Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act gets hearing in D.C.

Montana rancher Dusty Crary doesn't want the federal government to change anything about the Rocky Mountain Front — and that's exactly why on Thursday he asked Congress to pass the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, which would add protections to the land. "We just realize that unless you put it in writing, there is no guarantee that it will stay the same," the Choteau cattle rancher told senators at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. The subcommittee is part of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., introduced the Rocky Mountain Heritage Act in October. If approved, the act would add 67,000 acres of new wilderness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, and designate another 208,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land as conservation management areas. Under the bill, the conservation management area designation would limit road building, while allowing current motorized recreation and public access for hunting, fishing, biking, timber thinning and grazing. No oil or gas leases exist in the area covered by the proposed law, and the area already is permanently closed to new exploration and development, so there would be no impact on the oil and gas industry, according to proponents of the measure...more

Exxon Valdez sold for scrap metal

The ship once known as the Exxon Valdez, whose 1989 grounding and oil spill fouled a 400-mile-long stretch of Alaska coastline,  has been sold for scrap and will be cut up in Indian. The shipping publication Tradewinds reported on the less-than-stellar end to a ship that did billions of dollars worth of damage, particularly to the fisheries of Alaska’s pristine Prince William Sound. The Exxon Valdez triggered one of America’s great environmental disasters, and serves to this day as a reminder that Big Oil is capable of big-scale mishaps. On March 24, 1989 — Good Friday — the Exxon Valdez veered off course after departing for the oil port of Valdez and slammed into Bligh Reef.  Its captain, Joe Hazelwood, had been drinking at a Valdez bar before departure. The 213,300 dead-weight ton ship fetched a price of $16 million to be cut up for scrap...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #025

Up first today is The Dinner Bell Roundup from March 26, 1946 and hosted by Cliffie Stone.  Can you imagine a Los Angeles in 1946 that likes this kind of music?  The program fades during the Merle Travis guitar solo but otherwise is in good shape.  That is followed by a June 22, 1952 episode of The Cisco Kid.

Cliffie Stone

Ty Murray Brings Bull Riding to the Pit

For the 16th year in a row, the Professional Bull Riders are coming to Albuquerque. The Ty Murray Invitational returns to the Pit this weekend. Murray, the nine-time world champion and PBR co-founder, hosts the event, which features the top 35 bull riders in the world, the past four world champion riders and world champion bull Bushwacker. More than 25,000 packed the Pit last year in a coronation of New Mexico cowboys. L.J. Jenkins of Texico and Ryan McConnel finished first and second. Jenkins won two of the three rounds and led from start to finish...

Friday, March 23, 2012

State allows pumping of groundwater from rural Nevada

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has something to put in its pipeline once again. Nevada's top water regulator on Thursday granted the authority permission to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from four rural valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties. That is about two-thirds as much water as authority officials were seeking, but it's 5,200 acre-feet more than they got the last time around. The decision from State Engineer Jason King comes roughly two years after the state Supreme Court struck down two previous rulings that granted the authority almost 79,000 acre-feet a year from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. Las Vegas water officials originally applied for almost 126,000 acre-feet of unappropriated water in the four valleys as part of a larger plan to siphon groundwater from across eastern Nevada. They hope to deliver the water to the Las Vegas Valley someday through a multibillion-dollar network of pumps and pipelines stretching more than 300 miles. King also called for at least two years of scientific data collection before any water is exported from Spring Valley or the other basins. Also, he ordered the authority to develop state-approved groundwater flow models and a monitoring and mitigation plan to protect against harmful effects on other water users and the environment. But rancher Hank Vogler said no amount of safeguards can protect rural Nevada once the pipeline is built and the water starts flowing south. "I don't think there's anyone with a big enough checkbook to stop it then," said the 63-year-old Vogler, who has lived and worked in Spring Valley for almost half his life. "No one is going to have the appetite to say, 'Oh, shucks, we made a $15 billion mistake. Let's shut it down.' "...more

Nevada Pipeline Opponents Slam State Engineer Grant of Rural Water Rights to Southern Nevada Water Authority

Nevada State Engineer Jason King Thursday granted the Southern Nevada Water Authority rights to pump up to 83,988 acre-feet of the groundwater from four eastern Nevada valleys drew a swift and stern response from pipeline opponents, who called the ruling “excessive and ill-considered.” Simeon Herskovits, attorney for the pipeline opponents, said the ruling will be attacked in state courts. “We believe that the State Engineer has ignored or dismissed compelling hydrological evidence that we and other protestants submitted – evidence that clearly showed that there is no unappropriated water available in Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar Valleys. Pumping the granted water rights from Spring Valley would be unsustainable, environmentally destructive and illegal groundwater mining,” said Susan Lynn, coordinator of the Great Basin Water Network. “We will consider our options carefully but this ruling will not go without challenge.” “Pumping and exporting 12 billion gallons of groundwater annually from Spring Valley will dry up springs and harm existing water rights both in Spring Valley and down-gradient in Snake Valley, into which the groundwater flows,” said protestant Abigail Johnson. “The amount of pumping this decision allows would lower the groundwater table by up to 200 feet, and equilibrium in the water table will not reached for centuries, with strong likelihood of irreparably harming Nevada’s only national park.” Simeon Herskovits, attorney for Great Basin Water Network and other pipeline opponents, said the acceptance of the so-called “monitoring and mitigation” process promised by the SNWA was particularly problematic given that few, if any, specifics exist for how that would be done...more

Calling All Carnivores - Why Is Eating Meat Ethical?

 by Amanda Radke in Beef Daily

Calling all carnivores! The New York Times (NYT) wants to hear from you! In a 600-word essay, a panel of judges wants to review why you believe eating meat is an ethical choice. This is certainly an interesting writing prompt, one that will surely ignite some passionate responses, and I hope you’ll take time to participate.
Now, be warned: the panel of judges may be a bit biased. NYT says they have “assembled a veritable murderer’s row of judges -- some of the most influential thinkers to question or condemn the eating of meat.”
Collectively, the judges are all those who have denounced eating meat and have many anti-animal agriculture positions, so words from farmers and ranchers may be quickly ignored. Judges include: Peter Singer, author of “Animal Liberation"; Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma"; Jonathan Safran Foer, author of “Eating Animals"; Mark Bittman, NYT opinion writer who focuses on the American diet; and Andrew Light, author of “Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relationships.”
Despite the obvious slant of the jury, I believe ranchers should be present for this particular conversation. Essays can be sent to and are due by April 8. Winners will be featured in an upcoming issue of NYT. For complete contest rules, click here.

Here are a few things I will focus on in my essay.
  1. Proper animal care is the responsibility of everyone in the beef production chain. Beef ranchers recognize that ensuring animal well-being is the right thing to do and critical to their operation’s success.
  2. From pasture to plate, animal welfare is a top priority, and there are six programs ranchers follow to properly care for their livestock including: the Beef Quality Assurance Program, Producer Code for Cattle Care, Humane Handling of Cattle in Transport, Humane Slaughter Act, Temple Grandin’s proper livestock handling audits and continued research on animal well-being conducted by USDA’s Ag Research Service and the National Animal Health Monitoring System.
  3. Families are behind the foods we eat; 98% of farms are family-owned and operated. A teen growing up on a Michigan dairy farm may have milked the cow that produced your favorite yogurt; a farmer in Iowa may have harvested the wheat to make your favorite breads; a rancher in South Dakota may have sold quarters of beef from the 4-H steer to the local restaurant in town; and a cotton farmer in Georgia may have grown the product to create your favorite t-shirt. Food doesn’t come from a grocery store; it comes from people who care. Get to know these people and hear their stories. Their ranching practices are based on sound science, family values, solid ethics and moral integrity.
  4. I’m Amanda Radke, a fifth-generation beef producer from Mitchell, SD. I feel confident in eating healthy steaks and burgers because they're produced in a manner that comports with my strongly held beliefs in caring for the animals and the environment. To me, beef is an ethical choice we can all feel great about eating, and in America, we are blessed to have an abundance of food choices at the grocery store. So whether you eat organic, natural, grass-fed or conventional beef, the options are great and the safety and nutrition is never compromised.
These are my top four points I plan to include in my essay. What would you say in yours?

Song Of The Day #800

Ranch Radio's dusty old 78 today is Ain't Satisfied by The Hackberry Ramblers and features the fiddling of Luderin Darbone.

The following is from Darbone's obituary in The Guardian:

    If Cajun music has a place on the world stage, it is because of men such as Luderin Darbone, a fiddler and singer with the Hackberry Ramblers, who has died aged 95. Originally confined to the marginal community of French-speaking Acadians in southern Louisiana, Cajun music began to seep into the outside world in the late 1920s, when it was first recorded, but only in the late 30s did it find a significant audience beyond the Cajun enclaves of Louisiana and east Texas.
    The turning point was a record called Wondering. The combination of Joe Werner's tear-stained singing and Darbone's poignant fiddling electrified listeners who knew little of Cajun. The influence of that dense, bluesy ensemble would infiltrate country music all over the south, colouring the sound even of the leading 1940s country act, Hank Williams's Drifting Cowboys.
    Darbone was born in Evangeline, Louisiana, the son of an itinerant oilfield worker, and grew up in east Texas. He began playing the fiddle aged 12 and quickly learned tunes. In 1931 the family moved back to Louisiana and settled in the small town of Hackberry. "Across the street," Darbone would recall, "lived Ed Duhon, who was just learning to play guitar, and we immediately began playing together. He knew Cajun songs and I knew hillbilly tunes."
    Joined by another guitarist, Lennis Sonnier, they began playing at parties. Cajun had been dominated by the accordion so, Darbone said, "We didn't know how people would react - we were there to play their dance with only a fiddle and two guitars, but to our amazement, we were a smashing success."
    Through live shows and broadcasts, the Ramblers' new string band sound spread across the Cajun community. Darbone bought one of the first sound systems in the region; if he was booked into a rural dancehall with no electricity, he ran it from his car...

The Song Wondering mentioned was revived by Webb Pierce and became a big hit for him in 1952.

Senator Rand Paul Steps Up to Protect Property Owners

 by Tom DeWeese

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has just introduced legislation designed to reign in out-of- control federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers. The bill, if enacted, will be a vital blow to the enforcement of radical environmental/Agenda 21- inspired regulations. The bill is called the Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2012 (S.2122).
    A little history: in 1972, as the environmental movement was getting its start through popular efforts to stop pollution in our rivers and air, Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (later called the Clean Water Act). The law prohibited the discharge of pollutants into “navigable waters” without a federal permit. The problems began when the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers made a power grab by enforcing the act over ponds, occasional mud puddles, and even dry lands by labeling them as wet lands.
    The result has been disastrous to property owners and businesses, sometimes even leading to jail sentences to “violators.”
    The result of such outrageous interpretations of the Clean Water Act has led Senator Paul to introduce his bill to do the following:

Redefine “navigable waters” to explicitly clarify that waters must actually be navigable in fact, or “permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water that form geographical features commonly known as streams, oceans, rivers and lakes that are connected to waters that are navigable-in- fact.”

Excludes ephemeral or intermittent streams – the streams that sometimes form when rain falls – from federal jurisdiction.
Restrains the EPA and Army Corps from regulating or “interpreting” the definition of a navigable water without Congressional authorization.
Protects the rights of states to have primary authority over the land and water within their borders.
Prohibits federal agents from entering private property without the express consent of the landowner
Requires the government to pay double the value of the land to any landowner whose property value is diminished by a wetlands designation.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Obama Caught Fibbing at Oil Field

Domestic oil production overall in the U.S. is at its highest level in the past eight years, according to the Energy Department. But production on federal lands was down 14 percent year-over-year in 2011, and overall remains 13 percent lower than it was in 2003. Still, Obama – who has made renewable energy a hallmark of his administration — insisted he’s not backing away from drilling or searching for more oil. “You wouldn’t know it from listening to some of these folks running for office, but producing more oil here in our own country has been, and will continue to be, a key part of our energy strategy,” Obama said. “We’re drilling all over the place,” he said. "I you hear anybody on TV saying that somehow we are against drilling for oil, then you'll know that they either don't know what they are talking about or they are not telling you the truth," he said...more

Song Of The Day #799

Dustin' off the 78s at Ranch Radio continues with Patsy Montana & The Prairie Ramblers performing Rodeo Sweetheart.

Sheep Camp Murders

By Stan Brown

    The prolonged range war between sheep ranchers and cattle or goat ranchers raged in the Rim Country until after the turn of the 19th century.
    As many as 400,000 sheep were driven over the Heber-Reno sheep driveway twice a year. This was a traditional route that had been followed for decades. However, there were no boundaries marking the limits where the sheep were to be kept and flocks often strayed onto rangeland claimed by cattle ranchers. The sheep moved very slowly and consumed much valuable grass when they moved south in the fall and north in the spring.
    Furthermore, sheep pulled the grass up by its roots, while cattle merely clipped it, leaving the roots. This provoked repeated violent encounters between the two interests, all too often resulting in murder. Such was the case when John and Zechariah Booth, goat ranchers from Gisela, took the lives of two young herders. [1]
    The Booth brothers were bad hombres in the eyes of Gila County law officers. John and Zech, together with their brother Nick, had all served time in the Territorial Prison at Yuma for robbery and perjury. The records at the courthouse in Globe indicate they had 18 different indictments between them for everything from switching brands on neighbors’ cattle to assault with deadly weapons. The Booth brothers strongly objected to the sheep drives that crossed near or on range they claimed for their goats, and their anger came to a boil three days before Christmas in 1903...

Historic drought $2.4 billion worse than expected

Texas' worst drought in history just got worse, with new estimates putting the agricultural toll at $7.6 billion for 2011 — $2.4 billion above the original $5.2 billion loss estimate, which already was a record. Wednesday's updated estimate from Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists was $3.5 billion more than the losses for the previous record drought in 2006. “When you are one of the biggest agricultural producing states in the nation, a monumental drought causes enormous losses,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. The new record had been anticipated by agricultural officials, who saw harvest and yield estimates for crops weaken and ranchers keep sinking more money into feed since the first total estimate was issued in August. But how high the new total would rise was not known until Wednesday...more

It should be easy: English for the eater

by Alan Guebert

Ranchers have a well-earned reputation for speaking plain English plainly.
As such, cowboys instantly translate phrases like “government revenue enhancements” and “now pursuing other career opportunities” into “tax increases” and “got fired” without one twitch of their upper lip or one hitch in their giddyup.
So what do these straight talkers call “lean finely-textured beef,” the pieces of beef that, according to meatpacker mouthpiece J. Patrick Boyle, are so tiny they “are nearly impossible to separate using a knife” and must be heated slowly to separate the “fat from tissue,” then spun in a centrifuge before being sprayed with ammonia gas to kill any pathogens and flash frozen into, well…
Pink slime
Well, cowboys and their customers wouldn’t call it what two former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists, Gerald Zirnstein and Carl Custer, called it on ABC News March 7. They called it “pink slime.”
Nor would cowboys call it something that “kind of looks like play dough,” a suggestion from Kit Foshee, who ABC News identifies as “a corporate quality assurance manager at Beef Products Inc., the company that makes pink slime.”
Foshee, who knows both English and his company’s product well, adds that the “play dough” is “pink and frozen; it’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”
That’s if the “typical person” knew that pink slime — or lean finely-textured beef — even existed or that an estimated 70 percent of the ground beef sold in supermarkets today contains it.
Not a new thing
In fact, it’s a fair bet that few cowboys know what it is or that it’s been around for 20 years.
The irony to this slimy mess is that a cowboy — or at least one of Big Beef’s Big Bosses — Jo Ann Smith, a past president of the National Cattlemen’s Association, the forerunner of today’s National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and a former USDA food safety czar under the first President Bush, gave the process the government go-ahead to become what it is today: another reason for consumers to walk past the meat counter.
Beef trimmings
According to a Dec. 10, 1991, Kansas City Star story, Smith, while head of USDA meat inspection, had to choose between labeling this new technology “something like ‘beef trimmings’” — the meatpackers’ preferred phrase — or “what the underlings at USDA wanted it (called) …‘partially defatted beef.’”
Smith’s NCA pals liked “beef trimmings” because the more appealing phrase could “enhance the value of the beef carcass as much as $7 a head.”
Smith followed the money; she approved the “trimming” option and the trimming of dollars from unsuspecting consumers began shortly thereafter.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

'Global warming' gets a rebranding

Shhhh! Don’t talk about global warming! There’s been a change in climate for Washington’s greenhouse gang, and they’ve come to this conclusion: To win, they have to talk about other topics, like gas prices and kids choking on pollutants. More than two years since Democrats’ cap-and-trade plan died in Congress, the strategic shift represents a reluctant acknowledgment from environmentalists that they’ve lost ground by tackling global warming head-on. Their best bet now lies in a bit of a bait and switch: Help elect global warming fighters by basing campaigns on kitchen-table issues. “You don’t have to be James Carville to figure out that talking about people’s health and the health of their children … is going to make a difference to the average voter,” Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said. In particular, the greens are targeting Midwestern swing voters in advance of the presidential and congressional elections in November. Earlier this month, the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council made a seven-figure ad buy in swing states featuring young children with asthma inhalers making their way through the Capitol. “We’re going to talk a lot about the health implications of dirty air,” said Heather Taylor, director of NRDC’s political arm. “I think that the Midwest is one of those places where [there are] a million great clean energy stories, especially. And they’re not being told right now, because we’ve tended to be in other markets. That’s an area where we feel like it’s time to go tell those stories.”...more

Obama's Algae Racket

Pond scum stinks. And so do the Obama administration's enormous, taxpayer-funded "investments" in politically connected biofuel companies. While the president embarks on a green rehabilitation tour this week to quell growing public outrage about big green boondoggles, the White House continues to cultivate a cozy algae racket. Obama's promotion of algae as a fuel source at a campaign speech in Miami last month caught the nation's attention. But algae companies have been banking on administration support from Day One. In December 2008, when the White House announced the nomination of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the CEO of Florida-based biofuels startup Algenol, Paul Woods, exulted to Time magazine: "You see this smile on my face? It's not going away. Everyone is really excited by this." The next year, Woods and Algenol — dubbed "Obama's favorite algae company" by Forbes magazine — racked up $25 million in federal stimulus grants from Chu. Say cheese. Yet another algae-based biofuels developer, Sapphire Energy, has absorbed $105 million in stimulus funds and loan guarantees even as doubts about the practicality, efficiency and viability of pond-scum fuels multiply. Sapphire's CEO, Jason Pyle, has donated exclusively to Democratic campaigns, candidates and committees — and his company's website reads like a satellite White House communications office...more

GAO: 25% of All Renewable-Energy Initiatives in FY 2010 Tied to 2009 Economic Stimulus

President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, impacted nearly one quarter (25 percent) of all renewable energy initiatives across the government, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says. According to GAO, 157 of the nearly 700 renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010 were either created by the stimulus law, received expanded funding or were modified under it and the futures of some programs are uncertain because of a draw-down in funding -- or because they were already set to expire.. The programs were implemented by 23 agencies and their 130 sub-agencies. “Agencies’ renewable energy efforts increased in recent years as a result of the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and other factors,” the GAO report said. “[B]ut the level of future efforts is less certain with the expiration of these provisions and budget constraints,” it added...more

Why gas prices matter

Has President Obama's pay-grade slipped again? He once wielded the power to stop oceans from rising, and, more recently, to revive an entire economy through targeted government spending. But now the most powerful man in the world has met his match. On gas prices, Obama is completely powerless. And he has just burnt a year's salary's worth of jet fuel on a domestic apology tour to make that point to voters. To be fair, Obama's newfound impotence is less a political show than his earlier superpowers were. Government really cannot do that much about gasoline prices, nor should conservatives want it to. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's promise of $2.50 gasoline insults the intelligence. As bad as our nation's (bipartisan) record of economic stimulus packages may be, our record with price-controls is worse. But that doesn't let Obama off the hook. At the very least, the federal government can stop making the problem incrementally worse, and stop trying to deceive the public over the fact that it is doing just that. This is the reason -- and really the only reason -- Americans are justified in their anger over Obama's performance on gas prices. As the nation's largest landowner, and as the master of coastal waters and interstate commerce, there is a lot of harm the federal government can do in the area of energy...more

Salazar Lied About Oil Production on Federal Lands

By Jim Geraghty

Yesterday I pointed out that the production of fossil fuels on federal lands is down from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011 (October 1, 2009, to September 30, 2010, compared to October 1, 2010, to September 30, 2011).

This is significant because the administration is . . . well, lying. Not long ago, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, “The fact of the matter is we are producing more from public lands — both oil and gas, both onshore as well as offshore, than any time in recent memory.”

Not only is Salazar wrong, he’s wrong for every type of fossil fuel produced on federal lands.

Crude-oil production? Down from 739 million barrels to 646 million barrels in FY 2011.

Natural-gas production? Down from 5,415 billion cubic feet (Bcf) to 4,859 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in FY 2011.

Natural-gas plant liquids? Down from 115 million barrels to 111 million barrels in FY 2011

Coal production? Down from 478 million short tons to 470 million short tons in FY 2011...

Energy Expert Confirms Credit for Increased New Mexico Oil & Natural Gas Production Goes to Past Administrations, Not President Obama

Today, President Obama will visit Maljamar, New Mexico as part of a political PR tour to convince voters that this month's record gasoline prices aren't his fault. What you won’t hear from President Obama today is that any increase in federal oil and gas production in New Mexico is thanks to the pro-energy policies of previous administrations and in spite of his job-destroying energy policies that are only making America less energy secure. At a Natural Resources Committee hearing today on gasoline prices, Chairman Doc Hastings asked David Holt, President of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Energy Alliance, if the drilling rigs and energy production President Obama will see while in New Mexico are a result of his Administration’s policies. The short answer: NO.

Chairman Hastings: Can you tell me…is it the actions of this Administration that have led to the drilling activity that he will see on the tour or is this the result of actions by previous Administrations?”

Holt: “I believe where he is heading today [New Mexico] is the result of previous Administrations—you’re seeing a lot of new activity that this Administration is claiming credit for…”

Meanwhile, people in New Mexico continue to suffer from rising gasoline prices:

Gas Prices for New Mexicans To Cut Back [KOAT, March 14]
"AAA said a recent survey of its New Mexico customers found that 82 percent are cutting back on unnecessary driving and 50 percent are eating out at restaurants less."
Gas prices higher than expected [Las Cruces Bulletin, March 9]
"All businesses are scared of increased fuel costs because that increases operating costs. Sadly, the only way to stay afloat is to put that burden on customers."
New Mexicans Fear the Gas Price Increase [, February 27]
"It's getting higher and higher," said Bill Lewis, filling his tank in Albuquerque. "I'm gonna have to go to a bicycle like the rest of the world. I'm worried about it going up another penny, let alone five bucks!"

Song Of The Day #798

Ranch Radio continues dusting off some old 78s, and we've got a dandy today:  Sons of the West swinging away on Mama Inez.

Sackett v. EPA (10-1062) Unanimous Decision!

No. 10–1062. Argued January 9, 2012—Decided March 21, 2012

The Clean Water Act prohibits “the discharge of any pollutant by any person,” 33 U. S. C. §1311, without a permit, into “navigable waters,” §1344. Upon determining that a violation has occurred, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may either issue a compliance order or initiate a civil enforcement action. §1319(a)(3). The resulting civil penalty may not “exceed [$37,500] per day for each violation.” §1319(d). The Government contends that the amount doubles to $75,000 when the EPA prevails against a person who has been issued a compliance order but has failed to comply. 

The Sacketts, petitioners here, received a compliance order from the EPA, which stated that their residential lot contained navigable waters and that their construction project violated the Act. The Sacketts sought declarative and injunctive relief in the Federal District Court, contending that the compliance order was “arbitrary [and] capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U. S. C. §706(2)(A), and that it deprived them of due process in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The District Court dismissed the claims for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the Clean Water Act precluded pre-enforcement judicial review of compliance orders and that such preclusion did not violate due process. 

Held: The Sacketts may bring a civil action under the APA to challenge the issuance of the EPA’s order. Pp. 4–10. 

 Scalia, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Ginsburg, J., and Alito, J., filed concurring opinions. 

Read the opinion here.

Supreme Court gives property owners right to challenge EPA wetlands order

The Supreme Court has sided with an Idaho couple in a property rights case, ruling they can go to court to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency order that blocked construction of their new home and threatened fines of more than $30,000 a day. Wednesday’s decision is a victory for Mike and Chantell Sackett, whose property near a scenic lake has sat undisturbed since the EPA ordered a halt in work in 2007. The agency said part of the property was a wetlands that could not disturbed without a permit. n an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court rejected EPA’s argument that allowing property owners quick access to courts to contest orders like the one issued to the Sacketts would compromise the agency’s ability to deal with water pollution. “Compliance orders will remain an effective means of securing prompt voluntary compliance in those many cases where there is no substantial basis to question their validity,” Scalia said. In this case, the couple objected to the determination that their small lot contained wetlands that are regulated by the Clean Water Act, and they complained there was no reasonable way to challenge the order without risking fines that can mount quickly...more

Rebuilding NM cow herd will be challenging

Rebuilding the state's cow herd in areas hit hardest by drought will present both opportunities and challenges for ranchers, said a cattle specialist with New Mexico State University. It's estimated that more than 100,000 beef cows will have to be replaced to return New Mexico's herds to 2010 levels. Manny Encinias, who also serves as the director of operations for the New Mexico Beef Cattle Performance Association, said the industry has experienced a reduction in herd inventories of more than 20 percent since 2010. Although nearly 90 percent of the state remains in some stage of drought, Encinias said cattle producers are looking forward to rebuilding herds with higher quality genetics from regionally adapted registered cowherds. "The two largest challenges the cow-calf producers will face when restocking will be finding the females that are adapted to our arid production environment and then being able to afford these replacements," he said...more

64 Yellowstone bison headed for Montana tribal land

The stalled plan to repopulate the Plains with bison moved forward today, as 64 American icons from Yellowstone National Park were being transported to the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, the Associated Press reports. Tribal and state officials approved the transfer late Friday, but to avoid a court injunction the date was not revealed, said Robert Magnan, a tribal official with the Fort Peck Fish and Game Department. Previous transfers failed because of opposition from ranchers and a lack of suitable tribal or public land. In January, landowners sued in state court to block the transfer, and this afternoon a Helena lawyer sought a restraining order to halt the move. The genetically pure Yellowstone animals have been quarantined for several years since crossing over the park's northern boundary during their natural winter migration. All are free of brucellosis, which can cause the females to abort fetuses. Though the disease is rare in the United States, ranchers fear bison could transmit it to cattle. (It can also infect goats, pigs, dogs, camels and people.) Ranchers also worry that the bison will compete with their livestock and livelihood for range land...more

‘Ecosanctuary’ Plans for Wild Horses Add Tourism to the Mix

This was prime horse country once, in the old Western working way of bridles, bits and sweat. Leather tack from those days still hangs, cracked and preserved in the arid dust, on the wall of the 1906 vintage hay loft at the Wilson place. Little other evidence is left, though. Horsepower on the ranch went under the hood and was called four-wheel drive. Horsehair rifle sights, once supplied to the United States Army from the Centennial Valley here in southeastern Wyoming, were supplanted by newer technologies. Horses became gentle, recreational and costly to keep. Now the rougher version is about to return. Wild horses — feral descendants of the workaday animals that once toiled for the farms, the Indian tribes and the Army — could soon be running the fields of Rich and Jana Wilson’s 4,700-acre spread. This “ecosanctuary” project, announced last month by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees most of the nation’s wild horse population, could be the first of many if it works, federal officials said. And part of the novelty is a reconnection of equine life and economic growth, making horses more than just a financial burden or a charity case. Sheltering a herd of 250 wild horses on Deerwood Ranch, replacing the cattle that the Wilsons once raised, is intended to be at least partly self-sufficient, through tourist visits, and to be a stabilizing factor in an area where working agriculture is increasingly threatened. “It’s new territory; we’re still figuring it out,” said Ms. Wilson, 49, who has lived here since her parents bought the ranch in the 1980s. The effort, which is still under review but could start as early as September with the first horses, is coinciding with other developments that collectively add up to a new chapter in a strange and tangled tale that helped define the West...more

NMSU women’s rodeo team still first in the nation while the men’s team drops to second

New Mexico State University’s rodeo teams took first place in half of the events held at the Cochise Community College rodeo earlier this month in Douglas, Ariz., however only the women’s team was able to hold on to their first place national ranking while the men’s team dropped a notch to second place.

Once the women’s all-around points were compiled, NMSU rodeo team members held the second, third and fourth highest totals thanks to Randi Simpson, Brandi Pfeifer and Dixie Richards. Richards’ best event this rodeo was goat-tying where she came in first place, with Simpson coming in second and Pfeifer coming in third.

Nicole Sweazea helped round up some points for the women’s team when she came in second in breakaway roping. Simpson and Pfeifer took third and fourth place in the same category.

Although they dropped to second place in the national standings the men still had a strong showing with Trenton Montero and Anthony Buckman taking first and second place in bareback riding. Kurtis Barry, Rusty VanSoelen and Cody Runyan racked up points by coming in first, third and fourth place in tie-down roping.

The top spot in team roping header was taken by Wade Baize while Tyrel Jensen came in first in team roping heeler. When looking at the all-around points for the men’s teams NMSU rodeo team members hold spots three through six which include Kurtis Barry, Cooper DeWitt, Cody Runyan and Rusty VanSoelen.

Date: 2012-03-20
Writer: Melisa P. Danho, 575-646-3082,

NMSU rodeo teams first in region, nation after season opener

The spring 2012 season got off to an excellent start when New Mexico State University men’s and women’s rodeo teams racked up enough points to get them ranked first not only regionally but nationally as well, after the spring season opener held in Tucson, Ariz.

NMSU’s rodeo teams ended the fall season at the top of the regional standings and rodeo coach Jim Brown said the recent results bode well for the future.

“This was a great start to our spring season and I foresee our teams and individuals dominating in the rodeos to come,” Brown said.

NMSU rodeo team members Cooper DeWitt and Devyn Sisneros came in first and second respectively in saddle bronc riding. DeWitt also took the top spot in steer wrestling which helped him walk out of the rodeo with the second highest point accumulation among the men.

The women’s team sewed up the top four spots in goat-tying with Kendra Stinemean taking the lead, Dixie Richards taking second place, Brandi Pfiefer in third and Randi Simpson wrapping it up in fourth place. Three was Pfiefer’s lucky number as she also took the third spot in the women’s all around point battle.

Two other ladies who came in No. 1 were Meghan Johnson for barrel racing and Jessica Silva for breakaway roping. Two of the men who climbed to second place were Trenton Montero for bareback riding and Ty Anderson for tie-down roping.

Three out of four places wasn’t bad for Rusty VanSoelen, Rodee Walraven and Clancy Wilkerson who took the first, third and fourth spots in the team roping header category. Michael Manzanares took first place in team roping heeler and Sheldon Church took fourth.

The next competition for the NMSU rodeo teams will be on March 3 – 4 at Cochise Community College in Ft. Huachuca, Ariz.

Writer: Melisa P. Danho, 575-646-3082,

President Obama Doubles Down On Dim Renewable Energy Plan

President Obama demonstrated again this week that the "all of the above" approach to energy policy promised in his State of the Union address was merely a short-term slogan. The administration's new tax-reform proposal indicates a continued stubbornness to pick winners and losers in the marketplace — slashing, among others, broad-based provisions that benefit all industries such as accelerated depreciation, deductions for interest expense, LIFO for inventory accounting along with tax provisions for the oil and gas industry in order to finance tax breaks and permanent credits for expensive renewable energy. It's a disturbing plan after so many failed renewable energy gambles including Solyndra. A new report by a White House-appointed commission concluded that the U.S. could lose as much as $2.7 billion as a result of the loans offered to the renewable energy industry. Meanwhile, consumers are losing. Gas prices aren't showing any signs of decreasing. The president's thumbs-down to the Keystone XL pipeline cost the U.S. thousands of new jobs, economic growth and energy price stabilization. His 2012 budget calls for cutting outlays for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to $3 billion, nearly $2 billion less than in the 2011 budget. This drastic cut will leave many homes in cold weather states suffering and is further evidence of misplaced priorities when it comes to the administration's energy policies...more

William Dixon "Bill" Brockman 1928-2012

William Dixon “Bill” Brockman AGE 83, DIED Monday, March 19, 2012, at his home on the Tramperos Ranch southwest of Clayton. Mr. Brockman is the father of Carol Wilson, Rex’s wife.

SERVICES: Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the First Baptist Church in Clayton with Rev. Billy Rammage, pastor officiating. Lunch will follow and burial will be held at 2:30 PM at San Juan Batista Church Cemetery on the Tramperos Ranch. Arrangements are under the direction of Hass Funeral Directors of Clayton. Please visit to view the online obituary and sign the guestbook.

BACKGROUND: Bill was born September 1, 1928, in Roy, New Mexico. He was the eldest son of William D. “Mark” Brockman and Lucile (Pursell) Brockman of Mills. His grandparents came to New Mexico in 1909 to homestead land near Mills. Bill was the eldest of five children. He attended school at Mills until the school was consolidated with the Roy school. After graduation from Roy in 1946, he drove a truck, moved houses and served a tour of duty in Okinawa. When he returned to civilian life, he met his future bride, Violet Atchley while completing his Civil Engineering degree at New Mexico A and M, which later became New Mexico State University. The couple moved to the ranch temporarily to help his father-in-law and never left. In 1960, Bill and Violet moved to the Tramperos Ranch, which was their home for the next 52 years. Bill’s Civil Engineering skills were used to develop the ranch. He designed a series of dams on the Tramperos Creek and built fields and a water system to irrigate the ranch and water the cattle. He and his father-in-law, Forrest Atchley, worked closely to develop the ranch into a well diversified farming, feeding and cattle operation. He was an active member of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau on the state and county level, serving on the State Board of Directors for many years. His work in Agriculture was also his hobby. Bill was preceeded in death by his parents, Mark and Lucile Brockman; his father-and-mother-in-law, Forrest and Ruby Atchley: a brother, Gene Brockman and a brother-in-law, Wayne Atchley.


WIFE: Violet Brockman of the home.

3 DAUGHTERS: Cheri Goodan and her husband Jon of Des Moines, Carol Wilson and her husband Rex of Ancho, and Allison Tcherneshoff and her husband Bob of Miera.

2 SONS: Bill Brockman and his wife Cathy of Miera and Forrest Brockman and his wife Ruth of Mills.

2 BROTHERS: Jim Brockman and his wife Nelda of Dallas, Oregon and Larry Brockman and his wife Louise of Pine, Colorado.

1 SISTER: Judy McCallister and her husband Orville of Placitas, New Mexico.

5 SISTERS-IN-LAW: JoAnn Brockman of Tucumcari, Teena Atchley of Odessa, Texas, DeAnna Richardson of Sedan, Elaine Aschbacher and her husband Leon of Edgewood and Martha Atchley of Amarillo, Texas.

21 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

MEMORIALS: The family suggests that memorials be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, 4899 Belfort Road Ste. 300, Jacksonville, FL 32256.

Cards may be sent to:

Carol Wilson
SR 1-53
Carrizozo NM 88301

I have many fond memories of Bill as we worked together when he was on the board of the NM Farm & Livestock Bureau. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Song Of The Day #797

Ranch Radio will be dusting off some old 78s this week. First up is Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers with Come And Get It.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation offers to finance more aggressive wolf killing

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation leaders want state wildlife officials to get more aggressive about wolf control, and they’ve offered at least $50,000 to make it happen. “We are not utilizing anywhere near to the fullest of what the wolf management plan authorizes,” RMEF president David Allen said on Monday. “The go-slow, take-it-easy approach is not working.” The Missoula-based group wants Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to use the money to contract with the federal Wildlife Services agency to kill more wolves. Wolves, lions and bears are blamed for falling populations of elk in several parts of Montana, while coyotes are a threat to eastern Montana deer and antelope populations that have also suffered major disease outbreaks. “This is where this all starts to domino if you don’t keep predators managed,” Allen said. In February, Wildlife Services agents killed 14 wolves from aircraft in Idaho near the Montana border at the request of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The area was one where private hunters had relatively little success hunting wolves during Idaho’s wolf season. Montana had at least 653 wolves at the end of 2011. Its 2011-12 wolf hunting season tallied 166 wolf kills, including 92 adults, 35 yearlings and 25 juveniles. Most of the adults weighed 91 pounds, with the largest weighing 120 pounds. Despite that hunting effort, Montana biologists estimate the state’s wolf population grew by at least 15 percent compared to 2010 levels. FWP director Joe Maurier has stated the goal in Montana is about 425 wolves...more
Have a doctor's appt. first thing this morning, so everything will be late.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Obama Moralizing More on Green Energy

While Republicans love to mock his line about his nomination for the presidency being the moment when “the oceans stopped their rise,” environmental issues are a huge deal for Democrats. Remember, Pew studies consistently find that liberals have the lowest levels of religious participation and belief and atheists and agnostics are much more influential in Democratic politics than they are in Republican circles. Non-believers are inclined to feel more responsible for the condition of the planet than those who believe that our existence is not an accident of biochemistry. Plus, environmentalism provides a way for liberals to be moralizers and to demonize their foes. Republicans, who are overwhelmingly Christian, are much more comfortable with the language of good and evil and rendering judgment on moral issues like gayness. But environmentalism gives Democrats, including their many non-believing members, the chance to be scolds. The unifying theory of global warming also lends Democrats the chance to denounce their enemies and satisfies their inner Cotton Mathers. After all, can one be blamed for hating a person who is actively endangering all life on earth? Oil companies are to the left what Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is to the right. It is through this political prism that much of Obama’s policy passes...more

Federal renewable energy adviser told not to deal with renewable projects developer because of "romantic relationship"

The chief architect of the Obama administration's renewable energy policy has been instructed to refrain from any dealings with the country's largest renewable energy company because of a romantic relationship with the firm's Washington lobbyist. Steve Black, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's alternative energy adviser, discussed his relationship with a NextEra Energy lobbyist with officials in the department's ethics office last fall, an Interior spokesman said. To avoid a conflict of interest, Black was later told to recuse himself from matters involving NextEra, which has more than a dozen wind and solar power projects in California. Black, 51, has been Interior's point man on renewable issues and is closely involved with the department's push to expand green energy projects on public land. Renewable energy is the singular environmental issue for both the Obama administration and Salazar, who has repeatedly traveled in the West to promote wind and solar projects. Black, who was legislative counsel for Salazar when he was a Colorado senator, represents Interior on a handful of committees and working groups trying to come up with a road map for renewable energy. The department is in the midst of large-scale planning efforts that affect every renewable energy company that does business on federal land...more

Looks like we're not the only ones he's screwin'.

Backcountry skiers creating snow-packed "highways" to detriment of lynx

The 25,000 skiers a year who climb snowpacked paths to backcountry huts tend to be environmentally conscious, "leave no trace" travelers who minimize their impact. But as population growth and the recreation industry drive demand to install more of the super-popular huts in Colorado's mountains, U.S. Forest Service officials are blocking construction. A new theory holds that skiers may be disturbing high-country ecosystems by creating compacted snow "highways" that lure unwanted predators — coyotes, cougars and bobcats — into otherwise isolated areas to hunt snowshoe hares. That could be a problem, foresters say, because secluded timberline snowfields are the home of lynx, the protected tuft-eared wildcats that government biologists are nurturing back from the brink of extinction. Snowshoe hares are their winter food supply. "In a natural setting, with no skiers or other human-caused compaction, those predators (coyotes, cougars, bobcats) sink in and can't forage very high," said Mike Kenealy, a natural-resources specialist who manages hut permits in the White River National Forest. Now an opportunistic coyote can follow skier tracks right to the hares. "When you've got other critters eating your food source, then there's not enough food for lynx to consume. That's the crux of the issue," Kenealy said. "If there's no food around, lynx aren't going to be there."...more

BLM to submit sage-grouse protection plan to avoid federal listing

Squat birds with rich, brown-hued plumage, Gunnison and greater sage-grouse are in danger of extinction. According to Bureau of Land Management statistics, the sage-grouse population has fallen 30 percent since 1985, and local environmental advocates Sheep Mountain Alliance estimate that it has plummeted nearly 90 percent since the beginning of the 20th century. Currently, the Gunnison sage-grouse is likely to be listed on the Endangered Species Act register, while the BLM is working to craft a habitat management plan aimed at keeping the greater sage-grouse off of the list. A working group was formed several years ago to find a way to halt the sage-grouse’s numbers from diminishing further, with participants including government agencies, environmental working groups and even energy development companies such as Encana Corporation. A few landowners, ranchers and industry representatives also got involved, mainly because a listing under the Endangered Species Act would put severe limitations on any activity deemed to impact the grouse’s habitat. As far as southwest Colorado is concerned, there are two major populations of sage-grouse, the greater and the Gunnison. Gunnison sage-grouse are grouped in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah, with greater sage-grouse spread across the rest of the American West. Part of the problem, said Jennifer Thurston, Sheep Mountain Alliance’s project coordinator, is that the sage-grouse’s habitat is the most threatened in North America...more

Impact of wilderness plan on timber industry reignites jobs vs. trees debate

Has the timber industry’s time come and gone on the North Olympic Peninsula? A set-aside plan to take 21 percent of Olympic National Forest out of potential timber production and designate it as wilderness would simply feed into a trend away from logging and into a growing service economy that focuses more on recreation and tourism, according to a study by Headwaters Economics Associate Director Ben Alexander. The study was commissioned and paid for by the Quilcene-based Wild Olympics Campaign, which has put forward a similar, though less sweeping, proposal. But forest industry representative Carol Johnson of the North Olympic Timber Action Committee said the proposal — which is by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, a Belfair Democrat whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell — would cost valuable jobs by affecting 132,000 acres of the 633,600-acre federally managed forest. “We hold to our position of no net loss of working forests,” Johnson said this week. “If it goes to wilderness, it would remove any of that acreage from any future potential economic use, remembering that most of the Olympic National Forest is already in preserved status,” she added. “What we lose is losing more of a very small number.” Under what Dicks and Murray call their watershed conservation plan, Olympic National Park also could buy and absorb into the park about 20,000 acres of private land through willing-seller, willing-buyer transactions compared with the 37,000 acres proposed by the Wild Olympics Campaign. The Dicks-Murray plan, introduced in November, also would designate as wilderness 4,000 fewer acres than the Wild Olympics proposal. Both plans appear to add the same 23 river systems that lie in part within Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers systems...more

Utah governor signs bills to fund coyote killings

Gov. Gary Herbert signed two bills on Saturday that take aim at coyotes by funding programs to step up the killing of the predators in an attempt to increase the population of mule deer and protect livestock. The Mule Deer Protection Act, SB245 , appropriated $500,000 to the Division of Wildlife Resources to establish programs to reduce the coyote population in areas where the mule deer herds have suffered significant population losses over the past few decades. SB87 imposes a $5 fee on big-game hunting permits to go toward predator-control programs. Herbert touted the measures as important for Utah’s economic growth, citing hunting, fishing and wildlife watching as a $2.3 billion part of the state’s economy...more

President Obama to Travel to Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio to Highlight American Made Energy

WASHINGTON, DC – On March 21-22, President Obama will travel to Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio to highlight his Administration’s all of the above energy strategy, including his focus on continuing to expand responsible oil and gas development, increasing the fuel economy of the vehicles we drive which will save families money at the pump, supporting renewable energy sources, and investing in infrastructure and research and development, all of which play a central role in increasing our nation’s energy security. On Wednesday, the President will begin the tour in Boulder City, Nevada where he will visit the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility, the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country with nearly one million solar panels powering 17,000 homes. In Boulder City, he will highlight his Administration’s focus on diversifying our energy portfolio, including expanding renewable energy from sources like wind and solar, which thanks in part to investments made by this Administration is set to double in the President’s first term. The President will then travel to oil and gas production fields located on federal lands outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico, an area home to more than seventy active drilling rigs. While in Carlsbad, the President will highlight the Administration’s commitment to expanding domestic oil and gas production, which has increased each year he has been in office, with domestic oil production currently at an eight year high and domestic natural gas production at an all-time high...Press Release

NM's most riveting election candidate? The sagebrush lizard

Perhaps the most controversial candidate in this election year is one that has never spoken a word and never will. The dunes sagebrush lizard, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act, is the central figure in a debate that the federal government must resolve this spring. Should the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protect the small reptile against the wishes of the oil and gas industry in Texas and New Mexico? Or should the government rely on voluntary but legally binding agreements in which businesses and landowners pledge to co-exist with the reptile? The dunes sagebrush lizard, tan, striped and about the size of a human hand, exists only in parts of four counties in southeastern New Mexico and four others in West Texas. Lee Fitzgerald, a biologist at Texas A&M, probably has studied this reptile as much as anyone. Apolitical and determined to remain so, Fitzgerald has not joined the partisan conflict in which conservation groups are pressing for the lizard's listing and Republican politicians are trying to defeat it. Fitzgerald searched for the lizard last year in 50 locations of the desert. Even after locating it in 28 places, he said, he could not estimate its population. "There are areas where the habitat is very optimal for the species," Fitzgerald said in an interview. "There also are areas of fragmentation of the species, where its habitat has been degraded." To live, the dunes sagebrush lizard needs a combination of wind, sand and the shrub shinnery oak. If the desert winds howl just right, they create blowouts in the sandy patches with shinnery oak. The lizard can survive in those conditions but no others...more

Song Of The Day #796

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we bring you singing artist Cooder Graw. Who would have thought that he and I suffer the same malady!  Cooder sings My Give A Damn Is Broken from his Segundo CD.

Gun-tracking operation caught top suspect, then let him go

Seven months after federal agents began the ill-fated Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, they stumbled upon their main suspect in a remote Arizona outpost on the Mexican border, driving an old BMW with 74 rounds of ammunition and nine cellphones hidden inside. Detained for questioning that day in May 2010, Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta described to agents from theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosiveshis close association with a top Mexican drug cartel member, according to documents obtained this weekend by the Times/Tribune Washington Bureau. The top Fast and Furious investigator, Special Agent Hope MacAllister, scribbled her phone number on a $10 bill after he pledged to cooperate and keep in touch with investigators. Then Celis-Acosta disappeared into Mexico. He never called. Had they arrested him red-handed trying to smuggle ammunition into Mexico, Fast and Furious might have ended quickly. Instead, the program dragged on for another eight months, spiraling out of control. Celis-Acosta continued slipping back and forth across the border, authorities say, illegally purchasing more U.S. weapons and financing others. He was not arrested until February 2011, a month after Fast and Furious closed down...more

Father's outrage as TSA subjects his wheelchair-bound three-year-old son to humiliating search... on his way to Disneyland

A vacation in the Magic Kingdom should be enough to make a child giddy with excitement, but one young boy was left trembling with fear after he was subjected to an invasive TSA pat-down. The three-year-old, confined to a wheelchair due to a recently broken leg, was with his family at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, on their way to board a flight to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Despite constant assurances from his father that 'everything is OK', he physically trembles with fear and asks his parents to hold his hand. The terrified boy was swabbed on his hands and under his shirt for explosive residue. While the boy's father grew increasingly incensed by the treatment his son was getting, he tried to remain calm, for the boy's sake. He filmed the entire process and later posted it on YouTube...more

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center in Utah

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy. But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.” For the NSA, overflowing with tens of billions of dollars in post-9/11 budget awards, the cryptanalysis breakthrough came at a time of explosive growth, in size as well as in power. Established as an arm of the Department of Defense following Pearl Harbor, with the primary purpose of preventing another surprise assault, the NSA suffered a series of humiliations in the post-Cold War years. Caught offguard by an escalating series of terrorist attacks—the first World Trade Center bombing, the blowing up of US embassies in East Africa, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and finally the devastation of 9/11—some began questioning the agency’s very reason for being. In response, the NSA has quietly been reborn. And while there is little indication that its actual effectiveness has improved—after all, despite numerous pieces of evidence and intelligence-gathering opportunities, it missed the near-disastrous attempted attacks by the underwear bomber on a flight to Detroit in 2009 and by the car bomber in Times Square in 2010—there is no doubt that it has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created. In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever...more

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

 The Hired Hand

by Julie Carter

The cowboy world is full of hired hands. Most who have lived that life have either been one or had one – or both. And, like everything else in the world, there are good ones, bad ones and those that fall somewhere in a category of “all the above.”

Skeet Horner was a bad cat cowboy with a reputation or two he’d sure enough earned. He was always available for day work, but only those desperate for help or who didn't know better would give him a call.

Skeet had been married any number of times -- both formally and informally. Even he didn't know for sure how many of either. If you ever happened to run into Skeet when he was all dressed up - that is, he had on a clean silk wild rag, he likely was on his way to get married.

He traditionally bought one pair of Wranglers and wore them until they were worn out. He didn't own a washing machine and didn't have time to go to a washateria. The other punchers knew to stay upwind from him when they worked cattle in the same vicinity.

Handling cattle slowly wasn’t in his resume. He liked to stir up the occasional wreck with the cattle so he could do some strategic roping. Known to drink a little, he mostly settled discussions with his fists and was known to be a dirty fighter.

One of his many wives had previously been married to a very well-known professional boxer and she’d gotten a ranch in the divorce. This place had a swimming pool but no pens that were handy for the horses.

Skeet kept up a jingle horse that he’d use to drive his riding horses into the swimming pool beginning at the shallow end. Holding them in the deep end, he’d throw a houlihan over whichever horse he wanted at the time and lead it on out of the pool.

When he got tired of that wife, he threw her out of her own ranch and lived there forevermore. She was happy to get out alive and no one, including the pro-fighter, was brave enough to evict Skeet. He put his brand up over the entrance gate and that was the end of it.

One guy told me that working with people like that is why they made cowboys quit wearing guns. I’ve often thought the same about working some particularly stupid cattle, but I can see his point.

Being on the boss end of the hired hand business can also be a little tricky.

One time the head honcho at a big feed yard, full of cattle at the time, had his entire cowboy crew come to work severely hung over. It was a cold, miserable Amarillo winter morning and the cowboys were lingering in the break room, hunkered down next to the stove.

Finally on his last nerve, he told them, “All you S.O.B.s either get out of here and go to work, or else go home.” Directly he found himself with 50,000 head of cattle standing in pens and not a cowboy in sight..

“Last man standing” was thinking he might have to rephrase his orders next time.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Sacaton Mesa Run

Nana’s Influence
Sacaton Mesa Run
The Secret Divulged
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

             The Gila Valley at Cliff, New Mexico is one of the great places on Earth.
 The best place to take it all in is at the Mesa Cemetery.  There, against the backdrop of the Mogollons, the Valley can be viewed.
Starting on the northeastern horizon is Tadpole Ridge and the western extension of the Pinos Altos Range.  Dipping further east and south in succession are Hell’s Half Acre, LS Mesa and the Treasure Mountains. Bear Mountain is the sentinel on the northern thrust of the Treasures. 
Next come the Greenwood, Cottonwood, Cane, McKeefer, and Mangus drainages. To the west from there is School House Mountain.   Then there is Brushy and then Bald Knoll. 
On northward is Black Mountain.  Then there is the Duck Creek drainage.  The LC’s contemplated an empire there only to be derailed by a ball peen hammer murder in McKelligon Canyon in El Paso.
Dominating the northern horizon, the Mogollons are magnificent.  Sacaton and Whitewater bow to Mogollon Baldy that dominates the center of the ridgeline.  Haystack, 74, Shelley, and Watson lay in the forefront of that big, beautiful mountain. 
Before we leave the cemetery and the magnificence of its view, though, we always visit with the residents.  Their names are as familiar as the memories they left with us . . .
The High Mesa
Sacaton Mesa lies southward from the Mogollon ridgeline.  It is a benched alluvium cut with canyons.  It is the historical homeland of the Shelleys and the Rices.  Peter McKindree Shelley first settled there on the edge of Mogollon Creek in 1884. 
Four years later in 1888 Peter’s eventual son-in-law, Lee Rice, arrived with cattle from Texas.  The cowboy who rode with Lee was Boze Ikard, the black cowboy who was characterized in the western series, Lonesome Dove.  Mr. Ikard would go home to Texas, and Lee would settle on Sacaton Creek.
For nearly 50 years the area was accessed only by horseback and primitive two tracked road.  The road off the ridge into Mogollon Creek was so treacherous that even brave men would get out of the first motor cars and walk.  Riding a horse off the ridge was one thing, but riding a car was something much different.
All of the Peter Shelley grandkids remembered the early road.  Two of Lee’s sons, Blue and my grandfather, Carl, told me how they hated it.  It wasn’t because of where it led, it was because they had to walk along in front to the wagon or car for years and throw rocks out of it.  The road constantly ‘grew’ rocks!
From the High Mesa
Sacaton Mesa has two dominating features.  The first is the high mesa.  Several miles from the edge of the Gila Valley the road descends to the lower mesa.  That winding descent holds nearly as many memories as do the conversations with the residents of the Mesa Cemetery!
Every descendent of Peter Shelley who spent any measure of their youth in or around that area has a memory of that descent from the upper to the lower mesa.  At issue are the unwritten and largely classified attempts to set world record coasting records off that precipitous ridgeline!
The practice in those black operations, though, was not promulgated by the unwary and innocent youth of the family.  It was introduced and perpetuated by those who should know better . . . the elders of the family.
My first memory of those ‘runs’ was in our family car.  My parents, upon returning from ‘the ranch’ at Blue and Minnie Rice’s, were prone to run at the decline and shut the engine off and let the car coast.  The experience was always associated with first merriment and then ‘English’ as we all tried to help the car make a few more feet before it came to a stop on the lower mesa. 
I guess I thought we were the only ones to experience such sport until one day I was about to go over the drop off with my grandmother, Leona Rice.  I warily divulged the story to ‘Nana’ and she first scolded me for my mother’s recklessness.  “How dare her for doing such a thing with my grandchildren!” I seem to recall her saying.
  She then asked me how far we had coasted.  She was quite interested and I tried to tell her.  She didn’t seem to be very impressed with my account of the episode and, after a pause, inquired if I would like to see how it should really be done.
 “Sure, Nana . . .”
It was surprisingly apparent she knew what she was doing.  She gunned the car but didn’t really get after it until she navigated the first two curves in the decline.  After that and we were flying off the hill.  She then shut the car off.  Wow, what a ride!
Nana’s expertise put us well beyond the point of any previous success I knew.  In fact, Nana’s technique was far superior and it continued to be perfected when I rode alone with her.  It never failed, though, that when we finally coasted to a stop she would always remind me not to tell my mother. 
Interestingly, it was the same warning that I got from my grandfather, Uncle Bill, Sam Reed, Betty Reed, Frank and Clyde, and even Grandma Lewis.  How Grandma Lewis ever knew of such things remains a mystery to me.  She wouldn’t put up with any nonsense.
The Hallmarks
My cousins, Hugh and Jim Reed, were as good as or better than any competitors in the clandestine coasting derby.  I’m not sure where they perfected the craft because it surely wasn’t from their Gramp or Granny, Blue and Minnie Rice.  I couldn’t imagine divulging such frivolity to Blue.  There was no way he would indulge in such hoodlumism . . . or at least I thought for the longest time.
 It was even more so with Minnie.  She was so straight-laced that we couldn’t even think of something bad around her.   They must have learned the whole thing from somebody else.  Maybe Frank or Clyde or some other hooligan, but they were well taught! 
I am one of the few living souls who know of their trip off the hill on Blue’s John Deere A.  Jimmy was driving and Hugh was standing on the draw bar.  They had discussed it as they discussed so many things.  Hugh was telling Jimmy that ‘Mama’ was gonna’ find out when Jim just couldn’t stand the temptation.  Off the hill he gunned that old piece of iron.
Hugh relived the story through the first two corners, but neither would discuss anything after that.  Both of them got real quiet  . . . and pale at that point.  Hugh described how the tractor was bouncing like an uncontrollable jumping bean from one side of the road to the other.
I do know that when they got the old tractor stopped at the bottom of the hill neither had to remind the other not to tell ‘Mama’.  In fact, neither could say anything for several minutes.  Jim quietly started the tractor and carefully drove on home.  After a while, Hugh noticed his hands were cramping.  They were as white as Jim’s face and had the marks of the seat springs where he continued to hold a death grip.
The Truth
My grandfather and I took a run off the hill another day and set what I was told was a record.  The mark was compared to a point that he and Blue had reached in a Model T Ford. 
“Blue, knows about this?” I had asked, incredulously.
It seems they had come off the hill and were about have to crank the Ford when Blue spotted a herd of wild horses.  Boppy was in the back when Blue got the truck in gear and popped the clutch.  Off they went across the flat.  They hadn’t gone a hundred yards and Blue hit a bump that threw Boppy out.  The story ended with Blue yelling for his brother to “shoot, shoot!”  Of course he couldn’t because he was sitting on his saddle in the middle of the empty flat where he and the saddle had landed.
“How do you know it is a record, Boppy?” was my next question.
“Because this is beyond the spot we left the road to chase the wild horses and we always thought that was the best mark ever,” was his calculated response.
I was happy and perplexed at the same time.  A world’s record was one thing . . . but Blue Rice indulging in nonsense was another . . . the world was never quite the same again.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “I am suggesting strongly that any reader never . . . ever attempt this foolhardy nonsense!  Ride a pitching mule off it, but do not coast a vehicle off that mountain!”