Saturday, October 22, 2011

Woman allegedly beaten with frozen armadillo

A man used a frozen armadillo to attack a 57-year old Pleasant Grove woman, Dallas police said. The incident happened on Sept. 29 in an apartment complex parking lot. According to investigators, the altercation occurred when the suspect was selling the carcass to the victim, who planned to eat the animal. The pair apparently began arguing over the price of the item when the man twice threw the armadillo at the woman. The animal first struck the woman in the leg and then in her chest. She was reportedly bruised by the attack...more

In case you were wondering, these armor-plated critters weigh from 12-17 pounds.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. says:

In the interest of health, a law was passed in Texas prohibiting the sale of live armadillos. (The same law also makes it illegal to sell skunks, an animal known to transmit rabies.) The purpose of the law is commendable, but thanks to the current armadillo-mania, prohibiting the sale of live armadillos has not lessened human contact with the armor-plated critters. They still are being caught for armadillo races; their shells are being converted into hard hats and other weird curios; whole animals are being stuffed in such undignified positions as lying on their backs, supposedly guzzling beer from a bottle; and the meat is being baked, barbecued, or turned into chili.

Texans ate a bunch of these critters during the depression, referring to them as a "Hoover Hog" or the "poor man's pork".

Living the High Life at Our Expense

The following are 10 mind blowing facts which show how members of Congress and federal employees are living the high life at our expense....

#1 When you total up all compensation (including health care and benefits), the average income for a federal worker in the Washington D.C. area last year was $126,369.
#2 In 2005, 7420 federal workers were making $150,000 or more per year. In 2010, a whopping 82,034 federal workers were making $150,000 or more per year. That is more than a tenfold increase in just five years.
#3 In 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense had just nine civilians earning $170,000 or more. When Barack Obama took office, the U.S. Department of Defense had 214 civilians earning $170,000 or more. In June 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense had 994 civilians earning $170,000 or more.
#4 Last year, federal employees "earned" approximately 447 billion dollars in total compensation.
#5 According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, federal workers earn 30 to 40 percent more money on average than their counterparts in the private sector.
#6 Today, one out of every 12 people living in Washington D.C. is a lawyer. In New York City, only one out of every 123 residents is a lawyer.
#7 More than 50 percent of the members of the U.S. Congress are millionaires.
#8 The median wealth of a U.S. Senator in 2009 was 2.38 million dollars.
#9 Insider trading is perfectly legal for members of the U.S. Congress – and they refuse to pass a law that would change that.
#10 The percentage of millionaires in Congress is more than 50 times higher than the percentage of millionaires in the general population.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of America has been going through economic hell....
  • The standard of living in the United States has fallen farther over the past three years than at any other time that has ever been recorded in U.S. history.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, the combined net worth of American families has fallen by $5.5 trillion since 2007.
  • Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.
  • According to Paul Osterman, a professor of economics at MIT, approximately 20 percent of all employed Americans are making $10.65 an hour or less.

Read more here.

Green Energy's Bad Karma

I've previously posted about Fisker Automotive's guaranteed loan from the feds and that the first  units will be manufactured in Finland.  IBD has an editorial about this today which concludes:

Forbes automotive writer Warren Meyer, using metrics developed by the Energy Department during the Clinton administration, calculates that the Karma gets the equivalent of 19 miles per gallon, less than the city rating of the Ford Explorer SUV.  Fisker, a year behind in its production schedule , has produced 40 of the $97,000 Karmas and delivered two, one to "Titanic" star Leonardo DiCaprio. Not exactly a car designed for the masses, but rather for those the Occupy Wall Street mobs have targeted.  Solyndra became a poster child for crony capitalism, but Fisker Automotive may give it a run for its, er, our money.

U.S. Pushes National Livestock Tracking

Arizona rancher Jay Platt says when 200 of his calves were stolen by rustlers, the brand on their flanks helped Texas Rangers track them down two states away. The third-generation rancher says the hot-iron brand -- an inverted V flanked by a diagonal line -- meets his needs better than a proposed national animal-identification system. The U.S. says a program using ear tags is essential to protect herds from disease, maintain confidence food is safe and avert bans by other nations on U.S. meat exports. A rustler can snip off an ear tag, Platt says. A brand is forever. “Ranchers out here protect the health of our herds, but theft is a big problem,” Platt, 61, who raises about 1,000 head of cattle on more than 100,000 acres straddling Arizona and New Mexico, said in an interview. “A lot of diseases spread very fast, and an animal ID system won’t stop that.” Lawmakers such as Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, and the USDA say a better tracing system is needed to limit outbreaks that could devastate herds, destroy exports and in some cases threaten human health. Ranchers say illnesses such as mad cow disease and bovine tuberculosis are rare in U.S. herds. The plan the USDA proposed in August would require registration and tagging of livestock moved between states, with guidelines tailored to different species. It would be put in place gradually, applying first to older animals in the U.S. cattle herd, which numbered 92.6 million at the start of the year...more

Tennessee Reps Prepare Bill to Protect Guitar Owners After Gibson Raid

Tennessee lawmakers alarmed over a recent federal raid on Gibson Guitar factories in their state plan to introduce a bill aimed at protecting instrument owners from being punished under the same law that snared the legendary company. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., on Thursday plan to introduce a proposal to amend the so-called Lacey Act. The expansive law makes it illegal to buy, sell or travel with certain wood products, and requires owners to carry specific documentation for others. The lawmakers say this threatens musicians, antique dealers and others who travel with products containing rare plant or wood materials. The amendments would "grandfather" all instruments and furniture made before May 22, 2008, when the law was last updated to cover exotic woods, so owners of those products would not face prosecution. "Innocent buyers of such products before 2008 should not be punished," a statement released by the lawmakers' office said. The amendment would also try to clarify portions of the act that require compliance with foreign laws, calling on the government to put together a database of all relevant laws. Plus the amendment would reduce the paperwork necessary to import and export musical instruments and furniture manufactured before that 2008 date...more

Too bad there's nothing about the LEO's and the way they conducted the raid and confiscated property. 

Ranchers offering reward to catch suspect in haystack fires in Montana

The Cascade County sheriff's office is investigating a series of haystack fires between Belt and Raynesford. Capt. Ray Hitchcock says someone has been setting fires along the side of roads, allowing the flames to blow into haystacks. Rancher Dave Johnson says volunteer firefighters helped him put out a fire before it reached his haystack earlier this month after a passer-by awakened him at 4 a.m. About the same time, a nearby rancher lost 220 bales of hay. Johnson says it was the second fire on that rancher's land. Area ranchers met and Johnson told the Great Falls Tribune Wednesday that he learned that his was the sixth ranch that suffered fire damage. Ranchers are offering a reward for information leading to whoever is responsible for the fires. AP

The Westerner's Radio Theater #6

Ranch Radio takes you back to 1950 and an episode of Hopalong Cassidy titled The Empty Saddle.

Friday, October 21, 2011

US appeals court upholds roadless rule in forests

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a law prohibiting roads on nearly 50 million acres of land in national forests across the United States, a ruling hailed by environmentalists as one of the most significant in decades. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule after lawyers for the state of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association contended it was a violation of the law. Renny MacKay, spokesman for GOP Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, said the state has not decided whether to appeal the ruling made Friday. Colorado Mining Association President Stuart Sanderson said his organization is also studying the 120-page ruling and has not decided whether to appeal. Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association argued the rule violates the 1964 Wilderness Act. Wyoming attorneys also argued the definition of roadless lands is synonymous with wilderness lands. The 1964 Wilderness Act states only Congress can designate wilderness lands. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and environmental groups said there are differences between the designations. Roadless areas allow for some mineral development and more recreational activities, such as bicycles and ATVs, which the wilderness category forbids, they said. Two other legal actions to protect roadless areas are pending, including a lawsuit contesting application of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule to national forests in Alaska, and a suit challenging a separate, less protective rule that applies only to areas of Idaho...more

You can view the decision here.

U.S. Gives Half-Billion-Dollar Loan to Electric Car Company Building Cars -- in Finland

With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work. Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department's $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland. "There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle," the car company's founder and namesake told ABC News. "They don't exist here." Henrik Fisker said the U.S. money so far has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that went to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive...more

Al Gore is an investor, along with a group that has donated over $1 million to political campaigns, mainly Democrats.

And oh yes, the name of the car is Karma.  Isn't that sweet.

Judge halts uranium-mining plans in Colorado over environmental issues

A federal judge has hit the brakes on a nuclear renaissance, ruling that U.S. Department of Energy officials violated environmental laws when they re-launched a program to mine uranium and produce yellowcake fuel in Colorado. U.S. District Judge William Martinez ordered DOE officials to stop approving exploration, mining and all other activities on 31 sites leased to uranium companies. The ruling affects about 25,000 acres southwest of Grand Junction along the Dolores and San Miguel rivers. A 53-page opinion filed late Tuesday said the DOE "acted arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to analyze site-specific impacts" on people and the environment — especially given the history of uranium mining in the region. Martinez also found DOE officials violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists about the impact of leasing uranium lands...more

Navajo Nation takes on Urban Outfitters, and wins

Urban Outfitters appears to have caved to the Navajo Nation. As of Wednesday, the trendy chain store had removed the word "Navajo" from the description of about 20 items on its website, including the "Navajo flask" and the "Navajo Hipster Panty." Other items that bore the Navajo moniker include a pair of "Navajo" socks, a "Navajo" print tunic, and "Navajo" feathered earrings. Urban Outfitters has replaced the word "Navajo" with "printed." This is a coup for the Navajo Nation, which sent Urban Outfitters' chief executive, Glen Senk, a cease and desist order earlier this month, demanding the name "Navajo" be pulled from the store's products. The tribe did not take issue with the items themselves — designers borrow (steal?) from indigenous cultures all the time. But the Navajo nation has at least 10 trademarks on the word "Navajo," which covers clothing, textiles and household products...more

Farm, animal rights groups align, to ire of other ag organizations

One farm group's attempt to find common ground with an animal rights group is not winning it friends among others in agriculture. The Nebraska Farmers Union said Tuesday it has reached an agreement with the Humane Society of the United States to develop standards and joint marketing efforts for humanely raised meat and other animal products. However, We Support Agriculture, an alliance of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Cattlemen and other ag groups, said the Farmers Union has thrown in its lot with an organization that aims to end animal agriculture. "We are shocked and disappointed that any Nebraska agriculture group would align itself with an extreme animal rights organization such as the Humane Society of the United States," said Pete McClymont, director of We Support Agriculture. But Farmers Union President John Hansen said he views joining forces with the Humane Society as a way to boost family farms in Nebraska...more

Father and son team scam farmers across Oklahoma

Investigators say a pair of scammers have finally been caught after swindling farmers and ranchers out of thousands of dollars. At first authorities thought this was a civil case but after taking a closer, look they soon realized this was a scam a father and his son have taken all across the state. And, surprisingly, somehow this father-and-son duo got away with it for quit awhile until investigators at the Department of Agriculture caught on to the story they say Cory Yearwood and his father, Randy Yearwood, were telling victims. "They'd go to the farmer or rancher. They'd drive through the area. They'd spot irrigation pipe, the irrigation wheels, the sprinkler heads, and they'd contact the farmers and ranchers," Department of Agriculture Colonel Mike Grimes said. Court records state the pair would simply call them up and offer them a deal. "Here's what we'll do for you, we'll take it and cut it up where it's transportable. We'll take it to the metal recyclers," Grimes said. "We'll sell it, and then we'll bring you back a check, and then you have to pay us $300 after we're all finished with that. A lot of farmers and ranchers agreed to that." The pair would take the equipment alright, straight to the scrap metal yard, never show back up to pay the farmer and would keep all the money. Authorities say it's a scam the Yearwoods pulled off several times in five different counties, scoring between $5,000 and $7,000 with each stop...more

Legislation introduced to exempt manure from Superfund Law

Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) this week introduced the “Superfund Common-Sense Act of 2011” (S. 1729), which would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the courts from imposing what the policymakers called another “needless and burdensome” regulation on U.S. agriculture. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said the legislation would restore the original intent of Congress under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly called the Superfund Law, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). She said the Superfund Law was originally passed by Congress in 1980 to prevent toxic waste from polluting U.S. waters and was never intended to elevate extreme agendas by imposing liability on U.S. farmers and ranchers in the same fashion as toxic waste polluters. The legislation would exempt cattle manure from regulations under these laws. “Congress never intended manure to fall under the jurisdiction of CERCLA. However, some activists groups and attorneys in Texas and Oklahoma have worked to increase the law’s reach by attempting to convince courts that livestock producers should be subject to CERCLA liability,” said Lyon...more

Wolf Corner: Rancher helped rid farms of howls in the night

During a time when Northwest Houston farms were pestered by wolves snatching up chickens and calves at their liking, one local rancher, Charles Grisbee, stepped up and sent a message to the predators: Wolf Corner. Grisbee, a dairy farmer with a ranch off Jackrabbit Road, started hanging dead wolves in the 1950s at the corner of FM 1960 and FM 529, which became known as Wolf Corner. “He would do this because wolves were getting the baby calves and lambs,” said Celeste Haltom, Grisbee’s niece. “He was very proud of it because he was helping all of the other farmers and ranchers.” At the time when Grisbee hung the wolves, Harris County collected a bounty on wolves, foxes and other wildlife. The county began collecting the bounty in 1955, according to a Houston Chronicle article published in 1970. Hunters who turned in the ears of the animals they killed to the county clerk would receive $5 for each kill. “On Jan. 1, 1970, Grisbee collected $140 for 27 wolves and a fox killed in the Cypress area during 1969,” the Chronicle article reported. “He has earned $645 in bounty money in the last four years.” Despite the large payoff, Grisbee, who had been hunting wolves to protect local farm animals for about fifty years, told the Chronicle he hunted the wolves as a hobby, not for the money. “I help out people who call, and it mostly just pays for the gasoline,” he told the Chronicle in 1970...more

Song Of The Day #692

 Ranch Radio has a request from a listener in Idaho that fits in with our Out West week.  Here is Patsy Montana and her 1935 recording of I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart.  It was this tune that made Patsy Montana the first female country singer to have a million seller.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Working on my article for The Stockman, so this is a shortened version of The Westerner.

Groups Urging Obama Administration To Protect The "Greater Canyonlands"

While between them Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Arches national parks and nearby Glen Canyon National Recreation Area encompass more than 1.9 million acres, there's at least 1.4 million acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management property surrounding Canyonlands alone that need stronger protection, according to the Grand Canyon Trust and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. The groups are promoting petitions that asks the White House and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to take action to protect these landscapes from rampant off-road vehicle use and heavy industrial use. The SUWA petition asks the administration to "bar off-road vehicle use on 1,050 miles of ORV routes in sensitive habitat, in streams, wetlands, riparian areas, archaeological sites and other vulnerable areas until it can conduct further studies on the impacts of the activity and determine whether it is, in fact, a sustainable use." At the Grand Canyon Trust, the organization is producing a film that shows off the lands in the region surrounding Canyonlands National Park, lands the trust says are "currently threatened by oil and gas drilling, potash and uranium extraction, tar sands strip-mining and unregulated off-road vehicle impacts."...more

Secretary Salazar Celebrates Establishment of Four New Conservation Units

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined a bipartisan group of Senators on Capitol Hill to celebrate recent additions to the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) System. The Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area of Kansas, the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area of South Dakota and North Dakota, the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge of Pennsylvania, and the Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area of California make up the four latest units to join the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conservation system. During the ceremony, Secretary Salazar presented commemorative planks inlaid with the names of the new units to senators from the four states in which the conservation areas are located. Tomorrow Secretary Salazar will install the four planks in a walkway at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach, Florida. Commemorative planks for each of the nation’s 555 national wildlife refuges, wildlife management areas and conservation areas form a boardwalk at Pelican Island, the first-ever national wildlife refuge, established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt...more

They should start giving planks to those who stop this kind of foolishness.

Law Bans Cash for Second Hand Transactions

Cold hard cash. It's good everywhere you go, right? You can use it to pay for anything. But that's not the case here in Louisiana now. It's a law that was passed during this year's busy legislative session. House bill 195 basically says those who buy and sell second hand goods cannot use cash to make those transactions, and it flew so far under the radar most businesses don't even know about it. "We're gonna lose a lot of business," says Danny Guidry, who owns the Pioneer Trading Post in Lafayette. He deals in buying and selling unique second hand items. "We don't want this cash transaction to be taken away from us. It's an everyday transaction," Guidry explains. Guidry says, "I think everyone in this business once they find out about it. They're will definitely be a lot of uproar." The law states those who buy or sell second hand goods are prohibited from using cash. State representative Rickey Hardy co-authored the bill. Hardy says, "they give a check or a cashiers money order, or electronic one of those three mechanisms is used." Hardy says the bill is targeted at criminals who steal anything from copper to televisions, and sell them for a quick buck. Having a paper trail will make it easier for law enforcement...more

Can't have a voluntary transaction between two citizens without the government being able to track it, now can we.

Hitler finds out the latest on Fast & Furious

Here's another of those Hitler videos, this time about an issue we've been covering here at The Westerner.

Song Of The Day #691

 Ranch Radio continues with our Out West week with Roy Rogers singing Born To The Saddle.  The tune was recorded on Sept. 1, 1938 in Los Angeles and was released on Vocalion records (04544).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Court denies request to stop Montana, Idaho wolf hunts

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request Tuesday for an emergency injunction that would have stopped wolf hunting in the Rocky Mountains. With Montana's general rifle hunting season set to begin Saturday, three environmental groups asked the court for the injunction Monday. The court said it will consider the group's motion for an injunction when oral arguments on a pending appeal are made Nov. 8. The delisting action was upheld in U.S. District Court and the groups appealed to the 9th Circuit. Montana and Idaho authorized wolf hunts this fall. In Montana, bow and backcountry hunters have killed 11 wolves so far. The state's quota is set at 220. Idaho hunters have killed 60 wolves since that state's season opened Aug. 30. Montana's big-game wolf hunt begins Saturday. To date, about 12,300 hunters have purchased wolf licenses in Montana. During the first legal wolf hunting season in 2009, the state sold a total of 15,600 licenses...more

Charlie Goodnight, Oliver Loving

When cowboy traits are discussed -- loyalty, resourcefulness, bravery, and independent nature -- the real-life person those traits describe are those of one, Charles Goodnight, who provided the inspiration for the movies and western literature, to the present day. Goodnight was a rancher/cowman, "the father of the Texas Panhandle cattle industry." Historian. Frank Dobie said, "Goodnight approached greatness more than any cowman in history." Charlie Goodnight was born in Illinois, just east of Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1836, but at the age of 10 he accompanied his parents to the new "nation" of Texas, which was also just 10 years old. At the age of 20, in 1856 he joined the Texas Militia, and a year later became a Texas Ranger, protecting Texas citizens against raids by the Comanche Indians. With the start of the Civil War, in 1861, Goodnight offered his services to the Confederate States, and spent the war with a Frontier Regiment in Texas, guarding settlers from attacks by the Indians. When peace was declared in 1865, Goodnight joined in the popular movement of rounding up unbranded cattle and driving them to railroads, where they could be shipped to northern markets. Early on most of these cattle drives had been in the eastern part of Texas, going either south to New Orleans, or north to St. Louis, and hence to Chicago. In 1866 Goodnight acted upon a tip that there might be a more lucrative market for his cattle in the west, in New Mexico, and to Colorado and Wyoming, in the west. Goodnight was in the process of assembling his herd when he visited the Oliver Loving Ranch. Loving was 24 years Goodnight's senior, a well-respected cattleman in the area. The two men decided pool their herds, making the cattle drive together, over a new trail to the west and north...more

Windmills stopped at night after bat death

Thirty-five windmills at a western Pennsylvania wind farm have been silenced at night since a bat that belongs to an endangered species was found dead under one of the turbines. The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown is reporting the farm shut down the windmills overnight after the Indiana bat was found Sept. 26. The farm in question was built by Gamesa Energy USA and covers parts of Portage, Washington, and Cresson Townships in Cambria County, and part of Blair County, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. A spokesman for Duke Energy, which now owns the wind farm, says it has a cooperative monitoring agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether bats are being harmed by the windmills. The windmills will likely resume nighttime operation about Nov. 15, when the bats will hibernate until spring. AP

Environmental groups seek injunction to stop Montana wolf hunt

A group of wolf advocates has requested an emergency halt to wolf hunting in the Rocky Mountains, less than a week before the general rifle season begins in Montana. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians want to return the gray wolf to federal Endangered Species Act protection. After Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, delisted the wolf with a congressional rider last spring, the groups challenged the action in U.S. District Court. The Missoula court upheld the congressional delisting, and wolf advocates appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That appeal has not been argued yet. "The hearing on summary judgment is scheduled for Nov. 8, but you know they can take a long time to rule, a year or two," Alliance for the Wild Rockies director Michael Garrity said on Monday. "The general rifle season is about to start, so we asked for the emergency injunction."...more

Sun Not Shining on State Solar Subsidies

In 2009, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm touted the $725 million Wixom renewable energy park project as “symbolic for Michigan in what we’re going to become.” The new solar power companies were supposed to create 4,000 jobs in a closed auto assembly plant and provide a vivid example of Michigan’s economic transition from automobiles to green energy. In return the state approved a $100 million tax credit. Two years later, Ford told the Wixom city officials the deal wasn’t happening. Michigan Capitol Confidential took a look back at the nine solar power companies that were approved for state tax credits. Many have fizzled with reports that the companies are laying off employees at a time they were supposed to have been adding jobs. For example, in 2009 a company from Georgia called Suniva announced it planned to open a $250 million manufacturing plant in Saginaw County. It was to add 500 jobs. Media reports said the company is holding off plans for a Michigan plant after deciding not to pursue a Department of Energy loan. Energy Conversion Devices and United Solar Ovonics are affiliated companies that have been approved for state tax credits for four different projects that were supposed to add about 5,700 jobs. Both companies announced layoffs this year. Evergreen Solar opened a solar plant in Midland in 2009. The company announced in August it was filing for bankruptcy...more

Dangerous animals escape Ohio preserve

Dozens of animals escaped Tuesday from a wild-animal preserve that houses bears, big cats and other beasts, and the owner later was found dead there, said police, who shot several of the animals and urged nearby residents to stay indoors. As a result of the breakout, several schools near the preserve have canceled classes Wednesday, reports CBS 10-TV. The fences had been left unsecured at the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, in east-central Ohio, and the animals' cages were open, police said. They wouldn't say what animals escaped but said the preserve had lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears. They said bears and wolves were among 25 escaped animals that had been shot and killed and there were multiple sightings of exotic animals along a nearby highway. Lutz called the escaped animals "mature, very big, aggressive" but said a caretaker told authorities the preserve's 48 animals had been fed on Monday. He said police were patrolling the 40-acre farm and the surrounding areas in cars, not on foot, and were concerned about big cats and bears hiding in the dark and in trees...more

For the Keystone Battle, a Rancher Emerges as Folk Hero

Randy Thompson, a laconic cattle buyer, may seem an unlikely symbol of activism. Yet his likeness is now on hundreds of T-shirts across Nebraska. As I reported with Dan Frosch in Tuesday’s paper, Mr. Thompson is among dozens of landowners resisting efforts by the energy giant Transcanada to lease their property for the Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada’s spokesman Shawn Howard says the company suspects a great deal of the opposition is being fanned by national environmental groups. Mr. Thompson’s story shows how this is true and yet not true. He was deeded 400 acres of farmland in Martell, Neb., by his mother, who died last summer. Transcanada wants 80 of those acres to run its pipeline through, but Mr. Thompson is not interested — not at any cost.
After he received a letter from Transcanada threatening to invoke eminent domain unless he signed a lease, Mr. Thompson began speaking out at public meetings in Nebraska. Only then, after he was committed to the fight, did he come to the attention of Jane Kleeb, the executive director of Bold Nebraska, a local nonprofit. She says she recognized in Mr. Thompson the kind of plain-spokenness that could persuade other Nebraskans that they had to get involved if the pipeline was to be stopped. She invited him for coffee and asked if he would agree to be the center of a campaign. She came up with a slogan: “I stand with Randy.”Signs with the slogan were printed up along with the T-shirts bearing Mr. Thompson’s picture. According to Bold Nebraska, he has since been transformed into something of a folk hero. The group also paid to have Mr. Thompson flown to Washington to testify at a State Department hearing...more

Preventing fraud may preclude gentlemen’s agreements

Many a deal is concluded with a firm handshake, a smile and a few scuffles of a boot in the dirt on farms and ranches across the country — but that level of trust may soon be as rare as handwritten letters. A “gentlemen’s agreement” is often all that’s required to conduct business in rural America, but that may not be enough anymore, says Jason Thomas, CPA, JD, and senior tax manager at Frost PLLC, certified public accountants in Little Rock, Ark. “Is the gentlemen’s agreement obsolete?” he asked at a Beef Financial Management Conference in Amarillo, Texas. “That may be a little too strong, but business is becoming less personal, and farmers and ranchers are making fewer one-on-one deals.” A bankruptcy case about a year ago involving the Eastern Livestock Company, LLC, proves the point, Thomas says...more

Cattle raisers fear additional regulations might be added to Farm Bill

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association would not feel left out if the 2012 Farm Bill mostly ignored it. While numerous special interest groups are jockeying for prime position in the multibillion dollar legislation, TSCRA members want lawmakers to ditch the part of the bill specifically aimed at them, the livestock section. "We would rather the government stay out of our business, and we would give up any kind of government support if they would," said TSCRA President Joe Parker Jr. of Byers. It's not just the government these ranchers want to keep from meddling in their business. They fear the livestock section provides ample opening for new regulations fostered by animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. "We're concerned that groups like that have an agenda to put animal agriculture out of business, and they will go to great lengths to do that in the farm bill," said Jason Skaggs, TSCRA executive director of government and public affairs...more

Tanque Verde Ranch older than state of Az

Joe Valdez has been with Tanque Verde Ranch since 1976, doing everything from training horses to leather saddle repair to helping tourists experience the style of living he grew up with in a family of southern Arizona ranchers. “(Cowboys) haven’t completely vanished yet. They’re still very much alive,” he said. As Arizona’s centennial approaches, Tanque Verde, which opened in 1868, is a family-owned business that has been in operation since before this was a state. Other ranches have come and gone around the property over the years, and it has switched ownership, adapted to different times and found ways to survive in a changing industry. “If your customers are not happy they’re not going to come back again, so our main objective is to try to find activities, interests, patterns, that will stimulate, encourage and excite our guests to come back again,” said Bob Cote, the ranch’s current owner. Cote attributes much of Tanque Verde’s longevity to its protected location in the eastern reaches of the metropolitan area. Bordering Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest, Tanque Verde isn’t as vulnerable to development...more

J.C. Mattingly: Socratic Rancher

In speaking with people, I find there is a lot of confusion about the difference between a donkey, a jackass, and a burro. There shouldn't be a problem because these three are all the same species, Africanus asinus, also known as the Ass Family. This brings a smile, or chuckle to our face, especially when we look at one of the members of this family as he or she wiggles their long ears, or rolls their doleful eyes, or speaks to us with the inimitable bellow of the Consummate Country Caruso. Generally speaking, the donkey is the larger, sometimes referred to as the Mammoth Ass, while the jackass is the middle-sized, and the burro the smallest. There are miniature donkeys that are smaller even than the typical burro. If these fail to provide a positive ID to the observer, there is a legal definition of a burro, found in Appendix B of the “Rules In Pack Burro Racing.” “The following is the definition of a burro and is to be used in selecting a burro. The word ‘burro' comes from the Spanish word meaning ‘donkey.' A donkey is defined as being an ass. They have chestnuts on the forelegs only, while other animals of the same species such as mules or horses, have them on hind and forelegs. The tail of an ass has no hair except on its lower part, which has a brush. A registered veterinarian shall have the authority to disqualify any contestant and animal that does not match the above description, or whose animal is sick, doped, injured, or mistreated. The veterinarian will check the animal before and after the race.” DNA and proxy testing date the wild burro back to well over 10,000 BC, a period of massive mammalian speciation on Earth. There is evidence from Egyptologists that burros were domesticated by the Near East 4,000-5,000 BC as beasts of burden...more

Song Of The Day #669

Ranch Radio is Out West this week and here is Gene Autry performing It's Roundup Time In Reno.  The tune was recorded in Los Angeles on October 15, 1937 and was released on the Vocalion record label.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

VIDEO: Bear cub running amok in store

Did you know there's a bear in the produce aisle? It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but it was a reality for grocery-goers in Ketchikan, Alaska last week!...more

Study finds Wilderness has negative economic impact on local areas

Some Wilderness can have positive economic impacts but our findings indicate that this is not the general rule. We find that when controlling for other types of federally held land and additional factors impacting economic conditions, federally designated Wilderness negatively impacts local economic conditions. Specifically, we find a significant negative relationship between the presence of Wilderness and county total payroll, county tax receipts, and county average household income. To provide better evidence of economic impacts, we use longitudinal statistical analysis over every county in the United States dating back to 1995. The panels each contain measurements of economic conditions taken every five years.5 We selected three uniformly applicable variables as proxies for county economic conditions: average household income, total payroll, and total tax receipts. Average household income and total tax receipts are gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Total payroll figures are gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics...more

The study concluded:

The argument often stated by the environmental community that Wilderness is good for local economies is simply not supported by the data. When comparing Wilderness and Non-Wilderness Counties, Wilderness Counties are at an economic disadvantage to their Non-Wilderness counterparts. Accordingly, if the test for whether or not to designate Wilderness is economic, Wilderness fails. But economics did not underlie the Wilderness Act or any of the Wilderness Areas established since the Act was passed. Wilderness is established for emotional, ecological, and cultural purposes. Our results show that those purposes are accomplished at a cost to local economies.

The full study from Environmental Trends can be downloaded here.

The Austerity Myth: Federal Spending Up 5% This Year

Some analysts have blamed these spending cuts for this year's economic slowdown. But data released by the Treasury Department on Friday show that, so far, there haven't been any spending cuts at all. In fact, in the first nine months of this year, federal spending was $120 billion higher than in the same period in 2010, the data show. That's an increase of almost 5%. And deficits during this time were $23.5 billion higher. Nor does the claim that state governments sharply cut spending stand up well to closer scrutiny. Overall state spending continued to climb right through the recession, when all money from state general funds and other funds, federal grants and state bonds is combined. Total state outlays in 2010 were almost 10% higher than in 2008, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers' annual State Expenditure Report. And general fund spending — which makes up about 40% of total state spending — is expected to climb 5.2% in 2011 and 2.6% next year, according to the association's latest survey...more

EDITORIAL: Corn-fueled politics

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to shove more ethanol into your gas tank. Obama administration bureaucrats have signed off on a crony-capitalist scheme to boost the corn content of gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. This serves absolutely no purpose beyond enriching farm-state agribusiness giants. In fact, it may even result in the voiding of millions of new-car warranties. Earlier this year, the EPA rammed through its decision to “allow” the use of the E15 blend of ethanol and gasoline for cars built after 2001 and approved pump labeling standards. Ethanol apologists will point to this deceptive phrasing to claim that this is not a mandate. Don’t be fooled. Since EPA granted the same waiver for the 10 percent ethanol blend, E10, some 30 years ago, corn-free gasoline has become nearly impossible to find. According to the website, there are 4,294 stations offering unadulterated gasoline, but this is mostly off-brand options in rural locations. The other 98 percent of the country’s fuel is tainted with corn. The EPA insists newer cars will have no problem with 15 percent ethanol, but Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, wasn’t willing to take the agency’s word for it. He asked automobile manufacturers to confirm whether higher ethanol blends could be safely used in their products. A dozen carmakers raised serious concerns. For example, a representative for Honda North America pointed out, “There appears to be the potential for engine failure.” If that happens, the company does not want to be on the hook. “Honda products were designed, built and certified to operate on E10 and below,” Honda vice president Edward B. Cohen wrote. “Use of higher blends could compromise the vehicle’s warranty.” Ford Motor Company agrees. “To the extent that E15 is introduced into commerce, we will work with our customers and dealerships as best we can to address any potential concerns, but we cannot redesign vehicles that have already been built and sold,” wrote Susan M. Cischke, a group vice president for the Blue Oval...more

So why adopt such a foolish policy? The editorial writers at the Washington Times say:

This issue highlights the danger of allowing liberal zealots to set public policy. They are so obsessed with micromanaging the lives of others and fulfilling their environmental fantasies that they give no thought whatsoever to the real-world consequences of their schemes.

Forest Service presenting noise management plans

Four plans to manage noise in the 987,000-acre Huron-Manistee National Forest are being presented by the U.S. Forest Service. The plans follow a lawsuit upheld by a federal appeals court that claimed hunters and snowmobilers were favored in a 2006 land management plan over forest visitors wanting a more quiet experience, The Muskegon Chronicle reported Friday. The alternative plans involve 67,000 acres of "semiprimitive nonmotorized" land in the forest, which stretches across parts the northern Lower Peninsula. No changes to the current management plan would occur under the first alternative. Another would close the 14 "semiprimitive nonmotorized" areas to gun hunting and snowmobiles. Under the Forest Service's preferred plan, the Manistee River and Whitewater Creek areas would be designated "roaded" natural sandy plains and hills. That would allow more noise...more

Congressman blasts federal wildfire response

Congressman Michael McCaul, R-Austin, brought a panel of experts together yesterday to address the possibility that bureaucracy may have prevented a timely federal response to the wildfires that raged throughout Texas in the fall, possibly exacerbating the amount of damage that was done. McCaul held a congressional field hearing of the Homeland Security Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee at the Texas State Capitol in Austin yesterday to address the issue. He proposed that, because it had been clear for some time that Texas was in danger of experiencing ongoing wildfires, available aircraft resources should have been in or nearby the state and ready to go before the fires broke out. But the fire that broke out on Sept. 4 and ravaged Bastrop County–part of McCaul’s district—managed to burn for five days before aircraft were deployed. Tom Harbour, Director of U.S. Forest Service Fire and Aviation Assets, said in a testimony that part of the delay was due to some aircraft resources being used to fight fires elsewhere throughout Western United States. But he admitted that there were delays in deployment that could’ve been better addressed. McCaul also pressed panelists about the large volume of paperwork that’s required by the Federal Emergency Management Association for a fire event to be declared a federal emergency and for a county to receive aid. According to his testimony, it can take up to three years for counties to receive disaster relief aid, which goes to reimburse local organizations and individuals for the losses they incurred while fighting the fires...more

Kinder Morgan bid for El Paso Corp. would create North American natural gas pipeline giant

Kinder Morgan Inc.struck a $21 billion deal to buy rival El Paso Corp., combining the two largest natural gas pipeline operators in North America in a huge bet on the fast-growing market for that fuel. The cash and stock deal announced on Sunday values El Paso at a 37 percent premium to its Friday market value, and comes as Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N and other oil majors are spending billions of dollars to develop and produce shale gas and crude oil in areas with poor infrastructure. It was not immediately clear how regulators would view the deal. Kinder Morgan said it expected the deal to close in early 2012. El Paso already owned the largest natural gas pipeline system in North America, with more than 43,000 miles of pipe. The combined company would own 67,000 miles of natural gas pipe and another 13,000 miles of pipelines to move refined products and other fuels. The deal derails El Paso’s plan, announced in May, to split into two publicly traded companies, which would have separated its exploration and production business from its pipeline operations. Kinder Morgan said it plans to sell El Paso’s exploration and production assets. ..more

Curtains for Cap’n Crunch

Food Criminals
Say goodbye to Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. Consumer mafia groups want cartoons, images and even celebrities that might appeal to children banned from food advertising - even if the ads are actually aimed at parents. The advertising censors insist children need to be protected from the food industry because parents aren’t up to the task. Thus they created the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (IWG). Under the pretext of getting chubby cherubs into shape, sympathetic Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, and then-Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, slipped language into the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act mandating the creation of the IWG to develop recommendations for standards for industry marketing to children under age 17 - even though there is little credible evidence linking marketing trends and childhood obesity. The congressional charter lends the group legitimacy. After missing a 2010 deadline to report back, the IWG released a preview of the “voluntary” nutrition principles that they want industry to adopt, and they were radical. In addition to trying to exile the Pillsbury Doughboy, it proposes nutritional requirements that would prohibit the advertising of 88 of the 100 most commonly consumed foods, including bagels, 2 percent milk, peanut butter, canned tuna, carrot juice, ready-to-eat cereals (except for unflavored shredded wheat), leaf salad with low-fat dressing, hot cereal, canned corn, rice, wheat bread, pretzels and scrambled eggs, according to the Sensible Food Policy Coalition...more

Song Of The Day #668

 Ranch Radio will be Out West this week.  Here are the Sons Of The Pioneers and their recording of Chuckwagon Blues.  The tune was recorded in September of 1935 in Hollywood and was released as Standard B-3372-A.  The members of the group, as pictured below from left to right were Hugh Farr, Karl Farr, Bob Nolan, Roy Rogers & Tim Spencer.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cowboys riding out of drought-hit Texas

This year, Texas endured one hell of a summer - the hottest and driest on record. "There's been days when it's been 114 degrees [45.5C], with a 30mph wind," said Dennis Braden, the general manager of the Swenson Land & Cattle Co, a ranch that has reared cattle since the 1850s. "Imagine a blow dryer in your face; I ain't never seen a summer like it." When there was no rain last winter, the ranchers sat tight for the spring deluge. When that failed, they started getting nervous. After the summer showed no respite, the Swenson ranch moved its cattle north, out of Texas for the first time. Last month more than 1000 Black Angus and Herefords were taken by rail to leased pastures in West Nebraska and Wyoming. "How long are they going to stay there? I don't have a clue," said Mr Braden. The number of breeding cows shipped out of the state increased 140 per cent last month, compared with the same period a year earlier. Nearly nine out of ten ranches has reduced its herd. The last time there were so few cows in Texas was the 1950s, another period of serious drought. "We hear the trucks rumbling. They're taking the cattle north," said Sandra Rhea, the curator of the Cowboy Museum in the town of Stamford. "We counted 18 18-wheelers in a day. That's a lot of cows." Since 1895, when Texas began keeping records, there has never been a drier or hotter year...more

Texas ranchers, farmers, seeing record losses in grip of drought

The land that Don Casey raises cattle on in Blanco County has been in his family since Sam Houston gave a land grant to a Texas soldier after the Battle of San Jacinto, a piece of paper that eventually found its way to Casey's great-great-great-grandfather and set the family toward the port of Galveston from Germany. A few of his cattle have bloodlines that can be traced back to the longhorns that originally grazed there. Drought has put that legacy in jeopardy.
Casey recorded a couple of inches of desperately needed rain two weekends ago. In the previous 12 months, he'd measured a total of 1.6 inches. Agricultural losses attributed to the drought have reached a record $5.2 billion, according to a report prepared by Texas A&M System's AgriLife Extension Service. Livestock losses alone are $2.06 billion. After factoring in losses for elevators, processing plants and other businesses that serve farmers and ranchers, the total economic impact hits $8.7 billion. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report this month rates 96 percent of Texas pastureland in poor or very poor condition. It's not likely to get better any time soon, observers say. It's going to take years. If ever. And there's no telling how many of the state's 149,000 beef producers will decide they've had enough...more

Colorado's cattle industry hobbled by parched conditions

The effects of a devastating drought in the southern plains are rippling through Colorado's cattle industry, forcing ranchers to make tough decisions about the future of their herds. In the parched southeastern quadrant of the state, ranchers are culling herds because prairie grazing grasses are, at best, dry and stunted. At worst, they've disappeared in scenes reminiscent of the 1930s Dust Bowl. That leaves cattle producers with the difficult choice of paying the soaring cost of hay or selling off their animals. "It's pretty tough times right now," said rancher Bill Carwin, who runs about 100 head of cattle near the tiny town of Pritchett in far southeastern Colorado. "The grass is what puts the weight on the steers and calves, and there's just no grass." Carwin said he's facing the prospect of selling his entire herd and waiting until the drought breaks to rebuild. "You have to feed 'em hay or put 'em up for sale," he said. "And with hay at $250 a ton, it just doesn't pay to buy hay." As recently as last year, hay prices hovered around $110 a ton. Severe drought in Oklahoma and Texas is forcing a wholesale cattle sell-off that threatens to leave herd sizes at abnormally low levels for years to come...more

Perry slashed environmental enforcement in Texas

Gov. Rick Perry likes to say the best way to promote economic growth is to reduce regulation. When it comes to the environment, Perry has made Texas one of the most industry-friendly states in the nation. Perry has cut funding for clean air programs and sued the Environmental Protection Agency to avoid enforcing laws to make the air cleaner. As part of his Republican presidential campaign, he routinely blasts the White House for tightening environmental standards. "As president, I would roll back the radical agenda of President Obama's job-killing Environmental Protection Agency," Perry wrote recently in an op-ed for the New Hampshire Union-Leader. "Our nation does not need costly new federal restrictions, especially during our present economic crisis." Those positions get big applause at Republican debates and fundraisers, and also provide insight into how he would govern if elected, particularly when it comes to the EPA...more

Sea lion task force to weigh in on whether to kill and remove sea lions feasting on endangered salmon

The sea lion task force returns to the drawing board next week. Its task: to recommend to kill and remove sea lions feasting on endangered salmon below Bonneville Dam this spring -- or not. The controversial lethal-take policy has been on-again, off-again since first approved in 2008. The 16-member federal task force wants to hammer out issues early and avoid the problems of last November when a federal appeals court effectively blocked the permit. The task force includes representatives of state and federal agencies, tribes and Columbia River interest groups. It helps shape criteria for trapping and euthanizing sea lions, whether to continue hazing them and whether the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should grant the lethal-take permit...more

Green Tesla Motors: Another Day, Another Solyndra

The resignation of Jonathan Silver, the U.S Energy Department’s top loan officer, over the Solyndra scandal may be the tip of the iceberg. He supervised a much larger DOE loan program that suffers from the same problems as Solyndra: over the last 18 months, the Department has awarded more than $9 billion in below-market loans to auto companies under its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program. The most troubling transaction: a $465 million loan to California’s Tesla Motors. Tesla received a loan rate of 1.6% from DOE to manufacture an all-electric car that will sell for nearly $50,000. It will not exactly be the people’s car. Tesla also builds luxury sports cars that retail for $103,000 to $128,000.  Tesla also is no simple new age car company. It is owned and financed by big donors to the Democratic Party and to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Tesla’s principal owner is Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal. He has an estimated personal wealth of $672 million. His firm received venture capital from the The Westly Group, Daimler Chrysler, and from Abu Dhabi investors. The firm has partnerships with luxury sports car manufacturer Lotus and with Mercedes-Benz. The secret to access to the DOE money is The Westly Group, run by California Democratic Party stalwart and big Obama campaign bundler Steve Westly. The former eBay executive wasn’t merely a prodigious fundraiser for Obama, raising $500,000 for his presidential campaign. He also served as the president’s California campaign co-chairman. Another Obama $500,000 bundler was Solyndra investor George Kaiser and his foundation...more

Landowners have the right to grant, deny access

The repercussions of the North Dakota oil boom are being felt throughout the state, and even throughout the nation. One effect of the ever-expanding oil industry is that farmers and ranchers now have to decide whether to grant an easement to that oil, pipeline, road construction or other company who has constructed a path to the middle of a wheat field or calving pasture. Here are some tools to guide you in your decision. First, what exactly is an easement? An easement creates an interest in land that consists of the right to use or control the land, or an area above or below it, for a specific, limited purpose. An easement generally stays in place for an indefinite period of time. It travels with the land in the event of a sale or lease of the land. Basically, it is a perpetual promise to the pipeline company, for example, that they can construct and maintain a pipeline on your property. Second, do I have a choice whether to grant an easement?...more

'Cow cocaine' warning has bearing on Alberto Contador court case

The contaminated meat defence so beloved by many an athlete accused of using the banned steroid clenbuterol may not be so outlandish after all. In a development that will not go unnoticed by lawyers acting for Alberto Contador at a hearing next month at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the World Anti-Doping Agency has issued a warning to athletes competing at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. "[We] have received compelling evidence … that indicates a serious health problem in Mexico with regards to meat contaminated with clenbuterol," it said in a statement. "Wada's message to athletes travelling to Mexico remains the same and that is to exercise extreme caution with regard to what they eat and where they eat." According to reports, clenbuterol has become the drug of choice in Mexico for ranchers who want to fatten their cattle before taking them to market. The Miami Herald claimed: "Use of the steroid is illegal. But it has found a niche among ranchers, who marvel at the way it helps cattle build muscle mass before going to the slaughterhouse. The beef is pink and largely free of layers of fat, winning over unwitting consumers. Ranchers call the powdery substance 'miracle salts'. A few call it 'cattle cocaine'."...more

Union Pacific's Iconic Steam Locomotive No. 844 to Join State Centennial Celebrations in New Mexico, Arizona

Union Pacific Railroad's iconic steam locomotive, No. 844, will travel through the Southwestern United States to kick off state centennial celebrations in New Mexico and Arizona, respectively. No. 844 is the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific and will travel more than 2,900 miles from its base in Wyoming on a 32-day, nine-state tour that will honor the rich railroad heritage of the scenic Southwest. "Union Pacific long has been a part of the Western United States landscape," said Scott Moore, vice president of public affairs for Union Pacific's western region. "It is fitting that No. 844 will be the flag bearer for these centennial celebrations." The "New Mexico/Arizona Centennial Tour" begins October 29 when No. 844 departs Cheyenne, Wyo. The train's consist, which will include passenger cars from Union Pacific's renowned Heritage Fleet, will stop in each of the following cities before arriving back in Cheyenne November 29.

# Denver, Greeley, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colo.;
# Stratford, Dalhart and El Paso, Texas ;
# Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Vaughn, Carrizozo, Alamogordo, Santa Teresa, Deming and Lordsburg, New Mexico;
# Wilcox, Benson, Vail, Tucson, Coolidge, Gilbert, Tempe, Phoenix, Picacho, Casa Grande, Gila Bend,Wellton and Yuma, Ariz.;...more

Song Of The Day #667

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we bring you some big band swing with Benny Goodman's 1938 recording of Don't Be That Way.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Hang’em high for the last time

 By Julie Carter

With little fanfare, the last legal hanging in New Mexico took place on a Friday morning at sunrise. It was April 6, 1923, in the town of Estancia.

Led to a scaffold in the jail yard of the Torrance County Courthouse, the condemned man was prayed over by a Catholic priest and read his death warrant by a U.S. Marshal. He was asked if he had anything to say, to which he responded with a negative as the noose was adjusted around his neck.

Torrance County Sheriff John Block sprung the trap, sending 25-year-old Francisco Vaisa to eternity. Ten minutes later he was pronounced dead by two doctors and lowered into a coffin to be buried in the Estancia Cemetery.

Remembered more for being the last man to be executed by hanging in New Mexico than for his name, Vaisa was the last of four men to be hung for the murder of Duran, New Mexico merchant Anton J. Coury.

On a Saturday evening, Sept. 3, 1921, Coury was closing his store when five Mexican Nationals came into the store. They asked to buy some small items, and while Coury tended to their request, one of them asked for a drink. He was directed to the rear of the store while the others lingered at the front.

As Coury went behind the counter, the men drew revolvers and told him to “put up his hands.” Reportedly, instead of complying, Coury grabbed something on the counter and threw at his assailants. One of the men fired at Coury, shooting him twice in the face and killing him instantly.

A local newspaper reported that Mrs. Coury was present and made an attempt to wrestle with the murderer and in the struggle, was shot above her hip. It was later determined that the metal stay in her corset had deflected the bullet and saved her life. Her son Freddie became her hero when he peppered the assailants with canned goods when their last attempt to shoot was aborted by a jammed pistol. They fled the scene.

A call was made to the sheriff and a manhunt was launched. Word of the crime was sent by wire and phone in all directions as bloodhounds from the penitentiary in Santa Fe were summoned. Within days, Sheriff Block had captured Vaisa, Isidoro Miranda and Carlos Rentería. A fourth assailant, Luis Medrano, was captured several months later. The fifth perpetrator, identified as Eziquel Machucha, eluded capture presumably by returning to Mexico.

During the interrogation by the sheriff, Miranda was fingered as the shooter and the one who had planned the hold-up. He had a long criminal history including time served in the State Penitentiary for murder and forgery. He’d been given a pardon by Governor Larrazolo during his last days in office.

At their trial in June, all four defendants were convicted of murder. Miranda, Rentería and Medrano were hung as the sun rose on July 28, 1922 in the Town of Estancia. Hundreds of people assembled to watch but the gallows platform had been draped by a tarp to shield the event from view. However, the rising sun shone on the tarp from the back, giving spectators a silhouetted outline of the defendants in an eerie semblance of shadow puppets.

The trio died a slow painful death with Miranda to be the last pronounced dead. His body was claimed by family and taken to Vaughn to be buried. The bodies of Rentería and Medrano were buried in the furthest remote corner of the Estancia Cemetery, reportedly away from the “good” Catholics in that section.

An interested party took up a collection and hired an attorney for Vaisa. The attorney applied for an appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court, who ultimately upheld the conviction and Vaisa was sentenced to hang.

Less than a year after his gang members had met a similar fate, Vaisa marked a moment in New Mexico history with only a few witnesses and a last request for his letters to be mailed to his family in Lamesa, Texas.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Fast and Furious: Interpretations of the Trail

Fast and Furious
Interpretations of the Trail
Bovines and Politicos
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     A neighbor called me.  He was confounded why some of his cows were down by the highway.  He had concluded maybe they had gone through our fence further north and we had picked them up and put them through the fence when we had moved cows south.  We hadn’t.
     As we worked through the riddle, I asked him how many there were.  With his response, I suggested I had seen those cows the week before at another water trough in yet another pasture.  I described the cattle to him.  I admitted that I had been surprised to see his cattle there because it wasn’t a pasture he had been using, but, with the drought, perhaps he had moved them there.  He hadn’t.
     The Bigger Problem
     In an instant, my neighbor figured out the mystery.  Those were cattle he had hauled into a pasture where he had received rain, but green feed wasn’t their highest priority.  They had found their way through at least two fences.  There were no holes in the fences.  They had made their own. Those cows were going home.
    The realization the problem wasn’t simply to fix the fence was troubling.  Fixing the fence wasn’t going to fix the problem.  My neighbor was now dealing with a more complex issue. 
     The problem was greater  . . . just like Fast and Furious is to our country.
     From Bovines to Politicos
     In 2008, Barack Obama made a campaign pledge to reimpose the ban on assault rifles that had been lifted during the Bush administration.  Later, the White House privately acknowledged the issue had been taken off the table because there wasn’t Congressional support to reverse the decision.  The problem would have to be solved in a different manner.
     In the spring of 2009, Obama was in Mexico for his first visit.  In a speech to the Mexican people, the American president reminded the world that “90%” of the guns used in the Mexican conflict could be traced to the United States. 
     The president went on to remind the audience the guns were coming from border state gun stores.  He said, “The war is being waged with guns purchased not here, but in the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border.”  His comments grated heavily on a wide swath of Americans.
     The hidden tracks
     The Obama posturing was supported by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF) William Newell who testified that indeed 90% of the firearms which were successfully traced were determined to have originated within the United States.  What he failed to clarify was that those guns represented less than one gun in five found at high impact crime scenes.
     In May, 2010, the picture was being sold to the American people in a more compelling way.  The Mexican president was in Washington for meetings.  He reported to the president, the Congress, and the American people that the United States was complicit in the conflict that raged in his country.  He agreed with the president that American gun dealers were fueling the violence within his country.
     In covering the administration’s tracks, ATF backed the assertion there was no correlation between increasing violence and the discovery of more guns turning up in a cartel training camps.  ATF bureaucrat Thomasson indicated there was no way to track the actual sales of American sourced guns.
     Americans were left with the impression that private citizenry with capitalistic freedoms was the cause of the Mexican violence.  Our stomachs flinched every time we heard that dagger thrown at us. 
     In November, 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the effort to keep guns going into Mexico “was unwieldy, mismanaged, and fraught with significant weaknesses.”  Since the information disseminated was slanted toward the suggestion of private American complicity, the press carried the ball without a countering defense. DOJ concluded with a reminder, “ATF focus (was) only on small gun sales.”
     Then, disaster struck.  Forty year old Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was killed on December 14, 2010 by illegals near Rio Rico, Arizona.  The gun used to gun down Terry was a gun that came out of a scheme run by ATF. 
     ‘Gun Runner’ was brought into focus.  ATF claimed the program had gone a long way in combating illegal flows of arms from the U.S.  At least some form of the program had been in place as early as 2005. 
     As the process unraveled, another name surfaced.  Fast and Furious had been set in motion in the fall of 2009.  It was an operation intended to wheel guns into the cartel network ostensibly to identify cartel operatives.  At least two thousand tactical arms were pumped into the Drug War.
     Killing data
     The number of Mexicans killed in the conflict is now being suggested as 44,000.  Since a minimum of 25-35% of the atrocities in Mexico are not reported, the number of Mexicans killed in the conflict could be as high as 63,000.   Does that number mean anything?  If nothing else it should conjure memories of another war a generation ago.  Like it, the conflict south of the border is not a police action.  It is a war . . . a horrific war.
     Even as Fast and Furious was breaking, the Obama Administration came forth in July, 2011 with the expanded reporting requirement for border state gun dealerships.  In the announcement it was noted that there were 7000 licensed gun dealers along the 2000 mile border.  Again, the implication suggested that in order to limit guns flowing into Mexico, private American businesses must be more closely regulated.  The matter was treated as if the government operation was never run!
     Devil in the detail 
     The time line is interesting.  Notwithstanding his May 3, 2011 statement to the congressional committee to the contrary, records verify Attorney General Eric Holder knew about Fast and Furious at least by the time Mexican president Felipe Calderon visited the United States and vilified the American public in a speech to a joint session of Congress.  Since then, hundreds of Mexicans and at least two Americans were killed by those guns.
     What is really going on here?  Is this a matter of naiveté . . . is it political posturing, or . . . is there an agenda that aims for an intended consequence?
     The horror of the war
     The memory of Viet Nam being fought on our television screens will linger forever.  In the age of color TV, we saw blood.  We heard about atrocities being carried out against civilians, and we heard the expanding suggestions that our way of life was the real matter of consequence.
    We have seen little of the same daily horrors in this drug war.  We cannot even fathom the impact to our country if one of our major cities had suffered the loss of 40% of its business community and fully 25% of its residential structures abandoned.  The social structure of that city, Juarez, is shattered.
     It is worse in the poor communities.  Fifty miles east of Juarez in Prexedis, sixteen of the original 18 police officers are dead or have fled.  Its Chief of Police, a 21 year old criminology major has fled to El Paso to save her life.  One of the remaining officers is a grandmother of five.  Its mayor has taken the reins because there was no one else.  His predecessor, along with 12 other mayors across the country, was executed.
     Village after border village is abandoned or suffering from the same attrition of social structure and hope.  The horrors they face included ‘hit lists’ posted at gas stations, police stations riddled with bullet holes, decapitated heads of city leaders discarded like trash, and absent fathers . . . executed, drafted by the cartels, or simply gone.   
     From Politicos back to Bovines
     Obama’s campaign promise to reinstate the ban on assault rifles is a gargantuan contradiction.  The guns of Fast and Furious, guns he pledged to oppose, have been allowed to become tools in the barrage of horror inflicted on innocent Mexicans that live in the midst of this war. 
     These are human beings.  These people are the uninvolved who cannot even legally own a gun to protect themselves.  Without a single conviction of the cartel operatives targeted in the program, Americans can only assume this was another social engineering opportunity too important to be wasted.
     There is blood on the hands of people we needed to trust.  If there is American innocence at the highest levels of this carnage, those leaders should be indicted and impeached for being myopic.  More likely, a grave and dangerous circumstance is upon us, and  . . . the defenseless Mexicans who are simply trying to exist.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “A cow can be trusted to be a cow.  Her priorities are very simple, but she is honest in her relationship with those priorities.”


Thanks Steve, for another insightful article.

For more on the 90% fiasco, see The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S. 

As for the motive, NRA's Wayne LaPierre came right out and said it yesterday on Newsmax.TV:
The government-sanctioned gunrunning operation Fast and Furious was a plot to undermine Second Amendment rights in the United States, National Rifle Association officerWayne LaPierre charged on Friday in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.  “It’s the only thing that makes any sense,” LaPierre said. “Over a period of two or three years they were running thousands and thousands of guns to the most evil people on earth. At the same time they were yelling ’90 per cent… of the guns the Mexican drug cartels are using come from the United States.’ “That was a phony figure from the very start. Even the Wikileaks cables from our own State Department prove they are coming from Central America, they are not coming from the U.S. Every police officer will tell you that they’re coming from Russia, they’re coming from China, most of them are coming from Central America and a lot of them are coming from defections from the Mexican Army,” said LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president and CEO.  But LaPierre said that President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were determined to make it appear that most weapons used by the Mexicans came from north of the border, “so they could stick more gun legislation on honest American gun owners of the United States.”

LaPierre claims the scandal would never have come to life "if it hadn’t been for the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry" in December:

“We wouldn’t know about this at all if [Terry] had not been killed and some of the good, honest, decent federal agents down the line had enough of the stench coming out of Washington and started to use the Whistleblower Act to go public and call the Justice Department out on this whole rotten, stinking scheme.  “Otherwise thousands of guns would still be going over the border into the Mexican drug cartels and the president and the attorney general and the secretary of state would all be running around going ’90 percent of the guns come from America’ in an attempt to seek political advantage and in an attempt to enact more gun control laws on honest American citizens and use this whole issue politically against the Second Amendment of the United States.”

Saying Fast and Furious is "the biggest cover-up since the Watergate scandal", LaPierre continued to hit hard:

“They ordered these sales to be made, they even overrode the InstaCheck system and ordered the dealers to make the sales. Then, when it all starts coming out, there’s a massive cover-up.” 

And on the issue of a special prosecutor, La Pierre had this to say:

“My gosh, Valerie Plame gets a special prosecutor,” he said, referring to the CIA agent whose name was leaked during the George W. Bush presidency. “And all we get on Fast and Furious, where people are dead, a federal agent is dead, hundreds of crimes are being committed, is an Eric Holder cover-up.  “They crossed the line. They need to be held responsible. We need to get to the bottom of this and the only way we are going to get to the bottom of it is a special prosecutor.”

Politically, appointing a special prosecutor may not be the smart thing to do.  For instance, National Review has editorialized:

House Republicans are calling for Obama to instruct Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate this issue. We understand the impulse, but what are the odds of Eric Holder’s appointing a counsel with the bulldoggish independence to investigate him? Even if he did, the investigation would give the administration a handy excuse to cease any cooperation with Congress and any public comment on grounds of “an ongoing investigation.” Republicans would be wiser to keep the heat on through their congressional committees. If Holder lied, it is most important that it be exposed to the public, which if aroused can act more decisively than any special prosecutor.