Saturday, January 14, 2012

Community Meeting to announce FOB Location 1/20/12 - 1:00 p.m. Animas Community

Just received a call from Chris Mangusing, Lordsburg Sector Chief. The Border Patrol will be announcing their decision on the placement of the Forward Operation Base (FOB) this Friday, January 20th - 1:00 p.m. at the Animas Community Center.

Although we were promised a notice of this meeting would be published in our local paper, the Border Patrol didn't get it done.

They will be placing a notice in the Post Office, however, word of mouth is the best way to let the community know.

Feel free to pass this notice along.

Hope to see you there.


Group contests Expo New Mexico racino bid award

The corporation that lost its bid for a contract with Expo New Mexico is now protesting the decision. The Laguna Development Corporation was competing with the Downs at Albuquerque for the 25-year contract with Expo New Mexico. Last month, the Downs was awarded the contract. But LDC said its bid offered more money for improvements, and they say the Downs was given access to LDC's bid, giving them an unfair advantage to win. "We are confident that our bid was the superior one. It was advantageous from a financial standpoint to the State and to Expo New Mexico," Skip Sayre, an LDC spokesman said. LDC's protest asks for the contract with the Downs to be rescinded. KOB Eyewitness News 4 contacted the attorneys for the Downs. They sent the following statement: “The Downs at Albuquerque absolutely and unequivocally denies the allegations leveled by Laguna Development Corporation and their attorneys in their Preliminary Bid Protest dated January 4, 2012. The Downs considers the allegations frivolous and extremely irresponsible. Had Laguna Development Corporation’s lawyers conducted even the most cursory review of the facts they would have learned that the $43,800,000 number was the EXACT number used by The Downs as a base-line for participation rent when negotiating a lease with the previous administration 14 months ago."...more

Federal closure of Idaho mine devastating to town

Many in the Silver Valley still are absorbing the blow of the just announced one-year closure of the Lucky Friday silver mine. Federal safety regulators want the walls of the primary shaft in and out of the mine cleaned before production can resume. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's decision to close the mine shaft will have devastating consequences, those in the valley said Thursday. "It's going to kill this valley," said Chuck Reitz, a Mullan City Councilman. "It's a disaster in the long term," said Mike Dotson, owner of Bitterroot Coffee House in Mullan. "I think it's going to be really tough when both wage earners work there. Everybody is just trying to absorb the shock." He said the community has weathered tough times in the past. Ted Drake, a Mullan resident who was out walking his dogs Thursday, said, "The guy in the bar told me it's going to impact them big time." Mullan doesn't have more than a small handful of businesses. For the community and the greater valley, Drake said, "It's devastating, and going to cause a chain reaction. It's going to put a major damper on Mullan. But it's going to hit everybody." He said he has talked to laid off miners who said they'll be heading out of state to find work. The closure means 185 of Hecla Mining Co.'s workers at Lucky Friday have been laid off, along with up to 100 workers employed by contractors that do work at the mine...more

Community leader, wife of astronomer, Tombaugh dies at 99

Patricia "Patsy" Edson Tombaugh, community leader, educator, artist, and enthusiastic supporter of her astronomy pioneer husband Clyde, discover of the planet Pluto, died Thursday at the Arbors of Del Rey in Las Cruces. She was 99. "Mother was born Nov. 7, 1912, and hoped to enjoy celebrating her 100th birthday with New Mexico's Centennial this year, but her body just gave out," said her daughter Annette Tombaugh Sitze of Las Cruces. She was in Florida for the 2006 launch of the New Horizons Pluto Probe, which carried Clyde's ashes, and expressed hopes to live to see it reach Pluto in 2015. She met Clyde Tombaugh shortly after his 1930 discovery of Pluto, when he entered Kansas University as a freshman in 1932, and stayed at her mother's rooming house. They were married in 1934 and had two children, Annette and Alden, both Las Cruces residents. Known for her sense of humor, she once joked that "Pluto was his first love" and she had to compete with several planets, comets and assorted other heavenly bodies to attract his attention. But it was clear, through their six-decade marriage that she was the love of his life, and it was her connections that steered the course of his life after his early astronomical coup. "My uncle, James Edson, my mother's brother, introduced them and it was my uncle, who also brought Werner von Braun here, who was responsible for bringing them to Las Cruces in 1946," Sitze said...more

It's official, The Lone Ranger will shoot in New Mexico; Johnny Depp to play Tonto

The shooting starts in February for the long-awaited Lone Ranger movie starring Johnny Depp as Tonto, a project that once appeared to be doomed. On Friday, Gov. Susana Martinez announced the movie will begin production in New Mexico. It is a Disney production, and will star Armie Hammer as the Ranger, alongside Depp as Tonto. The director is Gore Verbinski, who directed Depp in the Pirates of the Carribean movies, as well as Rango and the immortal Mouse Hunt back in 1997...more

Farmland prices continue rising at an amazing pace

The increase in farmland values over the past year continues to amaze both farmers and investors. And even more amazing is the fact that land continues to move quickly, despite the higher prices. “What surprises us is the rate of increase over the last 12 months,” says Lee Vermeer, vice president of real estate operations for Farmers National Company, Omaha, NE. “Values are up 20 to 25 percent, compared to rises of five to 10 percent in 2010. We are looking for 2012 to be another profitable year for those selling land.” If you’re thinking of selling farmland, it’s likely a realtor will encourage you to offer the land at auction. Farmers National Company, for instance, has seen record auction activity during the last six months as more properties are being sold at auction to maximize profits. Tight supply of quality land has also prompted buyers to look at less productive land that can be upgraded, Vermeer says. Strong grain prices are boosting profits for farmers, prompting them to pursue land in order to expand operations, In addition, cash rents in top production areas have increased 25 to 40 percent during 2011. “Farmers make up 75 percent of the buyers in the market, despite continued strong interest from investors,” Vermeer says. “Land continues to be a tangible investment that has performed well, thus the demand.”...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #017

Country Style USA with special guest star George Morgan.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's started: Obama's takeover of our health care

This is the lead paragraph in a recent NY Times article:

"The Obama administration said Thursday that rate increases sought by a health insurance company were unreasonable, and it ordered the insurer to rescind them or justify its refusal to do so."

So there you have it - the federal takeover of your health care.  Listen to Obama's Cabinet member sound off:

"“It’s time for Trustmark to immediately rescind the rates, issue refunds to consumers or publicly explain their refusal to do so,” Ms. Sebelius said, wielding power granted by the new health care law."

Don Beaudreux at Cafe Hayek doesn't like it any more than me and is much more articulate:

"What to say? U.S. Government officials are demanding that private business people “justify” their business decisions. People unfamiliar with the concept of competition as a discovery procedure – people unaware of the complexity of emergent orders – people unconcerned about concentrated, arbitrary power wielded by worthies in Washington – people unfazed by the arrogance of a bureaucrat presuming to know that some proposed price-hike is to large, but who also cowardly refuses to put her money where her mouth is by opening up a competing insurance company – people unmoved by the prospect of private entrepreneurs and business people having to beg the permission of mandarins on the Potomac in order to conduct business – people unsuspecting that such power can easily be abused to punish politically inconvenient firms and to assist political allies – such people will find nothing frightening about the quoted paragraph."

For now, all the Obama people can do is holler, and push and shove politically and try to embarrass the company:

"Mr. Obama unsuccessfully sought the power to block rate increases deemed unreasonable, a power that some states have. Even without that authority, administration officials said, their ability to challenge and publicize large increases provides a significant new protection for consumers."

Better believe they'll be going after that authority again.

The L.A. River Designated with Two Federal Initiatives

While it has been been public knowledge for a while, today Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officially announced the selection of the Los Angeles River for President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative as well as being designated an Urban Waters Federal Partnership site. A group of over a hundred river advocates and politicians were in attendance at North Atwater Park, adjacent to the river. With these designations the Glendale Narrows, a 9 mile stretch of the Los Angeles River, will be reviewed through a federal partnership with 11 agencies, including the Interior Department, to build parks, restore wildlife, and improve water quality. These agencies include: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Corporation for National and Community Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Transportation...more

With 11 federal agencies involved this must truly be an example of America's Great Outdoors right there in L.A.  On the other hand, having 11 federal agencies messing around could screw up anything, so why have so many involved?

"The value is in the partnership with the agencies, according to Melanie Winter, director of The River Project, as it will open up opportunities for funding. A challenge in revitalizing the Los Angeles River has been the burden of raising funds for acquiring property..."

Ah, now I understand.  The more feds, the better chance for funds to gobble up private property.  Good thinking L.A.

"In fact the Army Corps of Engineers is supposed to complete a study of the L.A. River and we were told that as of a few weeks ago, they advised river advocates that they had no money to complete that study."

Uh oh.  They need the study to lobby for more federal money.  In other words, they need federal money to create a piece of paper that will then allow them to get more federal money.  That is what America's Great Outdoors  is all about:  More money and land acquisition.

Gateway Transmission response team should get earful from Idaho counties

County officials will get about an hour to meet with the federal Gateway West Transmission Line Project “Rapid Response Team” Friday and its response to Power County on another transmission project suggests they have some work to do. This team of nine federal agency officials appointed by President Barack Obama will meet with state, and local officials about the proposed 1,150-mile Gateway project, which would run from Glenrock, Wyo. to Melba. Idaho counties have generally praised the Bureau of Land Management’s handling of this project in part because it studied routes they proposed. But on another project, the Mountain States Transmission Intertie Project, Power county has been especially critical of the BLM for its lack of responsiveness. In October, chairwoman Vickie Meadows wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar complaining. “Our requests get ignored, BLM promises are broken and the project moves very slowly, if at all,” she wrote. So how did Salazar respond to the October 13 letter from Power County? He didn’t. In fact no one from Interior did...more

Guess he was too busy with Obama's Great American Outdoors to answer this letter. Let's see now, how many voters are there in L.A. as compared to rural Idaho?

Light Bulb Phaseout Worse Than Reported

As the light bulb phaseout goes into effect, you may be surprised to know the law also requires their already-costly replacements to be phased out too. That's right, new light bulb efficiency standards set by Washington also mandate light bulbs become 70% more efficient than classic bulbs by 2020. The only bulbs that meet that higher standard are light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. And they are even more expensive than compact fluorescent lamps. CFLs will replace incandescent bulbs to meet the first level of efficiency that's been widely reported in the media. By 2014, household bulbs using between 40 and 100 watts will need to consume at least 28% less energy under a stupid law passed by Congress in 2007. But a little-noticed provision of the law, known as the Energy Independence and Security Act, also sets a second efficiency goal of 70% that must be met nationwide by 2020. LEDs already exceed that goal. But an LED replacement for a 50-cent, 60-watt incandescent bulb costs as much as $60. No doubt costs will drop by 2020. But it's yet another unnecessary federal mandate looming on the horizon for consumers — many of whom are perfectly happy with their old bulbs. The federal regulation effectively bans those bulbs by halting their manufacture. Major bulb makers have already made the plant investments to follow the law...more

Judge rules in favor of timber company

The U.S. Forest Service owes money to a timber company for authorizing a logging project that was later blocked by environmental litigation. The agency is financially liable for not disclosing key legal matters to Timber Products Co. of Springfield, Ore., according to a federal judge. The Forest Service unreasonably awarded the company a timber sale in California's Klamath National Forest even though the agency knew environmentalists would try to stop logging at the site, the judge said. Logging was later blocked by a federal court and Timber Products couldn't harvest logs from the site in four years. The company is seeking $1.3 million in timber replacement costs, lost profits and expenses. The agency breached its contract "by awarding the timber sale knowing of the risk of an injunction and suspension, but never telling Timber Products," said Judge Mary Ellen Coster Williams of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The Forest Service recognized that Timber Products could suffer damages but approved the logging project because the company's opposition to an injunction could help the agency in its legal battle with environmentalists, the ruling said. "In short, awarding the timber sale was a litigation tactic," said Williams...more

Pretty typical.  A federal agency willing to risk the profits and jobs of a private entity to complete a project which results in funds for the federal agency.  Wonder if they would have taken the legal gamble if it was their jobs at risk?

This Map Shows Where All The Trees Are In The US

NASA's Earth Observatory just released a map illustrating where all the trees are in America. The map was created over six years by Josef Kellndorfer and Wayne Walker of the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey. The dark swaths of green represent parts of the country with the greatest concentration of biomass. You can see dense tree cover in the Pacific Northwest as well New England, which has been reforested after intensive logging in the 18th and 19th centuries.

BLM to study Sierra County copper mining proposal

The Bureau of Land Management says it plans to prepare an environmental impact statement for a proposed copper mine in south-central New Mexico. The agency's decision comes nearly a year after New Mexico Copper Corp. first announced plans to reopen a mine near Hillsboro that had been shuttered for nearly three decades. As part of the process, the BLM plans to hold scoping meetings in the area in the coming months. New Mexico Copper began exploring the extent of the deposit at Copper Flat in 2010, when copper prices began to rebound. Company officials believe there's still plenty of ore to be mined from the site. If state and federal regulators approve the company's plans, the operation could mean some 500 construction jobs and another 200 permanent jobs. AP

Experience Elko, Nevada, at the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering—the nation's greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and traditions—will take place January 30 to February 4, 2012, in Elko, Nevada, a high desert community where ranching has been a way of life for more than a century. The poetry, music, workshops, films, discussions, exhibits and dances that compose the Gathering honor Elko and other rural communities across the West where people work on horseback. With its strong cattle culture, Elko is a natural place for this celebration. "People always wonder why we hold this event in such an out-of-the-way place at such an inhospitable time of the year," says Charlie Seemann, Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the Gathering. "It's when ranchers and cowboys are the most available. At other times of the year, they are calving, haying or shipping. This is their event and we want them to be here...and the journey to Elko is part of the experience." Visit the for more information about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Visit for more information about Elko. Tickets to the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at, by calling 775-738-7508, toll-free 888-880-5885, or by stopping in to the Western Folklife Center's ticket office, 501 Railroad Street, Elko...more


Song Of The Day #748

The tune on Ranch Radio this morning is Memories Always Linger On by Hawkshaw Hawkins.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

USDA to close 259 offices

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Monday it will close nearly 260 offices nationwide, a move that won praise for cutting costs but raised concerns about the possible effect on food safety. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the goal was to save $150 million a year in the agency's $145 billion budget. About $90 million had already been saved by reducing travel and supplies, and the closures were expected to save another $60 million, he said. The plan calls for 259 offices, labs and other facilities to be closed, affecting the USDA headquarters in Washington and operations in 46 states. Seven foreign offices also will be shut. Vilsack said he didn't anticipate widespread layoffs, in part because 7,000 USDA employees took early retirements over the past year. He said the agency is trying to do more with less in light of federal cutbacks, and many of the offices to be closed had few employees or were near other offices...more

According to a USDA press release, their proposal is the following:

* Farm Service Agency (FSA): Consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states; more than 2,100 FSA offices remain throughout the United States
* Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS): Close 2 country offices; more than 95 FAS offices remain throughout the world
* Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Close 15 APHIS offices in 11 states and 5 APHIS offices in 5 foreign countries; more than 560 APHIS offices remain throughout the United States and 55 remain throughout the world
* Rural Development (RD): Close 43 area and sub offices in 17 states and U.S. territories; approximately 450 RD offices remain throughout the United States
* Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): Close 24 soil survey offices in 21 states; more than 2,800 NRCS offices remain throughout the United States
* Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): Close 5 district offices in 5 states; 10 district offices remain throughout the United States
* Agricultural Research Service (ARS): Close 12 programs at 10 locations; more than 240 programs remain throughout the United States
* Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS): Close 31 field offices in 28 states; 32 FNCS offices will remain throughout the United States

You can view the plan map here.

Looks like a good start, but only a start, to downsizing USDA.  That sentiment doesn't appear to be unanimously shared however.

"Kevin Ross, 31, a sixth-generation farmer in Iowa, expressed concern about how services would be affected. Farmers could drop out of programs if they have to travel long distances, he said."

Exactly, let's hope that happens.  It probably won't though.  Does anyone believe farmers will travel "long distances" to attend the state fair but won't make a similar trip to get government money?  Besides, given today's technology, they can stay on the government dole while sitting at home:

"Bruce Babcock, a farm economist at Iowa State University and director of the school's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, said consolidation was a long time coming, given that advances in technology made it possible to file applications and do other tasks over the phone or online."

We're still a long ways from getting those who farm the subsidized crops on the semblance of a market system.  It's time they joined the non-subsidized farmers, like those who grow alfalfa and other crops.

Outrage Over Grand Canyon Mining Decision

US senators, congressmen, mining companies and nuclear industry representatives have criticised a final decision to ban new uranium mining on land near the Grand Canyon for the next 20 years. Others were not so convinced of the righteousness of Salazar’s chosen path. A group of eight US senators and congressmen led by Arizona senator John McCain issued a statement denouncing the decision. The group asserts that the decision disregards the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act, agreed through negotiation with environmental groups, which permanently locked away from mining over 650,000 acres outside the Grand Canyon designated as wilderness while affirming the compatibility of mining with conservation interests in other areas. They also noted that the Interior Department’s own studies had found “no conclusive evidence” that mining operations in the area were harmful to the Grand Canyon watershed. McCain described the ban on uranium mining as a devastating blow to job creation in the region. “This decision is fueled by an emotional public relations campaign pitting the public’s love for the Grand Canyon against a modern form of low-impact mining that occurs many miles from the Canyon walls and in no way impacts the quality of drinking water from the Colorado River,” he said. Wyoming senator John Barrasso described Salazar’s decision as “irresponsible”. Utah senator Mike Lee accused Salazar, and the administration of President Barack Obama, of making the decision to appease environmentalists during an election year. Lee described the announcement as “a needless overreaction to a fictitious problem.”...more

Just as Salazar's decision is political, so probably is McCain's reaction.  Let's see if he actually does something about it.

Nev.'s water fight -- slow-motion war over a thirsty future

Denys Koyle parked an 8-foot bucket on the lot in front of her small motel, here on a lonely stretch of pavement crossing the Utah-Nevada line. A sign on the bucket reads: "Don't Let Las Vegas Destroy Nevada. Stop the Water Pipeline." Koyle is an unlikely activist. She's quick to point out that she's no tree-hugger. But as she bustles between the Border Inn's grill and gas station, she complains about the long reach and powerful thirst of Las Vegas. These are problems she thinks will put her area, Snake Valley, at risk. "It's a hundred-years' war," she says. "It's exhausting." She and her neighbors, settled on either side of U.S. Route 50, are all stirred up by an aggressive pipeline proposal from a city nearly 300 miles away. In many parts of the world, cities are on the forefront of preparing for a climate-changed future. Here it is happening with a peculiar twist: Las Vegas wants the water beneath their feet, and residents scattered through White Pine County and other targeted rural areas aren't budging. This battle has been raging for two decades with no end in sight. On the front lines is the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), with its proposal to draw water from five faraway basins, including the Snake Valley, which straddles the Utah border. The multibillion-dollar project would help supply 2 million residents of the sprawling Las Vegas area, but could have severe impacts on the rural valleys. Its outcome will set the tone for future rural-urban relations in Nevada and other Southwestern states where drought-parched cities want more water. Smaller water pipeline proposals are under scrutiny in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah...more

Tales of the Red Tape #24: Breeding Extinction

No longer can antelope frolic on the range without a federal permit. In all fairness, the FWS is not really to blame for this assault on ungulate independence. Since 2005, in fact, when the scimitar horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelle were listed under the Endangered Species Act, the agency has exempted ranchers from numerous prohibitions that would otherwise restrict their repopulation efforts (e.g., export or re-import; delivery, receipt, carrying, transport, or shipment in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity and sale or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce). The FWS wisely recognized that fewer regulatory obstacles would assist ranchers in replenishing antelope species that have been largely depleted in their native habitat (north African deserts, most notably). Ranchers have been allowed to stock zoos and wildlife refuges and export the animals to their native lands without seeking government approval at every turn. The agency also allowed them to generate some of the revenue needed to feed and vaccinate the herds by holding private hunts of surplus, older, non-breeding animals, as well as those with poor genetic traits. But such “profiteering”—even in support of animal rescue—was anathema to Friends of Animals, a group that claims “to cultivate a respectful view of nonhuman animals.” Notwithstanding the success of the FWS policy, the group, in concert with the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, sued the agency for failing to solicit public comment on rancher exemptions in alleged violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act. Consequently, the court ordered the agency to force ranchers to jump the multitude of bureaucratic hoops that render the act a regulatory nightmare. Specifically, the FWS must now solicit public comment whenever a rancher (or zoo or wildlife refuge) seeks an exemption from the ESA...more

Park Service defends handling of Occupy D.C. protest

An ongoing clash over the National Park Service's handling of the hundreds of Occupy D.C. protestors living in tents on McPherson Square has accelerated. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, on Tuesday threatened Interior Secretary Ken Salazar with "compulsory processes," which could mean subpoenas, if the Interior Department fails to produce by Jan. 24 some 18 specific documents or explanations that Issa originally requested in a Dec. 12 letter.  Responding to the persistence of a McPherson Square tent city erected this fall as part the worldwide Occupy Wall Street protests, Issa has expressed concern about damage to recently refurbished federal property and accuses the Park Service of failing to enforce the section of the legal code prohibiting camping in nondesignated areas of national parks. As part of the 2009 Recovery Act, "Interior awarded more than $400,000 to . . . rehabilitate McPherson Square in Northwest Washington," Issa wrote, "that included new grass, concrete curbs, refurbished benches, new light poles, water fountains, new paint, new chain fencing, 12 new trash cans and new light meters"...more

Size of U.S. debt is now the same as its entire economy: $15.23 TRILLION

America's national debt has reached a worrying milestone - it is now as big as the whole of its economy. The amount owed by the federal government to its creditors, combined with IOUs to government retirement and other schemes, now stands at $15.23 trillion. The government estimated the value of goods and services produced by the economy in a year at $15.17trillion as of September...more

The debt will keep growing faster than the economy, unless the economy grows 6 percent per year, which is certainly unlikely.

Seized, abandoned horses, donkeys are expense for taxpayers

Taxpayers, via the DeSoto sheriff's office, are increasingly paying more money to care for horses and donkeys abandoned or neglected by their owners at greater numbers over the past year. The numbers, which are hard to put a finger on, have grown so much that Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle took the unusual action Tuesday of leasing a 54-acre tract from a DeSoto Parish local landowner where the animals can be placed and fed until their disposition is known. More often, owners are not reclaiming them, leaving the sheriff's office to send them to auction or attempt adoption through a local rescue group...more

Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle says:

"But the problem we're running into is there is no market for the horses and donkeys, and the owners are not feeding them or watering them. They got stuck with them, too. They say they can't find the hay to feed them. We think a lot are letting them loose and not claiming them, so we're having to pick them up."

Thank the do-gooders.  They were told but didn't believe. Finally, Congress has seen the light.

Poll: Farmers Overwhelmingly Want Republican President, With Edge to Romney

U.S. farmers overwhelmingly support a Republican to be the next president, despite a strong farm economy during President Barack Obama's administration, according to a Reuters survey released on Wednesday. The farmers give a slight edge to Mitt Romney over Rick Santorum as the best person to take on Obama and the Democrats in the November elections. Almost 75 percent of farmers and ranchers intend to vote for a Republican as president, according to a random survey of 462 farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting this week in Honolulu. While traditionally socially and fiscally conservative, only 3.5 percent of the group said they would back Obama. Some 20 percent said they were still undecided, however. "Barack Obama is leading the country to possible destruction," Danny Mills of Accomack County, Va., said, explaining that he believes government borrowing and spending got out of control under President George W. Bush but that Obama has not done enough to reign it in. "This is totally unsustainable," he said...more

Settlement to benefit NM Native American farmers

After a 13-year court battle, Native American farmers and ranchers who were denied federal farm loans will get long-awaited compensation. The U.S. District Court approved the Keepseagle v. Vilsack class action settlement of $760 million in April. Lawyers sought out potential claimants for that money—including people in New Mexico—up until Tuesday, Dec. 27. Teams of lawyers were sent out to spread the word about the process. Details are protected under attorney-client privilege, said Christine Webber of the Cohen, Milstein, Sellers and Toll law firm that was handling the settlement claims. “Arizona and New Mexico were expected to be one of the biggest areas for claims because of the number of tribes located in the two states.” About 300 people in New Mexico filed claims, as did 380 from Arizona. In total, about 5,100 were filed nationally, according to preliminary reports, says Webber. Several people attending the Gallup meeting declined to be interviewed, saying they did not want to jeopardize their chances by being in the press. Anita Tsinnajinnie, a translator, was on hand. “Communication issues are complicating factors in gathering claims,” she said, citing the number of tribes and languages as part of the challenge. Gathering basic legal documents to prove Native American heritage was also a daunting task for many on rural reservations, she said. Individual interviews were conducted with a translator, she added, and could be time consuming. A 2009 study by the Center of Southwest Culture stresses that the largest threat to Native American farming in New Mexico is waning interest from tribal members: If the younger generation loses regard for ancient farming traditions, they will be lost. Gambling enterprises are also consuming parcels of Native American land. More than half of New Mexico’s pueblos run casinos, according to the study, and so do Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation. “Tribes are diverting water rights into nonagricultural uses,” the study states, “especially golf courses for resort developments.”...more

As American appetite for beef falls, ranchers look abroad

For the past decade, cattle ranchers and meat packers watched with despair as America's beef consumption steadily declined, ceding ground to leaner meats, vegetarian diets and lower-cost dishes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 2011 U.S. per capita beef consumption at 57.6 pounds, down 13 percent from 10 years ago and down about 25 percent from 1980. In 2012, the USDA predicts, Americans will eat 54.1 pounds of beef on average. The beef industry is coping with these changes by developing new cuts that will satisfy appetites for steaks but at a lower cost. Also, it has benefited from a huge recovery in beef exports, particularly to Asia and Russia, where consumers are upgrading their diets and concerns about mad cow disease fade...more

MT man jumps from SUV to rescue horse

A scene straight out of a Western movie stampeded through modern-day Montana: a man jumped from a moving SUV into a buggy being pulled by a running horse, and then jumped onto the running horse - without reins or stirrups. And the real-life ending couldn't have been scripted better. On Monday night, Dustin Burckhard, 29, noticed something outside the window of the Old Timer Café, where he works. He noticed an unattended horse and buggy tied up to the fence, about to break free. "We were actually just getting ready to go and fix her bridle and kinda tie her up a little when she busted loose," Burckhard said. "I said, let's go see if we can just kinda slow her down and catch her." Easier said than done. Midnight the mare had no intention of stopping - she and the buggy went flying down the road to home. "She went down through the ditch and back up, she's a smart pony, she didn't wanna stop," Burckhard said. But on a busy road, Burckhard knew if he didn't do something, the pony would be in trouble. "A horse on the loose on the highway, it's gonna hurt," he said. "She's gonna hit something, not gonna be pretty." Witnesses saw the horse and buggy side-swipe three cars. Burckhard, a horse lover, knew he had to hop on to the horse to get it to stop. He instructed his coworker, Tim Ranel, 15, to take the wheel and drive as close as he could to the buggy so he could mount up. Ranel just got his driver's license that day...more

Texas ranchers worry as Round Two of drought looms

Despite this week's rains, worries about a looming Round Two have farmers rethinking what they plant based on water needs and heat tolerances. Expect to see more drought-tolerant cotton patches, less corn and fewer thirsty vegetable fields this year, experts say. The drought will also echo across ranchlands for years to come. The state cow count dropped by about 700,000 last year to 4.5 million, its lowest since the 1950s, as ranchers liquidated herds or trucked stock to greener pastures in the north, said Eldon White, vice president of the Fort Worth-based Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Even with more rain, pastures will take one to three years to recover, he said. "Ranchers won't build up herds until it rains again," White said. The drought has shifted the way the historic Four Sixes Ranch operates, said Joe Leathers, general manager. The giant spread, with its headquarters in Guthrie, has moved half its herd to Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. "This is the meanest thing that has happened to the cattle industry in my lifetime," Leathers said. "I don't know of this many cattle having been moved north to this magnitude since the early 1900s. "Some people have sold out; some moved their cattle north. I'm not sure anybody knows what the right answer is. Time will only tell who made the right decisions."...more

Song Of The Day #747

Here at Ranch Radio we're just like the Buchanan Brothers who are Just Hangin' On in this 1948 recording.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Animal rights group burns 14 cattle trucks at Harris Ranch - video

Animal-rights activists are taking responsibility for an arson fire that destroyed 14 cattle trucks at the sprawling Harris Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley off Interstate 5. The fire broke out at the feed lot truck-storage facility at the ranch about 3:45 a.m. Sunday, said Fresno County sheriff's Deputy Chris Curtice. Firefighters found 14 trucks fully engulfed and extinguished the blaze within 45 minutes, he said. In an e-mail sent to the media Monday, the North American Animal Liberation Press Office said it had received an anonymous message from someone with specific details about the fire at the Coalinga ranch, one of the largest farming operations in the San Joaquin Valley. Curtice, a 30-year veteran of the sheriff's office, said there have been animal-rights protests at the ranch, but "I don't think we've ever had anything like this."...more

Here is the NAALPO press release:

NAALPO Press Release
January 9, 2012

Received anonymously:

    at about 3:40 am on sunday, january 8th, 14 cattle trucks caught fire at the harris feeding company in coalinga, ca. containers of accelerant were placed beneath a row of 14 trucks with 4 digital timers used to light 4 of the containers and kerosene-soaked rope carrying the fire to the other 10 (a tactic adapted from Home Alone 2 [if you're going to try this make sure to use kerosene, gasoline dries to quickly]). we weren’t sure how well this was going to work, so we waited until there was news reports before writing this. we were extremely pleased to see that all 14 trucks “were a total loss” with some being “completely melted to the ground.”
     we’re not going to use this space to expound upon the horrors and injustices of factory farming. there is more than enough armchair-activists and those of passive politics who are more than willing to do that (anything to keep from getting their hands dirty). we, the unsilent minority (the 1%, if you will), choose a more direct form of action.
     we’re not delusional enough to believe that this action will shut down the harris feeding company, let alone have any effect on factory farming as a whole. but we maintain that this type of action still has worth, if not solely for the participant’s peace of mind, then to show that despite guards, a constant worker presence, and razorwire fence, the enemy is still vulnerable.
     finally, to all those who fantasize and romanticize about direct action yet remain on the fence: there is a lot of stuff that needs to be destroyed and we can’t count on spontaneous combustion and careless welders to do all the work.
     until next time…

[Press Office note: Harris Ranch Beef Company is California's largest fed cattle "processor" producing nearly 200 million pounds of beef a year. The largest cattle feeder on the West Coast and 14th largest nationally encompasses a 100,000-head feed lot. At any given time there will normally be between 70-100,000 head of cattle on feed. Harris Feeding Company feeds about 1/3 of all the cows murdered in California. Cows spend the last days of their short, brutal lives standing in their own waste, until hauled off to have their throats slit and their bodies sliced into small pieces for human consumption. Video of the "feed lot" here:]

Contact: (213) 640-5048
Animal Liberation Press Office
3371 Glendale Blvd. #107
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Here is the KMPH video report:

Have some family business to tend to this morning.  The rest of The Westerner will appear later today.

Billionaire wife embroiled in wild horse debate - video

There's a battle brewing out West: It's a confrontation between cattle ranchers and the wife of billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, Madeleine Pickens, over wild horses, wild mustangs to be specific. The ranchers in Northern Nevada say their livelihood is at risk because there are too many wild horses grazing on federal lands, while animal advocates like Madeleine Pickens believe the population, which number in the tens of thousands, is manageable, special correspondent Jeff Glor reported on "CBS This Morning." In the past year, Pickens has spent between $12 and $13 million trying to establish a "Wild Horse Eco-Sanctuary," which she says is needed to save America's mustangs. Money might not be an object for Madeleine Pickens, but it is for the neighbors. That's because Pickens wants to use more than 500,000 acres of federal land for her horse refuge -- land that is currently used to graze cattle. Cattle ranchers say there won't be enough land -- or food -- for both groups. Madeleine Pickens says the ranchers have "grown up hating the horse." She said, "The group that's opposing us -- they don't like the horse." But cattle rancher and Elko County Commission Chairman Demar Dahl told Glor he likes horses and likes having them on his ranch -- just not too many of them. Pickens' idea, he said, is not a solution to the overpopulation of horses. Dahl said Nevada authorities need to have "an adult conversation" about the reality of the situation...more 

Here's the CBS video report: 

Beef Checkoff may jump to $2 in California

Members of the Golden State's largest beef producers' organization want to raise the fees that pay for promoting their industry within California. The board and membership of the California Cattlemen's Association voted overwhelmingly during their recent winter meeting to support an increase in the Beef Checkoff from $1 to $2 for each head of cattle sold in the state. Proceeds from the checkoff fund the California Beef Council, whose 42 members are appointed by the governor and represent the beef, dairy, range and feeder sectors. The council operates under the 1985 Farm Bill, which initiated the checkoff nationwide. "It's been $1 since 1985," said CCA president Kevin Kester, a Parkfield, Calif., rancher. "The value of a 1985 dollar is about 45 cents today." The CCA has forwarded a request for a referendum to California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, whose department could schedule ballots to go out in the spring or early summer, Kester said. It would take 60 percent approval among affected parties to pass. California is among a dozen states that have either approved a Beef Checkoff increase or are considering it, he said. The organization president said he's traveled around the state and found that about 95 percent of the ranchers he's talked to support the idea. "I would hope it passes," he said...more

Debate over branding has ranchers lamenting loss of enduring symbol of the West

One of the West's most enduring symbols is fading like a red-hot branding iron cools to ashen gray. With concerns over disease and global trade trumping tradition, federal regulators want ranchers to swap the old-fashioned cattle brand for electronic ear tags to quickly and reliably identify livestock. Ranchers from Livermore to Laytonville accept the inevitability but lament the passing of a ritual older than America -- the smell of trampled sagebrush and burned hide, the sound of whinnying horses songs around campfires and friendly boasts among friends. "Cowboys are said to ride for the brand. It's hard to imagine anyone riding for an ear tag,'' said Jon Christensen, executive director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. The debate over the USDA proposal, with a final rule expected within months, "is not just a fight over the best way to identify, track and ensure the ownership and safety of cattle," said Christensen. "This is a battle over a powerful western icon." But the discovery in late 2003 of a cow in rural Washington infected with mad cow disease inspired federal officials to find a better way to instantly track livestock. They feared that the U.S. could suffer the same fate as the United Kingdom, which quarantined and killed tens of thousands of animals after a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, devastating its agricultural economy...more

USDA has taken a page out of the FBI book. They have legislation on the shelf to expand their power just waiting for a crisis.  Look what happened after the Oklahoma City bombing and 911.  For USDA, all it took was a couple of Canadian cows imported to the US.  All of it is government by fear.  Instill fear in the public and expand your power.  Unfortunately, it works.

Song Of The Day #746

The tune on Ranch Radio this morning is the 1953 recording of Doin' The Tennessee Wig Walk by Bonnie Lou.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

State offers to train Sheriffs on wolf kills

Washington state wildlife officials said they’re willing to train Stevens County sheriff’s deputies on how to identify livestock that has been killed by wolves. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers will be the lead investigators but additional trained eyes at the scene can only help, said Bruce Bjork, the agency’s chief of enforcement. “We’ll certainly take whatever assistance we can get from the county, whether that’s initial response when a call comes in to assistance at the scene,” he said. “We’re going to try to work as jointly as possible with the counties.” Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen has proposed forming his own investigative team for livestock predation. He’s basing the concept on Wallowa County, Ore., where sheriff’s deputies investigate suspected wolf kills alongside state wildlife officials. The Wallowa County sheriff’s department got involved because local ranchers distrusted Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife agents, Allen said. In Wallowa County, “the sheriff is used like a second opinion, and that’s what we’re looking at here,” he said. “If we do have a suspected wolf kill, we’ll have deputies trained to go out and look at remains, the tracks and investigate it.” Allen said a county investigation team would uphold “the rights of our local cattlemen and property owners … and if they have some type of restitution coming, make sure they have every chance of collecting it.”...more

And in New Mexico?

Grand Canyon million-acre new mining claim withdrawal in effect

Environmentalists praised the Obama Administration, while House and Senate Republicans accused the President of costing the country desperately needed jobs as U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his decision to withdraw public lands near the Grand Canyon from new mining claims for two decades. The BLM forecasts that up to 11 uranium mines, including four that are currently approved, could still be developed based on valid pre-existing rights-"meaning the jobs supported by mining in the area would increase or remain flat as compared to the current level..." "Without the withdrawal, there could be 30 uranium mines in the area over the next 20 years, including the four that are currently approved, with as many as six operating at one time," according to the BLM's environmental impact statement. However, National Mining Association CEO Hal Quinn countered, "The administration's announcement is not supported by the findings of its own impact analysis, which provided no evidence to justify a massive withdrawal of land outside the Grand Canyon National Park. The department's environmental impact statement concluded future mining activity is unlikely to have significant impacts on the park, the surrounding environment or on allied tourism." "These are among the reasons the department's expert advisory council in Arizona opposed the withdrawal," Quinn observed. U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called the decision "a misguided effort to impose ‘buffer zones' around national parks and other federal lands that effectively lock-up vast areas without Congressional approval." "This type of unilateral extension of he borders of the park is unjustified and sets a terrible precedent," she declared...more

Latino sites identified as potential national parks

Continuing his push to identify more historic sites important to the nation’s Hispanics, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to tout a new report Wednesday identifying several sites tied to Latino heritage in Colorado and New Mexico that could one day become national parks or historic landmarks. Notably, one of the sites happens to be in Salazar’s back yard. The report, requested by Salazar, should help his personal goal of establishing more national parks and historic sites tied to minorities. The fact that the sites are in two swing states with burgeoning Hispanic populations means that the report also could be seen as an overture to the nation’s Latino voters, a bloc being aggressively wooed by President Obama’s reelection campaign. The event also serves as a reminder that whether the White House will admit it or not, the travels and priorities of Cabinet secretaries this year could be used to overtly or covertly benefit Obama’s reelection. Salazar, the Obama administration’s most senior Hispanic official and Colorado’s former senator and attorney general, plans to visit his home state to formally unveil the report, published late last month, that labels 3.26 million acres in Colorado’s San Luis Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and northern New Mexico as areas that could one day become part of a national park or historic site...more

While I've posted on this before, this Washington Post article points out what this really is: An election year sop to the enviros. Yet, over time, it will have a devastating impact on the rural citizens of northern NM and southern Colo.

Former Forest Service official says some ski resorts may have acquired their water rights by ‘fraud and deception’

A recent flareup in the water war between the federal government and the ski industry took yet another turn last week, as a former Forest Service official weighed in and charged the industry with taking advantage of a lax regulatory environment under the Bush administration to try and acquire water rights that belong to the people of the United States with “fraud and deception.” The water rights issue surfaced publicly in November, when the National Ski Areas Association, represented by attorney Glenn Porzak, complained in Congress that the Forest Service was trying to “take” privately held water rights by revising a ski area permit condition that was adopted in 2004. Since then, the ski industry has threatened to sue the Forest Service over the new water rights clause. But Ed Ryberg, who headed the agency’s ski area program from 1992 to 2005, says it’s the other way around. According to Ryberg, the ski industry used its political connections in the Bush administration to lobby for regulatory changes that were subsequently implemented without public input or review under federal environmental laws. Those efforts extended beyond the water rights issue to other aspects of ski area operation, including the establishment of quasi-private, special access lift lines, advertising on chairlift safety bars and even real estate development schemes, as in the case of the proposed village at Wolf Creek...more

I believe this ole boy is a little bitter over the changed regulatory atmosphere during the Bush administration.  And why shouldn't he be?  My gawd, advertising on on chairlift safety bars, how much worse can it get?  Its nice to hear him speak out as it shows the mentality of the career bureaucrats in the land management agencies.  Multiply this across the West and you see what any administration has to deal with internally.

Appeals court hears case challenging planned use of treated wastewater at Arizona ski resort

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Monday heard arguments in a case challenging the planned use of treated wastewater for snowmaking at a northern Arizona ski resort. Attorney Howard Shanker, representing the Save the Peaks Coalition and a group of citizens, argued before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the U.S. Forest Service needs to do a more thorough environmental analysis on the health and safety risks of using the wastewater for artificial snow. No studies have considered the impacts that could come from ingesting such snow that is sprayed on the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Ariz., that at least a dozen American Indian tribes consider sacred, Shanker told the three-judge panel. "There's got to be a reasonably thorough discussion," Shanker said. "There's been no full discussion on this." Lane McFadden, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, told the judges that the plaintiffs are "engaging in a delay tactic," while arguing a need for more information without providing specifics. The owners of the Arizona Snowbowl plan to begin making snow for skiing and snowboarding for the 2012-13 season after years of legal wrangling with tribes and critics...more

DOJ official in Milwaukee for meeting on environment

An official from the U.S. Department of Justice was in Milwaukee this week to highlight the need for protecting the environment. Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, met with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, according to James Santelle, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, who hosted the even. Michael W. Cotter, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana and chair of the Environmental Issues Working Group, also attended. “The principal purpose of the visit is to engage investigative and legal representatives of various federal agencies in important, productive discussions about the work being done to protect our lands, our waterways, our air, and our communities from environmental harm–and to promote cleaner, safer places in which our next generations will live and work," Santelle said, according to the release...more

Yup, its an election year.

USDA to Close Five FSIS District Offices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will close district offices in Lawrence, KS; Beltsville, MD; Minneapolis, MN, Albany, NY; and Madison, WS. The budgets cuts and consolidations, leaving 10 district offices open for business, are the FSIS contributions to planned USDA budget cuts totaling about $150 million, or about one percent of the giant farm and forest agency's $150 billion annual budget. FSIS says it is possible to consolidate the current 15 district offices into 10 because technology and work-share agreements are reducing the need for so many brick and mortar facilities. It wants to close the offices by the end of fiscal year 2013. Dr. Richard Raymond, former Under Secretary for Food Safety from 2005-08, said the timing for such a move is right. "I would have liked to have done this, but had no political pressure (like budget cuts or Presidential mandates) to do it. This gives (FSIS Administrator) Al Almanza and (current USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety) Dr. Elisabeth Hagen the ability to select and keep in position their top 10 District Managers. Everyone knows a couple that need to be relieved of their duties."...more

Let's see, 2005-2008 was during the Bush Administration, yet Dr. Raymond felt no "political pressure" to cut the budget.  How about just implementing good policy?  I felt no "political pressure" at Interior under Reagan, yet still proposed cutting the BLM budget.  So much so it was even opposed by OMB, which is unheard of in DC.  Now here's an Obama appointee doing what a Bush appointee didn't have the guts to do.  This explains a lot about the importance of these type of appointments and the mistakes made by the Republican establishment.

The 'Land of Enchantment' Needs a Lift

New Mexico calls itself the Land of Enchantment. But the spell isn't working all that well. Overnight tourist trips in New Mexico have dropped by nearly 10% in the past three years, and spending on everything from souvenir magnets to turquoise jewelry fell by hundreds of millions of dollars. When state tourism officials convened focus groups in Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles to ask prospective travelers about their perceptions of New Mexico, the same depressing descriptions kept cropping up: "Arid." "Barren." "Dull." Also: "Close to Arizona." So state officials are launching a $2.5 million effort to rebrand New Mexico as a place of charm and character, adventure, excitement—and really good green chili cheeseburgers. As a model, the state is looking north to Colorado, which routinely gets praised in focus groups as "majestic," "glorious" and "heavenly." The tourism department hasn't yet announced its new slogan, but Ms. Jacobson says it will be built around the premise that New Mexico offers visitors "adventure steeped in culture." A key goal: attracting younger families. State figures show 24% of tourists who stay overnight in New Mexico are 65 or older—a higher proportion than in nearby Arizona, Colorado and Utah, where on average 17% of overnight visitors are senior citizens. Those demographics matter because older visitors tend to spend less—and aren't as likely to generate a positive buzz for the state by tweeting about only-in-New Mexico experiences such as llama trekking in Taos, spelunking in Carlsbad Caverns or tramping in the dusty footsteps of Billy the Kid...more

34 Shocking Facts About U.S. Debt That Should Set America On Fire With Anger

The following are 34 shocking facts about U.S. debt that should set America on fire with anger....
#1 During fiscal year 2011, the U.S. government spent 3.7 trillion dollars but it only brought in 2.4 trillion dollars. #2 When Ronald Reagan took office, the U.S. national debt was less than 1 trillion dollars. Today, the U.S. national debt is over 15.2 trillion dollars. #3 During 2011, U.S. debt surpassed 100 percent of GDP for the first time ever. #4 According to Wikipedia, the monetary base "consists of coins, paper money (both as bank vault cash and as currency circulating in the public), and commercial banks' reserves with the central bank." Currently the U.S. monetary base is sitting somewhere around 2.7 trillion dollars. So if you went out and gathered all of that money up it would only make a small dent in our national debt. But afterwards there would be no currency for anyone to use. #5 The U.S. government spent over 454 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt during fiscal 2011. #6 The U.S. government has total assets of 2.7 trillion dollars and has total liabilities of 17.5 trillion dollars. The liabilities do not even count 4.7 trillion dollars of intragovernmental debt that is currently outstanding. #7 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office. #8 It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will surpass 23 trillion dollars in 2015. #9 According to the GAO, the U.S. government is facing 34 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities for social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare. These are obligations that we have already committed ourselves to but that we do not have any money for. #10 Others estimate that the unfunded liabilities of the U.S. government now total over 117 trillion dollars...more

Abandoned horses turn up in bad shape

Brenda Ramos, owner of Horsin' Around at BLORA Ranch, got a call last week from Fort Hood officials wondering why her horses were wandering around in the wee hours of the morning. But the four animals didn't belong to Ramos. Emaciated, dirty and scared, the loose horses likely had been abandoned by their owners. The oldest, a mare, was in particularly bad shape; her would-be powerful hindquarters were drawn in and hollow from malnutrition. "She's the third-worse (looking) horse I've ever seen," said Ramos, who began her equine career by rescuing horses. Still caked with dirt on Friday — ranch staffers hadn't been able to wash the mare that they call "Old Girl" thoroughly since she appeared on Wednesday due to her skittishness — the horse couldn't stop eating the hay Ramos put in front of her. Ramos said she guessed the abandoned horses had been left at Horsin' Around because their owners could no longer afford to take care of them...more

And you can thank the do-gooders for these "emaciated" and "drawn in and hollow from malnutrition" horses.

NMSU & The Moon: To Preserve History on the Moon, Visitors Are Asked to Tread Lightly

California’s catalog of historic artifacts includes two pairs of boots, an American flag, empty food bags, a pair of tongs and more than a hundred other items left behind at a place called Tranquillity Base. The history registry for New Mexico lists the same items. That might be surprising, since Tranquillity Base is not in New Mexico or California but a quarter of a million miles away, in the spot where Neil A. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon in 1969. But for archaeologists and historians worried that the next generation of people visiting the moon might carelessly obliterate the site of one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments, these designations were important first steps toward raising awareness of the need to protect off-world artifacts. “I think it’s humanity’s heritage,” said Beth L. O’Leary, a professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University. “It’s just an incredible realm that archaeologists haven’t begun to look at until now.” Dr. O’Leary herself had not given much thought to historic preservation on the Moon until a student asked her in 1999 whether federal preservation laws applied to the Apollo landing sites. “That started the ball rolling,” she said. It turned out to be a tricky question. Under international law, the United States government still owns everything it left on the moon: the bottom half of the first lunar lander, the scientific experiments, the urine bags. But 100 nations, including the United States, have signed the Outer Space Treaty, in which they agree not to claim sovereignty over any part of the moon...more

E PLUBIOUS MORON seems to think we have our priorities all wrong:

New Mexico State University Professor of Archaelogy Beth O’Leary told the Times about her fear that “the next generation of people visiting the moon might carelessly obliterate the site of one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments (the Moon Landing Site).” Now, I’m not saying Beth O’Leary is wrong (I mean, who hasn’t woken up in a cold terrified sweat thinking about that?), but it’s important that we take a minute and realize this is a really really at Global 1% issue. I mean, people in Malawi and East Timor spend all day thinking about where their next meal will come for and Americans are worried about Astro-tourists...

The rest of the quote is not appropriate for a family blog.

McDonald’s Features Farmers In New Marketing Program

Local farmers’ markets may be the hot trend right now, but McDonald’s believes that U.S. consumers are becoming more interested in where their food comes from, regardless of the size of the farm. The QSR giant last week launched a national “field-to-fork” ad campaign that emphasizes the sources of the food it serves. The blitz of ads that utilizes television, print, online and digital means shines the spotlight on some of the growers and ranchers who supply food to McDonald’s. “This is the first time we’ve done a ‘source’ campaign featuring farmers,” Ashlee Yingling, a McDonald’s spokesperson, told SN. “We had a campaign a few years ago called, ‘What We’re Made Of,’ but it focused on the products themselves.” The goal of the earlier campaign was to make it clear that the food McDonald’s serves is not heavily processed, Yingling said. In the “source” campaign that kicked off on Jan. 2, farmers and ranchers who supply McDonald’s are featured in ad videos. One shows potato farmer Frank Martinez sitting amidst a huge mound of potatoes just harvested from his land. As Martinez bites into one of the potatoes, a loud crunch is heard. Then, Martinez, facing the camera, says, “They’re good now but even better as fries.” Later in the video commercial, he says, “Only the best potatoes in the world can make world-famous fries. Mine make the cut.” He was photographed on his farm near Warren, Wash. Other suppliers featured in the campaign include lettuce farmer Dirk Giannini in Salinas Valley, Calif., and beef producer Steve Foglesong at Black Gold Cattle Co. in Illinois. Foglesong says, in another commercial, “I’m what you’d call a beef snob. Fact is, you can’t get great taste without great quality.”...more

Make 2012 the Year for Permanent Estate Tax Relief

If you’re like me, you enjoy watching the History Channel and Discovery Channel. I enjoy learning about other cultures and civilizations and listening to experts discuss how mankind has advanced throughout the years and make predictions on what the future will hold. Lately, a theme has revolved around what will happen on Dec. 21, 2012. Many ancient cultures have predicted that some major, perhaps apocalyptic, event will happen on that day. Perhaps the ancient Mayans were a few days off. For the beef industry, our real concern is what will happen after Dec. 31, 2012. One of the most important issues facing family farmers and ranchers and small business owners nationwide is the future of the estate tax, more commonly referred to as the death tax. The death tax is one of the leading causes of the breakup of multi-generation family farms and ranches. At the time of the death, farming and ranching families are forced to sell off land, farm equipment, parts of the operation or the entire ranch to pay off tax liabilities on assets that have likely been taxed two or three times over the course of a lifetime. This outdated tax is not a tax on the wealthy. The wealthy can afford accountants and estate planners to help them evade the tax. The death tax hurts family-owned farms and ranches hardest. Unfortunately, this is not a new issue for farmers and ranchers. As you may recall, at the end of 2010, Congress and the White House agreed to a two year tax package that included temporary estate tax relief. For now, estates worth more than $5 million per individual or $10 million per couple are taxed at a 35 percent rate. The two-year estate tax package also reinstated stepped-up basis, indexes the estate tax exemption for inflation and contains a spousal transfer of any unused estate tax exemption amount. The tax package also included a two-year extension of 2001 and 2003 income tax rates for all income levels, set the capital gains tax rate at 15 percent for two years and included a two year patch for the alternative minimum tax. All of these issues must be addressed by the end of 2012. As Congress begins the second session of the 112th Congress, it’s time, once again, to turn our attention to providing permanent relief from the death tax. If Congress fails to act by the end of this year, the estate tax will revert to a staggering $1 million exemption with a 55 percent tax rate...more

Alfalfa industry wrestles with GE contamination issues

Alfalfa is the fifth glyphosate-tolerant crop commercialized in the U.S.; however, it has become perhaps the most scrutinized and debated of all genetically engineered crops grown. Four growers and two seed company executives delineated the issues swirling around Roundup Ready alfalfa at the Western Alfalfa and Forage Conference in Las Vegas that drew 700 people. They include: * Seed production isolation/possible cross pollination of Roundup Ready alfalfa with conventional varieties. * Availability of conventional varieties in the future. * The capability to guarantee GE-free alfalfa for organic dairies. * The impact of RR alfalfa on export markets opposed to GE crops. Although many concerns were expressed, the general consensus of the panel was that the issues can be resolved, but will require considerable cooperation, adherence to rules to avoid contamination in critical market segments and neighborly awareness to achieve coexistence. However, coexistence is a non-issue for Fairfield, Idaho hay grower Bill Simon, who successfully grows and markets organic, conventional and Roundup Ready alfalfa from his 4,500 acres of hay production...more

Farmers and ranchers sue over MF Global debacle

Montana farmers trapped in the $1.2 billion collapse of brokerage giant MF Global are suing its officers and its business partners for trade violations. The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Missoula targets not only MF Global CEO Jon Corzine, a former Democratic governor and U.S. senator, but also auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers and banker J.P. Morgan for enabling MF trading practices that last October led to a $41 billion bankruptcy. Federal officials have been unable to find an estimated $1.2 billion in missing customer money, and MF Global is accused of dipping into segregated customer accounts, which were supposed to be off-limits. Those customers, 38,000 of whom were farmers and ranchers engaged in commodity trades, were unaware that their accounts were being drawn down. Investigators now believe that MF Global used client money to shore up bad investments in sovereign foreign debt. “They bet the farm on European sovereign debt. I just didn’t realize it was my farm they were betting,” said Marty Klinker, a Fairfield farmer who had $600,000 frozen in the MF Global bankruptcy...more

Song Of The Day #745

Since OpenDrive was down yesterday, we'll have Swingin' Tuesday instead of Swingin' Monday. Here is Jim Stringer & The AM Band with a nice instrumental called Tag Along. The tune is on their 13 track CD On The Radio.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Sackett v. EPA (10-1062)

This case is being argued before the Supreme Court today...


After Petitioners Chantell and Michael Sackett began construction on their land, they received a compliance order from Respondent, the Environmental Protection Agency, informing them that their construction project violated the Clean Water Act because it filled in protected wetlands. The Sacketts sought pre-enforcement judicial review of the compliance order under the Administrative Procedure Act, but were denied. The Sacketts assert that Congress intended to provide for pre-enforcement judicial review, and that without such review, the compliance order violates their due process rights. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains that Congress intended to preclude judicial review of compliance orders under the Administrative Procedure Act because compliance orders are not self-executing. The Environmental Protection Agency argues that sufficient procedural safeguards exist under the Clean Water Act to provide adequate review before any penalties are enforced. The Supreme Court's decision will impact the ability of regulated parties to seek review of compliance orders, and will determine what methods the Environmental Protection Agency can utilize to respond to environmental emergencies.

Question presented

Chantell and Michael Sackett own a small lot in a built-out residential subdivision that they graded to build a home. Thereafter, the Sacketts received an Administrative Compliance Order from the Environmental Protection Agency claiming that they filled a jurisdictional wetland without a federal permit in violation of the Clean Water Act. At great cost, and under threat of civil fines of tens of thousands of dollars per day, as well as possible criminal penalties, the Sacketts were ordered to remove all fill, replace any lost vegetation, and monitor the fenced-off site for three years.  The Sacketts were provided no evidentiary hearing or opportunity to contest the order. And, the lower courts have refused to address the Sacketts' claim that the lot is not subject to federal jurisdiction. Do Petitioners have a right to judicial review of an Administrative Compliance Order issued without hearing or any proof of violation under Section 309(a)(3) of the Clean Water Act?

Read the rest of the analysis here

My previous posts on this case:

Supreme Court case involving Idaho lake house ignites conservative cause against EPA

Idaho Couple's Legal Battle Heads To Nation's Highest Court - video

Mike and Chantell Sackett vs. the EPA

Please Don't Tell Me It's Monday

Thank you Dan Ware.

Tebow 4 President

Interior expected to approve 20-year ban on new mining claims near Grand Canyon

Fending off pressure from the mining industry and congressional Republicans, the Obama administration is moving forward with a plan to ban new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to finalize a 20-year ban on new mining claims on public land surrounding the Grand Canyon at an event Monday in Washington. Salazar, who twice imposed temporary bans on new uranium claims, said last year that uranium remains an important part of a comprehensive energy strategy. But he said the Grand Canyon is a national treasure that must be protected. The Grand Canyon attracts more than 4 million visitors a year and generates an estimated $3.5 billion in economic activity, Salazar said. Millions of Americans living in cities such as Phoenix and Los Angeles rely on the Colorado River for clean drinking water. Conservation groups call the 20-year ban a crucial protection for an American icon. The mining industry and some Republican members of Congress say it is detrimental to Arizona's economy and the nation's energy independence. Interior Department officials declined to comment, but said Salazar is expected to make an announcement regarding conservation of the Grand Canyon at an event at the National Geographic Museum...more

Governor Brewer scolds Obama on Grand Canyon mining

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer rebuked the Obama administration ahead of Monday's expected announcement of a 20-year ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. "If the president does as we suspect and removes this land from responsible use, it will be one more example of the administration playing politics in siding with environmental extremists over local residents and economic common sense," Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying Sunday. "We have years of experience with uranium mining in northern Arizona, where mining operations have been conducted responsibly and in accordance with federal and state oversight," he said on behalf of the Republican governor...more