Saturday, May 07, 2011

Jeff Witte tapped as new NM Ag Secretary

Jeff Witte of Las Cruces has been named secretary of New Mexico Department of Agriculture. New Mexico State University regents announced the appointment Friday.

"I look forward to the opportunity to lead a great department, work with Gov. Martinez and her administration as a strong advocate for agriculture, as well as continue the partnerships I have with the entire New Mexico State University family," Witte said in a news release.

"Most of all, however, I look forward to working with our producers, processors, transporters, and retailers who are the heart and soul of our agricultural industry and provide the economic backbone in many communities in our great state."

Witte now serves as director of the office of Agricultural Biosecurity and co-director for the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center at NMSU. He served previously as NMDA's assistant director and was the director of governmental affairs and field services for the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.

He is a graduate of Moriarty High School in Moriarty, N.M., and grew up on a ranch in northern New Mexico between Santa Fe and Las Vegas. Witte has a master's degree in agricultural economics and economics from NMSU.

"We are proud to select Jeff as the next director/secretary of NMDA and look forward to his leadership," regents chairwoman Laura Conniff said.

The director of NMDA serves as the secretary of agriculture on the governor's cabinet, but the position is filled by the NMSU regents and reports to the board and university president.

Tom Bagwell has been serving as interim secretary since the retirement of Dr. Miley Gonzalez in December 2010.

Witte will begin his new position in the coming weeks. [link]

Congratulations to Jeff and to the NMSU Regents who made an excellent selection. My condolences to Janet.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Bill Richardson: Now that bin Laden is gone, institute climate legislation

Former Gov. Bill Richardson told a group of environmentalists Tuesday (May 3) in Washington DC that he hopes that the death of Osama bin Laden will prompt President Obama to institute climate change legislation for the nation. Interesting logic but Richardson is quoted by Politico as telling the Earth Day Network at a Climate Leadership Gala, “My hope is that from this success in the foreign policy arena two days ago, that he will be emboldened to take once again to the Congress legislation — not just to increase a renewable energy standard — but climate change legislation that this country and the world need.” Richardson also told the group, “We can sit back and say, ‘Well we’ll wait until the next election, wait until the political climate is better.’ You know if we do that, we’re doomed — if we don’t take action right away.” Climate change legislation — in particular, instituting a cap and trade system — has gone nowhere in Congress but Politico says Richardson suggests Obama should offer legislators two options: an economy-wide cap-and-trade program with stringent timetables over several decades and a carbon tax. And if Congress fails to do either of those, EPA must plow ahead with climate change regulations, he said...more

Richardson is still courting the enviros, just like he did during the last two years of his administration. Why? I don't know. Everything he does has a political purpose - I'm just not sure what it is in this case.

Wolf delisting slated again for Montana, the Rockies

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday that gray wolves in Montana and Idaho, as well as in portions of eastern Oregon and Washington and north-central Utah, will be formally removed from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife today. The federal government also is proposing to delist gray wolf populations in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, saying they’re also biologically recovered. While public comment will be taken on the Western Great Lakes region’s proposed delisting, that won’t take place for the Rocky Mountain population because the Department of Interior is simply reinstating the terms of a 2009 rule — in which a public comment period was held — that removed their federally protected status, as directed by Congress in April. Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, promised to challenge the delisting again, saying his organization expects to file a lawsuit today saying Congress’ action is unconstitutional...more

If Supermarkets Were Like Public Schools

Teachers unions and their political allies argue that market forces can't supply quality education. According to them, only our existing system—politicized and monopolistic—will do the trick. Yet Americans would find that approach ludicrous if applied to other vital goods or services. Suppose that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education. Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. Nearly half of those tax revenues would then be spent by government officials to build and operate supermarkets. Each family would be assigned to a particular supermarket according to its home address. And each family would get its weekly allotment of groceries—"for free"—from its neighborhood public supermarket. No family would be permitted to get groceries from a public supermarket outside of its district...more

And these public supermarkets would be named...Piggly Wiggly.
If supermarkets had always been public, I doubt if the word "super" would be used.

The rise of animal law

Sherwin Figueroa, a life-long animal lover, decided she wanted to be a prosecutor in high school. When choosing a law school, Figueroa aimed to marry her two passions and found the "perfect" program at the University of Georgia. "This school has a fabulous prosecutorial program and an animal law group," she says. A deep-seated love for animals is also driving demand for courses in the area, and their availability has kept pace. Both those interested in protecting animals from cruelty and those pursuing the more radical animal-rights agenda are suiting up as lawyers instead of throwing paint on fur-coat-wearing women or picketing the local fast-food chain. Increased pet ownership and the evolution of the human-animal bond is a core reason for the explosive growth of animal law, says James F. Wilson, DVM, JD, a practicing attorney and head of Yardley, Penn.-based Priority Veterinary Management Consultants. "We went from pets as property to pets as family members for society in general," he says. Animal law's roots date back to the 1970s. That was when Joyce Tischler, co-founder and general counsel for the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), banded together with another attorney also interested in animal protection...more

Bob Barker Donates $100k To Support Animal Rights Laws

The Hudson Valley Community College Foundation recently received $100,000 from the infamous Bob Barker to help support the Animal Advocacy Fund, which is used for those interested in animal law. The HVCC is the first college in the country to offer this type of course, which includes animal cruelty investigation, legal issues for animal control, lobbying and legislating for animal protection, shelter and rescue management and veterinary forensics. Graduate students of HVCC may use their degrees in this area to pursue careers in humane-law enforcement, animal control, humane education, shelter management, lobbying and policy-making...more

Farmers market bans live chicken sales

Feathers will cease to fly over alleged cruelty practices at the Heart of the City Farmers Market that we reported in February. The outdoor Civic Center market has announced it will no longer offer live poultry for sale as of May 27, a practice that had been grounds for a lawsuit and two years of fervent protesting from animal rights groups. Raymond Young’s Poultry, a popular vendor, has been selling live chickens by the hundreds for nearly two decades at the HOC market every Wednesday and Sunday. In January, animal rights activist group LGBT Compassion filed a lawsuit alleging cruelty and civil rights violation against Young and the HOC after months of protesting and several attempts to get city agencies involved...more

County Fair approves rodeo study

Santa Cruz County Fair leaders, under threat of a lawsuit, agreed Tuesday to study the environmental impact of a planned rodeo. But the fair board also wants to prove the research isn't required under the California Environmental Quality Act. "I really hesitate before jumping off a cliff and joining with the CEQA people," board member Christopher Smith said. Stars of Justice Inc., a nonprofit offshoot of the Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff's Association, proposes to hold a two-day rodeo in October to raise money for charity. But neighbors and animal rights advocates insist the fair must take a look at the potential impact of noise, traffic and livestock. Smith and other board members argued rodeos are no different than ongoing equestrian events, which pre-date the 1970s passage of CEQA and so are "grandfathered" out of the environmental law. Smith called the exemption "bulletproof," and worried that by approving the study the fair would set a precedent and lose its right to the waiver. But in a March 22 letter to the board, lawyer Jonathan Wittwer, representing the Community Alliance for Fairgrounds Accountability, said the proposed rodeo "would intensify past uses" and create cumulative impacts as an addition "to an already busy schedule."...more

Rancheros to make 81st ride Saturday

Continuing a long tradition, hundreds of riders on horseback and in wagons will arrive in Solvang on Saturday when the Rancheros Visitadores make their 81st trip to Old Mission Santa Ines for the blessing of the riders. The Rancheros Visitadores, or the “Visiting Ranchers,” is a men’s social club founded in 1930 to commemorate traditional rides that once were made from ranch to ranch. Members come from many states and several foreign countries. After riding to the mission, the Rancheros will ride toward Lake Cachuma to camp from May 7 to 13. In 2009, the traditional ride was canceled because a new property owner along the Santa Ynez River didn’t grant the group permission to cross her land in time for the ride, but that issue has been resolved and the ride resumed last year. Each year after the Kentucky Derby broadcast, the Rancheros ride on horseback, in carriages and wagons from Jackson Camp to the mission for the blessing and then move on to Janeway Camp, property they own near Lake Cachuma. The blessing, scheduled for 3 p.m., typically draws large crowds to view the solemn blessing ceremony as well as more light-hearted banter from the stage as the riders line up, creating a colorful parade ground that fills the open land between Mission Drive and the mission buildings. Rancheros General Manager John Balch expects 750 horseback riders and about 30 covered wagons, carriages and coaches this year...more

Song Of The Day #569

Today's tune on Ranch Radio is Misery Loves Company by Porter Wagoner. The song was recorded in August of 1961 and was released as RCA Victor 47-7967.

Terrorist Group Setting Up Operations Near Border

A terrorist organization whose home base is in the Middle East has established another home base across the border in Mexico. "They are recognized by many experts as the 'A' team of Muslim terrorist organizations," a former U.S. intelligence agent told 10News. The former agent, referring to Shi'a Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, added, "They certainly have had successes in big-ticket bombings." Some of the group's bombings include the U.S. embassy in Beirut and Israeli embassy in Argentina. However, the group is now active much closer to San Diego. "Their operators are far more skilled … they are the equals of Russians, Chinese or Cubans," he said. "I consider Hezbollah much more dangerous in that sense because of strategic thinking; they think more long-term." Hezbolah has operated in South America for decades and then Central America, along with their sometime rival, sometime ally Hamas. Now, the group is blending into Shi'a Muslim communities in Mexico, including Tijuana. Other pockets along the U.S.-Mexico border region remain largely unidentified as U.S. intelligence agencies are focused on the drug trade...more

Here's the TV Video Report:

April death toll highlights trauma of Mexican bloodbath

For anyone dreaming of an imminent end to the criminal bloodbath tormenting Mexico, April was perhaps the cruelest month. More than 1,400 gangland killings were clocked, by one newspaper's count, giving April the highest death toll of the 53 months since President Felipe Calderon unleashed the military and federal police against the country's crime syndicates. The toll includes more than 300 bodies pulled from mass graves near the South Texas border and in other northern Mexican states. Many of the graves' victims were killed weeks, even months earlier. Still, nearly 40 people a day were slain last month, according to Milenio, the newspaper that tallied the 1,402 deaths. In April's last week alone, gunmen abducted 11 city police officers, including the force's chief, in a Monterrey suburb. And security forces seized an arsenal from a residential basement in Ciudad Juarez, bordering El Paso, that included at least one weapon capable of downing aircraft...more

Feds changing the way they gauge border security

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department is developing a comprehensive index to measure Southwest border security in a new way that looks deeper into the quality of life of Americans who live near Mexico. Instead of just counting arrests and drug seizures, the new index would look at community concerns about environmental damage, economic losses and feelings of personal safety. She told a Senate panel on Wednesday that she has ordered Customs and Border Protection to work with outside experts and border communities to develop the index. Border residents have long complained that traditional measures, such as state and local crime statistics, don't show the harsh realities they're experiencing. The new index will still include traditional measures such as crime data, apprehensions of suspects and contraband seizures, but it will go beyond those to better reflect the effects of illegal immigration and drug trafficking on border towns in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, Napolitano said. "This may include calls from hospitals to report suspected illegal aliens, traffic accidents involving illegal aliens or narcotics smugglers, rates of vehicle theft and numbers of abandoned vehicles, impacts on property values, and other measures of economic activity and environmental impacts," Napolitano told members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "It's an area that's been totally ignored," said Pat Call, chairman of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. "Some border residents here are afraid to let their grade-school kids walk a quarter of a mile down a dirt road to catch a bus." In Cochise County, Call said, illegal immigration, smuggling and enforcement efforts have littered the forest, raised residential insurance rates, damaged roads, created traffic jams at checkpoints and sabotaged the economy...more

Thursday, May 05, 2011

No The Westerner today - had to write a presentation to be given tonight. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Judge awards $1.95 million to family of boy killed by bear

A federal judge awarded $1.95 million Tuesday to the family of a boy who was killed by a black bear while camping in American Fork Canyon nearly four years ago. Sam Ives, 11, was killed June 17, 2007, when he was dragged out of his family's multiroom tent and mauled by a massive black bear. Ives' parents, Rebecca Ives and Kevan Francis, claimed that the death was caused by the negligence of employees of the U.S. Forest Service who failed to warn campers of the bear's presence, and the state Division of Wildlife Services. "I'm glad that it's over, but I'm actually surprised that they decided to fight us, when they were clearly wrong," Francis said Tuesday after hearing about the ruling. The bear had attacked a man 12 hours earlier at the same campsite where Sam, his mother, his brother and his stepfather were staying. Forest officials looked for the bear for several hours but gave up before finding it and failed to warn others, the lawsuit alleged. The trial was held in February before U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball. Kimball took several weeks before issuing Tuesday's verdict finding the federal and state government agencies — the Forest Service in particular — liable for Sam's death. Sam was camping with his family on Father's Day 2007, when, in the middle of the night, a bear ripped through the boy's tent and dragged him away. His body was found a couple of hours later about 400 yards from their camping spot about a mile above the Timpooneke campground. The family's attorney argued the Forest Service could have and should have done more to warn campers of a problem bear in the area. The ruling says the Forest Service "breached its duties" by not warning the public and found the agency to be 65 percent at fault. The judge assigned 25 percent of the blame to the Division of Wildlife Resources for failing to communicate with the Forest Service, and 10 percent of the fault to the boy's family for leaving food out in bear country — specifically a granola wrapper and a Coke Zero can...more

Climate Activists Target States With Lawsuits; Atmosphere As a 'Public Trust'

A group of attorneys using children and young adults as plaintiffs plans to file legal actions in every state and the District of Columbia on Wednesday in an effort to force government intervention on climate change. The courtroom ploy is backed by high-profile activists looking for a legal soft spot to advance a cause that has stumbled in the face of stiff congressional opposition and a skeptical U.S. Supreme Court. The goal is to have the atmosphere declared for the first time as a "public trust" deserving special protection. That's a concept previously used to clean up polluted rivers and coastlines, although legal experts said they were uncertain it could be applied successfully to climate change. Wednesday's spate of lawsuits, led by an Oregon-based nonprofit called Our Children's Trust, are based on "common law" theories, not statutes adopted by state or federal lawmakers...more

Feds blast levee, lower river level

River levels dropped Tuesday after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted a hole in a Missouri levee, lifting hopes in Illinois and Kentucky towns where flood walls had strained against the swollen Ohio and Mississippi rivers. "It saved our town," said Cheryl James, a resident of Mounds, Ill., where river waters began to recede overnight. The water had been up to her second step Monday night. On Tuesday, her sidewalk was dry. The sense of relief in Mounds and other river towns came at the sacrifice of Missouri farmers who cultivate more than 130,000 acres in the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway now inundated by the controlled breaching of the levee. What once had been a broad vista of well-tended farms was replaced Monday by a vast lake, with treetops and some farm buildings poking through the surface of the water. Worried growers took up positions with binoculars along the levee, along with cattle seeking dry land. "We hope that by blowing the levee that it did help somebody," said Ray Presson, 56 years old, who farms 2,400 acres that were under several feet of water. "It didn't help us much, for sure."
Presson's flooded farm
Farmers filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking class-action status, charging that the Corps wrongfully took their property by allowing water to deluge the floodway. More than 50 farmers gathered at a Charleston, Mo., library to listen to lawyers filing the lawsuit. Lester Goodin, who farms 560 acres, said he signed up as a plaintiff to make sure he would have the wherewithal to rebuild once the water subsides. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the federal government would pay claims to farmers with crop insurance, but it wasn't clear whether growers have sufficient insurance to cover losses of houses, barns and other property...more

Supreme Court sides with Wyoming in water skirmish

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Wyoming farmers Monday in a water lawsuit that claimed they were taking too much water from a river system shared with neighboring Montana. The high court struck down one of four claims made by Montana in a 2007 complaint that said Wyoming was violating a 1950 agreement by depleting water from the Tongue and Powder rivers. Montana had contended that more efficient irrigation techniques in Wyoming have been sucking the rivers dry and keeping run-off from flowing downstream. But in a 7-1 decision, justices said more efficient irrigation was permissible under an agreement known as the Yellowstone Compact even if it comes at the detriment of downstream users. Left unresolved following Monday’s ruling was the broader question of whether Montana is getting its fair share from the rivers as Wyoming builds new reservoirs, the amount of water used by the oil and gas industry increases and farms expand. Attorneys now turn their attention to calculating how much water is being used — a process expected to take many months. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote Monday’s decision...more

Energy producers sue BLM, Interior over unissued leases

A group of energy producers filed a brief in federal court Friday, claiming the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management are violating a congressional mandate to issue oil and gas leases within 60 days of purchase. In the brief, the producers claim the Interior Department and the BLM — an agency in the department — failed to issue leases within the time frame required by the Mineral Leasing Act. They want the court to issue an order requiring the permits be issued. The brief is the next step in a lawsuit filed with the court in October. The lawsuit covers 118 leases worth more than $4.5 million in Wyoming and Utah, which were purchased between 2005 and 2010, said a spokeswoman for Western Energy Alliance, a coalition of energy producers in the West and one of the petitioners in the suit...more

Feds Plan To Kill 2 Wolves In NE Oregon

Authorities say they will capture and kill two young wolves from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon due to another confirmed livestock kill. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that an investigation determined a calf carcass found Saturday near Joseph was the product of a wolf kill. They say nonlethal measures such as electric fences have not kept the pack from livestock, so lethal controls are in order. The plan is to capture and kill two sub-adults from the pack, which numbers 10 to 14 wolves. The idea is that will discourage the pack from attacking livestock without affecting breeding...more

And of course the CBD has filed suit. See Lawsuit Filed to Stop Unlawful Killing of Endangered Wolves in Oregon

Group plans suit over lack of jackrabbit protection

White-sided jackrabbits are long and lean and so rare that only about 60 remain in the United States. The last of them live in the bootheel of New Mexico. Drought, diminishing grasslands in the Chihuahuan Desert and even vehicles traveling border roads have depleted the white-sided jackrabbit's already slim numbers. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, finding that this jackrabbit is more plentiful in Mexico than in America, declined to list it as a threatened or endangered species. In turn, a Santa Fe-based group called WildEarth Guardians has filed notice that it intends to sue the federal agency for failing to enforce the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife service has until mid-June to respond to the threatened lawsuit. Nicole Rosmarino, a biologist with WildEarth Guardians, said the dispute is probably headed for a federal courthouse. "They could reconsider the decision on the jackrabbit. But that usually does not happen, so we will definitely take them to court," Rosmarino said. New Mexico lists the white-sided jackrabbit as a threatened species. The state listing protects the animal from hunters in New Mexico, but there is no prohibition against shooting the jackrabbit in Mexico. "It's bad policy to rely on another country to protect this species," Rosmarino said. "If it were doing well in Mexico, that might be one thing. But it's not. It's in trouble there too."...more

Choc and Awe - CBP confiscates Kinder Eggs

Mark Steyn relates his and his children's experience at the border with our "Chocolate Soldiers".

The Grand Canyon’s Uranium Question

But how many people know the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area is one of the best places in the United States to mine uranium? That’s right, the nuclear fuel for reactors and bombs is actually fairly plentiful around the state’s most important landmark. A Navajo man discovered uranium in Monument Valley in 1942 on the Navajo Indian Reservation and the first mine there opened in 1948. Mining stopped in the Monument Valley district in 1969, after producing 8.7 million pounds of uranium oxide, more than has been produced anywhere else in Arizona. Mining continued at spots within the Navajo Reservation, however. The area around the Grand Canyon was determined to have substantial amounts of uranium when the mineral was discovered in the Orphan copper mine near the south rim of the Grand Canyon in 1950. The mine is on private property held since 1906, and is today completely surrounded by Grand Canyon National Park. The 1950 discovery led to finds of uranium in other collapsed breccia pipes in areas around the Grand Canyon. There are even some exposed uranium shafts along the canyon walls. The Arizona Strip Wilderness Act of 1984, recognized the uranium potential of over one half million acres of Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands in northern Arizona by releasing them from wilderness classification so they could be explored and mined. But with prices low at the time, not much happened. But as prices of uranium on the rose and demand increased, many firms began to explore 1.1 million acres of federal land surrounding the canyon that could be exploited for the uranium located in these breccia pipes...more

Secretary Salazar Releases 2011 State of the Birds Report

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released the 2011 State of the Birds Report, the nation’s first assessment of birds on lands and waters owned by the American people. The findings indicate tremendous potential for bird conservation: publicly owned habitats support at least half of the entire U.S. distributions of more than 300 bird species. The report concludes that America’s public lands and waters, ranging from national wildlife refuges to national parks to national forests, offer significant opportunities to halt or reverse the decline of many species. More than 1,000 bird species inhabit the U.S., 251 of which are federally threatened, endangered, or of conservation concern. The report provides a scientific tool to help public agencies identify the most significant conservation opportunities in each habitat. Audubon scientists contributed to the report, which assessed the distribution of birds on nearly 850 million acres of public land and 3.5 million square miles of ocean...more

EPA tries to win back farm states

Lisa Jackson is looking for some friends down on the farm. Farm-state voters have seemingly lost patience with Democrats in Washington. Last fall, the governorships and a combined 16 congressional seats in several key states that supported President Barack Obama in 2008 flipped to Republicans, including Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. At the center of complaints from farm-state lawmakers: the Environmental Protection Agency’s air and water regulations, which they claim will put farms out of business. In an effort to repair its image in the heartland, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other Cabinet officials are hitting the road and the airwaves. Jackson traveled to Iowa last month and California farm country in March, and EPA says additional trips are in the works. She has also been trying to improve EPA’s image through appearances on local radio stations and with op-eds in farm states...more

Ranching family claims poisoning

Four members of a New Mexico ranching family, claiming that exposure to poisonous horse feed made them sick, get a hearing next week before the state Supreme Court. Joey and Paula Parkhill and their two young daughters sued Alderman-Cave Milling and Grain Co. of New Mexico for millions of dollars in damages. They said horse feed contaminated with the chemical monensin killed or maimed their herd of about 50 Quarter Horses in 2004. The Parkhills say they also were sickened after they handled the feed or breathed dust particles from it. The family received a settlement for the loss of its horses. But the Parkhills have failed in two attempts to use witnesses who claim they were harmed by the horse feed. A district Judge in Grant County disallowed their family physician from testifying and also blocked another doctor hired by the family, saying neither qualified as an expert. The state Court of Appeals last year affirmed that ruling. But the Parkhills' lawsuit is still alive. The Supreme Court on May 11 will hear arguments on whether the case should be returned to the trial court so that the two physicians can be heard regarding the family's alleged medical problems...more

Watch out for sheep migrating through the Boise Foothills

Those white spots you'll see in the Foothills over the next few weeks may not be patches of snow. In fact, instead of cold and melty, those spots may be woolly and moving. Sheep ranchers have started the weeks-long process of moving flocks to higher summer grazing areas as the snow continues to recede. Up to 6,000 domestic sheep will head up the hillsides, and besides being a picturesque Idaho moment, it means that recreationists using the Foothills need to pay extra attention. The flocks can often be found near some of the most popular trail areas, so interactions between people and sheep aren't uncommon. The problem comes when dogs are allowed off leash around the sheep. Officials with the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission are asking that people give the sheep a wide berth and keep all dogs on a leash around the flocks. Dogs are the main cause of any conflict--usually by chasing those strange fluffy things--and not only does it endanger the sheep but the dogs as well. IRRC said each band of sheep is guarded by two Great Pyrenees dogs used to ward off predators like coyotes. If a pet dog goes after a sheep, the guard dogs might react like it's a threat. If the sight of the sheep inspires you, the Foothills Learning Center is hosting a Woolly Wisdom event on Saturday, May 14. The public can check out sheep shearing, a border collie herding demonstration, vendors, kids activities, music and a book reading from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Just don't tell the sheep about the planned lamb luncheon from the Idaho Lamb Producers...more

Song Of The Day #568

Today Ranch Radio brings you You Better Start Treating Your Man Right by George Jones. It was recorded in Jan. of 1960 and was released as Mercury 72362.

Jones' stuff is widely available.

Feds Allow Illegal Aliens to Cross Border 14 Times Before Charging Them With Felony, Sheriff Tells Congress

Sheriff Larry Dever of Cochise County, Ariz., told a House subcommittee today that in one U.S. attorney's district in Texas illegal aliens are allowed to be caught crossing the border 7 times before they are charged with a misdeamanor and 14 times before they are charged with a felony. Dever further said the policies call for considering federal human smuggling charges only if at least 6 illegal aliens are being transported. “There are policies in place that establish thresholds for quantities of drugs and numbers of illegal aliens before consideration for prosecution can be entertained,” Dever said in his written testimony before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. “In at least one Federal District in Texas, if you are caught smuggling less than 750 kilos (1,653 pounds) of marijuana, you will not be subjected to prosecution.” “If you are caught smuggling fewer than 6 illegal aliens, you will not be subject to prosecution,” Dever said. “And if you are a lone illegal border crosser, you get at least seven chances before you are even charged with a misdemeanor.” “And after that, you get seven more chances before you are eligible for prosecution of a second offense felony,” Dever said...more

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Cleaning trash left by illegal immigrants

Sometimes weird things bring people together. In Arizona, trash does just that. Efforts to clean up the rubbish presumably left behind by illegal immigrants not only physically unites distinct groups - like the Pinal County inmates and dozens of volunteers who spent Saturday morning sprucing up Ironwood Forest National Monument - but also create an ideological common ground. Skroch, executive director of Arizona Wilderness Coalition's Tucson office, called the scope of the trash removal over the past decade "absolutely amazing." He credits the Southern Arizona Project, a federally-funded effort administered by the Bureau of Land Management, which was started in 2003 to curb the damages caused by illegal immigration and smuggling on Arizona's borderlands. The project, which was championed by then Congressman Jim Kolbe and eventually approved by Congress, gave Arizona $695,000 to clean up its borderlands - an area that stretches about 100 miles north of the border. The project funding, which has to be re-allocated each year, has been raised fairly steadily since its onset. By fiscal year 2009, the funding was up to almost $1.14 million. Its price tag isn't the project's only big number. In fiscal year 2010, the Southern Arizona Project removed more than 255 tons of trash. And the BLM's Deborah Stevens said it's not just small things, like water bottles and discarded photographs, that are picked up. In fiscal year 2010, 364 bikes and 77 vehicles were removed from Arizona borderlands. Bikes and cars are often used, and then ditched in the desert, by illegal immigrants and smugglers, she said...more

Word is that Senator Bingaman has not ruled out reintroducing his Wilderness bill that would create hundreds of thousands of acres of Wilderness on or near our border with Mexico.

Hopefully he will simultaneously introduce a bill to create and fund the Southern New Mexico Project, as the trash will soon be heading our way.

New EPA guidance on water rules angers agricultural organizations

Agricultural organizations are up in arms over new guidance documents issued last week that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to regulate private bodies of water. Actually, the guidelines reverse U.S. Supreme Court decisions and circumvent the lawmaking process as intended by U.S. Congress and the U.S. Constitution, said Joe Parker, Jr., a rancher and president of TSCRA. Parker said the Clean Water Jurisdiction Guidance would negatively affect ranchers by giving the federal government unprecedented regulatory authority over water bodies such as stock tanks, drainage ditches, ponds, small and intermittent streams, creek beds, playa lakes and mud holes. Additionally, it could ultimately require ranchers to obtain federal permits and would allow the federal government to come on private property for inspections. The permits and enforcement would make it necessary for ranchers to hire engineers and attorneys to guide them through the permitting process and defend themselves against unnecessary federal regulation, according to TSCRA...more

Wolves Among Us

Although it is on the endangered species list, the wolf exists in many areas around the world. In the 90s, it came as a shock to those who study wolves that under certain circumstances the predators could become man-eaters. News out of Northern India in the mid 90s upset the widely held notion that wolves are not a danger to man. In August of 1997, CNN reported that wolves in India killed more than 50 children and wounded or maimed several dozen more. The Indian government tried without success to trap the offenders by stationing sharp shooters at water holes and other areas where they had been seen. Even though three were killed the attacks continued. The Indian government maintained that there were fewer than 2000 in India, even fewer numbers than the tiger. However, scientists also discovered that if one member of a pack became a man-eater, the entire pack is liable to adopt the same behavior. The New York Times recorded that wolves killed 33 children and seriously mauled 20 others in Uttar Pradesh, India from April to September 1996. British officials recorded 624 human killings by wolves in this area. The Associated Press reported “In one year alone, during the 1980s, more than 100 deaths were attributed to wolves in India.” Recently, Discovery Channel presented a documentary on the man-eating Indian wolves. Showing horribly mauled children who survived the attacks, the program also talked to the parents of children who had not survived. These mothers and fathers related stories of how their children were dragged from their beds or stalked and carried off while separated from adults...more

An oldie but a goody.

Enviros Say Forest Service Slammed Illegal Door

Environmentalists say the U.S. Forest Service is abusing a public participation law to illegally block them from appealing important decisions on forest management. The rules were supposed to implement the Appeals Reform Act, which Sequoia Forestkeeper and others say was meant to strengthen citizen participation. But the Forest Service's regulations have the opposite effect, the environmentalists say. They claim that after the Appeals Reform Act was passed in 1992, the Forest Service stopped allowing the public to appeal important forest-management decisions. The plaintiffs, including the Conservation Congress, Earth Island Institute and the Western Watersheds Project, say that though the 9th Circuit declared deemed the rules illegal, the Supreme Court in 2009 allowed the regulations to "spring back to life" on standing issues after 3½ years of being enjoined. The plaintiffs cite seven projects on National Forests across the country in which the Forest Service wrongly denied them the right to administrative appeal since 2010...more

Alt. Energy Generation to Trump New Mining Claims

To reduce conflict between mining claims and the development of wind and solar energy generation on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management plans to prohibit new mining claims on land proposed for these developments. Under current public land laws, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can not segregate land identified in alternative energy development right-of-way applications from new mining claims. The BLM is afraid that speculators will file mining claims in areas covered by an alternative energy right-of-way application to extort payment from wind and solar energy developers to drop the claim. The proposed rule would not affect existing rights in mining claims located before the rule is adopted and would affect mining claims on right-of-way applications for uses other than wind or solar energy facilties...more

American Energy Act of 2011 Will Enhance U.S. Energy Security, Says Pro-Market Research Group

To better ensure America’s energy security and help stimulate long-term job and economic growth, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) has released a detailed plan that would limit, it says, “overly burdensome regulations and legislation that prevent Americans from producing homegrown energy,” and “help create millions of jobs” by expanding development of “our nation’s vast energy resources.” The American Energy Act of 2011 would, according to the IER, allow U.S. companies to tap into and benefit from all of America’s energy resources while also encouraging entrepreneurs to help create more jobs in an integrated economy. “America cannot reach her potential for energy production without utilizing the massive energy resources on Federal lands and water,” states a summary of the Act, which was published in late April. “The Act recognizes that the Department of Interior must provide greater access to those Federal resources. The new programs and procedures created by the Act will promote enhanced development of domestic sources of energy on federal areas, as well as state and private lands. This will increase the domestic production of all sources of energy, produce millions of America jobs, and create billions of dollars in economic activity.”...more


Everyone knows that the cost of food is going up; maybe as fast as the cost of gasoline. An article in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend focused on the cost of bacon. According to the piece by Mary Kissel, "A pound of sliced bacon costs $4.54 today versus $3.59 two years ago and $3.16 a decade ago." That's in increase of almost 44 percent. Kissel also reports that "Ground beef is $2.72, up from $2.27 in 2009 and $1.74 in 2001." Which is an increase of over 56 percent in 10 years. The article focuses on C. Larry Pope, the CEO of Smithfield Foods, "the world's largest pork processor and hog producer by volume." According to Pope the reason bacon has become so expensive - prohibitively expensive to many consumers - is because of the price of corn. "60 to 70 percent of the cost of raising a hog is tied up in "corn and … soybean meal," Pope says. And feed corn "has gone from a base of $2.40 a bushel to today's price of $7.40 a bushel," nearly three times what it was. Why? According to Pope a lot of it has to do with ethanol which is largely made from corn. Because of the Federal rules which mandate the amount of ethanol-mixed gasoline which must be sold in each state, "Now 40% of the corn crop is directed to ethanol, which equals the amount that's going into livestock food."...more

The next time you're in the grocery store be sure and thank your local enviro for the prices you're paying.

Conservation programs, other farm subsidies targeted in federal budget battles

This debate over conservation vs. subsidy cuts is at the heart of discussions on Capitol Hill as lawmakers begin to shape the 2012 budget and begin talks about the next Farm Bill — a critical document because it sets funding priorities for the next decade. Conservation programs were cut by nearly $500 million last month for the 2011 budget, and the House budget for 2012 calls for another $18 million in conservation cuts. What’s unclear is how many of those cuts will come out of the USDA’s budget. The Obama administration’s push to spread some of the pain to the wealthiest, most profitable farms, however, is also gaining momentum. The House budget calls for $30 billion in subsidy cuts over the next 10 years. “There is a growing feeling that [Congress] must find a way to make sure that the cuts affect everyone,” said Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, “to make sure the mega-producers are not the ones let off the hook this time around. “ To get around cuts in the past, corporate farms would add a partner or two that could then apply for separate subsidies, thereby restoring the overall take to prior levels. Members of Congress from both parties are looking for ways to close off that option so subsidies are used to help farmers get through lean times — not simply bump up already good profits. In turn, environmentalists hope these savings from subsidy cuts might help spare deeper cuts in conservation programs in the years to come...more

$$$ for organic, transition farmers

California farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic systems as well as established organic producers now have an opportunity to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative funding to assist their organic efforts. The USDA recently announced another $50 million in funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative, which provides a 75% share of the cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify - 90% for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. This is the third year of the Organic Initiative. In 2010, NRCS obligated $24 million nationally...more

If organic producers receive a premium for their product as a result of consumer preference, why subsidize it? And if they don't receive a premium as a result of consumer preference, then why subsidize a product the consumers don't prefer?

This and all other subsidies should be eliminated.

A note to Song of The Day fans

J.R. Absher posted yesterday that he can now play the tunes on his Mac system.

Unlike the previous site I used, OpenDrive does not remove the songs after 90 days. So those in a similar situation or who may be new fans, songs are still available starting with #428.

They are easing to get to. Just scroll down till you get to Labels on the right side of your screen and then scroll down to Song Of The Day.

Song Of The Day #567

Ranch Radio will be meandering around the late fifties and early sixties this week. Today's selection is the 1959 recording of Smoke Along The Track by Stonewall Jackson.

The tune is on several of his collections which you can find here.

Send us your requests.

Monday, May 02, 2011

State of Utah Files Suit Against Federal Government to Set Aside “Wild Lands” Order

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert announced Friday that the State of Utah has filed suit in federal court, asking the court to invalidate Secretarial Order 3310 which departed from Congressionally-authorized procedure and created a new “Wild Lands” designation for public lands. “The Department of Interior sought no input from me – nor any other Governor – before they issued this order,” said Governor Herbert. “The order undid years of collaborative and costly work. State and county officials, environmental organizations, natural resources industries, citizens, and local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices have labored to create Resource Management Plans – the legal and proper way to determine the designation and use of our public lands. This order circumvents that system, and Congressional authority, to designate lands by bureaucratic fiat.” The lawsuit will ask the federal court to declare Order 3310 null and void, set BLM manuals created pursuant to the order set aside, and prevent the Department of Interior from managing public lands in a manner contrary to existing BLM Resource Management Plans. "Federal law makes it clear that wilderness designation is reserved to Congress, not the executive branch, and the time has passed to designate additional wilderness,” said Utah Chief Deputy Attorney General John Swallow. “We believe Secretary Order 3310 is an attempt to unlawfully create new wilderness areas and violates the settlement agreement between the Department of the Interior and the state of Utah. The Utah Attorney General's Office will stand up and defend the critical rights to multiple-access on federal lands."...more

You can read the complaint here.

Alaska Gov. supports lawsuit against BLM targeting 'wild lands'

Gov. Sean Parnell has directed the Department of Law to join in a lawsuit brought by the state of Utah against the Bureau of Land Management regarding recent changes in federal policy on how that agency manages public lands. The lawsuit was filed today by Utah officials and Parnell prompted directed Alaska's law department to support Utah in the litigation. Parnell alleges that the BLM policy imposed in December by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar arbitrarily creates a new public land designation of "wild lands," directs federal agencies to protect the wilderness values of such lands, creates additional potential costs and delays in the permitting process, and overrides existing regional land use management plans...more

Alaska's motion for Amicus Curiae is here.

The cure for bad federal wild lands policy: Stop it!

The Barack Obama administration has some kind of unidentified behavioral disorder with the management of public lands and is in need of Bob Newhart's "Stop it" therapy. Newhart portrayed a psychiatrist in a MadTV skit who counseled a patient traumatized by the thought of being buried alive in a box. His cure was two simple words: "Stop it." I'd like to echo the sentiment with as much emphasis as Newhart did as he leaned over his desk and forcefully told the disturbed woman adjacent at the conclusion of their therapy session, "Stop it or I'll bury you alive in a box." Seriously, what is Obama so afraid of that he has rebranded wilderness as wild lands so it can make millions of acres of public land off-limits to development? I mean, the panic displayed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar when he unveiled the plan in December was an obvious reflection of a poorly-executed strategy to undermine the 112th Congress, which at that time had not even been sworn in. Oh, did Obama think Congress and the public wouldn't notice? It's not that difficult to identify the blatant, compulsive act of anxiety. Stop it!...more

Salazar outlines grasslands plans; Feds seek easements in three states

A plan to carve out almost 2 million acres of native prairie as protected habitat represents a new approach to federal conservation policy, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said Friday in Sioux Falls. Salazar was in South Dakota to promote the Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area project, a $500 million plan to protect critical waterfowl habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region that covers eastern South Dakota and parts of North Dakota and Montana. Under the plan, federal officials would, during the next few decades, seek perpetual easements on 240,000 acres of wetland and 1.7 million acres of grassland in the three states. In contrast with other conservation initiatives, however, it would allow some continued agricultural use. Wetlands could be farmed if naturally dried, and grazing and haying would be allowed. But commercial development on the land would be restricted. Roads, pipelines, wind farms and other projects requiring an easement would be approved in limited circumstances. The landowner would retain property rights, and the land would stay on the local tax rolls...more

The property grabbing virus is alive and well. Owning 30% of the land in the U.S. just aint' enough for the federales.

Plan to triple training Air Force airspace progressing

A plan to more than triple the airspace in which the U.S. Air Force can conduct training exercises with its Dakotas-based B-1 and B-52 bombers is progressing, and officials expect an environmental impact statement to be finalized by winter. The Powder River Training Complex, centered just northwest of where South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana meet, now spans about 8,300 square miles. The Air Force says the expanded area would help pilots practice bomb runs, defensive maneuvers and evasive actions used in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wants to add three "military operation areas" to create a fly space of about 27,500 square miles - an area larger in square miles than the state of West Virginia. The complex would encompass a portion of southwestern North Dakota and new parts of northwestern South Dakota and southeastern Montana. Montana's delegation has expressed concern about the effects on flight patterns of medical and other small aircraft. Ernie Clark, a retiree and flying instructor at Spearfish, said he questions the need for expanded training space when flight simulators and remote areas such as oceans are available. The big bombers flying so fast at low altitude are a hazard to smaller planes, he said. Buffalo rancher Larry Nelson said the light planes he and other ranchers fly at low altitudes to check fences and livestock or for predator hunting are no match for wing turbulence coming off the military planes. "If they're flying at 500 feet and I'm at 300 feet and they overfly me and I get caught in that turbulence it's wreck me," he said. Nelson said he also is concerned that chaff deployed during the training runs could contaminate wool on his sheep and that flares used in training could start fires in an area with natural gas and oil wells...more

Are Sky-High Gas Prices Good?

Are high gas prices a good thing? That is not as dumb a question as it sounds. Examine a few revealing past remarks from President Obama and the cabinet officials who are now in charge of the nation’s energy use and oil leases on federal lands. Then decide whether the current soaring gas prices are supposed to be good or bad. In 2008, Sen. Ken Salazar (D., Colo.) — now secretary of the interior, in charge of the leasing of federal oil lands — refused to vote for any new offshore drilling. In a Senate exchange with minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Salazar objected to allowing any drilling on America’s outer continental shelf — even if gas prices reached $10 a gallon. We can now see why the president appointed Salazar, inasmuch as Obama recently promised the Brazilians that he would be eager to buy their newfound offshore oil — while prohibiting similar exploration here at home. From 2007 to 2008, Steven Chu, now secretary of energy, weighed in frequently on global warming and the desirable price of traditional energy. At one point Chu asserted, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Chu also lamented, “We have lots of fossil fuel; that’s really both good and bad news. We won’t run out of energy, but there’s enough carbon in the ground to really cook us.” In other words, $10 a gallon for gas would be desirable, while an enormous amount of recoverable American oil, gas, coal, tar sands, and oil shale should be left untapped...more

Obama's Other Hand

While we were distracted by the president's birth certificate show-and-tell, his EPA releases its guidelines for expanding federal power under the Clean Water Act. America's economy and freedom are at stake. President Obama's long-form birth certificate wasn't the only thing released last Wednesday, but it was probably the least important. The Environmental Protection Agency also released its guidelines for expanding federal power over the nation's waterways, ponds and puddles. These guidelines will take effect after a 60-day comment period and will serve as a reference for environmental agencies in determining their jurisdiction over a particular body of water, large or small. They will eventually morph into binding regulations as damaging to our economy and freedom as the EPA regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. The 1972 Clean Water Act was originally intended to protect the "navigable waters of the United States" — you know, the kind boats travel down. It was broadly and quickly interpreted to any pool of water in America capable of supporting a bathtub-variety boat. The word "navigable" was forgotten and ignored, and the act's scope expanded to the point that water that collected after a rainstorm was considered a "wetland" worthy of environmental protection. A 2006 U.S. Supreme Court case from Michigan produced five different opinions and no clear definition of which waterways were covered. This essentially left the government with a clean slate on which to write its own interpretation — just about everything. House Agricultural Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says the expanded EPA guidelines would let the government "regulate essentially any body of water, such as a farm pond or even a ditch." A bipartisan group of 170 congressmen wrote a letter to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers urging them not to issue the expanded guidelines. The American Farm Bureau Federation said in a statement that the guidelines "take an overly broad view of 'waters of the U.S.' It would serve as a road map for EPA and the Corps to designate nearly all water bodies, and even some on dry land, as subject to federal regulations that dictate land-use decisions."...more

College students push to restrict bottled water

Bottled water: It’s a vending machine’s healthy alternative to sugary soda, a convenient way to hydrate on the go and, lately, a total faux pas on many college campuses. Some environmentally gung-ho students are not only glaring at those who choose to chug from disposable bottles — rather than earthy-friendly reusable containers — they are also pushing for restrictions on bottled water sales on campus. At the University of Maryland College Park, students have persuaded the undergraduate and graduate student governments to stop buying bottled water for their meetings and events. Now they serve large pitchers of tap water. Washington University in St. Louis has adopted an all-out ban in the hope of alleviating the waste going into landfills. The president of University of Mary Washington in Virginia forbade spending school funds on bottled water. Goucher College in Baltimore removed bottled water from its dining halls and campus eateries, but not its bookstore and vending machines...more

And so what are these enlightened students doing on campus?

Often that means building a giant sculpture made up of thrown-away water bottles. At Maryland, a group of students spent two hours pulling bottles out of trash cans to construct its five-foot-tall plastic statue of a water bottle. At Penn State University, students opted to spell out the word “NO” in collected bottles. (Lauria and water bottle proponents, meanwhile, note that their bottles are the single most recycled item in curbside programs.)

Then you have to ask how are these deep thinking administrators spending tax dollars on this earth shattering issue?

Many schools have also installed “refilling stations” that filter tap water and are easier to use than traditional water fountains. The University of the District of Columbia is in the process of installing “hydration stations” in all of its buildings, while American University is upgrading 100 water fountains to include a bottle-friendly faucet. American also gives each incoming student a free, reusable water bottle at orientation, and a few times a year the sustainability director hosts a blind-taste test of an array of water options — including tap, filtered and several bottled varieties.

You can now rest easy knowing refilling stations, hydration stations and water bottle orientation are taking place at our institutions of "higher" education.

Feds sting Amish farmer selling raw milk

A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area. The product in question: unpasteurized milk. It’s a battle that’s been going on behind the scenes for years, with natural foods advocates arguing that raw milk, as it’s also known, is healthier than the pasteurized product, while the Food and Drug Administration says raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria. “It is the FDA’s position that raw milk should never be consumed,” said Tamara N. Ward, spokeswoman for the FDA, whose investigators have been looking into Rainbow Acres for months, and who finally last week filed a 10-page complaint in federal court in Pennsylvania seeking an order to stop the farm from shipping across state lines any more raw milk or dairy products made from it. “I look at this as the FDA is in cahoots with the large milk producers,” said Karin Edgett, a D.C. resident who buys directly from Rainbow Acres. “I don’t want the FDA and my tax dollars to go to shut down a farm that hasn’t had any complaints against it. They’re producing good food, and the consumers are extremely happy with it.”...more

It's déjà moo for a North Dakota rancher

It's déjà moo for Chris Johnson. For the second straight year, the Sharon, N.D., rancher and his family have seen a torrent of twin calves that far exceeds what's normal. One year could've been a statistical fluke. Two years defies happenstance and begs for logical explanation. "Yeah, two years of this. You'd think there has to be some reason for it," says Johnson, who ranches with his dad, Keith; uncle, Wayne; and brother, Jeremy. The Johnson ranch has seen its share of twins before, but the past two springs have been extraordinary. Last year, 58 of the 480, or 12 percent, of cows on the Johnson ranch gave birth to calves. This year, 50 of the 350, or 14 percent, of the cows giving birth so far have had twins. Chris Johnson is confident that more twins will be born this spring. Both those rates are exceptionally high. Johnson says he was told by a veterinarian that about 3 percent of beef cows typically have twins...more

Quality has been saddle maker’s goal for 60 years

It takes thousands of taps from a small wooden hammer onto cowhide to make a fancy saddle, and Talabartería Rancho Grande in Magdalena, Sonora, has been doing it for more than 60 years. Strips of leather are piled in one corner of the saddle shop, which occupies a corner of a narrow one-way street in the Mexican town about 50 miles south of the border. The smell of leather is distinct throughout the shop. Luis Molina founded Talabartería Rancho Grande in 1949 after he heard ranchers complaining that they didn’t have a comfortable saddle to ride in for hours, or the saddles they did have weren’t durable and broke too easily. David Molina, the youngest son of Luis, now runs the shop. “It’s continuing the concept of quality that my father started,” David Molina said in Spanish. No one at the talabartería speaks English. David said he started learning saddle making when he was 8 years old. Molina saddles start at about $5,000. While most of its business is local, Rancho Grande has an extensive foreign clientele. It also has made saddles for former Mexican President Vicente Fox and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Each saddle is custom made to fit a rider and his or her horse, as well as the terrain where it will be used. Rancho Grande specializes in traditional Sonoran-style saddles that can last 30 to 40 years, Molina said...more

Song Of The Day #566

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we offer you a tune by two artists who were in on the ground floor of swing music: Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappeli performing Exactly Like You.

We send this out to the Crayola Cowboy, as we happen to know A-10 grooves on this stuff.

247 on terror watch list bought guns

Hundreds of people on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List were cleared to purchase firearms in 2010, prompting at least one lawmaker and Capitol Hill gun-reformer to reiterate a call for tougher rules. Of the 272 individuals on the Terrorist Watch List who attempted to buy firearms last year, 247 were allowed to make the purchase, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Wednesday. The findings were not overlooked by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who slammed the current law as too lenient and urged Congress to close what gun reformers call the "terror gap." Under current law, licensed gun dealers must perform background checks on all potential buyers to screen for those ineligible to possess firearms, including felons, illegal immigrants, spousal abusers and the severely mentally ill. The list of ineligibles, however, does not include those on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List, which houses data on people "known or appropriately suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism." The 25 individuals on the terrorist list who were denied approval last year were disqualified for reasons that included felony conviction and domestic violence...more

Anti-Terrorist U.S. Visa-Screening Program Not Deployed in Saudi Arabia--Home of 15 9/11 Hijackers

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s Visa Security Program (VSP), created to prevent terrorists from obtaining visas to enter the United States, is not being employed at 11 of the 20  "highest risk"  visa-issuing overseas posts, according to federal auditors. One of the 11 "highest risk" locations where the program is not being used is Saudi Arabia--home of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. The eight-year old VSP initiative places ICE agents at visa-issuing consular posts overseas to review and investigate visa applications with the intention of deterring individuals who pose a threat from entering the United States...more

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The Blue and Gold of FFA
 by Julie Carter

    It's that time of year again. Insanely busy schedules for kids and parents alike with academic and sports awards banquets, honor society awards, proms, track meets and then graduation - all blotting out the days on the April and May calendar.
    Those two months hold more activity and emotion than any other in the year. At least, that is, if you are a parent of a student involved in any of those things listed.
    Without taking anything away from any other venue, academic or athletic, I want to tell you about one that over the years has worked its way to very core of my heart for many reasons on many levels.
    Why? Because I have seen the beginning and I've seen the results -- FFA works. It grows kids like sunshine and nutrients grow plants - first from within and then on to a total package of strength, viability and production.
    FFA - The letters stand for Future Farmers of America; however, in 1988 the official name of the organization was changed from Future Farmers of America to The National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity of agriculture. It was not just about farming.
    In 1928 a group of farmers founded Future Farmers of America with a mission to prepare generations ahead for the challenges of feeding a growing population. In doing that, they taught the youth of each generation that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting, but is a science, a business and an art.
    Today FFA addresses those diversities by helping young FFA members develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad array of career paths.
    They key in on leadership, management, character, teamwork and communications. FFA increases awareness of the worldwide technological importance of agriculture and its contribution to the well-being of all of us.
    And it all starts with a youngster at the sixth or seventh grade level who, wide-eyed, sees his upper classmen in their FFA blue jackets emblazoned with the FFA logo and in bright yellow letters boldly claiming a state and school of origin.
    The crisp white shirts and blue ties above black slacks or skirts make a statement for the professional side of the organization, accented with a proper handshake, and a mannerly "Yes ma'am or no sir" when spoken to.
    They carry clipboards and evaluate everything from turnips to tulips, crops to livestock, and meats to marketing during the season of judging competition. They learn parliamentary procedure, public speaking and that agriculture is a global business, not just menial labor directed from a tractor seat.
    They build, weld, cultivate, work, study and create projects that earn awards and acclamation throughout their FFA career.
    It is a process that they are guided through by FFA advisors that truly see them as the hope of the future and the heart of a solid America. Tirelessly these men and women groom each young "crop" of FFA hopefuls by sparking their interest and enticing a desire to learn. They help young students understand that limits are to be pushed and high levels of accomplishment lay ahead of them.
    Every May, there is a harvest among individual FFA chapters. The results of a year of work are recognized before friends and family. The young members find a determination to do more, do better next year. The older members realize that hard work has a payoff determined only by an individual drive to succeed.
    Every year I walk away from the event with tears at the corner of my eyes. Tears of joy for the growth I see in each youth and tears of selfish sadness because a few of those kids are seniors, moving on to a new chapter in life.
    My hat is off to the FFA. Off to the advisors who spend their lives molding these great kids. Off to the volunteers that make it work from the background and the parents who support and believe in it.
    And most of all, hats off to the kids who are what FFA is all about.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Wilmeth - Of Wolves and Cobras

Ground Zero Interpretations and Views of the Weather Map
Of Wolves and Cobras
The Case of Human Compassion Hypocrisy

By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     The escape made national news.  In fact, it was carried over a three day period by Fox News.  The AP carried it into print news.  It was right there amidst the continuing saga of national weather, and the place to start is always the weather.  Discussions always need a shot of weather so objectivity can remain high.
     National weather
     A trained intelligence operative can sit in front of his television set or laptop and interpolate national priorities from weather reports.  He can take notes, and wind up with abundant high level data for his reports.
     What kind of data would he come up with?  Start by asking a New Mexican where national weather priorities are.  New Mexico will always be on the weather map right behind the bulging midriff of the expectant weather reporter.  After sitting through the five minute weather segments anxiously awaiting the little snippet you need to make a decision of cow work for the upcoming weekend, the next string of commercials hits.  For the next five minutes there is an update on the Weather Warrior and his upcoming “sleeves rolled up” commentary on how the Galveston Hurricane affected the coastal bend of Texas a hundred years ago.  That will precede a series of high volume ads that invariably prompt expletives from the fidgeting viewer as the advertisement allocated space exceeds that of hard weather facts.
     Finally, the current weather segment returns only to be dispatched to the elevator music and “Weather on the eights” with its metropolitan temperature expectations for morning, noon, and evening time periods for the next day.  The regional Doppler displays then show you in order the northeast, the southeast, the Midwest, the Northwest, and as the West and Southwest rocks into view, the segment is cut short because of time constraints.
     Finally, a segment of hard reporting is back on the air.  The weather gal is almost ready to just move out from in front of New Mexico just so you can glimpse the forecast and she has to break for commercial!  Gheez, you missed again the only thing that helps make your decision to call the day work crew or push the work off another week.  You give up and go do chores before supper.
      The Cobra
      The first report of the missing cobra from the New York zoo sounded a lot like actual South African citrus grove encounters with real deal cobras posturing to defend their territory.  As the Jeep makes its way through the grove the first inkling of any snake being there is when it comes to meet you and rears up all flared and menacing in front of the Jeep!  Back and forth its hooded head sways with eyes of liquid fire.  All six or 10 or 50’ of that living, spitting, terrifying son-of-a-gun just dares any of the Jeep’s occupants to get out and discuss the situation!
      From the expressions and words of Fox’s Shepard Smith, the same thing was likely to happen at any moment in the asphalt alleys of downtown New York City.  Where could that runaway killer snake be, and what possibly could the good citizens of “the Center of world weather importance” do to save themselves? A major catastrophe was on the verge of happening.
     There was a day of lapse before Mr. Smith announced that the danger was over.  The snake had been found.  New York citizens were safe!
     The following day the AP story was in our local papers about the wayward 20” Egyptian cobra . . . Pheww!  But, only 20” . . . what?
     Thrown to the Wolves
     Meanwhile, back behind the weather reporter, the good folks of Catron County, New Mexico have nearly given up trying to glimpse the weather forecast.  They are used to being left out of the picture.  In fact, their existence has become very analogous to the aforementioned attempt to quickly view the weather map before the segment runs out of time and the process loops back to the citizens where weather matters. 
     The folks of Catron Country don’t have anything like the New York phantom cobra.  They have the honor of having wolves dropped into their midst . . . wolves whose reintroduction have a very high degree of support from folks where the most important weather events apparently take place.
     Whereas, the New York parents were updated on the wayward 20” cobra, the Catron County parents seat their children in wolf proof cages where they await their school bus!  Can you only imagine if a New York neighborhood had to do the same thing because of wolves introduced by their government?  What if the neighborhood was Harlem? 
     Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton would surely suffer apoplexy. Mr. Smith would be only one of a long list of major network personalities who would be turning crimson with disdain, disgust, and rapid fire commentary.  The news would preempt any snowstorm regardless of its intensity.
      Wolves thrown to their fate
      The Mexican wolf project now has somewhere in the order of 42 collared adults in the wilds.  The plan called for the eventual self sustaining population of 100 free roaming wolves.  The process started back in 1976 when the Mexican wolf was listed on the endangered species list.  In 1996, the prescribed environmental impact statement was concluded for release of the wolves back into native range in the Apache and Gila National Forests of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. 
     In 1998 the first captive adult wolves were released.  That first release consisted of 11 wolves to be set “free”.  Numerous references can be found proclaiming good wishes to the maiden crossing of those pen raised wolves.  They were set free on a “historic journey”.  Their journey would be a profound “journey of recovery.”  It almost gives you shivers doesn’t it?
     In a discussion a couple of months ago, I asked Grant county rancher about his views of the wolf recovery program up to this point.  His reaction was very much a surprise to me.  Rather than disparage the bureaucratic efforts in the recovery process, he described the plight of the wolf.  “I feel sorry for those wolves,” he said.  “How would you like to be thrown out there with nothing to eat in the only way you know how to eat and expect to exist?”
     Interestingly, the view of one of the very stakeholders who has been most profoundly affected economically from the wolf reintroduction was more related to the treatment of the animal itself than the mission of the Federal Government. 
     “Talk about cruel and unusual punishment,” the rancher continued.  “Just think about the horrors those poor animals have faced being thrown into a situation that ultimately forced their extinction in the first place!”
      Search for a viable comparison
     With the rancher take on the wolf recovery program, it prompted me to attempt to find a historical comparison.  The process was started by attempting to quantify the losses amongst the introduced wolf populations. 
      The data from the Mexican Wolf Recovery Project provides a fair summary of population dynamics from 2001 through 2003.  From that point forward the detail of new releases and translocations becomes much more difficult to wade through because, among other things, the two activities became a single reported activity from 2004 forward.   The data, though, gives a fair idea of attrition.
    Armed with that data, a review of other man made disasters was in order.  What could historical war casualties be and how would they compare to the death and destruction of the pen raised wolves released into the wilds?
     The bloodiest and arguably the most gruesome single military battle in the history of mankind was the Battle of Stalingrad.  On the Russian side alone, the prevailing data of actual death counts runs about 475,000 outright deaths and another 651,000 wounded or missing.  In attempting to figure out a percentage of deaths of the total Russians who were engaged in the battle at any one time, the number appears to be about 41 percent.
     The battle ranged from August 1942 to February 1943 or a partial span of two years.  If a comparison can be made, a similar time period of the wolf project in 2002 and 2003 yielded data suggesting that the casualty rates of the poor wolves released from captivity into the wilds was about 31 percent.  It wasn’t as bad as Stalingrad, but it was 75% as bad!
    In several accounts of Stalingrad, the plight of the Russian soldier has been elevated into our realm of understanding.  For example, early in winter of 1942, all new recruits were issued ammunition, but only a percentage weres issued rifles.  Those without rifles were instructed to pick up rifles from those comrades who were killed in battle and commence using the ammunition issued to them.  To make matters more horrifying, the recruits were ordered into the teeth of German machine gun fire knowing that if they retreated they would be killed by machine gun fire from the Russian army.  They were in a caldron of horror that none of us can imagine today . . . an atrocity beyond comparison.
     The Hypocrisy
    Is there a moral dilemma here?  A place of comparison would be to start with how the press would handle a similar situation in a confined animal feeding operation.  What if deaths of the confined animals equated to the casualty rate of the reintroduced wolves?  Would the situation become a national outrage?  Sure it would . . . it would cause a meltdown.
     What if the number was cut by 75%?  Would the clandestine videos edited for the purposes of impact by the animal rights organizations make national news?  Sure they would . . . the whole industry would be shut down.
    Why then should the performance of the various state and federal agencies be applauded much less condoned and funded for their record of the death and destruction of a living, breathing creature that comes anywhere near a similar record in the most horrendous battle in the history of mankind?  How can any possible suggestion of stewardship and ethical justification be predicated by law? 
     That answer should be demanded, but the most interesting bit of insight comes yet again from the Grant County rancher. “How on earth can this program work?” he continued.  “When the best genetics were in place and that animal couldn’t survive, what makes any human being think he or she can find the genetics for the survival of these animals when the whole historical range is changed yet more?” 
     What a simple statement of fact . . . if only America had leadership who could comprehend such simple logic and devote their efforts to making lives of their constituents more survivable  . . . rather than a species who ultimately found it impossible.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “The wolf project is symbolic of a government without capital constraints.  It is also a paradigm of an inverted chain of authority.”

Song Of The Day #565

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this morning is Model Church by the Bluegrass Album Band.