles Times he worried that his nation is on the cusp of becoming one where "killing someone can be seen as normal or natural." It's easy to cluck our tongues about the gruesome violence "over there," but to do so is to absolve ourselves of the role our country plays in this bloody import/export business. Let's be honest: this is a trade relationship. Mexico supplies the drugs. We supply the users...more

The Dems’ Lame-Duck Land Grab

Environmentalists hate sprawl — except when it comes to the size of their expansive pet legislation on Capitol Hill. In a last-ditch lame-duck push, eco-lobbyists have been furiously pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) to pass a monstrous 327-page omnibus government-lands bill crammed with more than 120 separate measures to lock up vast swaths of wilderness areas. Despite the time crunch, Senate Democrats in search of 60 votes are working behind the scenes to buy off green Republicans. House Democrats would then need a two-thirds majority to fast-track the bill to the White House before the GOP takes over on Jan. 5. Yes, the hurdles are high. But with Reid and company now vowing to work straight through Christmas into the new year (when politicians know Americans are preoccupied with the holidays), anything is possible. The Constitution is no obstacle to these power grabbers. Neither is a ticking clock. The sweeping bill bundles up scores of controversial proposals, including the creation of massive new national-monument boundaries and wilderness areas along the southern border that are opposed by ranchers, farmers, local officials, and citizens. One New Mexico activist, Marita Noon, said the federal plans to usurp nearly a half-million acres in her state would result in an “illegal-immigrant superhighway” off-limits to border-security enforcement. Security analyst Dana Joel Gattuso pointed to a recent Government Accountability Office report on how environmental permitting rules and land-use regulations have hampered policing efforts at all but three stations along the border...more

Congressman Laments Death of Border Patrol Agent

Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement after receiving notification that U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was shot and killed last night near Rio Rico, Arizona. Initial reports indicate that the shooting occurred on federal lands located within Arizona’s Coronado National Forest. Bishop serves as Western Caucus Chairman and is the Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands. “It is unacceptable that our federal lands continue to serve as drug trafficking and human smuggling superhighways. It’s no secret why criminal organizations entering the U.S. from Mexico strategically target federal lands as the most ideal and secure route to traffic drugs, smuggle humans and carry out a host of other criminal acts. Strict environmental regulations are enabling a culture of unprecedented lawlessness that has led to numerous deaths on federal lands, including yesterday’s tragic death of Agent Terry. “I am outraged by the current administration’s inaction and refusal to address the immediate need to secure our federal lands. Despite the inherent need, and the loss of far too many lives on federal lands, Secretary Salazar and others in the current administration continue to place radical special interest policies over the security of this country. My deepest sympathy goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of Agent Terry. I lament the fact that the criminal activity on federal lands continues to go unaddressed.”...Press Release

California SWAT team trains for spillover violence

As the violence in Mexico escalates law enforcement on this side of the border are preparing for what could come this way. "We want to be able to prepare a team that is going to be able address situations throughout the Valley on a moment’s notice," said San Juan Police Sgt. Rolando Garcia. To address situation on a moment’s notice—these guys have to learn how to work as one. "We want to be able to train everyone the same way,” said Garcia. “We don't want them to come in having three different styles—we want everyone to be on the same page and they know what they're doing." As the men prepare for potentially dangerous situations—their number one goal is to keep their team and community out of harm’s way...more

There is a video report at the link provided.

Gunbattle Kills 11 in Western Mexican Town

A gunbattle between rival gangs killed 11 people during a Virgin of Guadalupe celebration in a western Mexican town, authorities said Saturday. Armed men arrived in three cars and opened fire on another group of gunmen in the main plaza of Tecalitlan just as a crowd was gathering Friday night, the Jalisco state attorney general's office said in a statement. One of the gunmen hurled a grenade. Eight men were killed at the scene and two others died at a hospital, the office said. Another man, the brother of one of those killed in the plaza, was found shot to death next to a car on the highway just outside the small town, the statement said. Inside the car, which had been reported stolen, authorities found two banners. One read: "We haven't come to kill innocent people. We've come for El Zopilote." The other said: "We do not charge quotas."...more

Song Of The Day #459

Ranch Radio sadly announces the Congress Critters have not boogied out of town yet. Combine that with its time to start playing Christmas music on Ranch Radio. How can I celebrate Christmas and at the same time encourage those fools to boogie out of DC?

The man with the coldest name in Country Music will come to our rescue. Here is Hank Snow's 1953 recording of Reindeer Boogie.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Manhunt on for suspect in Border Patrol agent's killing

A manhunt is under way for a suspect in last night's deadly shooting of a Border Patrol agent northwest of Nogales. Authorities say they have arrested four suspects and are searching for another after Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, was shot and killed late Tuesday in the Peck Canyon area. Ranchers along Ruby Road say they were advised by Border Patrol that the suspect may be headed in their direction as he tries to make his way toward the U.S.-Mexico border. The Nogales International witnessed a steady stream of Border Parol and Arizona Department of Public Safety vehicles patrolling the area between Interstate 19 and Pena Blnca Lake. Sheriff Antonio Estrada said his office received a call for assistance shortly after 11 p.m. last night. "Border Patrol called our dispatch, reeporting shots fired and requesting emergency medical services to meet with them at Peck Canyon and Circulo Sombrero," Estrada said. The shooting happened near Forest Service Road 4197, he said. A statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Terry was shot and killed after encountering a group of suspects in the area...more

Montana wilderness added to Senate appropriations bill

A revised version of Sen. Jon Tester's Montana logging and wilderness initiative has been included in a last-minute omnibus appropriations bill before the U.S. Senate. Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy said on Tuesday the renamed "Forest Jobs and Restoration Pilot Initiative" is essentially the original version of a bill Tester submitted last year as the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. The major difference is that a logging mandate that called for 100,000 acres of "mechanical treatment" over 10 years has been extended to 15 years. The bill also contains about 660,000 acres of new wilderness designation for Montana, plus another 300,000 acres of recreation or special management areas. Several wildland boundaries have been adjusted up or down, with a net reduction of 2,800 acres...more

I don't know how Tester got this done, or why Reid included it in the appropriations bill, but it's there: Title VII MONTANA FORESTS starting on page 893.

I had earlier read the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Summary provided by the Committee, and had told people it looked like a clean appropriations bill.


However, when I downloaded the full Omnibus Appropriations Act and went to the Interior section, there was the Tester bill.


The inclusion of wilderness legislation in an omnibus appropriations bill is worrisome to us who are opposing an Omnibus Public Lands Bill. It raises many questions. For instance:

Why is a bill that never cleared committee included, while no bills that cleared committee are included?

Won't the enviros ask Bingaman: Why can a freshman Senator get his bill included but you as Committee Chairman can't? Similar questions could be asked of other senior Committee members.

This leads me back to my original question, why is it there?

Is it there because Reid knows the Omnibus Approps Bill in its current form will never pass? Is it just there to let Tester look good at home?

I'm beginning to think this whole Omnibus Public Lands Bill issue has been nothing but political theater. I mean from the beginning, including the Bingaman-Boxer-Reid meeting, it has been nothing but political theater. The knew from the beginning of the lame duck session that either a) it wasn't a high priority, or b) they didn't have the hosses to pass it. The whole thing has been for show.

Political theater may be too kind a phrase. Looney Toons might be more descriptive.


Will Christo's art installation harm wildlife or help Colorado?

Where does art end and environmental destruction begin? That’s the conundrum that residents in south-central Colorado are facing over a controversial art installation proposal by the famed Bulgarian artist Christo and his late wife that would cloak silver fabric above the Arkansas River spanning a length of 42 miles. Proponents advocate that the project will bring art seekers to cash-strapped rural Colorado, but opponents feel the impact to nature will be disproportionately negative. The project titled “Over the River” has been in the works for nearly two decades (it was originally announced in 1992) and will have its fate determined early next year by the federal Bureau of Land Management or BLM. If approved, the work would be displayed for two weeks in 2014. According to Christo and Jeanne Claude's website, "The fabric will cover only 6.9 to 7 miles of the 40.7-mile stretch of river from Canon City to Salida and will be divided into 8 areas, allowing for frequent interruptions." “Over the River” is reminiscent of the art duo’s previous repertoire that has won them many critical accolades, including “Surrounded Islands” which draped shiny, pink polypropylene around a group of islands near Miami and “The Gates,” an installation that lined New York’s Central Park with bright, orange vinyl curtains...more

U.S. Called Vulnerable to Rare Earth Shortages

The United States is too reliant on China for minerals crucial to new clean energy technologies, making the American economy vulnerable to shortages of materials needed for a range of green products — from compact fluorescent light bulbs to electric cars to giant wind turbines. So warns a detailed report to be released on Wednesday morning by the United States Energy Department. The report, which predicts that it could take 15 years to break American dependence on Chinese supplies, calls for the nation to increase research and expand diplomatic contacts to find alternative sources, and to develop ways to recycle the minerals or replace them with other materials. At least 96 percent of the most crucial types of the so-called rare earth minerals are now produced in China, and Beijing has wielded various export controls to limit the minerals’ supply to other countries while favoring its own manufacturers that use them...more

Utah animal trap proposal pits hunters against wildlife advocates

Hearings are being held around the state that pose a stark question: How long should an animal be allowed to suffer with its leg caught in a trap? A bitterly contested proposal to change the law pits some trappers and hunters against those who think extended suffering is barbaric.Leg-hold traps are frequently used by trappers to capture coyotes. When an animal steps on the trap's release plate, powerful springs force two metal bars together, clamping firmly onto the animal's leg.Utah law requires trappers to check their traps every two days to see if an animal has been caught. Now, the Utah Wildlife Board is considering a proposal to require monitoring only once every 7 days, an idea labeled "unethical" in a statement issued by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.A hunting group called Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife supports the seven-day time-frame. The group's founder, Don Peay, said he would settle for a four-day requirement, but the two-day rule now in effect makes it hard for coyote trappers to do the job effectively.Trappers typically engage in the activity part time, and Peay said it's not practical for them to travel long distances every two days to check on traps in remote areas. As a result the two-day rule discourages an effective coyote-control effort...more

OIG wants BLM to step up horse management research

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management needs to step up its research into population control methods for wild horses to help curb the spiraling costs of rounding up the mustangs across the West and housing them in holding facilities, federal inspectors said Monday. The new report by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General mostly defended the BLM roundups that often are criticized by horse protection advocates. The OIG said it observed roundups this year in Nevada, Oregon and California and visited several holding facilities, and it found no evidence of inhumane treatment of animals. The office concluded the roundups are necessary to cull the overpopulated herds, which take a toll on the health of the range as their populations naturally double about every four years. But the report also found there is a need for an "urgent and aggressive focus on research and testing of improved population control methods" to reduce the need for additional holding facilities and preserves...more

Green Jobs Not Growing As Expected

The Obama Administration channeled $90 billion of the $870 billion dollar stimulus package towards the new green economy. The hope was that a national move from fossil energy to green energy would not only be good, long term, for the environment, but that the transition could also be a jobs' driver, which would help resuscitate the overall economy. But two years into Obama's administration, the White House has reported it's helped create 224,500 green jobs, far short of the 5 million it had openly predicted. At the Ocala green job training school, the reality for students is that only about 25 percent of the green graduates have found green employment...more

Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees

The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, worrying beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. A number of theories have popped up as to why the North American honey bee population has declined--electromagnetic radiation, malnutrition, and climate change have all been pinpointed. Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists. The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist. The leaked document (PDF) was put out in response to Bayer's request to approve use of the pesticide on cotton and mustard. The document invalidates a prior Bayer study that justified the registration of clothianidin on the basis of its safety to honeybees...more

NM Fairgrounds could see multi-million-dollar racino

The State Fair Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing today on a proposed no-bid contract for a friend and major campaign contributor to Gov. Bill Richardson to build a multi-million-dollar racino on the State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque. A state senator who represents the district where the casino would be located criticized the no-bid process Tuesday and predicted certain doom in the Legislature for the project if the people who live and run businesses nearby object. Under the proposal, The Downs at Albuquerque, owned by Richardson's friend Paul Blanchard, would be allowed to extend its lease of the fairgrounds property for 25 years, with an extension option of another 15 years. The new agreement, which requires approval by the Legislature, would allow The Downs to build "a new, state-of-the-art racino facility" at its own cost, according to a news release from the fair. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Blanchard donated $10,000 in addition to raising cash. His wife, Kandace Blanchard, gave another $10,000 in 2002, while The Downs at Albuquerque contributed $100,000. In 2006, Blanchard contributed $120,000 to Richardson's re-election, while The Downs at Albuquerque contributed $36,000. Zia Park racetrack in Hobbs, which was then co-owned by Blanchard, gave $38,000...more

Rural America gets even more sparsely populated

The majority of the nation's sparsely populated rural counties lost even more residents in the last decade, though some of the counties — particularly those in the Mountain West — saw population gains that may be the result of retirees striking out for areas that are both scenic and affordable, according to a Times analysis of figures released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday. The data offer the first detailed portrait of heartland America in a decade, covering the roughly 1,400 counties of fewer than 20,000 people. The numbers also show a growing Latino presence in these counties. But the Times analysis of the numbers shows unequivocally that a thick swath of the country, from north Texas to the Dakotas, has lost population. Ken Johnson, senior demographer for the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, has noted that this shift was the case for much of the 20th century, although the country saw rural population growth in the 1970s, as city-dwellers left struggling cities, and another rebound in the early 1990s. But growth in rural America is the exception. A different story is unfolding in places like Lane County, Kan., a wheat- and corn-growing area in the central-west portion of the state that lost 23% of its population — the 11th greatest population loss in the nation among rural counties...more

Song Of The Day #458

The Congress Critters are still there, so Ranch Radio will continue to encourage them to boogie on home.

Today's selection is Lost John Boogie by Wayne Raney. As a kid I almost bought one of his harmonicas. Couldn't scrape together the dough. He was on one of those Mexican radio stations, so the folks probably wouldn't have let me send off for it anyway.

The tune is on his 25 track CD That Real Hot Boogie Boy: The King Anthology.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Senate spending bill contains thousands of earmarks

Senate Democrats released a massive spending bill Tuesday that contains money for thousands of lawmakers' pet projects, setting up a fierce debate over so-called earmarks in the waning days of the lame-duck congressional session. Leaders of the Appropriations Committee combined a dozen spending bills into a single measure with more than $1.2 trillion in appropriations to fund the federal government for a full year. The committee said the bill is $29 billion below the budget proposed by President Obama. Lawmakers said the 1,924-page omnibus bill contains thousands of earmarks - the total cost of which was not immediately clear - and would renew a debate over pork-barrel politics. Last month, Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who had been a longtime earmark supporter, endorsed a moratorium on earmarks to send a signal that the GOP is serious about curbing federal spending...more

Revolt: Republicans Angry About Omnibus Spending Bill Decry 'Total Mess' Republicans poring over a 1,924-page overarching spending bill proposed by Democrats to cover the rest of the fiscal year are threatening to grind the legislation to a halt, citing massive earmark spending, which, if passed, would be enacted into law without debate in the full Senate. The list was released after a Republican policy lunch that a source said was devolving into pandemonium. "All hell is breaking loose," the source told Fox News, noting that Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina were expected to insist the omnibus bill be read in its entirety by the clerk on the Senate floor before a vote is held. They also were expected to seek debate on all earmarks and any amendments...

Forest Service to Consider Banning Gun Hunting in National Forest

As a result of a recent anti-hunting court ruling, the U.S. Forest Service is starting a formal review of its Management Plan for the Huron-Manistee National Forest to consider banning hunting with firearms in some areas. In September, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Forest Service’s regulations required that it consider banning hunting with guns on lands designated as “semi-primitive.” The Court found that the noise associated with gun hunting could harm the quality of the recreational experience of hikers, backpackers, and cross county skiers. “This court ruling is a major threat to hunting on these lands and across the country,” said Rob Sexton, U.S.Sportsmen's Alliance vice president for government affairs....more

And just look at all the NM and Dona Ana County so-called sportsmen's groups which have endorsed Bingaman's Wilderness bill.

Guess they can ride their little ponies into the Wilderness and throw rocks at rabbits.

Ex-Interior chief Norton cleared in ethics probe

The Justice Department has closed an ethics probe of former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, the Obama administration said Friday. Norton was accused of using her position to steer lucrative oil leases to Royal Dutch Shell PLC, where she took a job soon after leaving her post at Interior. But a two–year investigation failed to prove a conflict of interest, said Mary Kendall, the Interior Department's acting inspector general, who announced Justice's decision. "We found that Norton was very interested in the (oil lease) program during her tenure as secretary," Kendall said. "But we did not find evidence to conclusively determine that Norton violated conflict–of–interest laws, either pre– or post–employment with Shell."...more

Norton: Interior ethics probe a waste of money

Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton says the Obama administration "wasted millions of taxpayer dollars" in a now closed probe of her ties to an oil company where she took a job after leaving government. Norton told The Associated Press that the nearly two-year investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general was "an attempt to find imagined wrongdoing." Investigators examined whether Norton, President George W. Bush's first Interior secretary, violated a law that bars federal employees from discussing employment with a company if they are involved in a decision that could benefit that company. Months after granting the leases to Shell, Norton left the agency. Shell hired her later that year as an in-house counsel for its unconventional fuels division, which includes oil shale. She no longer works for Shell, the company said. In a statement provided to AP, Norton said she followed federal rules on employment. She did not talk to Shell or any other potential employer until after she left the government and was unemployed for nine months, Norton said...more

Court to Weigh Private Interests' Intervention in NEPA Disputes

A federal appeals court will consider next week whether to abandon a legal rule that makes it difficult for private interests to intervene in environmental disputes in the Western states. Industry and recreational groups are pushing hard for the change, while environmentalists are largely staying silent. At issue is the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' "federal defendant rule," which prevents anyone other than the federal government from defending claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the main legal mechanism for challenging government actions that affect the environment. The argument in Wilderness Society v. U.S. Forest Service in Pasadena on Monday will be before an en banc panel of 11 judges, rather than the usual three-judge panel, because the court is considering whether to overturn one of its precedents. The rule, unique to the 9th Circuit, irks business and recreational interests in particular. They feel their voices are not always heard when environmental groups file suit...more

Miner files suit over 40-mile trail to his claim

A man has filed a lawsuit over access to a trail that leads to his mining claim south of Eagle. The state charted the Fortymile Station-Eagle Trail as one of more than 600 right-of-way trails in Alaska. But that view isn't shared by the federal government and some of Carey Mills' neighbors. For the past three years, the Bureau of Land Management has denied Mills access to the 40-mile path, which passes through property belonging to the federal government, two Native corporations and a neighboring mining claim. According to the agency, using the unrecognized trail amounts to trespassing. Mills, a union heavy equipment operator who lives in Fairbanks, said he has exhausted administrative claims to use the path. "This is a public issue," Mills said. "The state should be asserting our rights, and they haven't been." Mills filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to force the federal government to recognize the trail as a public right of way and allow him to use it to move equipment to his mine site. The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a long-running fight stemming from Revised Statute 2477, a defunct 1873 federal law that allowed anyone to create a public right of way across unreserved federal land. The law was repealed by Congress in 1976, but it grandfathered rights of way established before then. In the early 1990s, then-Gov. Walter Hickel launched a program to document old trails in Alaska to prove they qualified as R.S. 2477 routes. The Legislature followed with a law that claimed 657 routes in the state, including the Fortymile Station-Eagle Trail...more

Preservation Deal Announced For Wyoming Range

Wyoming outfitters and sportsmen announced Friday that they had come to a private agreement with an energy company looking to develop environmentally sensitive areas of the Wyoming Range on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The agreement overshadowed the newly released draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), a long anticipated document that outlined possible options for developing 136 wells in the area. The Wyoming Range, located west of Pinedale, has been a contentious issue for conservation and sportsmen’s groups for the better part of a decade now, as energy companies have announced plans to develop leases. Less than 24 hours after the DEIS came out, Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a statewide advocacy group for hunters and anglers, and the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, announced that they had reached an agreement with Plains Exploration Company, or PXP, to scale back their project within the Wyoming Range on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. They are now submitting it to the Forest Service for consideration in addition to the alternatives laid out in the DEIS. The agreement included retiring about 28,000 acres leases at no cost and committing $6 million in funding over the life of the project for things such as baseline monitoring of air and water, wildlife mitigation and community benefits. Of that, nearly $4 million would be earmarked specifically for fish and wildlife habitat over the life of the project, and $250,000 would be paid up front for a study on moose in Sublette County. Additionally, surface occupancy would be restricted on about 4,000 acres and more wildlife friendly stipulations would be put in place for areas that did see development...more

Drought and rising temperatures weaken southwest forests

Forests in the southwestern United States are changing and will face reduced growth if temperatures continue to rise and precipitation declines during this century, according to a study conducted by a team of scientists from the U.S. Forest Service; University of California, Santa Barbara; U.S. Geological Survey; and University of Arizona. Their findings were released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) special issue on climate change. Using tree-ring data and climate models, the team determined that rising temperatures and declining precipitation has led to an overall lower fitness of forests in the Southwest. Scientists analyzed annual tree-ring width data from 853 tree populations located throughout the continental United States. Of those, 235 samples represented trees located in Arizona and New Mexico. These samples were compared to each other in order to identify trends on how certain climatic conditions affect tree growth. These findings may be useful in helping forest managers make key decisions about how to adapt to climate change...more

I had no idea that declining precipitation and increased temps over time would result in changes in forest ecology. Thank goodness for this research.

There is no mention of how much of today's problems are caused by mismanagement by the Forest Service and the courts.

Speaking of climate change, let's hope the coming climate change in DC puts a stop to this nonsense.

Wilderness Society wants Utah solar sites targeted to low-impact areas

The Wilderness Society issued a report Monday praising federal land managers for identifying low-impact areas for solar-energy development but imploring the government to restrict initial public-lands developments to those areas. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will release a draftenvironmental study Friday of solar options for public lands in the Southwest, including Utah. Wilderness Society renewable-energy coordinator Alex Daue said the group prefers that development be concentrated in areas already identified by the BLM as low impact, such as west desert sites around Milford. Opening all other unrestricted BLM lands for development applications, he warned, could lead to new roads, power lines and other intrusions into sensitive areas...more

New roads means no wilderness, which is what they are really concerned about.

Big Brouhaha Brewing in Telluride

Several private landholdings in Telluride's Bear Creek drainage have not only halted Telluride Ski Company's fledgling backcountry guiding program, but have also prompted the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to close backcountry access gates from the ski area leading into the canyon. The three access points from the Gold Hill area at Telluride ski area into Bear Creek will be removed, USFS officials confirmed this week in an action predicted earlier this month by Telluride Ski and Golf Co. (Telski) CEO Dave Riley. “We want to be good neighbors and discourage trespass,” Judy Schutza, Norwood District Ranger for the USFS, explained this week in a prepared statement. Shortly after Telski's guiding service kicked off last April, land dealer Thomas Chapman, of Montrose, Colo., purchased a thin strip of mining claims that extends from one wall of Upper Bear Creek to the other, and indicated that he would pursue trespass charges against hikers or skiers crossing his newly acquired land. According to Chapman this cut off access to Upper Bear Creek from Telluride Ski Resort, including the majority of the runs in that drainage such as Deep & Dangerous and Ophir to Telluride. Ski runs that drained into Bear Creek below Chapman's land holding, including E-Ticket and Nellie, remained accessible but other landholders voiced opposition as well...more

Wolverine latest wildlife endangered by climate change

Climate change may spell disaster for wolverines, a reclusive resident of the mountains of the Northwest, but other wildlife species are a higher priority for government protection, officials said on Monday. Wolverines, which eat meat and range from 17 to 40 pounds, need deep snow in seclusion to reproduce and raise their young. Mother wolverines dig elaborate snow caves for dens. A study by the University of Washington and U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station predicts that a warming West will cut suitable wolverine habitat by 23 percent in 2045 and by 63 percent in 2099. "The threats to the wolverines are long-term due to the impacts of climate change on their denning habitat," Steve Guertin, regional Fish and Wildlife Service director, said in a statement. Extreme winter sports are making it even more difficult for wolverines, with snowmobilers and skiers seeking the rugged and remote terrain preferred by the people-shy animals...more

Guns and smokejumpers

If it weren't so obvious that there's not an ounce of fat on them, it would be tempting to call Washington state's North Cascades Smokejumpers well-rounded: how else to describe men who not only leap from a small plane to parachute into dense forest wreathed in the smoke from a wildfire, but can also execute a nifty bit of top-stitching on the sewing machines back at base? They have to make their own jumpsuits in this service because there are only 400 smokejumpers in the whole of the US and there's not much call, commercially, for yellow Kevlar boiler suits with capacious pockets, weighing more than 80kg fully packed. Standard equipment includes a rope for rappelling down out of trees and a knife to slice through tangles, making sliding down a pole at the station and getting into a truck look like fire-fighting for wimps. Employed by the US Forest Service, these men - and women - see themselves as the equivalent of the Army's Green Berets, an elite force who survive a rigorous five-week boot camp to become tough, self-sufficient members of the team...more

Song Of The Day #457

This is gonna be Boogie Week on Ranch Radio.

Why? Cuz we're hoping the lame duck Congress will boogie on out of town without sneaking through an Omnibus Public Lands Bill.

To get those fools in a boogie mood here's Tennessee Ernie Ford performing Smokey Mountain Boogie.

The tune is on several collections of his work, such as the 20 track CD Vintage Collection.



Monday, December 13, 2010

Federal judge in Va. strikes down health care law

A federal court ruled Monday that a central plank of the health law violates the Constitution, dealing the biggest setback yet to the Obama administration's signature legislative accomplishment. In a 42-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said the law's requirement that most Americans carry insurance or pay a penalty "exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power." The individual mandate "would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers," wrote Judge Hudson, of the Eastern District of Virginia. "At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."...more

You can read the opinion here.

EPA to hold national bed bug summit

The Environmental Protection Agency is known for tackling greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, lead paint and oil spills. Now, it's taking on bed bugs. EPA is organizing a multi-agency summit next year to “help find solutions to the nation’s bed bug problem.” At the Feb. 1-2 meeting, government officials will review the progress made by the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup...more

Yes sports fans, the same Fedzilla that seeks to control our entire economy via greenhouse gas regulations, is now poised to take on bed bugs.

And look at that "Federal Bed Bug Workgroup." Can't you just imagine the pride a federal employee feels when appointed to this group? Won't that look just great on their resume? I mean the group even has an official reading list.

I guess at one time or another these bugs cross state lines so the courts will rule the EPA has authority under the Commerce Clause. Anyway, today You Don’t Actually Have to Be Engaged In Commerce For Your Choices to Be Regulated Under the Commerce Clause.

But where are the lib's on this? Aren't they pretty hot on keeping the feds out of the bedroom? Will this not be the camel's nose (bug's snout) under the tent? Don't forget the feds have 105,000 law enforcement officers.

Me? I say keep the feds out of our bedroom, our bloodstream and our back pocket.

Prediction: Federal involvement absolutely guarantees the problem will get worse.

Court won't block EPA climate regulations

The Obama administration scored a legal victory Friday when a federal appeals court refused to block federal climate regulations slated to kick in next month. State and industry challengers opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate regulations had asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to halt the rules while the massive court battle plays out, but the court wasn’t convinced. A host of states, industry groups and free-market groups are suing EPA over its regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gases from automobiles and large industrial sources like power plants and oil refineries, as well as the so-called endangerment finding underpinning the rules. David Doniger, a Natural Resources Defense Council attorney representing environmental groups in the case, said the decision is a sign that the “industry and state case against the regulations is pretty flimsy.”...more

State game officials reject pronghorn license changes

A state commission has voted not to change a system that allocates most pronghorn hunting licenses in New Mexico to private landowners instead of the public. The state Game Commission's 4-3 vote on Thursday rejected concerns raised by the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and many of its members, who advocated changing the rules to move more licenses into the state's public lottery system so New Mexico residents get more permits. Game commissioners say they were worried that private landowners will withdraw their lands from hunting without the permits. "We just don't have a lot of antelope in New Mexico," said Game Commissioner Dick Salopek of Las Cruces, who voted with the majority. "These ranchers threatened to close their ranches if they didn't get what they want. To me, that's huge." Landowners sell many permits to out-of-state residents for whatever price the market will bear. The state issues licenses through the lottery and a landowner "authorization" system. The breakdown of overall licenses issued to in-state residents compared to out-of-state was roughly 50-50 in 2008-09, according to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. In all, 2,421 landowner authorizations were issued that year to out-of-state residents, compared to the 1,075 that were issued to in-state residents. But when the licenses issued through the lottery system are factored in, the overall number of licenses in the same year totaled 2,797 for residents and 2,784 for nonresidents, according to the department...more

The Game Commission favors private or public - how could this happen? Must be cause Richardson is on his way to Korea.

US cattlemen look for lessons, possible changes after hundreds of ranchers lose millions

The collapse of a Midwest cattle brokerage company that owes hundreds of ranchers as much as $130 million could result in some going under and has others wondering if regulatory changes are needed to prevent similar swindles in the future. Federal agriculture officials filed a complaint last month against Indiana-based Eastern Livestock Co., LLC, accusing it of bouncing checks for livestock purchases and failing to maintain an adequate bond to cover its debts. The company owes money to about 740 ranchers in 30 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Three of those owed money have filed a lawsuit to try to force Eastern into involuntary bankruptcy. The average loss of about $175,000 per rancher is enough to put some out of business, said David Scott, president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Many ranchers, unaware that Eastern's checks were no good, tried to pay bills and ended up writing bad checks themselves, ranchers said. Eastern made money mainly by buying calves throughout the South and selling them to feed lots in big cattle states, including Texas and Oklahoma, where they were fattened for slaughter. Federal regulations require such companies to have sufficient bond to cover two days of business activity, although the bond can be less if the two-day amount is more than $75,000. Eastern's bond was only $875,000 even though it was buying what Lane Broadbent of KIS Futures in Oklahoma City described as "monstrous amounts" of cattle each week. Broadbent is among those who advocate an escrow system in which money from cattle buyers would be held in an account until the animals were delivered, and then ranchers would be paid. Now, Broadbent said, some ranchers deliver animals before a buyer's check has cleared. They should be more careful, he said...more

Disturbing cow mutilation evokes past Montana mysteries

There were just a few drops of blood around the cow — hardly what was expected considering the tongue and udder were removed and the flesh and tissue scraped clean to the bone. In the days before its death, the cow showed no signs of being sick. The tongue and udder looked like they had been cut with precision — not ripped as a predator would do. "I reached out to everybody I know to try to get an explanation," Meagher County Sheriff Jon Lopp said. "Everybody's got a theory — from insects to UFOs. I've actually read a lot about it. I'm still as confused as I was when I started." Though this incident was the first time Lopp has seen a cow mutilated in such a strange manner, it's been going on elsewhere for decades. In England, accounts of mutilated cows, horses and goats date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first reports in America surfaced in Pennsylvania and Kansas in the 1960s. Montana's first known similar incident was a Sand Coulee steer in late August 1974. By December 1977, sheriff's deputies had investigated 67 mutilation cases in Cascade, Judith Basin, Chouteau, Teton and Pondera counties. The hallmarks of these incidents are the almost surgically precise removal of reproductive organs, udders, anuses, teats and tongues with very little bleeding. Flesh around the jaw often is removed, exposing the mandible. Sometimes, internal organs are removed with no obvious points of entry. Lopp found no human or animal tracks around the dead cow, and no signs of a struggle — just like in the other mutilated cow cases. However, the ground was hard when the cow was discovered in late October, and there was no snow on the ground...more

From bovine to fine wine

For his third career, Clint Peck is making the ultimate jump from a cowboy and writer to winemaker. At least now he can consume his creations. Peck, a fourth-generation rancher whose great-grandfather moved to Montana in 1881 and started the town of Roy, north of Grass Range, has opened the first winery in Billings, at least in these times. On the advice of several local businessmen who told him to start with enough money and to stay focused, he “threw his shoulder into” creating the boutique Yellowstone Cellars & Winery. “I sold my house. I sold my cows,” Peck said. “I even sold my Harley.” With those from-the-heart funds and a U.S. Small Business Administration loan from Yellowstone Bank, Peck bought a half-acre on the old nightly rodeo grounds off Mullowney Lane, drew up rough building plans and started corralling the required federal, state and local licenses. He hired an architect to finalize his plans and then commissioned S Bar S Building Center to build his winery...more

I admire folks who follow their muse, like Peck, and I wish him success. But selling the cows and building on the old rodeo grounds, that pains me.

Horses have played a significant role in Idaho history

Horses were as important in the everyday lives of Americans in the 19th century as the automobile is today. Farmers and ranchers relied on horses for the power to do the heavy work that they couldn’t manage with their own muscles. City dwellers needed horses to pull their carriages and sleighs. Merchants needed horses to pull delivery wagons, and most of the goods on their shelves arrived by horse-drawn freight wagons or stage coaches. The mail also came by stagecoach, pulled by fast, six-horse teams, or was delivered by men on horseback. Horses were in such demand everywhere across America in the 19th and early 20th centuries that supplying them to the eastern states and Europe became a significant Idaho industry. Even as late as May 1915, when most families had replaced the horse and buggy with the automobile, the Idaho Statesman reported that Caldwell’s Union stockyards were “the greatest horse market west of the Rockies.” Calling it “a splendid institution,” the paper noted that “thousands of horses, not needed in this section of the northwest, have been exchanged for good hard coin of the realm” which usually ended up in “money centers of the east.”
The large demand for Idaho horses in 1915 was almost entirely because of the First World War in Europe, where horses provided the power to haul weapons and supplies to frontline battlefields. Horses could pull artillery pieces through muddy terrain where motor trucks just spun their wheels...more

Song Of The Day #456

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Sonny Burgess performing When In Texas from his CD titled the same.