Saturday, April 23, 2011

School Daze

A Chicago school bans home made lunches, principal says "it is better for the children to eat at the school." We're too dumb to educate 'em, or even feed 'em.

In Eggless in Seattle, Lyn Mitchell reports on a school which no longer allows students to use the term Easter Eggs - they must call them "spring spheres". What on earth will they call the bunny?

A sixth-grader has learned you better clean up spilt milk, or you will end up in handcuffs.

NRO reports a Minnesota school district, while cutting millions from its budget and laying off 94 teachers, is still sending a group to the "White Privilege Conference" where they will learn ”how white privilege, white supremacy, and oppression affects daily life.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

Has the green movement been a miserable flop?

What the hell went wrong? For months now, environmentalists have been asking themselves that question, and it’s easy to see why. After Barack Obama vaulted into the White House in 2008, it really did look like the United States was, at long last, going to do something about global warming. Scientists were united on the causes and perils of climate change. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth had stoked public concern. Green groups in D.C. had rallied around a consensus solution—a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions—and had garnered support from a few major companies like BP and Duke Energy. Both Obama and his opponent, John McCain, were on board. And, so, environmental advocates prepared a frontal assault on Congress. May as well order the victory confetti, right? Instead, the climate push was … a total flop. By late 2010, the main cap-and-trade bill had fizzled out in the Senate; not a single Republican would agree to vote for it. Greens ended up winning zilch from Congress, not even minor legislation to boost renewable electricity or energy efficiency. Worse, after the 2010 midterms, the House GOP became overrun with climate deniers, while voters turned apathetic about global warming. All those flashy eco-ads and all that tireless eco-lobbying only got us even further from solving climate change than we were in 2008. So now greens are in the post-mortem stage, and, not shockingly, it’s a sensitive subject. On Tuesday, Matthew Nisbet, a communications professor at American University, released a hefty 84-page report trying to figure out why climate activism flopped so miserably in the past few years. Nisbet’s report is already causing controversy: Among other things, he argues that, contrary to popular belief, greens weren’t badly outspent by industry groups and that media coverage of climate science wasn’t really a problem. And he raises questions about whether greens have been backing the wrong policy measures all along. Is he right? Have environmentalists been fundamentally misguided all this while? Or were they just unlucky?...more

Sheriff puts undersheriff on leave

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer has placed Undersheriff Todd McKinley on paid administrative leave after he disagreed with the sheriff's rejection of a Forest Service patrol agreement. In an April 19 letter obtained by the Eagle, Palmer put McKinley on leave pending formal disciplinary action that could include termination. The sheriff also scheduled a Monday, April 25, meeting with McKinley to discuss the situation. The rift apparently had its roots in a decision made by Palmer last month. The sheriff wrote in a March 31 letter to Malheur National Forest Supervisor Teresa Raaf that he didn't believe it was in the best interest of the people of the county or his office to sign the annual agreement for deputy patrols on the forest. He cited his concerns about Forest Service Law Enforcement's treatment of "citizens of this county in October and November 2010," the travel management plan, "illegal road closures, grazing, logging, wood permits, prescribed burns, unemployment and other socio-economic issues this community faces today." Palmer's letter also questioned the Forest Service's authority to have police operating in the county, citing limitations on federal powers in the U.S. Constitution. "Your jurisdiction as I see it is limited in nature to the Federal Building in John Day," Palmer wrote. "I want to remind you that all policing within the external borders of Grant County are the exclusive responsibility of the Grant County Sheriff's Office and enforcement of all laws shall rest with the County Sheriff and his designees."...more

McKinley wrote a letter to Palmer and copied it to the FS saying he disagreed with Palmer and they should "cooperate" and be a "team player" with the FS. McKinley's letter also mentions money, saying "the funds provided by the Forest Service have been valuable to our day-to-day operations."

To many there is a brotherhood amongst law enforcement officials and I understand that, my father having been in law enforcement for 16 years. But what I'm seeing much too often is that local law enforcement is siding with this brotherhood first and protecting the rights and privileges of their citizens second. Further, some locals are in awe of the feds and/or hope to be a fed someday, which results in them deferring to feds whether it is appropriate or not.

Finally, there is the money. In this case it was $13,000 per year. McKinley is willing to sell out the local citizenry for a measly $13,000.

McKinley has every right to disagree with his boss and to raise his concerns internally. But when he copied his letter to the FS Patrol Captain and the Grant County Circuit court, he showed where his true loyalties lie, and they aren't with Sheriff Palmer and the stand up job he is doing for his constituency.

And just who do you suppose gave the disciplinary letter "obtained by the Eagle" to the newspaper?

I'm betting on Monday we can all say "goodbye" to Mr. McKinley.

Editorial: A Hole in the Endangered Species Act

As part of its budget bill, Congress approved a brief rider, 11 lines long, that removes gray wolves in Idaho and Montana from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. The rider overturns a recent court ruling, prohibits further judicial review and cannot be good for the wolf. But the worst part is that it sets a terrible precedent — allowing Congress to decide the fate of animals on the list. The law’s purpose is to base protections on science. Now that politics has been allowed to trump science when it comes to the gray wolf, which species will be next? The rider’s sponsors, Senator Jon Tester of Montana and Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, were responding to the demands of ranchers, who sometimes lose livestock to wolves, and hunters, who complain that wolves reduce deer and elk populations. Sadly and surprisingly, they were abetted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who declared last month that he would accept what he called a “legislative solution” to the status of the wolf in the Rocky Mountains. One Interior Department official has argued that without this concession, the rider might well have been far more radical — possibly removing wolves everywhere from protection...more

Editorial: Wolves meet political destiny

The Department of the Interior has on three different occasions tried to remove the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protection. Officials say the wolves have recovered sufficiently in much of the West to remove them from the endangered species list. A provision of the budget deal removes federal protection of wolves in some areas, and in other states where protections remain the responsibility of enforcement will be the duty of the state. Legislators said that without action the wolves would have remained on the endangered list indefinitely, and subjected ranchers to further depredation without recourse. Generally, we don't favor Congress carving out special protections or exceptions in federal law. In this case, however, the Department of the Interior, which is empowered by the ESA to make such decisions, tried three times to remove the wolves' protected status. Three times that decision was overruled by a federal judge. Congress has only sought to legislate what the executive branch has already decided. Increasingly, activists have come to depend on the courts as the final arbiter in their favor of all things concerning the environment. Under the Constitution, courts are free to decide cases based on how facts relate to their interpretation of the law. Congress has the sole authority to draft and enact the law. Congress created the Endangered Species Act, and it is free to amend it...more

Editorial: A lesson to learn from wolf lawsuits

In an unprecedented action, Congress has attached a rider to the belated and contentious 2011 budget bill that removes the wolves from the endangered species list. And now it's all but a done deal. That makes wildlife advocates everywhere very anxious — and it should. Now that the precedent has been set, what's to stop Congress from overruling the judgments of wildlife biologists on endangered species whenever the political winds blow that way. The groups' repeated successes at thwarting efforts to control the rapidly increasing wolf numbers wore the public's patience thin. As they exerted pressure on their elected representatives, politicians did what politicians do. They found a way to respond to their constituents. If there is a lesson in this for those who fought so hard to keep the wolves out of the hands of state wildlife managers, it's this: Be careful what you wish for. And consider carefully what the consequences may be before taking matters of wildlife management out of the hands of scientists and into the courts...more

Farmers Claim BLM Spoiled Their Land

Idaho Farmers say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management damaged their land and crops by spraying a broad-spectrum herbicide on wildfire-scorched rangeland. The herbicide, Oust, is not intended to be used to control weeds on cropland, the farmers say. The Neibaur Farms say the BLM sprayed the DuPont-made chemical indiscriminately, from land and helicopter, and that it damaged their crops and property and increased their debts. DuPont is not named as a defendant. "DuPont has alleged in various correspondence to Idaho governmental officials, to growers and to media that the United States improperly applied Oust and was, in fact, 'off label" in its applications,'" according to the federal complaint. "Further, DuPont has alleged that the United States also failed to heed the warnings of the Section 3 label, ignored site conditions, and failed to follow legal mandates and its own regulations." The BLM sprayed the chemical after wildfires left rangeland with virtually no vegetation to prevent soil erosion. The BLM wanted to re-establish native plants and chose Oust as a tool to control invasive weeds...more

FTC to issue new green guidelines

Confused about products claiming "organic," "fair trade" or "eco" benefits? How about the "WindMade" or "BioPreferred" labels, launched this year? No wonder. The number of green labels that tout environmental virtues is proliferating, as are complaints about them, such as clothes labeled as "bamboo" that are actually rayon. Help may be on the way. The Federal Trade Commission is updating its guidelines this year for environmental claims, and the U.S. government now requires, as of January, that all products bearing its Energy Star logo undergo third-party testing to prove they're more efficient than regular items. Previously, it required testing of only some products. On May 10, TVs that qualify for its blue logo will have to carry the same yellow-and-black labels, listing annual energy use, that now appear on Energy Star appliances...more

As Consumers Cut Spending, ‘Green’ Products Lose Allure

When Clorox introduced Green Works, its environment-friendly cleaning line, in 2008, it secured an endorsement from the Sierra Club, a nationwide introduction at Wal-Mart, and it vowed that the products would “move natural cleaning into the mainstream.” Sales that year topped $100 million, and several other major consumer products companies came out with their own “green” cleaning supplies. But America’s eco-consciousness, it turns out, is fickle. As recession gripped the country, the consumer’s love affair with green products, from recycled toilet paper to organic foods to hybrid cars, faded like a bad infatuation. While farmers’ markets and Prius sales are humming along now, household product makers like Clorox just can’t seem to persuade mainstream customers to buy green again. Sales of Green Works have fallen to about $60 million a year, and those of other similar products from major brands like Arm & Hammer, Windex, Palmolive, Hefty and Scrubbing Bubbles are sputtering...more

No, it's not the recession or the quality of the products that's caused the downturn.

No, it's all that "confusion" out there about the labels. The FTC will clear all that up for us and then sales will skyrocket!

EPA: Let's Rap About Climate Change

I still don't have access to my music files so I bring you this EPA Rap Rip-Off from James S. Robbins at the Washington Times. After all, you paid for it.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants kids to rap about climate change. No, not talk about it, rap about it. The EPA web site has a downloadable tune called "Click It -- Flip It" intended to inspire kids to live more sustainable lifestyles. The nearly fine minute long song urges kids to:

Click it, flip it, turn the handle to the right, turn off the water, twist the handle real tight. Slip on your sneakers, lace em up tight, leave the car parked you know that’s alright. Public transportation is the way to go, it’s one of the ways to keep emissions low, you can ride your bike, instead of the car, if we save on fuel then we’ll all go far.

You can pick up paper and recycle it too, and there are many other things that you can do. You can click off the game boy, flip off the light, while you’re brushing your teeth, turn the handle to the right. Close the fridge door - keep it shut tight, no food has been added since the middle of the night. A 5 minute shower is all that’s needed to keep energy from being depleted. A long sleeve sweater is what I know – will keep you toasty and the fuel bills low. Plant a tree in your neighborhood, besides giving shade you know it looks real good...

Here's the video of the song for your listening pleasure. I'm sure you'll agree your taxpayer dollars are being well spent.

Zetas go on a rampage in Miguel Aleman

A convoy of armed gunmen allegedly belonging to the Zetas razed the city shooting at, vandalizing and torching the headquarters of the Tamaulipas State Police, the local transit police headquarters and nearly a dozen buildings, authorities said. The attack left one civilian and several gunmen dead. Miguel Aleman is across the Rio Grande from Roma. The attack began about 5:15 a.m. Thursday and continued until 7:30 a.m., when the Mexican military was able to run the gunmen out of town, said a law enforcement official who asked not to be named for security reasons. As soon as the gunmen arrived in town, they began shooting at the law enforcement headquarters and shot at the buildings and patrol cars as well as causing other damage. The group then went around town shooting at and setting fire to a number of high-profile buildings along the city’s main avenue, including the Ford and Nissan dealerships, an Auto Zone store, a Stripes convenience store, a large furniture store and a used car lot. During the rampage, one employee of the local Coca-Cola Co. bottling plant was killed as he drove to work...more

Mexico: Police rescue 68 people kidnapped by cartel

Mexican authorities say they have rescued 68 people, including 12 Central American migrants, allegedly kidnapped by a drug cartel in northern Mexico. The Public Safety Department says the group was rescued after federal agents went to a neighborhood in Reynosa to check on a tip and ran into two armed men. A statement from the department Wednesday says the gunmen hid in a house where the kidnap victims were being held. It says there were eight Guatemalans, two Hondurans, a Salvadoran and a Panamanian among those freed. Some of the victims told police they were taken by members of the Gulf drug cartel from buses heading to Reynosa's bus station or from the station itself. AP

40 Police Officers Arrested in Northern Mexico on Drug Charges

Forty municipal and transit police officers in Cadereyta, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, were arrested on charges that they worked with drug traffickers, the State Investigations Agency, or AEI, said. The officers were arrested Tuesday night after authorities took over the police headquarters in Cadereyta, located about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Monterrey, an AEI spokesman told Efe. Army troops and Federal Police officers participated in the operation, the AEI spokesman said, adding that 25 municipal police officers and 15 transit police officers were detained. The officers were taken to AEI headquarters and to the local bureau of the federal Attorney General’s Office, where they will be questioned. The arrests left Cadereyta with no municipal police officers and only eight transit officers. The Los Zetas drug cartel, which has been blamed for kidnappings, murders and other crimes, operates in Cadereyta, state officials and federal prosecutors allege...more

Mexican drug cartels move into U.S. cities, State Department official says

Mexican drug cartels are operating in more than 230 U.S. cities as they seek to spread their influence, a top State Department official said this week. U.S. law enforcement efforts to stop the cartels are achieving only “mixed” results, according to Roberta Jacobson, deputy secretary of state for Mexico and Canada. Her presentation this week at a political forum in Washington, DC, is being quoted widely in the Latin American news media. Jacobson said drug trafficking from Mexico “is not a crisis that affected only the border.” She quoted a new report from the Justice Department that said cartel members increasingly are becoming residents of U.S. cities where they seek to distribute illegal drugs. Until recently, they more commonly traveled to the United States for short trips then returned to Mexico. “It’s a crisis in our cities across the country,” Jacobson said. The Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center listed the cartels with the widest influence in the United States. It said the Sinaloa cartel is operating in 75 cities, followed by the Gulf cartel in 37 cities, the Zetas in 37, the Juarez in 33, the Beltran Leyva Organization in 30, La Familia in 27 and the Tijuana cartel in 21...more

Brutal Mexican drug gang crosses into U.S.

The signature crimes of the most violent drug cartel in Mexico are its beheading and dismemberment of rival gang members, military personnel, law enforcement officers and public officials, and the random kidnappings and killings of civilians who get caught in its butchery and bloodletting. But this disparate band of criminals known as Los Zetas is no longer just a concern in Mexico. It has expanded its deadly operations across the southwestern border, establishing footholds and alliances in states from New York to California. Just last year, federal agents tied a cocaine operation in Baltimore to the Zetas. “Those of us who live and work along the border know they’re already here,” said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr., whose Texas county lies on the Rio Grande 50 miles southeast of the Zetas’ stronghold of Nuevo Laredo. “There’s already been killings and many residents here are living in fear.” Sheriff Gonzalez, whose Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition sought help from the federal government to control growing violence along the border, said the rising brutality of Mexican drug gangs, particularly the Zetas, “never stops shocking me.” Trained as an elite band of Mexican anti-drug commandos, the Zetas evolved into mercenaries for the infamous Gulf Cartel, bringing a new wave of brutality to Mexico’s escalating drug wars. Bolstered by an influx of assassins, bandits, thieves, thugs and corrupt federal, state and local police officers, the Zetas have since evolved into a well-financed and heavily armed drug smuggling force of their own...more

The Brothers Arellanes

The man held in connection with the murder of Agent Brian Terry has a crime-ridden past—and so does at least one relative...But the strategy hasn't stopped the traffic; it's only moved it—into the neighborhoods of rural Southern Arizonans, which explains why these folks push back so loudly and so emotionally against the government spin. Everything is on the line for them—their property, their families and their lives, as they try to stay away from dangerous smugglers crossing their land. They believe one of them killed rancher Rob Krentz in March 2010, and another murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry along the Peck Canyon smuggling corridor, northwest of Nogales, on Dec. 14, 2010. In the latter case, four men were arrested following the Terry incident—all illegal aliens. Three were judged not to be involved and were deported. The fourth, 34-year-old Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, is still being held for trial, now scheduled for May 10, on a felony charge of re-entry after deportation. If you live along a smuggling corridor in the remote borderlands, or work for the Border Patrol and police those areas, men like Arellanes are your worst nightmare. Arellanes' criminal past includes domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence against police, according to records in Maricopa County. Moreover, Arellanes might've been working the Peck Corridor with Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who is believed to be Manuel's brother...more

ATF criticized for failing to respond to committee subpoena

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday criticized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for failing to produce any documents in response to a March 31 subpoena seeking information on its handling of gun trafficking operations into Mexico. In a letter to ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson, Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, said the committee had sought documents showing whether the agency made “reckless and inappropriate decisions” as part of its Project Gunrunner operation that “may have contributed to the deaths of both U.S. and Mexican citizens.” Mr. Issa dismissed Justice Department concerns that the documents were part of a pending criminal investigation and, as a result, could not be released, saying they were pertinent to a congressional inquiry. Citing Supreme Court precedents and previous Congressional investigations, he said: “We are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice — specifically, of allegations that the reckless and inappropriate decisions of department officials have created a serious public safety hazard.” He said the subpoena was issued after ATF and Justice Department officials “failed to cooperate in good faith with the committee’s investigation.”...more

Mexico Security Memo: April 19, 2011

Mass Graves in Tamaulipas At least 173 bodies have been found in mass graves in Sinaloa, Durango and Tamaulipas states over the past week, though there is little information available on the graves discovered in Sinaloa and Durango. The last official body count available to STRATFOR for the mass graves in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, stands at 145, but that tally may increase as recovery efforts continue. On April 13, the Mexican government announced a reward of up to 15 million pesos ($1.28 million) for information leading to the capture of Omar Martin “El Kilo” Estrada Luna, an offer that apparently was effective — three days later, Mexican marines arrested the Los Zetas plaza boss and 11 other Zeta operatives. Estrada Luna is believed to be responsible for at least 217 murders in the vicinity of San Fernando, including the 145 people whose bodies were recovered from mass graves over the past week and the 72 migrants killed Aug. 24, 2010, on a ranch outside of San Fernando. According to the Mexican marines, Estrada Luna has also been implicated in the murders of Juan Carlos Sanchez Suarez, the secretary of public security for San Fernando, and Public Ministry agent Roberto Jaime Suarez Vazquez, the lead investigator of the Aug. 24 mass murder. In both mass-murder events, migrants headed to northeast Mexico — either to relocate to Tamaulipas state or to cross the border into the United States — were taken at gunpoint by Los Zetas operatives. According to an Ecuadorian survivor of the massacre last summer, the migrants were being press-ganged into working for the cartel and, when they refused, the migrants were killed. The same appears to have been the case with those in the mass graves found last week...STRATFOR

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This will have to be it for today. Did a restart and now Windows won't load. No access to music files either. Posting with wife's netbook.

Wetlands? What Wetlands?

The Environmental Protection Agency has become, for some of libertarian or Tea Party convictions, something of an embodiment of government run amok. Environmentalists see the agency, at its best, as the defender of people’s health and the environment’s welfare. It is instructive to see what happens when these two worldviews are superimposed on the construction of one single-family home that is either in (from the E.P.A’s point of view) or near (from the property owners’ perspective) wetlands in the woods of the Idaho panhandle. If the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning property-rights group, has its way, the Supreme Court will have a chance to decide the issue. It has failed to persuade two courts already, but underestimating the Sacramento-based group is dangerous. It was instrumental in bringing to the Supreme Court a case that achieved a confusing result but nonetheless constrained the E.P.A.’s ability to bring some wetlands under the protection of the Clean Water Act. To fully appreciate the ambiguous situation involving Michael Sackett, who lives near Priest Lake in Idaho’s panhandle, it is worth looking at his property through the lens of Google Earth. Your destination should be 250 Old Schneider Road, Priest River, Idaho; it is not the Sackett property address, but is across the street from the long rectangle of denuded forest that encompasses most of the two-thirds of an acre that Michael and his wife, Chantelle, own, and want to build a house on. The reason to use Google Earth in this exercise is the utility and pertinence of the zoom function. Zoom out, and it is clear that there is a large area of wetlands to the north, across Kalispell Bay Road. The wetlands’ contours suggest that the Sackett property was, indeed, part of it at some point. But if you zoom in, you see that other land that also could well have been part of these large wetlands — land that separates the Sackett property from the shores of Priest Lake — has sprouted houses, docks, streets and other amenities of a vacation community. If Mr. Sackett, who owns an excavation company, filled wetlands on his property with rock and dirt, he may not have been doing anything much different from what his neighbors had done in the past. But this time, the E.P.A. stepped in and in 2007 told him that he was out of compliance with the Clean Water Act...more

The Koch Brothers and Climate Science, Redux

Last year, Greenpeace, the environmental group, accused the brothers Charles and David Koch of a stealth campaign to attack climate science, setting off extensive media scrutiny of the Kochs and their company, Koch Industries. (A Koch subsidiary is a major oil refiner.) Now Greenpeace is out with an update. The new report largely adds detail, from the advocacy group’s perspective, to some previously disclosed activities of the company and various groups financed by its owners and employees. For instance, the report highlights donations from Koch interests to the unsuccessful attempt last year to get voters to roll back California’s ambitious clean-energy policy. Similarly, the report lays out Greenpeace’s take on the battle over the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a compact of states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast that seeks to limit greenhouse gases. Greenpeace now has a whole section of its Web site devoted to tracking the Koch interests. Koch Industries itself, under heavy media scrutiny since last year’s report, has started a blog to challenge its critics and publicize demands the company makes for corrections to articles, as well as to lay out the Koch brothers’ positions on various issues...more

The Greenpeace report is here.

The Koch blog is here.

Bees sting elderly couple to death in south Texas

An elderly South Texas couple died and their son was injured after a swarm of bees attacked them on their remote ranch, authorities said on Wednesday. William Steele, 95, and his wife, Myrtle, 92, died and their son, Richard, 67, was injured after bees attacked them as they tried to clean a hunting cabin on their ranch near Hebbronville on Monday, an investigator with the Jim Hogg County Sheriff's Office said. "It was a terrible thing," Investigator Reyes Espinoza told Reuters. "You don't prepare for something like that." Richard Steele told investigators he and his parents were attacked after they moved a wood stove in the cabin and exposed a hive of bees, Espinoza said...more

Study finds vegetarians have smaller brains

Scientists at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, have discovered that going veggie could be bad for your brain – with those on a meat-free diet six times more likely to suffer brain shrinkage. The study involved tests and brain scans on community-dwelling volunteers aged 61 to 87 years without cognitive impairment at enrolment, over a period of five years. When the volunteers were retested five years later the medics found those with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 were also the most likely to have brain shrinkage. It confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B12. Vegans are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish...more

Arizona Lawmakers Name Colt Revolver As Official State Firearm

The Colt single-action Army revolver was chosen to honor people who came West because it was a preferred handgun of farmers, ranchers and miners in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The pistol was also used by the first Arizona Rangers when they were commissioner in 1901. Opponents of the law, however, say Colts were used to shoot and kill Native Americans. "Colt's Manufacturing Company LLC respects the views of the legislators who voted against the bill, but points out that the historical record indicates that the SAA was used primarily as a personal protection weapon by ranchers, farmers and miners," said Joseph Dieso, Colt's deputy general counsel. If the governor signs the bill into law, Arizona would be the second state to designate an official firearm. In March, Utah legislators designated the John M. Browning-designed M1911 pistol as the official state firearm. Utah became the first state to have an official state firearm. Browning was born and raised in Ogden, Utah...more

100-year-old home on ranch near Abilene burned by wildfires

With 1 million acres of Texas land recently aflame, Rob Hailey understands his house is not the only one lost to fire. That fact doesn't provide any solace for the rancher, who lost his 100-year-old home. Three days after the structures on his 2,500-acre ranch — located about 15 miles north of Abilene — burned to the ground, Hailey walked the property between the remains of the home and what used to be a foreman's house for the first time since the fire, ash still warm underfoot. "It's horrendous," he said, stepping carefully over charred branches. "People always say they wish these walls could talk. Now there's no chance of that." Standing on the broken-rock sidewalk leading to the space that used to be the home's front door, he recalled the inscription on the inside of the wooden barn built by his grandfather Dennis Price Manly. It read "DPM 1917."...more

Despite more than a century of change, Wyo. family still sees ranch as greatest place on Earth

The rhythmic rattle of rail cars as they pass by the Hines Ranch eight miles west of Gillette has intricately woven the lives of three generations of ranchers. When John Hines arrived in northeastern Wyoming in what was then Crook County in about 1900, he chose to make his homestead near the Oriva community, just off what is now Echeta Road. Born on May 1, 1875, in Louisville, Ky., Hines was raised in an orphanage in Pennsylvania. Little else is known about him, although his grandson, Bill Bruce Hines of Gillette, said John Hines' mother died when he was just 1. At the time, his great-grandfather, who was born in Ireland in 1848, had four children. That's when the children were likely put in an orphanage by their father. When he first came to Wyoming just a decade after statehood in 1900, Hines worked as teamster in LeRoy in southwestern Wyoming, a siding on the railroad. Hines filed for his homestead on Nov. 21, 1901, where the ranch headquarters and his grandson's log home now stand. At some point, he somehow ended up in Carlyle, Ill., a small town about 50 miles east of St. Louis, where he met Tague "Tiggie" M. Eagle. Just 14 days after filing for his homestead, they married and the couple moved to Wyoming with their belongings loaded in a railroad freight car...more

Michigan: Police Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops

The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program. ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous. "Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide," ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. "No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure." A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections. "Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags," a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device's capabilities. "The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps." The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches...more

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Justices skeptical of states' global warming lawsuit

The Supreme Court appeared ready to rule that federal judges cannot set limits on greenhouse gas emissions, after a majority of justices suggested Tuesday that such disputes over global warming are better left to Congress and federal regulators. Five power companies, including American Electric Power, are appealing a lower court decision that would permit a group of six states and the city of New York to sue under federal “public nuisance” law and claim the plants’ emissions intensify global warming. During a spirited session of oral arguments, the justices voiced doubt that judges have the authority or expertise to handle the complex emissions dilemma that is international in scope and that the government says is being addressed by the Environmental Protection Agency. A ruling would determine whether states can seek remedies in court for harm caused by carbon dioxide emissions and whether utilities would be subject to new litigation and possible caps on emissions. Tuesday’s environmental dispute tests the separation of powers among branches of government. The question is whether judges may hear allegations that power plant emissions are contributing to global warming, hurting people’s health and destroying the environment...more

U.N. Prepares to Debate Whether 'Mother Earth' Deserves Human Rights Status

United Nations diplomats on Wednesday will set aside pressing issues of international peace and security to devote an entire day debating the rights of “Mother Earth.” A bloc of mostly socialist governments lead by Bolivia have put the issue on the General Assembly agenda to discuss the creation of a U.N. treaty that would grant the same rights found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Mother Nature. Treaty supporters want the establishment of legal systems to maintain balance between human rights and what they perceive as the inalienable rights of other members of the Earth community -- plants, animals, and terrain. Communities and environmental activists would be given more legal power to monitor and control industries and development to ensure harmony between humans and nature. Though the United States and other Western governments are supportive of sustainable development, some see the upcoming event, “Harmony with Nature,” as political grandstanding -- an attempt to blame environmental degradation and climate change on capitalism...more

Environmentalists seek gays' advice on President Obama

Young environmentalists looking for a success story in pressuring a Democratic administration to advance their goals have found it from an unusual source: the gay rights movement. Environmentalists, especially youth activists who were a large part of President Barack Obama’s 2008 electoral victory, had high hopes for the past two years. But after the death of cap and trade, an oil spill that led to little action from Congress and the GOP gains last fall, disappointment reigns. For the greens, there are numerous emotional parallels between their movement and the gay rights movements, most notably frustration over the lack of action on what they see as an obvious endgame. They are seeking a major victory, like the December repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and are looking at how the advocacy tactics used in that debate could be adapted to environmental goals...more

Obama Administration Supporting Major Solar Energy Project in California

The U.S. Energy Department is offering $2.1-billion conditional loan guarantee to support another major solar power project in California. A loan guarantee means the federal government will cover the borrower's debt if the borrower defaults. Such loan guarantees allow the government to share the financial risks of major 'green energy' projects that lack private investment and are not yet supported by the commercial marketplace. The $2.1 billion conditional loan guarantee offered to the Blythe Solar Power Project is the largest amount ever offered to a solar project through the Energy Department's loan office, Secretary Steven Chu said. The concentrating solar thermal power plant includes two units comprising a combined 484-megawatt generating capacity, an eight-mile transmission line and associated infrastructure. The two units are part of a larger project, sponsored by Solar Trust of America, which -- when completed -- will generate 1,000 megawatts of solar power, enough to power 95,000 homes a year. The Department of Energy has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling $21 billion to support 22 clean energy projects across 14 states...more

U.S. Gov't Agency Plans $2.84 Billion Loan for Oil Refinery—In Colombia

The U.S. Export-Import Bank, an independent agency of the federal government, is now planning a $2.84-billion loan for a massive project to expand and upgrade an oil refinery--in Cartagena, Colombia. The money would go to Reficar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ecopetrol, the Colombian national oil company. “This is part of a $5.18 billion refinery and upgrade project in Cartagena, Colombia supplying petroleum products to the domestic and export markets,” the Export-Import Bank said in a statement. The U.S. government-controlled bank says the $2.84-billion in financing it plans to undertake will be the second largest project it has ever done. The largest was $3 billion in financing for a liquid natural gas project in Papua New Guinea...more

1,300 wolves to come off endangered list

Federal wildlife officials say they will take more than 1,300 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies off the endangered species list within 60 days. An attachment to the budget bill signed into law Friday by President Obama strips protections from wolves in five Western states. It marks the first time Congress has taken a species off the endangered list. Idaho and Montana plan public wolf hunts this fall. Hunts last year were canceled after a judge ruled the predators remained at risk. Protections remain in place for wolves in Wyoming because of its shoot-on-sight law for the predators. There are no immediate plans to hunt the small wolf populations in Oregon and Washington. No packs have been established in Utah. Legal experts warn that lifting protections for the animals opens the door to future meddling by lawmakers catering to anti-wildlife interests. The Endangered Species Act has long been reviled by conservatives who see it as a hindrance to economic development. Now, the Obama administration’s support for the wolf provision signals that protections for even the most imperiled animals, fish and plants are negotiable given enough political pressure, experts said...more

Letter Calls on Administration to Reconsider Proposed “Clean Water Protection Guidance”

Over 30 members of the Congressional Western Caucus joined a letter written to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corp of Engineers to express concerns that the agencies are attempting to circumvent the proper regulatory process in order to push through a dramatic expansion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. In December 2010, EPA and the Corps sent draft “Clean Water Protection Guidance” to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory review. By the agencies’ own admission, this “Guidance” will substantively change federal policy with respect to which waters fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and significantly increase the scope of the federal government’s power to regulate waters. From the letter:

This “Guidance” would substantively change the Agencies’ policy on waters subject to jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act; undermine the regulated community’s rights and obligations under the Clean Water Act; and erode the Federal-State partnership that has long existed between the States and the Federal Government in implementing the Clean Water Act. By developing this “Guidance,” the Agencies have ignored calls from state agencies and environmental groups, among others, to proceed through the normal rulemaking procedures, and have avoided consulting with the States, which are the Agencies’ partners in implementing the Clean Water Act.

The Agencies cannot, through guidance, change the scope and meaning of the Clean Water Act or the statute’s implementing regulations. If the Administration seeks statutory changes to the Clean Water Act, a proposal must be submitted to Congress for legislative action. If the Administration seeks to make regulatory changes, a notice and comment rulemaking is required.

The complete letter is here.

Anti-Smoking Group Targets Cigarettes As Environmental Threat

Not only are cigarettes bad for your health – they also threaten the environment, an anti-smoking group says. It points to the millions of cigarette butts that end up on roads, waterways, parks and beaches -- a reason to outlaw smoking in public parks and beaches, it suggests. "Cigarette butts contain heavy metals that can leach into waterways, posing a threat to acquatic life," the group called Legacy said in a news release on Tuesday. It noted that in one laboratory test, one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water was lethal to half of the fish exposed. Cheryl G. Healton, the president and CEO of Legacy, said the data “sets the stage for a new research agenda – one focused both on preserving our environment and protecting our public health."...more

How the Ice in Your Drink is Imperiling the Planet

Want to save the Earth? Easy, just buy a couple of ice trays. To the long list of human inventions that are wrecking global climate—the internal combustion engine, the industrial era factory—add the automatic ice maker. Climate modelers have long known that households are far bigger contributors to global warming than most laypeople realize. For all the blame tailpipe emissions take for escalating temperatures, homes and office buildings are actually the single largest contributor to greenhouse gasses. One key reason is the 100-plus million refrigerators in America's 111 million households. According to the Department of Energy, the standard fridge sucks up about 8% of the electricity used by all homes—a pretty big share given the dozens of big and small appliances and electronics that are also drawing juice. According to the just-released findings, the average ice maker in the average fridge increases energy consumption by 12% to 20%—a whole lot of juice for an appliance that is in operation 24 hours a day from the moment you first plug it in till the moment you replace it a decade or more later. The reason that number was so unexpected was that the large majority of refrigerators are refrigerator-freezer combinations anyway—which means they're freezing water and making ice no matter what. So why should the simple business of automating the process be so energetically expensive? The answer, it turns out, is the tiny motor inside the freezing system that's used to release the bits of ice from the mold and dump them into a tray...more

No more drinkin', no more smokin' - can you guess what comes next?

Ending Farm Welfare As We Know It

Just about everything in Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget blueprint has caught unshirted hell from critics: the tax rates, the Medicare vouchers, the safety-net cuts. The one thing that hasn't? The cuts to farm subsidies. If past is prologue, that means the subsidies are probably safe. Ryan wants to trim $3 billion a year from a $15 billion annual total in farm support programs. This is a modest goal—perhaps too modest. After all, farm subsidies are one thing about which all sides can agree: George Will disdains them—and so does Paul Krugman, who calls them "grotesque." The conservative Heritage Foundation terms farm subsidies "America's largest corporate welfare program." The liberal ThinkProgress dubs them "highly regressive." President Clinton tried to rein them in. So did President Bush—both the Elder and the Younger. "Bush Attacks Farm Subsidies," reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1990. Eighteen years later Reuters reported, "House Overrides Bush Veto of U.S. Farm Bill." If left, right, and center stand united in their opposition to subsidies, then why do the programs thrive?...more

Song Of The Day #559

Ranch Radio's request yesterday was a 1953 recording by Roy Acuff, so we'll look at the country charts for that year.

The #1 song that year was Kawliga by Hank Williams and the #2 song was There Stands The Glass by Webb Pierce.

My mp3ProConverter has expired so they are in separate players below.

Environmental Laws Stymie Border Patrol’s Effectiveness, Report Says

Federal land managers in Arizona, where about half of all illegal alien apprehensions took place in 2010, denied a U.S. Border Patrol station permission to build a road deemed necessary for “achieving or maintaining operational control” of an area along the southwest border. According to an April 15 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), land managers, including officials from the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture, denied permission to build the road because of environmental restrictions related to the Wilderness Act. The GAO, which surveyed 26 stations along the southwest border, also found that Border Patrol headquarters had denied two of them funding for infrastructure along the southwest border which was required to “achieve or maintain operational control.” Federal lands comprise about 820 miles, or more than 40 percent, of the approximately 2,000-mile southwest border. As of Sept. 30, 2010, the U.S. government had established operational or “effective” control along less than half (873 miles) of that border...more

Mexican cartels setting up shop across U.S.

Six months went by between the first FBI inquiries into cocaine trafficking at the house on Knightner Road and Pineda's arrest. But for the bureau, he was a prize worth waiting for. A member of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, he had quietly settled in central South Carolina, put down roots and began managing one of the gang's new outposts in the United States. As the cartels expand up and out from the Southwest border, they are sending waves of men like Pineda, many of them trained in Mexico, to run their U.S. operations. In the last few years, they have established a prosperous retail industry, with cartels staking out "market territories," lining up smuggling routes, and renting storage bins and drug houses. Earlier this month, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller told Congress that upwards of $39 billion a year in drug profits from north of the border is making it back to Mexico and the cartels. Atlanta has become a major cartel hub, where cocaine is stored in lockers, storefronts and homes, then trucked to cities such as Columbia, according to federal officials. The Tijuana cartel has set up shop in Seattle and Anchorage, they added. Elements of the Juarez cartel have been busy in four dozen cities, including Minneapolis. The Gulf cartel has reached into Buffalo, N.Y...more

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

US greenhouse gases drop to 15-year low

Greenhouse gas emissions in the US dropped to their lowest level in 15 years in 2009 as the impact of the financial crisis led to decreases in fuel and electricity consumption, according to newly published figures. In 2009, the US saw its emissions of the six main greenhouses gases drop 6 per cent year-on-year to 6,633m metric tonnes, the lowest total since 1995. Despite that annual fall, emissions rose by more than 7.3 per cent between 1990 and 2009. The figures, released by the Environmental Protection Agency, are likely to be seized upon by Republicans as evidence that there is no need for further regulation of carbon emissions. The GOP has embarked on a campaign in recent months to strip the EPA of its ability to regulate hydrocarbons as well as other pollutants. The greenhouse gas inventory – which also calculated carbon dioxide emissions that were removed from the atmosphere through the uptake of carbon by forests, vegetation and soil – has been submitted by the US to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The US signed and ratified the convention, which sets an overall global framework for nations to address climate change, in 1992...more

Australian mathematicians say some endangered species "not worth saving"

Some endangered species on the brink of extinction might not be worth saving, according to a new algorithm developed by researchers at the University of Adelaide and James Cook University, both in Australia. Dubbed the SAFE (species' ability to forestall extinction) index, the formula takes current and minimum viable population sizes into account to determine if it is too costly to save a species from extinction. The research was published online March 30 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Co-author Corey Bradshaw, director of ecological modeling at the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute, said in a prepared statement that the formula is "the best predictor yet of the vulnerability of mammal species to extinction." The study examined 95 mammal species, 20 percent of which are endangered and 10 of which are on what the authors call "the tipping point" where they could be at the "point of no return." That tipping point, according to the authors, is a species with a population below 5,000 individuals. Likening conservation choices to triage during wartime, Bradshaw told The Sydney Morning Herald, "During wartime, medicos have to go out and say, 'Well this guy's too far gone, we're not going to waste our time because there's too few of us.' ... We have to do the same thing in conservation, because we don't have unlimited resources, money and things that we can buy back forests or restore completely degraded ecosystems." The authors say that conservationists could use the formula to redirect efforts toward species that are more likely to avoid extinction...more

Editorial: Wolf rider implements needed state plans

Federal wildlife authorities were on the right track two years ago when they proposed removing gray wolves in Montana and Idaho from the endangered species list and turning over wolf management to the states that had developed management plans to meet federal standards for species survival. The effect of a one-paragraph rider in the federal budget bill passed last week will put that 2009 plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into action. The effect of the wolf rider is implementation of a practical solution to balance species protection with hunter-rancher interests. However, the means by which it was achieved may set an undesirable precedent. Opponents of the rider point out that this is the first time in the 30-year history of the Endangered Species Act that Congress has intervened to remove the law’s protection to allow killing of wildlife. Rider proponents argue that the gray wolf case is unique and justified congressional intervention. Both of Montana’s U.S. senators supported the wolf rider. Max Baucus gives his opinion elsewhere on this page. Jon Tester collaborated with Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to add the wolf rule to the budget bill. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., voted against the budget bill, but previously criticized relisting of wolves. “We fixed this problem,” Tester said. As Gov. Brian Schweitzer said last week: “Montana must have the ability to manage wildlife, to do our job, to seek a balance among predator and prey.” Montana now must prove it will strike that balance: Preserving a viable population of gray wolves while protecting livestock and maintaining game herds...more

Idaho Wolf Hunt Likely, but Uncertain

The State's growing population of wolves will most likely be hunted starting this fall, but there's no promise of that yet. The United States' Secretary of the Interior -- Ken Salazar -- still has to post the official language outlining the Federal Rule. Until he does so -- which could take up 60 days -- Idaho's Department of Fish and Game can't firmly begin planning a public hunting season. According to John Hanian, the official spokesman and press secretary to Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter, the 60-day waiting period could slow the process needed for the state to hold a fall hunt, much like it did in 2009. "We expect that these animals will be de-listed and we'll be able to manage them like any of our other big-game predators," Hanian said. The problem, according to the Governor's Office, is that no one knows if the official ruling would allow Idaho to conduct wolf hunts under its current (2008-2012) wolf management plan -- or if a new plan would have to be drafted to allow it...more

Drilling on the agenda as Clinton, Salazar prep for Arctic meeting

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are both slated to attend the May 12 meeting of the intergovernmental Arctic Council in Greenland, Salazar told reporters Monday. “One of the items we will be discussing in that forum will be how we move forward with oil-and-gas development,” Salazar said at a press conference on drilling. The intergovernmental council is made up of nations that border the Arctic Circle including Russia, the U.S., Greenland, Finland, Norway and Sweden. It’s designed to enhance cooperation and coordination among Arctic states. Salazar’s actions and comments on Arctic development will be closely watched amid uncertainty about the extent to which Interior will allow oil-and-gas drilling in a fragile region believed to hold massive energy resources...more

Editorial: Public lands

The deal reached in Congress to avoid a government shutdown produced a largely overlooked casualty: an Interior Department policy to reinstate the authority of the Bureau of Land Management to designate wilderness study areas. The agreement among Democrats, Republicans and the White House deleted funding needed by the BLM to do the inventory work on wilderness-quality lands in the West. That’s a gigantic leap backward for public land policy and a betrayal of President Barack Obama’s promise to protect open spaces, water and wildlife from rampant drilling on public lands. The policy announced this year by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar did not plow new ground. It was a reinstatement of legal authority granted years ago by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which was overridden by a legally suspect agreement in 2003 between then-Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and Bush Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Salazar rightly overturned that agreement. The new policy says the BLM can inventory lands for wilderness quality and then seek permanent protection for them...more

BLM to revisit cattle-grazing leases

Federal cattle-grazing leases in the Scotchman Gulch area near Philipsburg are going back to the drawing board to balance the needs of cows and trout. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will come up with better ways to protect streams and riparian areas on land it leases to ranchers there, according to BLM Missoula field office manager Rich Torquemada. "We'll look at other measures to more quickly improve rangeland condition," Torquemada said on Monday. "We're withdrawing that (original) decision so we can address some of the appeal points." Western Watersheds Project sued BLM in 2010 over the Ram Mountain grazing leases, claiming leaseholders were letting cattle trample a stream where cutthroat trout spawn. The organization also argued the area was chronically overused. "We went in there last spring, when the decision was in the draft stage, and it was pretty well trashed," WWP Montana director Tom Woodbury said of the public-access lease. "They were losing the stream channel and it was way over-grazed." An administrative law judge dismissed WWP's appeal of the grazing plan, and BLM officials decided to redraft it. Torquemada said the new environmental assessment should be done this summer. Part of the proposed plan would fence off more of the spawning stream, which flows into the Upper Willow Creek drainage. Woodbury said that might not solve the problem and could also keep moose from using the riparian area...more

That's an amazing place, where moose don't damage riparian areas but cattle do.

The Regime’s 150th Birthday

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. This event, more than the Declaration of Independence, Constitution or the American Revolution, signifies the true birth of the modern American nation-state. It was on this day that the federal government first repudiated the Founding Fathers’ republican form of government—a coalition of several states that combined under the Constitution to form a central state of enumerated and sharply limited powers—and asserted a plenary sovereignty over the people. Rejecting the right of states to secede, the federal government under Lincoln abolished the very system that was supposed to come out of the revolution against the British crown, a system where smaller political units could exercise their legal and human right to overthrow or at least leave the central government that ruled them without their consent. During the U.S. Civil War, leviathan as we know it was born. The war ushered in federal conscription, income taxes, new departments and agencies, and the final victory of the Hamiltonians over the Jeffersonians. For years, the nationalists—first the Federalists, then the Whigs, and then the Republicans under Lincoln—had advocated a system that subordinated the states to the central government and buried agrarianism and free enterprise under the heavy burden of corporarist neo-mercantilism. Henry Clay called this economic program “The American System” and boasted of its proposed “internal improvements.” A more modern label would simply be “corporate welfare” as these nationalists were championing high tariffs to discourage free trade and to raise revenue that could be shoveled toward big businesses that would build railways, canals and roads, the circulatory system of a new corporate state with Washington directing the economy through grants of privilege and monopoly. Civil liberties took a hit virtually unparalleled in U.S. history, with the possible exception of World War I. During the Civil War, thousands of dissidents were arrested, hundreds of newspapers were shut down, martial law was declared, habeas corpus was suspended, and political enemies were targeted for arrest and persecution...more

The three-rattlesnake theory and other tales about rain

Longtime rancher R.C. "Bob" Bennett recalls the painful seven-year drought of the 1950s and a familiar phrase often uttered by his friend, the late Jake Mayfield. Back in the late 1980s, Bennett often would ask Mayfield when he reckoned rain would fall, and he'd get the same reply. "Every day, we're one day closer to the next rain," Mayfield was known to say. The drought lasted from 1950 until 1957, as both Bennett, 81, and T.O. Midkiff, 76, recalled recently in separate conversations. The year 1951 saw only 4.24 inches of precipitation, which ranks as the driest year on record, according to National Weather Service archives. It appears we're on track for a similar year. Like most of us, these long-time ranchers are praying for rain. But Midkiff has his own method of predicting rain. "If you see three rattlesnakes crawling around in one day, I guarantee you'll get a measurable amount of rain within a mile of that area within three days." He hasn't seen three rattlesnakes in one day for quite some time...more

Song Of The Day #558

Ranch Radio today is responding to a request that was generated this weekend at the 98th Luna County Old Timers Association Reunion.

The tune is Sixteen Chickens And A Tambourine by Roy Acuff & His Smoky Mountain Boys. It was recorded in Nashville on June 25, 1953 and was released on Capitol F-2548. In addition to Acuff the members of the band in the studio that day were Lonnie Wilson, Lester Esterhasy, Beecher Kirby, Joseph Zincan, Jimmy Riddle and of course Howdy Forrester on fiddle.

The tune is available on the 4 CD box set King of Country Music on the Proper record label and on the 2 CD collection King Of Country Music on the Bear Family label

Send us your requests:

Border Patrol Banned From Top Smuggler Routes

For the third time in a few months a federal report exposes how the U.S. government prioritizes environmental preservation over national security by keeping Border Patrol agents out of wildlife refuges that are heavily transited by Mexican drug and human smugglers. Among them is a popular smugglers’ corridor, the 2,300-acre San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, used by an illegal immigrant who murdered an Arizona rancher last spring. For years, Border Patrol agents have been prohibited by the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service from actively patrolling such areas because it threatens natural resources. Motorized vehicles, road construction and the installation of surveillance structures required to adequately secure the vast areas are forbidden because it could endanger the environment and its wildlife. In the meantime, Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers regularly use the sprawling, unmanned and federally protected land to enter the U.S. The areas have become the path of choice for illicit operations that endanger American lives and, ironically, cause severe environmental damage.Adding insult to injury, Interior officials charge the Department of Homeland Security millions of dollars for conducting preapproved Border Patrol operations on its land. Since 2007, Homeland Security has paid the Interior Department more than $9 million to mitigate the “environmental damage” of protecting the border...more

Arizona rancher urges Congress to improve border security

Jim Chilton, Arizona rancher and member of the Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), told members of Congress during an oversight hearing held jointly by the Government and Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations and the Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands that inadequate security along the border between the United States and Mexico, especially on public lands, has put ranchers and their families living near the border in constant danger. “We have been burglarized twice. Many of our neighbors have suffered similar loss of security and property. Our losses have been great and our sense of security in our own country has been severely damaged,” Chilton said. “The Border Patrol must control the border at the border so that citizens’ civil rights, property rights and human rights are protected. Ranchers along the border cannot have peace of mind until the border is secured.” Chilton said environmental laws, including the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), have “unduly hampered” the ability of U.S. Border Patrol agents to control the border. He said he and many other ranchers have had challenges with federal land managers causing serious delays for the border patrol. According to Chilton, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) two mile wide and 50 mile long San Pedro National Conservation Area excludes any mechanical entry or exit resulting in a drug trafficker’s “dream path to enter Arizona and walk unhindered and hide in heavy vegetation for 50 miles. The only way the Border Patrol can patrol that contraband highway is on foot or horseback."...more

Monday, April 18, 2011

'Mass cow sacrifices by aliens' sent White House into panic, FBI records reveal

Cows were sacrificed by aliens sending the White House into a panic declassified FBI files have revealed. It is claimed that more than 8,000 cows were abducted by UFOs before they were mutilated and thrown back down to earth over the southern United States during the 1970s. The memo is one of thousands of previously unreleased classified files that the bureau has made public in a new online resource called The Vault.

The files detail how the aliens took trophies from their victims in the form of body parts and in some cases they drained the animals entirely of their blood. One investigator's theory was that 'these animals are picked up by aircraft, mutilated elsewhere and returned and dropped from aircraft. 'Identical mutilations have been taking place all over the south west. whoever is responsible is well organised with boundless technology, financing and secrecy.' When news of the cow abductions reached the White House in 1979, there was fear. 'The materials sent to me indicate one of the strangest phenomenon in my memory,' said the then US Attorney General Griffin Bell in a letter to senator Harrison Schmitt, according to The Sun newspaper. Mr Schmitt represented New Mexico, where countless incidents were reported at a ranch in Dulce, a small town in the north of the State. In one case an 11-month old bull was dropped close to someone's house from an aircraft and its sex organs had been removed. The police report about the incident said: 'The bull sustained visible bruises around the brisket seeming to indicate that a strap was used to life and lower the animal from the aircraft... flesh underneath the hide was pinkish in colour. 'A probably explanation for the pinkish blood is a control type of radiation used to kill the animal... both the liver and the heart were mushy. Both organs had the texture and consistency of peanut butter.' A report from the farm in Dulce during 1976 said that a suspect aircraft had landed and left three pod marks in a triangular shape. A further report commissioned in 1979 added: 'The Department of Justice advised that their criminal division has been aware of the phenomenon of animals being mutilated in a manner that would indicate such acts were performed by persons as part of a ritual or ceremony.' The FBI added that other possible theories for the mutilation of the animals was as a result of biological warfare or 'unidentified objects' were to blame...more

Close encounters of the herd kind

More than 8,000 cattle were snatched by mystery aircraft, mutilated, then dropped from the skies above the US south west in the late 1970s, special agents told their directors. Terrified farmers in New Mexico, Nebraska and Colorado feared they would be ripped apart by extraterrestrials in flying saucers. Details of the probe are spelled out in internal memos released by the FBI online. The cattle killers took sick TROPHIES including tongues, lower lips, sex organs, eyes and ears. In some cases the doomed animal was drained entirely of its BLOOD. One chilling police report detailed a feared alien sacrifice there: "This 11-month-old bull was dropped by some type of aircraft north of Mr Manuel Gomez's ranch house. The sex organs had been removed with a sharp and precise instrument. The bone had also been removed. "The bull sustained visible bruises around the brisket seeming to indicate that a strap was used to lift and lower the animal from the aircraft... flesh underneath the hide was pinkish in colour. "A probable explanation for the pinkish blood is a control type of radiation used to kill the animal... both the liver and the heart were mushy. Both organs had the texture and consistency of peanut butter." The bull had been seen alive the previous day but during the night a low-flying craft had been heard near where the remains were found. FBI agents were sent to remote farms across rural America to probe the killings. A police report of another incident at the Dulce farm, dated June 13, 1976, told how an odd craft visited another animal mutilation. "A suspected aircraft of some type had landed twice, leaving three pod-marks in a triangular shape. The diameter of each pod was 14inches." Kenneth Rommel, who led the FBI's Animal Mutilation Project probe, wrote a bombshell memo on March 5, 1980, on one alien swoop. It stated: "In July 1978 a UFO was reportedly sighted by a resident of Taos, New Mexico, hovering over a pick-up truck. The following morning powder flakes were reportedly recovered from the truck roof." Locals told the FBI the flakes came from COW HIDES, he added. Possible theories for the mutilations examined by the FBI included claims the CIA or US Department of Energy had carried out biological warfare tests on the cows, that religious cults were to blame or that "they have some connection with unidentified objects"...more

Neither source for these two articles, the Daily Mail and the Sun, are renowned for their professional journalism. So we shall see how this pans out.

Wolf hybrids kill mini horse - video

Riverside County Animal Services officials are searching for one of two wolf-dog hybrids that killed and ate part of a miniature stallion in his corral at the Bar H Ranch near Lake Mathews on Thursday. The two wolf-dogs were shot by a ranch hand about an hour after the attack, but one was able to escape, and animal officials have set a cage trap to capture it. A third wolf-dog hybrid also was seen in the area Friday. All three appeared to have collars that lacked license tags. It was unclear whether they got out from their yard or were dumped near Lake Mathews, a rural area south of Riverside. Their owner has not been identified. Ranch owner Chris Herron said he had just brought the 6-year-old horse, named Bojangles, home from Oklahoma. Minis can be 34-38 inches high at the shoulder. "The poor little thing was chewed to death. It probably died of pain and shock," said Susan Garlinghouse, a veterinarian who was at the ranch Thursday. She boards horses there...more

Montana rancher injured while attempting to haze wolves

An 18-year-old man who went out to haze away wolves near his family's calving pens is recovering after hitting a snow bank and suffering a broken jaw and compressed spinal fracture. Thomas Price was injured last month after attempting to scare away four wolves within 200 yards of a pen with cows and calves at the family's ranch near Avon in western Montana. An official with the Department of Agriculture tells the Montana Standard in a story published Sunday that at least three wolf packs are in the Avon area. AP

Montana's 'wolf man'

Ed Bangs, who for 23 years led the effort to reintroduce and recover healthy wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains, is retiring from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June. As the federal agency’s wolf recovery coordinator, Bangs was the face of the polarizing wolf reintroduction, conducting thousands of international, national, state and local interviews and holding hundreds of highly charged meetings, all to explain the effort as part of a massive public outreach effort. At various times, depending on the stage of the reintroduction, he was heralded as a hero while simultaneously being denounced as a wolf lover or hater, depending on people’s perspective. Yet somehow he managed to charm many on both sides of the wolf wars, with a mix of humor tinged with a reputation for fairness. Bangs laughs at people’s impression of him, noting that “wilderness groups loved me” when he was reintroducing the wolves, and the ranchers hated him. That flipped once he decided the science showed that wolf populations had recovered enough to take them off the list of animals protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. “Now (environmentalists) say I’m in the ranchers’ pocket and the ranchers say I’m not such a bad guy,” he joked...more

Official: Arrest made in connection with Texas wildfire

Texas authorities have made an arrest in connection with one of hundreds of blazes scorching the state in what a forest service official called the "perfect storm for wildfires." A man has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, which is a felony under Texas law, Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Palmer Buck said early Monday. The man, who authorities have not yet identified, is being held under a $50,000 bond. According to Buck, the man started a campfire at a homeless camp in a remote area, which got out of control and prompted evacuations. The fire has burned about 60 acres and raised concerns as it crept near 100 homes, 10 businesses and Austin Community College...more

West Texas ranchers lose cattle, livelihood to fires

Bobby McKnight knew fire was coming when he saw the pall of white smoke rising into the blue West Texas sky April 9 and, within an hour, a 20-foot wall of flame had reached the rancher's Fort Davis home. "It was hot. It was just right in our doorstep," McKnight, 50, recalled on Saturday. His home was one of the first hit by the so-called Rock House fire, which was sparked by undetermined causes in Marfa, Texas, and became the fastest-moving wildfire to scorch the area in decades. By Sunday, it had seared at least 180,000 acres of land but was 70 percent contained The fire is one of about dozen that have consumed more than 500,000 acres over the past couple of weeks in drought-stricken West Texas, where some areas have gone without rain since last August, leaving grass and brush dangerously parched. At least 40 homes have been destroyed by the flames. No people have died, but the fires have killed at least 151 head of cattle and nine horses and laid waste to thousands of acres of grasslands -- a precious resource for the region's ranchers. The Rock House fire advanced 30 miles in a matter of hours, overtaking the town of Fort Davis and the ranches beyond it. Some ranchers in the area lost up to 95 percent of their land to the flames, said Logan Boswell, the Jeff Davis County extension agent tracking livestock affected by the fires. Between 400,000 and 500,000 cattle have been injured by the fire but survived, he said.

Bears close camping along Appalachian Trail

Authorities say bear activity has led them to close a section of the Appalachian Trail in northeast Georgia to camping until further notice. The section is between Neels Gap and Jarrard Gap south of Blairsville. U.S. Forest Service authorities say persistent bear activity - and improper food storage by hikers - contributed to the decision. Authorities said day hiking is still allowed. The 2,175-mile long Appalachian trail runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, and goes through 14 states. AP

Can't help but wonder what Neels and Jarrard would have thought about this.

Good news for environmentally conscious foodies - beef is lean and 'green'

It's easy to enjoy high-quality protein, like lean beef, in your diet and get all the essential nutrients you need for optimal health. With more than 29 cuts that meet government guidelines for lean beef, it's a healthy, naturally rich source of 10 essential nutrients that are needed to live vibrantly. And, unlike most plant sources of protein, lean beef is the food supply's most readily available, and easily absorbed, source of B12, iron and zinc - all vital in developing and maintaining cognitive ability regardless of age. When considering beef as part of your next meal, you may be surprised to learn that lean beef is a calorie-saver. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef is about 150 calories, on average, and is the perfect partner for fruits, vegetables and whole grains - making it even easier to enjoy a balanced diet. Visit the for a host of recipes, meal ideas and nutritional information about cooking with beef. Many of America's cattlemen are everyday environmentalists, dedicated to leaving the land in better shape for the next generation. Thanks to the stewardship practices on cattle farms and ranches, the United States often is recognized as the world model for raising sustainable beef. On average, each cattle rancher has 13 different practices in place to accomplish environmental goals. These practices include actions that help nurture wildlife, prevent erosion and conserve and protect water...more

Cartel Violence Complicates Tick Eradication Plan

An unexpected casualty of the drug-cartel-fueled lawlessness in Mexico: the cattle industry. At a temporary inspection site in the industrial sector of Laredo, home to the country’s largest inland port, the lowing of cows has been heard not far from the purring of the tractor-trailers that haul millions of dollars worth of goods from Mexico each day. For about the last year, Mexican cattle have been examined here before being cleared for shipment to the rest of Texas and beyond — part of an effort to eradicate a fever tick infestation that has plagued ranchers along the border for more than a century. The tick carries an anemia-causing parasite that preys on cattle blood cells and spreads bovine babesiosis, which causes fever, paralysis and often leads to death if left untreated. Until last year, the inspections took place in Mexico, and ticked cattle were kept from the United States. But a ruthless battle between the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas forced those inspection sites to close in March 2010. “It’s become too dangerous for the veterinarians to conduct their inspections on the cattle that are going to be imported into Texas from Mexico,” said Roland Garcia, a Texas Ranger commissioned by the Department of Public Safety and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association...more

A baby new recruit arrives at Camp Apache

In January our little boy arrived, to share our fate and to gladden our hearts. As he was the first child born to an officer's family in Camp Apache, there was the greatest excitement. All the sheep-ranchers and cattlemen for miles around came into the post. The beneficent canteen, with its soldiers' and officers' clubrooms did not exist then. So they all gathered at the cutler's store, to celebrate events with a round of drinks. They wanted to shake hands with and congratulate the new father, after their fashion, upon the advent of the blond-haired baby. Their great hearts went out to him, and they vied with each other in doing the handsome thing by him, in a manner according to their lights, and their ideas of wishing well to a man; a manner, sometimes, alas! disastrous in its results to the man! However, by this time, I was getting used to all sides of frontier life. So here I was, inexperienced and helpless, alone in bed, with an infant a few days old. Dr. Loring, our excellent Post Surgeon, was both kind and skillful, but he was in poor health and expecting each day to be ordered to another station. My husband was obliged to be at the Commissary Office all day, issuing rations to troops and scouts, and attending to the duties of his position. But, realizing in a measure the utter helplessness of my situation, he sent a soldier up to lead a wire cord through the thick wall at the head of my bed and out through the small yard into the kitchen. To this they attached a big cow-bell, so, by making some considerable effort to reach up and pull this wire, I could summon Bowen, that is, if Bowen happened to be there. But Bowen seemed always to be out at drill or over at the company quarters, and frequently my bell brought no response. When he did come, however, he was just as kind and just as awkward as it was possible for a great big six-foot farmer-soldier to be...more

Song Of The Day #557

Its Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is Merle Haggard & The Strangers with Swing High.

Illegal entry and drug smuggling in perspective…what if all this was going on in your front yard?

Most of you do not live near the border so you probably have no idea what is going on down here. Let me try and put in a perspective you can relate to. Every night hundreds of people walk through your front yard. They leave water bottles, clothing, and other trash in your yard so every morning you have to clean up your yard. If you leave your car or truck parked outside one morning it will be gone…stolen. A few weeks later your stolen vehicle will be recovered as part of a drug bust. If you aren’t home, your home will be broken into. And occasionally you will spot a guy carrying an AK 47 leading a group of illegal aliens with large back packs or a string of horses loaded with duffle bags filled with marijuana through your yard. Every once in a while an undocumented immigrant will pound on your front door asking for water and first aid. You start leaving water bottles on your front porch. Even though you leave water bottles on your front porch, you often find your garden hose running in the morning because someone needed a drink but didn’t have the courtesy to turn off the faucet. You find out you can buy a locking mechanism to put on all your outdoor water faucets. Occasionally one of the immigrants pounding on your door has been the victim of border bandits, with even their shoes having been stolen. By now you have memorized the Border Patrol’s phone number. If you have a big front yard, you might even find a dead person in your yard…either an undocumented immigrant who died of heat exhaustion, or a victim of a drug cartel shooting...more

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Leaving the gate open becomes a high-priced mistake

by Julie Carter

In 1897, a New Mexico state law was written levying a penalty for leaving a gate open. The fine was to be not less than $5 and not more than $10.

Obviously the law was put in place because people were as disrespectful about another man's business as they are today. Somebody was leaving the ranch gates open causing untold issues with escaped or lost cattle.

Barbwire, or sometimes referred to colloquially as "bob wire or bobbed war" was invented in the late 1860s and followed by as many as 570 patents for additional "improved" versions.

The "devil's rope," hated by some, sought after by others, was a highly effective tool that quickly became the fencing method of choice.

As it worked its way to the West, barbwire impacted life in that era as dramatically as the telegraph, windmills and the railroad.

With fencing came the necessary gates.

Anyone that has ever had to figure how to open a well-constructed barbwire gate can attest to the difficulty that can be built into it.

Generations of skilled fence builders, in my opinion, focused more on making sure the gate was impossible and impassable than the function for which it was intended.

This reasoning comes from years of needing to get through gates that required practically dismantling the gate in order to open the portal it guarded.

However, certainly not all of them earned a reputation for that level of difficulty.

And in that was born the problem of the gate left carelessly open by some
unknown soul who either didn't know better or didn't bother to care.

And so, a law was written to address the crime. A stiff $5-$10 fine surely straightened that problem right up. Or did it?

Apparently not, as 114 years later, the issue was again before the state lawmakers. In the most recent New Mexico Legislative session, House Bill 391 was introduced and ultimately signed into law by the governor, thereby enhancing the penalty for leaving a gate open.

Now should the outlaws, renegades or thoughtless idiots running the back roads of New Mexico ranch lands leave a gate open, they can be fined not less than $250 and not more than $1,000. The process of enforcement will be interesting.

This litigious society we live in mandates the effort. Livestock let loose as a result of a gate left open can put motorists in a life and death situation.

A collision with livestock causing injury or death to a roadway motorists could result in, not just the economic loss of livestock to the rancher, but financial liability for damages for the Department of Transportation. It's simple economics.

Ranch kids are ingrained from birth to "shut the gate." No questions asked, no discussion. They walk, talk, eat, breath and shut the gate. It's part of life.

The penalties for not doing so are quite unpleasant. They often go hand-in-hand with witnessing the destruction or loss caused by that simple failure to follow that cardinal rule.

My suggestion would be, if in fact you can catch the culprit and prove that he did it, to give him the same punishment universal to ranch kids throughout the millennium.

A good swift kick in the pants is cathartic for the giver, and if administered with proper skill, is quite memorable for the receiver. Instant gratification and not a lawyer in sight.

Julie can be reached for comment at or on her website at