Saturday, April 07, 2012

Friday, April 06, 2012

Song Of The Day #810

Ranch Radio continues with our commemoration of Earl Scruggs passing with a banjo instrumental duo. First is the song that made them famous way beyond the bluegrass world, Foggy Mountain Breakdown from 1950. That is followed by the 1952 recording Flint Hill Special.

Healthy Polar Bear Count Confounds Doomsayers

The debate about climate change and its impact on polar bears has intensified with the release of a survey that shows the bear population in a key part of northern Canada is far larger than many scientists thought, and might be growing. The number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. The study shows that “the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management. “There is no doom and gloom.” He said the media in southern Canada has led people to believe polar bears are endangered. “They are not.” He added that there are about 25,000 polar bears across Canada’s Arctic. “That’s likely the highest [population level] there has ever been.”...more

Number of New Oil Wells and New Leases Have Decreased Under Obama, Data from BLM Show

Since President Obama took office, both the number of new drilling operations started on federal lands and the number of new leases for oil operations on federal lands has decreased, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) data show. In fiscal year 2008, the last official year of the President George W. Bush’s administration, 5,044 new oil wells were started, meaning that actual drilling began, which is what oil firms refer to as “spudding in” or to “spud” a well bore. In FY 2009, however, in Obama’s first year as president, there were 3,267 wells spudded, a decline of 1,777. The number of new oil drilling leases also declined under Obama, according to the Bureau of Land Management...more

Ecotality Examined: For Electric Vehicle Company, Politics is Business

Ecotality “is a great example of the stimulus act doing what it was supposed to do,” explained company spokeswoman Jeanine L’Ecuyer in May of 2010. “ETEC was teetering. It was a company trying very hard to stay in business. This grant has created jobs and put this company back on track.” eTec was the North American subsidiary of Ecotality, which received $115 million in two stimulus grants through the Energy Department to manufacture electric vehicle charging stations. The parent company is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Yesterday, Scribe posted a subpoena sent to former eTec CEO Donald Karner in December. L’Ecuyer’s statement is indicative of a larger strategy at Ecotality that appears to have banked on receiving taxpayer support (the accuracy of her stimulus assessment will be explored in part three). Indeed, in the first half of 2010, the DOE grants accounted for more than half of Ecotality’s revenues, and the company posted net losses of $12.3 million. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the company enjoys some notable political connections, and awarded a seven-figure bonus to at least one top executive contingent on receiving taxpayer funds. Total compensation for Jonathan Read, Ecotality’s chief executive, increased more than ten-fold from 2008 to 2009, from under $400,000 to more than $4.1 million. That increase included a $75,000 bonus and a $10,000 salary hike, but the bulk came in the form of stock awards worth about $3.7 million...more

"Ideas Having Sex" - video

"Where ideas have sex, is in technologies," says author and biologist Matt Ridley, "we give far too much credit to individuals for innovation...all of them are standing on the shoulders of lots of other people." Ridley discussed his views on trade, invention and creativity with the New York Times' John Tierney at a Reason Foundation event at the Museum of Sex in New York City on March 8, 2012. The author of "The Rational Optimist," tells Tierney that "Every technology we possess has ideas that occurred to different people in different times and different places...most innovation happens by perspiration not inspiration, it's tinkering...rather than geniuses in ivory towers." Tierney and Ridley also discuss how traders and businessmen, much maligned throughout history as exploiters and "social parasites," have actually contributed enormously to the spread of ideas and new technological breakthroughs...more

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Judge Maintains Federal Protections of Antelope

The government can give a reprieve to three species of captive-bred antelopes that are otherwise hunted under an Endangered Species Act exemption, a federal judge ruled. When the endangered scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle and addax joined the endangered species list in 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopted a blanket captive-bred exemption to the hunting ban. It did this in purported recognition of the value of captive herds in conservation efforts. Animal rights groups fought the blanket exemption, however, and persuaded the the D.C. Circuit to strike it down in the 2009 resolution of Friends of Animals v. Salazaar. The court said activities otherwise prohibited under the Endangered Species Act must be approved on a case-by-case basis. To comply with the decision, the agency removed the captive-bred exemption. Two groups filed suit in response. Safari Club International, a hunting group, wanted the court to block the 2005 listing of the three antelope species as endangered. The Exotic Wildlife Association, representing ranchers, wanted to continue the exemption for captive-bred antelopes. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell rejected both maneuvers Tuesday. The groups have not shown a likelihood of winning the merits of their cases, and they have not shown the potential for irreparable harm if the regulations take effect before a full trial...more

The most "irreparable harm" will be to the antelope.

NM BLM Wins National Award for Migratory Bird Conservation

The Restore New Mexico initiative started seven years ago as a collaboration between government, the oil and natural gas industry, ranchers and environmental groups to reclaim old oil fields and restore grassland habitat in Southeastern New Mexico for the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, both candidates for endangered status.  And the program's growth has been good news for far more species than its original two targets, says Bill Merhege, Deputy State Director of Resources with the BLM. "While we're we're doing all this, we're actually improving habitat for migratory songbirds, (which) are in decline West-wide because of the loss of grassland habitats." It's Restore New Mexico's effect on THAT population that has garnered it the second-ever Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award....more

Uranium, Grazing Cattle and Risks Unknown

As I reported last weekend in The Times, a cattle rancher stumbled upon an abandoned uranium mine in the summer of 2010 on his grazing land, about 60 miles east of the Grand Canyon on the Navajo reservation, and notified federal officials. They came in with Geiger counters and found levels of radioactivity that were alarmingly high. A year and a half later, the former mine in Cameron, Ariz., is not fenced off to either humans or animals, and cattle continue to roam through the site and eat grass that might be tainted with uranium and other toxic substances. “Those cattle go to auction in Sun Valley and are sold on the open market,” said Ronald Tohannie, a project manager with the Navajo advocacy group Forgotten People. “Then people eat the meat.” The owner of Valley Livestock Auction in Sun Valley, Ariz., Derrek Wagoner, has confirmed that he buys cattle from the Navajo reservation and is aware that cattle graze near uranium mines there. He adds that cattle come to him from all over the Southwest, where there are plenty of former uranium mines. There is no dispute that beef and milk from those cattle make their way into the food chain. What is not precisely known is how much radioactive material plants absorb through the soil, how much the cattle ingest by grazing on the plants and what the effect might be on humans...more

Zebra spotted along highway - in Kansas

  Troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol catch their fair share of law-breaking road users, but it’s not every day they get to nab a zebra. A trooper caught up with a stray zebra on the I-70, just west of Topeka, on Tuesday, and stopped to help. It transpired the zebra belonged to a local rancher, who lured the animal back into its pasture with treats. The Kansas Highway Patrol, in noting the incident on its Facebook page, said: “Have we said there is no routine day?” [link]

Song Of The Day #809

Ranch Radio continues with our tribute to Earl Scruggs.  Today's tunes will feature the Flatt & Scruggs sound right after they left Monroe.  First up is Down The Road, from 1949 and which highlights Scruggs on the banjo, followed by Pain In My Heart from 1951.

As Obama touts Buffett tax, progressive ‘death’ tax comes under national siege

As President Barack Obama canvasses the United States pushing for an increase in taxes on the wealthy — something he is calling the Buffett tax, after billionaire progressive Warren Buffett — the campaign against the “death” tax is gaining momentum both on the state and federal level. The recent trend against the estate and inheritance taxes, favored by some of the same progressives who champion the Buffett tax, began in Ohio and has spread to Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oregon and Nebraska Tax activists also hope to make gains in Minnesota and Maine. Twenty-two states collect such taxes — either an estate tax, which is automatically levied on a dead person’s assets, or an inheritance tax, which is collected when the beneficiary of a bequest receives money or property. In the Democrat-controlled Senate, Republican John Thune has introduced the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act to abolish the federal estate tax. That bill follows on the heels of identical legislation launched in the House of Representatives last year — with more than 200 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle — by Texas Republican Kevin Brady. Right-leaning activist organizations, think tanks and supply-side economists are also mobilizing, including the American Family Business Institute trade association. With seven months to go before the November election, 203 House and Senate candidates have signed its “Death Tax Repeal Pledge.”...more

Agroterrorists and Al Qaeda target US agriculture

Were the terrorists who torched 14 tractor-trailer rigs at Harris Farms in California’s Central Valley unaware that the drivers of those vehicles sometimes slept overnight in those rigs? Or was surveillance by those terrorists so pronounced that they knew nobody was in those rigs in the early morning hours as they set fire to them on Jan 8, 2012. Either scenario is chilling to Tom Knowles, a retired agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a terrorism authority with the Sacramento Regional Terrorism Threat Assessment Center. Knowles was among three speakers at an ag crimes and terrorism summit who warned that the central San Joaquin Valley, boasting billions of dollars in agricultural production, can be vulnerable to attack from terrorists from abroad or homegrown. Knowles, who is with the Sacramento Regional Terrorism Threat Assessment Center, said agriculture is particularly vulnerable to attack because “you don’t have to touch it to cause problems.” It can be enough to simply feed into a perception that food is contaminated. Knowles said that U.S. forces have found documents at an Al Qaeda training camp that showed interest in targeting farms in the United States, purposely contaminating food supplies by spreading contaminants that include foot and mouth diseases and hog cholera. In 1986, a group calling itself the “Breeders” said it had released Mediterranean fruit flies in Southern California to protest aerial spraying of the pesticide malathion, said Carl Hafner, Fresno County agriculture commissioner. They also threatened to release the flies in the San Joaquin Valley, but apparently did not do so. Hafner said there was evidence that the claim was not a hoax, including the discovery of unexpected life stages of the insect. The case remains unsolved...more

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Our dangerous dependence on foreign chocolate

America is addicted to chocolate. Foreign chocolate. A majority of us consume chocolate each day. Although the U.S. produces only 6% of the world’s cocoa, we consume more than 20%. The threat is obvious. It’s time for government to step in and promote alternatives. Any day now, President Obama will be barnstorming the country to tell us, “If we really want chocolate security and chocolate independence, we've got to start looking at how we use less cocoa and use sources that we can renew and that we can control, so we are not subject to the whims of what's happening in other countries.” Today, we are at the mercy of Africa, which produces over 75% of the world’s cocoa...more

Do we gave an OCEC in our future?

GAO: Fuel Economy Standards, Green Vehicles Jeopardizing Transportation Funding

The Highway Trust Fund risks bankruptcy as early as 2013 according to Government Accountability Office projections, in part because of government-imposed fuel economy standards and government-subsidized alternative fuel vehicles. “The major source of federal surface transportation funding is the Highway Trust Fund, but the revenues that make up that fund are eroding,” the GAO wrote in a March 29 report to Congress. “This trend will continue with the introduction of more fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles that have the potential through fuel savings to decrease motor fuel purchases and associated tax receipts.” The Highway Trust Fund is funded exclusively via the federal gasoline tax. As car companies are forced to make more fuel efficient cars – achieving 54.5 miles-per-gallon by 2025 – and produce more alternative fuel vehicles, the government expects that gasoline consumption will decline, leading to lower revenues from the federal gas tax...more

Treasury had "one day" to review Solyndra loan

The Treasury Department's review of Solyndra's $535 million federal loan guarantee was "rushed" through in about one day in March 2009, "based on an expedited review request from DOE so that a press release could be issued," according to a Treasury inspector general report that gives further evidence of the early Obama administration's eagerness to announce progress in funding clean energy.  The report, issued Tuesday, also quotes internal Treasury documents that portray the Energy Department as being under pressure to get the loan agreement out the door.  “DOE says that their hands are tied on this issue,” the audit quotes one Treasury email as saying, discussing one detail of the financing terms. “They are under pressure to complete a deal.” Another internal Treasury email said that “the train really has left the station on this deal.” The report also found that DOE didn't consult with Treasury on the terms and conditions of the loan deal before or during the Energy Department's own review process, including the review of Solyndra's credit worthiness...more

New process to expedite drilling on public lands

The Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled new procedures to speed up drilling on public lands, an area where Republicans and the oil industry have pressed the administration to do more to boost oil production and help drive down gasoline prices. The changes will move the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for oil and gas production on federal onshore lands, into the digital age by automating permitting and leasing decisions. Today, those negotiations are done on paper, and the back-and-forth has resulted in permits taking on average 298 days to approve. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said that the new process unveiled Tuesday and in place nationwide by May 2013 would drop it to 60 days or less, without compromising safety or the environment. "We have heard from the industry that they believe that BLM's administrative processes are too slow and result in unnecessary delay and added costs," Abbey said in a conference call with reporters. "And to some degree, their criticism is valid."...more

If I didn't know better I'd think gas prices are high and this is an election year.
It must be serious, cuz the BLM is only taking 13 months to implement it.

Sierra County withdraws support for Mexican wolf reintroduction program

Officials in one southern New Mexico county are withdrawing their support for the federal government's effort to reintroduce Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest. Sierra County Manager Janet Porter Carrejo sent a brief letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month outlining the county's position. She says residents don't feel the reintroduction program is worthy of the federal money spent so far. More than $12 million has been spent since 2003, and a recent survey puts the wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona at about 58. Porter Carrejo says residents believe there are more wolves in the wild. The state of New Mexico withdrew its support from the program last summer. The federal government has been working since 1998 to reintroduce the wolves. The animals were added to the federal endangered species list in 1976. AP

Song Of The Day #809

Monroe, Flatt, Scruggs 1946
 Ranch Radio continues with a tribute to Earl Scruggs, who recently passed away, and to his work with Monroe and Flatt. Lester Flatt first, and then Scruggs, joined Monroe in 1945. To me, the classic bluegrass sound is Flatt singing lead, Monroe tenor, and a banjo break by Scruggs and a fiddle break by Chubby Wise.  The harmony of Flatt & Monroe was something special, and Lester Flatt was the only lead singer Monroe listed as singing lead on any of his recordings.  The duo recorded 28 songs with Monroe before they left his band in 1948.

Give a listen to Will You Be Lovin' Another Man, which was written by Flatt, and to Toy Heart.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

NM water official rejects San Augustin application

The state's top water official has denied a request from a New York-based commercial venture that sought to drill more than three dozen wells in western New Mexico. Rural residents, one of the state's largest irrigation districts and others had described the application by Augustin Plains Ranch as a modern-day water grab. They argued it flew in the face of a western water doctrine that has been in place for more than a century to keep speculators from profiting off the sale of water to thirsty users. State Engineer Scott Verhines announced Monday that he denied the request because it was vague, too broad and the effects of granting it could not be reasonably evaluated. He said he considered the overall impacts the proposal would have on New Mexicans. "As our society becomes increasingly dense in urban areas, we remain encouraging to innovations in water movement around the state," Verhines said. "However, reasonable applications are those that identify a clear purpose for the use of the water, include reasonable design plans and include specifics as to the end user of the water." One of the most contested applications in the history of the state engineer's office, the plan by Augustin Plains Ranch called for drilling 37 wells, each capable of pumping 2,000 gallons of water per minute. In all, the company asked to pump more than 17 billion gallons a year from beneath the plains for up to 300 years to supplement supplies in the Rio Grande Valley. Verhines issued the denial without prejudice, meaning the company can refile its application. It also has the option of appealing the decision in state district court...more

Department of Energy allowed light bulb manufacturer to skirt the rules in L Prize competition, documents suggest

The Department of Energy awarded lighting giant Philips the $10 million L Prize despite the fact that the winning energy-efficient bulb failed to meet several contest criteria requirements, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. Philips raised eyebrows when it debuted the winning bulb with a $50 price tag. That is far beyond the $22 cost recommended by the department, which is now working with utility companies to cut back on the upfront cost through rebates. Department documents, however, cast doubt on whether the expensive LED bulb was even worthy of the prize. Contest rules outlined by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act required the winning L Prize bulb to shine at 900 lumens. A department report on 200 bulbs tested at two different facilities showed that nearly 70 bulbs failed to meet that standard, including more than 60 percent of the bulbs tested at one of the labs. Contest rules mandated that an entrant that failed to meet basic standards would be “terminated” and forced to return to square one of the competition. A House Appropriations Committee report issued in June slammed the department for announcing the $10 million prize without prior approval from Congress. “The Committee strongly opposes the Department announcing funding opportunities when those funds have not yet been made available by Congress,” the report said. “In the case of the L Prize, the Department risks damaging its credibility.” The warning was enough to worry higher-ups at Philips, which spent nearly $1.8 million lobbying Congress to fund the program. The bulb’s $50 price tag also produced sticker shock among industry insiders. It is about double the cost of existing LED bulbs and about fifty times higher than the 60-watt incandescent bulb it was designed to replace...more

Forest Service in legal stew over coverup of lookout's alleged marijuana use

The Moonlight fire was the U.S. Forest Service's worst nightmare. For two weeks in September 2007 it raged like a fire-breathing dragon across 65,000 acres in Plumas and Lassen counties, devouring everything in its path, including 46,000 acres of lush national forest. But there is an additional troubling dimension to this catastrophe, one that, like the fire itself, still haunts the Forest Service. From the start, there was a recognition of potential legal complications if it became known that a Forest Service patrol officer claimed another agency employee may have been smoking marijuana while he manned the lookout tower closest to the site where the fire started. That fear has now been realized. A timber company being sued for causing the fire has filed documents in court that reveal the government tried to cover up the claim, causing dissension within the Forest Service. Long before the devastating wildfire was contained, federal and state investigators were satisfied that a bulldozer belonging to a company harvesting timber for Sierra Pacific Industries hit a rock and a spark flew into dry duff on private property. Sierra Pacific and the logger, Howell's Forest Harvesting, strongly dispute that. The final report on the fire, publicly released on June 30, 2009, included no mention of suspected marijuana use by the Red Rock lookout the day the fire started. In court papers, Sierra Pacific lawyers describe the report as "completely sanitized." Yet, their cooperation and that of two federal judges was enlisted by assistant U.S. attorneys in sealing and redacting court records regarding the marijuana claim, despite the fact that once they were part of the court file they were public by law. The Bee went to court in January to thwart the government's latest maneuver to hide the records. As a result, 544 pages of material, plus redactions, were placed on the public docket by Sierra Pacific lawyers. In defending their client, the lawyers insist that seasonal Forest Service employee Caleb Lief was "distracted" at the time the fire emerged from an incipient, smoldering stage and, by the time he became aware of it, the flames were beyond control...more

Yet, their cooperation and that of two federal judges was enlisted by assistant U.S. attorneys in sealing and redacting court records regarding the marijuana claim, despite the fact that once they were part of the court file they were public by law.

Another example the federal "justice" system is out of whack.  

Also see Evidence hidden in Sen. Stevens' corruption case

Obama Super PAC strikes back at ad attacking the president’s energy record

Remember that gas price ad Barack Obama didn’t want you to see? You saw it anyway — and, thanks to a $3.6 million ad buy by the American Energy Alliance (the group behind the ad), so did viewers in the crucial swing states of Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia.
Because they can’t rebut the facts of the ad, Democrats continue with their attack-the-messenger strategy. Obama’s Super PAC, Priorities USA, today released an ad that links Mitt Romney to the U.S. oil industry:

The super PAC backing President Obama has joined an intensifying battleground state skirmish over high gas prices and oil company subsidies. A new TV ad by Priorities USA Action links Mitt Romney to the U.S. oil industry, which it claims has been underwriting the assault on Obama to defend billions of dollars in taxpayer cash. “Who’s behind this ad smearing President Obama? Big Oil, that’s who,” says the narrator in the 30-second spot that’s airing in eight states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. “The money they make from high gas prices – is going right into Mitt Romney’s campaign,” the ad says.

House GOP subpoenas Obama administration on oil drilling

A House committee issued subpoenas Tuesday demanding the Obama administration turn over documents Republicans say will show the backroom negotiations that led to President Obama’s Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium in 2010. The move comes as President Obama and Republicans are arguing over the administration’s pace in leasing federal lands for energy development at a time of sharply rising gasoline prices. The subpoenas seek to uncover how the Interior Department edited the report that it issued when it announced a six-month drilling moratorium following the BP oil spill. Some of the documents have been obtained by the department’s own inspector general, but the department has prevented them from being given to Congress. The report accompanying the moratorium appeared to imply that a panel of engineers the administration consulted had agreed with the drilling ban — though the engineers later said they opposed the moratorium and had concluded that drilling generally was safe enough to continue...more

Western States Tell Washington To Get Off Their Lawns

Lawmakers in resource-rich Western states have had enough of Washington's meddling and are moving to take the federal grip off their lands. Their actions could positively impact gasoline prices. It seems a new Sagebrush Rebellion is brewing. Last week, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation that demands the federal government return 30 million acres to the state by 2014. National parks, military installations and Indian lands would not be part of the return. Utah is out in front, but it is not alone. Lawmakers in the Arizona Senate have passed a bill similar to Utah's while the legislatures in Colorado, Idaho, Montana and New Mexico are reportedly following Salt Lake City's lead. The movement is particularly relevant because in President Obama's feeble attempt to deflect blame for rising gasoline prices, he has repeatedly claimed that oil production has increased during his term. But what he has failed to mention is that the expansion has been on private lands. Production on federal land has fallen since he took office, due to his restrictive policies. With Washington out of the way, the oil-rich states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Montana can unlock their resources that have been trapped by Washington, which itself is captive to radical environmental interests. The most recent Sagebrush Rebellion began in the 1970s when Western states tried to break Washington's tight control over public lands within their borders. While running for the White House in 1980, Ronald Reagan told supporters at a stop in Salt Lake City to "count me in as a rebel." The rebels had a legitimate grievance. But the movement didn't net much. Washington still owns wide swaths of the West. (See map.) Among the Western states, only in Montana (29.9%) does the federal government own less than 30% of the land...more

This Land is... the Government's

According to the USDA, Economic Research Service, of the 2,264,000,000 acres that comprise the United States of America, the federal government owns 635,000,000 of them, or more than 28%. In addition, state and local governments own 195,000,000 acres and another 56,000,000 acres is the sovereign territory of the various Indian Tribes. Thus, nearly 4 of every 10 acres of land in the U.S. – 39.13% - is owned by a government entity rather than private citizens; easily the largest asset controlled by the collectivist state. And, even the land that is privately held has volumes of regulations controlling what citizens can do on and with it...more

Also from the ERS Report:

Federal land, at 635 million acres in 2002, includes the original public domain and land acquired by purchase and other means. Total federally owned land decreased by about 12 million acres between 1997 and 2002. About 37 percent of all Federal land is in Alaska, 41 percent in the Mountain region, and 14 percent in the Pacific region. The remaining 9 percent is distributed among the other eight farm production regions and Hawaii, with the largest portion—nearly 2 percent of all Federal land—in the Lake States. About 152 million acres of Federal grassland and a portion of Federal forestland are used for grazing. Livestock can also graze some of the special-use and miscellaneous land. Federal land also includes forest land
in special uses and miscellaneous other land, such as marshes, open swamps, bare rock areas, desert, and other uses not inventoried...

Song Of The Day #808

 As I posted last week, Earl Scruggs has passed away at age 88.  Three pioneers of bluegrass are now gone: Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.  We'll feature all three this week.  Here's one of my favorite Scruggs banjo tunes, Dear Old Dixie.

NM: Rustlers stuff calf in backseat of Honda Civic

A calf riding in the backseat of a Honda Civic led to the arrest of three men for alleged cattle rustling in Luna County. The sheriff's office arrested the men last Friday when a deputy pulled over a Honda Civic and saw a 220-pound calf sharing the backseat with one of the alleged thieves. The Carlsbad Current Argus reports the men were arrested on suspicion of larceny of livestock, conspiracy, lack of a bill of sale and exporting livestock. The larceny and conspiracy charges are felonies. The three were booked into the Luna County Detention Center. AP

Study: Tourism spending up across Navajo Nation

Spending by visitors to the nation's largest American Indian reservation has increased by nearly one-third over the past several years, and Navajo Nation officials are pointing to word of mouth for the uptick in interest in the sprawling reservation. Spanning parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the Navajo Nation covers more than 27,000 square miles. It borders the Grand Canyon and sits on the southern edge of the sandstone cliffs, spires and red desert expanses that make up Monument Valley. The Navajo Nation also surrounds the archaeological sites at Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico and is home to Canyon de Chelly, where artifacts and cliff dwellings dating from the 4th to 14th centuries line the canyon walls. A study done by a Northern Arizona University research center for the tribe shows some 600,000 visitors made nearly $113 million in direct purchases on the reservation in 2011. That represents a 32 percent increase in tourism spending since 2002...more

Harry Reid, Commerce Secretary John Bryson connected to fast-tracked solar companies

Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and the Commerce Secretary have extensive ties to fast-tracked green energy programs under investigation by the Senate Budget Committee. Seven solar power companies have received quick approval and little scrutiny from the Department of Interior to lease federal lands in California and Nevada in no-bid processes. Critics have raised questions about the environmental impact of these companies on endangered species. There are also concerns about political favoritism. Three of the seven renewable energy projects—Nevada Geothermal, Ormat Nevada, and SolarReserve—are located in Reid’s home state. Executives from all three companies have donated to Reid and his fellow Democrats, contributing more than $58,000 since 2008. Furthermore, Brightsource Energy, which received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Energy Department and is also expected to receive Treasury grants once the project is complete, has donated since 2008 at least $21,600 to Democrats and zero dollars to Republicans. Reid received almost $4,000 from Brightsource executives in the 2010 cycle, including $2,400 from CEO John Woolard, who hosted a fundraiser for the majority leader. Woolard is also a Barack Obama donor and has visited the White House 10 times since Obama took office. Reid’s staffers have been a key part of Washington D.C.’s revolving door, setting up shop with lobbying outfits that have ties to green energy companies and the Department of Interior, which oversees such projects. Kai Anderson, the lead lobbyist for Ormat, is a former deputy chief of staff for Reid. Paul Thomsen, who handles government affairs for Ormat Nevada, Inc., is also a former Reid Staffer. Neil Kornze, the acting deputy director of policy for the Bureau of Land Management under the Department of Interior, is also a former energy staffer for Reid...more

Ecotality Examined: SEC Subpoena for Stimulus-Backed Company Revealed

Scribe has obtained a copy of a Securities and Exchange Commission subpoena sent to Donald Karner, former CEO of Ecotality North America (formerly called eTec), the subsidiary of a company that recieved roughly $115 million in stimulus grants to manufacture charging stations for electric vehicles. Despite its federal funding, and shout-outs from both President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Ecotality fell on hard financial times in 2010. It is now under investigation by the SEC. The company recently failed to file its fourth quarter earnings report with the SEC, citing the “unreasonable effort or expense” that would be necessary. In all, Ecotality looks to be yet another stimulus-backed green energy company backed by strong political ties, but with limited financial viability outside of its large government-enabled revenue stream. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) has started asking questions of Chu regarding Ecotality’s substantial federal funding. Scribe will further explore Ecotality, its backing from the Energy Department, and the SEC investigation in a three-part series this week...more

The subpoena is here.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Fracking bidders top farmers at water auction

Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers. At Colorado's premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy. "What impact to our environment and our agricultural heritage are Coloradans willing to stomach for drilling and fracking?" said Gary Wockner, director of the Save the Poudre Coalition, devoted to protecting the Cache la Poudre River. "Farm water grows crops, but it also often supports wildlife, wetlands and stream flows back to our rivers. Most drilling and fracking water is lost from the hydrological cycle forever," Wockner said. "Any transfer of water from rivers and farms to drilling and fracking will negatively impact Colorado's environment and wildlife." The Northern Water Conservancy District runs the auction, offering excess water diverted from the Colorado River Basin—25,000 acre-feet so far this year—and conveyed through a 13-mile tunnel under the Continental Divide. Farmers who go to the auctions seeking to produce food—or maybe plant more acres—are on equal footing with companies seeking water for fracking, Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner said. "If you have a beneficial use for the water, then you can bid for that water," Werner said. "We see the beneficial use of the water as a positive for the economy of the whole region. Fracking is one of those uses. Our uses of water have evolved over 150 years." Riding his tractor last week, Colorado hay producer Lar Voss, who bid for water at the recent auction, accepted this approach. Voss bid for 100 acre-feet "to be sure I've got enough for the crops," he said. Selling water to those who can pay the most "is what ought to happen."...more

And of course, the Farmer's Union have never seen a market they liked:

"How do we continue to sustain agriculture when there's just more and more demand on our water resources in this state?" said Bill Midcap, director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, which represents 22,000 producers in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.
"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced."... Unknown

Think Globally, Fail Locally

I like to stay informed on the latest developments in electric vehicles (EVs)—in other words, with the amazing idea of trying to resurrect a technology that died a century ago, with the advent of the internal combustion engine. EVs are a retro-idea so captivating to our genius president that he has been willing to lavish billions of taxpayer money on funding EV makers. It’s easy to play at being a venture capitalist when you’re using other people’s capital. A new Wall Street Journal article reports that Azure Dynamics, a Canadian company that, in partnership with Ford, makes electric vans for sale in Europe and America, has stopped production of its e-vans and filed for bankruptcy. It did this in spite of receiving millions of dollars in federal grant money, including a recent $5.4 million grant to work on a new electric inverter. Azure hit the wall after making a miserable 508 e-vans (and retrofitting 1,500 Ford vans to make them hybrids) this year, and only 800 last year. Ford is now worried about who will service the damn things, and 120 of the company’s 160 workers are looking for work. The WSJ piece also notes that recent sales of Nissan’s EV (the Leaf) and GM’s EV (the Volt) have been lousy. Fisker Automotive has had two recent recalls and is jonesing for another government loan. Its battery supplier, A123 Systems, has just issued a recall of its products, and is looking for suckers—pardon me, investors — to come up with $55 million to cover the recall. Earlier this year, Bright Automotive went dim — it filed for bankruptcy when it could not get any more federal subsidies. Last year, EV maker Think Global failed miserably, leaving Indiana with a nice, empty factory. Think Globally, fail locally — what a great business model!  Liberty Unbound

Fast-tracked solar projects receive little scrutiny over environmental damages

The Department of Interior’s fast-tracked approval of several major solar projects in California and Nevada has raised questions over negative environmental impacts and the agency’s adherence to environmental regulations. On March 11, 2009, the Department of Interior [DOI] issued a secretarial order to fast track the siting of renewable energy projects on public lands managed by the agency. The move was part of the administration’s larger green energy initiative, which has pumped billions of dollars in stimulus money into renewable energy. Seven solar companies received fast-tracked approval by DOI to lease federal lands in a no-bid process: Abengoa Solar, BrightSource Energy, First Solar, Nevada Geothermal Power, NextEra Energy Resources, Ormat Nevada, and SolarReserve. Those seven companies all received loan guarantees worth billions from the Department of Energy under its renewable energy loan program, as well as renewable energy grants from the Treasury Department. The federal government has dedicated 21 million acres to these renewable energy projects in the three years since the secretarial order. That is more land than it has set aside for oil and gas exploration over the last decade. The speed with which the projects were approved, coupled with the fact that the companies had already received Energy Department loan guarantees with strict timelines attached, has raised questions as to whether Interior’s actions were predetermined...more

We'll be watching this one...

Obama energy officials funded solar firms despite ‘junk bond’ ratings

The U.S. Department of Energy backed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for discredited solar power start-ups whose corporate debt was already sullied with “junk” ratings by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, two of the world’s leading credit agencies, a federal government investigation has shown. Despite the finding, Energy Secretary Steven Chu vigorously defended the ethics of his agency in a hearing last week held by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa. Details are emerging this week about the Energy Department’s practices that indicate the agency spent a disproportionate amount of funding on these tainted solar power projects. Congressional aides interviewed personnel at Fitch and S&P, and officials inside Obama’s Energy Department, as part of their investigation. A company called Solopower was cited in a “dire” warning by S&P, which accurately forecast that the firm would “fail to meet its debt obligations.” Nonetheless, it received $170 million in federal funding guarantees, investigators told The Daily Caller. Another company, Abound Solar, was approved for a $400 million loan guarantee by Obama officials, investigators said. Fitch Ratings, however, had earlier assigned a “junk credit” rating to Abound. Fitch deemed the firm “highly speculative” and “lagging in technology” behind its competitors...more

How Property Rights Solve Problems

Should restaurants allow smoking or not? Should schools teach evolution or intelligent design or both? Should insurance companies cover contraception? Should I be able to take off my shoes in your living room? You might think that that last question doesn't belong with the first three. After all, the first three questions are momentous ones about "public policy." The last one is only about the rules you have for my behavior in your living room—a "private-policy" question. And your answer to that question will depend on how you want to use your property. But think about what you just read: Your answer to whether I should be able to remove my shoes in your living room depends on how you want to use your property. What is implicit here, but obvious to all, is that the choice is yours. I have no say in the matter. That doesn't mean you won't take account of my thoughts and feelings. You will. Let's assume that you find it distasteful for me to take off my shoes, but that you like my company. Let's further assume that telling me that I can't get comfortable by taking off my shoes will mean that I won't want to visit you. Then you will trade off your distaste at having me shoeless with the pleasure you take from my company. If one outweighs the other, in your subjective estimation, then you'll choose accordingly. Notice how property rights solve the problem. It's your living room and so you get to choose. How your living room gets used is not a public-policy problem. And here's the kicker. If property rights are respected, none of the other three questions is a public-policy problem either. Consider each in turn...more

Officials push for changes to grazing rules for public lands

Cows chewing grass may look boring, but grazing has become a major driver of America's public lands management. Last week, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., co-sponsored a bill that would double the length of grazing leases on federal land from 10 to 20 years. The week before, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., introduced the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, which guaranteed grazing access as a major component holding its coalition of ranchers, environmentalists and conservation groups together. And Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sponsored Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which made several changes to accommodate grazing leases in proposed wilderness and recreation areas. The Grazing Improvement Act of 2012 is needed, according to Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., because ranchers need protection from activists trying to block public-land grazing.  At the hearing, BLM Deputy Director Mike Pool acknowledged his agency was behind on about 4,200 grazing lease renewals nationwide.That didn't mollify either the BLM's Pool or Leslie Weldon, deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Both testified in opposition to the bill as written. Pool said his agency couldn't support its automatic permit renewal provision without better assurances permittees were meeting the land-use standards. He also said the bill would limit public involvement in environmental reviews.
Weldon wondered how the bill's new appeals process would match the Forest Service's shift to an objection-based system...more

Animal cruelty exception set for herding dogs

State senators have voted to limit the ability of cities and counties to enact animal cruelty regulations affecting dogs used in herding livestock. The preliminary approval came over objections from Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson. She said the exception is so broad it would allow a rancher to impose any punishment on an animal, "even to the point of killing their dog' and being shielded by this legislation. But Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said Aboud is misreading the measure. He acknowledged that HB2780 would bar local cruelty regulations involving activities "directly related to the business of shepherding or herding livestock. But Gould said that bar would apply if "the activity is necessary for the safety of a human, the dog or livestock." And Gould said it would not protect the activities like that of one Southern Arizona rancher who had left his dogs outside for several days -- and whose complaint led to this change in the law. When the owner complained to Rep. Peggy Judd, R-Willcox, she crafted legislation to create an exemption from both state and local laws for "any activity involving the possession and training, exhibition or use of a dog in the otherwise lawful pursuit of ranching or farming work activities." When that proved too broad -- and Judd admitted she had not been given all the details of what had been involved -- the measure was altered for the narrower exception...more

FDA rejects call to ban BPA from food packaging

The Food and Drug Administration has rejected a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food. The agency said Friday that petitioners did not present compelling scientific evidence to justify new restrictions on the much-debated chemical, commonly known as BPA, though federal scientists continue to study the issue. The Natural Resources Defense Council's petition was the latest move by public-safety advocates to prod regulators into taking action against the chemical, which is found in products from CDs to canned food to dental sealants. But FDA reiterated in its response that that those findings cannot be applied to humans. The agency said the studies cited by the NRDC were often too small to be conclusive. In other cases, they involved researchers injecting BPA into animals, whereas humans ingest the chemical through their diet over longer periods of time. The agency also said that humans metabolize and eliminate BPA much more quickly than rats and other lab animals...more

Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous

In the summer of 2010, a Navajo cattle rancher named Larry Gordy stumbled upon an abandoned uranium mine in the middle of his grazing land and figured he had better call in the feds. Engineers from the Environmental Protection Agency arrived a few months later, Geiger counters in hand, and found radioactivity levels that buried the needles on their equipment. The abandoned mine here, about 60 miles east of the Grand Canyon, joins the list of hundreds of such sites identified across the 27,000 square miles of Navajo territory in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico that are the legacy of shoddy mining practices and federal neglect. From the 1940s through the 1980s, the mines supplied critical materials to the nation’s nuclear weapons program. For years, unsuspecting Navajos inhaled radioactive dust and drank contaminated well water. Many of them became sick with cancer and other diseases. The radioactivity at the former mine is said to measure one million counts per minute, translating to a human dose that scientists say can lead directly to malignant tumors and other serious health damage, according to Lee Greer, a biologist at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif. Two days of exposure at the Cameron site would expose a person to more external radiation than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers safe for an entire year. The E.P.A. filed a report on the rancher’s find early last year and pledged to continue its environmental review. But there are still no warning signs or fencing around the secluded and decaying site. Crushed beer cans and spent shell casings dot the ground, revealing that the old mine has become a sort of toxic playground...more

Kids have been out there drinking beer and shooting guns and the rancher just now found it?  I don't know about that. 

Madam Joe, A True Pioneer

Madam Joe was Palmetto’s first entrepreneur, a cattle rancher, a shopkeeper and a blockade-runner during the Civil War. Her home was destroyed by a hurricane and she would eventually become the first person in the continental U.S. to grow coffee. This week features the second half of her amazing life journey. Death plagued Madam Joe’s small family of four once again. For during the summer of 1846, her brother-in-law voyaged to New Orleans to get supplies for their home, but fell victim to the city’s yellow fever outbreak and never returned. That year, the Hurricane of 1846 destroyed their log cabin on Terra Ceia, the same home Madam Joe and her husband and her deceased brother in law had constructed by hand. Only the hen house survived the storm and the family moved in with the fowls – as it was the only structure left standing. Trouble with their claimed homestead presented itself in 1848 when a government official visited the property. An inaccuracy in their land permits had to be rectified federally so the family decided to relocate to Fort Brook (Tampa) until the problem was corrected. Joe went early so he could build another log cabin for his family to reside in. However, when Mr. Joe tried shipping the logs and shingles down the river, another storm destroyed the raft he had assembled and scattered his materials for miles along the bank. Meanwhile, Madam Joe and her two small girls were forced to take refuge in the home of a friend on Terra Ceia during the same storm...more

ND cow gives birth to twins nearly 3 weeks apart

This year's calving season brought a surprise for a rancher near Rugby, when one of his cows gave birth to twin calves nearly three weeks apart. Richard Hoffart says he's never seen a cow give birth to calves so far apart. Hoffart tells WDAY-TV he discovered the second calf on March 17. The calf's mother had given birth to another calf on Feb. 27. AP

Editorial: Four strong winds

For its centennial anniversary, the Calgary Stampede is returning to its western roots. Leading the parade will be Canada's most famous singing cowboy, Ian Tyson, and seven honorary marshals, all First Nations chiefs representing the signatories of Treaty 7. The legendary Tyson barely needs an introduction. The Alberta rancher, as his website points out, is closing in on six decades "of singing stories that tell the real truth about horses and men, love sustained and relation-ships broken, heroes and heroines and the land and the weather and the Prairie sky." Heck, the cowboy learned how to play guitar in hospital, while recovering from a rodeo accident. But it was the inspiration of beautiful Alberta, where he worked the land and trained horses from his ranch in the breathtaking foothills of the Rockies, that produced the singer-songwriter's greatest work. Tyson penned some of Canada's best-loved songs, including Four Strong Winds and Someday Soon. His music inspired a cowboy renaissance and the inaugural Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1983. "A small coterie of saddle makers, rawhide braiders, cowboy poets and pickers discovered one another in a small cow town in northern Nevada," says Tyson's website. "Tyson was invited to perform his 'new western music' - and he's missed only one or two gatherings in the 30 years since."...more

Song Of The Day #807

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we have a tune by the Westerners.  What a great name!  Listen to the boys rip it up on their 1934 recording of Buckaroo Stomp.

Britain set for sweeping Internet, phone monitoring

Britain is to allow one of its intelligence agencies to monitor all phone calls, texts, emails and online activities in the country to help tackle crime and militant attacks, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday."It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public," a Home Office spokesman said.The proposed law already has drawn strong criticism, from within the ruling Conservative Party's own ranks, as an invasion of privacy and personal rights."What the government hasn't explained is precisely why they intend to eavesdrop on all of us without even going to a judge for a warrant, which is what always used to happen," member of parliament David Davis told BBC News.Internet companies would be required to instal hardware which would allow the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), referred to as Britain's electronic 'listening' agency, to gain real-time access to communications data.The new law would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant, but it would allow it to trace who an individual or group was in contact with, how frequently they communicated and for how long...more

China shuts down 16 websites in effort to curb rumors

Numerous websites remained shut down Sunday as the Communist government sought to penalize popular social media sites for circulating rumors of a coup. The state-run Xinhua News Agency said Beijing police questioned and admonished an unspecified number of Internet users and detained six people for "fabricating or spreading" online rumors. The government shut down 16 websites, including two Twitter-like services that have more than 250 million users. The microblogging services — known as weibo in Chinese — Sina and Tencent had their comment functions disabled to "clean up" rumors that included talk of "military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing," the state Internet Information Office told Xinhua. Twitter, like Facebook and YouTube, is banned because the Chinese government wanted more control over the services...more

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Not old enough to be vintage

By Julie Carter

The front line of the baby boomer generation hit 65 years old last year and there are a few million more right behind them who are singing the tune "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was."

Besides vitamins on monthly auto ship, the switch from acid rock to acid reflux, and the acceptance that instead of going to a new hip joint they will be receiving a new hip joint, reality is forced upon them by a young generation that seems to be everywhere.

Those 20-some-things ask questions that should get their head knocked off and say things that probably will.

They have no idea that the Rolling Stones are no relation to kidney stones or that Willie Nelson didn't always have a braid.

"Waylon who? Didja know Johnny Cash only wore black? Rad huh? When I listen to your music it makes me want to find some polyester to wear. Who was Wolfman Jack?”

Before you can get a word in edgewise to tell them Johnny Cash was not “goth”, they roll right into, “Okay, like when you were my age, it was embarrassing to wear clothes with rips in them? You didn't buy them like that?"

No, but I did rip out the neck and sleeves of my sweatshirts during the Flash Dance craze and added a twisted bandana headband to my curls. So there, take that!

"What are eight tracks? An album is what? So, did you guys, like dance, in high school?

So when you were a kid, did you, like, have any fun?”

“You had a pen pal? What exactly is a pen pal? So if you didn't have a cell phone, real phone, TV or electricity, how did you live?”

“Like, how old were you when you had a microwave?”

“Wadda-ya-mean no Victoria's Secret? Like where did you get your underwear? You sat in a car to watch a movie? Why?"

A friend just mentioned she spent the evening listening to “oldies music.” From the 1980s she added. And then she argued that items from the 1970s do not qualify as “vintage.” That made me feel so much better.

Weekend disco has become weekend Costco. Passing a driver’s test is now challenged only by passing the vision test.

The predominate color in my childhood photos was plaid and usually in corduroy. Anyone wear corduroy anymore?

We typed on typewriters that had ribbons and most were not yet electric. We had super-sized bell bottoms, platform shoes, pet rocks and were present at the very first "Earth Day."

We wore Yardley Slicker lip gloss, Heaven Scent perfume, halter tops, tube tops and mirrored sunglasses. Farrah Fawcett's winged hair style was all the rage.

Today we look for senior discounts, get AARP Magazine in the mail and hope we can last a few more years before the first knee replacement. We cover the gray, soften the lines, hide the lumps and wonder where our eyelashes went.

"I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." As long as I get to pick when that once is.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Willie Nelson
Wolfman Jack

8 track tape

lip gloss

Sorry, I just couldn't make it any smaller

Kemper Marley

Who wants a trophy for second place?
Kemper Marley
Reinventing the Cow Business
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            I saw that look on Kemper’s face several times through the course of events that brought us together. Two were associated with the plight of a common friend who was facing bankruptcy.
            The first time we were unloading the Remington soapstone destroyed on a spur of the moment airplane trip from Burbank to Phoenix. The second was standing on the knoll at the Peach Tree looking across the valley at the ranching legacy of George Mee. Travelers Insurance declared it one of the best five ranches in America.
            The meeting
            The first time I met Kemper Marley I had spent the night with that friend at his ranch with the intention of meeting Kemper’s plane when it arrived the next morning. Unknown to me the process had been a long time coming and I was nothing more than a bit player in the most recent act. I had been asked for a favor to structure a pro forma for part of a presentation to the man who was going to assist in structuring a workout.
            The day started badly with a late start. Our friend didn’t seem to grasp the gravity of his situation. He overslept.
It wasn’t because I didn’t try to wake him. It was because the wing of the house he was in was locked up like a fortress. I couldn’t get his attention by banging on doors and windows. I even tried calling the phone that rang by his bed.
            By the time I decided he must need medical attention and was in the process of starting to break down a door, he appeared … nonplussed and wondering what all the commotion was about.
            We arrived in Salinas after driving way too fast. The saving grace was the airport was socked in and the flight had been diverted. They had landed at Paso Robles waiting for the fog to clear.
            The day got more complicated when, sitting down to the business meeting, I was prompted to make the presentation! It wasn’t my bankruptcy and I surely wasn’t informed of all the circumstances, but I presented as best I could.
            I know I must have been agitated because, during a break, Mr. Marley put his big hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye.
            “You did fine,” he said. “I know what’s going on … always have. Let’s just see how this plays out.”
            Over time, I commuted to Phoenix a number of times both with our friend and alone to follow up on the discussion. The process ended with yet another meeting at the ranch near San Ardo. It was at that meeting I saw the look on Kemper’s face as we stood together outside the sprawling Frank Lloyd Wright designed main ranch house looking off across the valley.
He had been talking to me and stopped. I turned to look at him and saw the emotion on his face. He was talking from his heart on the only matter that really mattered to him so late in life and the final battle he was fighting. He couldn’t help our friend because our friend wouldn’t help himself. He also couldn’t help because his own health battle was nearing its end. He had neither the strength nor the time.
“The only thing I really want to claim in life is to have known a bit about the cow business,” he finally said.
His life
Kemper Marley’s life story had more intrigue and suspense than a dozen lives. My relationship with him was largely blind to the greater stage of his endeavors. I knew a bit about the California Angels ownership, the booze businesses, the Caterpillar dealerships in Mexico, the Phoenix holdings, the farms, the cotton gins and oil plants and even the suggestions of his ties to a dark side of politics, but my relationship was predicated on the preference for cattle. I didn’t really care about the rest, and that remains the case today.
I was honored with a note from him asking me to attend a “little celebration” some folks were going to throw for him. It turned out to be his native state’s tribute to him. Wondering what I had gotten myself into, he came to greet me when he saw me standing alone in the hall’s entrance.
We were still there talking with Jack Roddy and Dale Smith when Barry Goldwater walked in. He walked directly to us and greeted first Kemper like a brother and then me like he knew the mother of my first dog.
Later, Kemper sent me a copy of the Phoenix Magazine with his story. I still have it.
Then, I heard he was gone. His race had ended … or had it?
Back to cow business
As we bow to Mother Nature, Brazil is running right by us in the cattle business. A friend of mine who has come to know Brazil talked recently about what is happening.
He talked about the concept of production units designed around slaughter hubs. He described the introduction of African grasses that provide nutritional strength in place of native tropical grasses that don’t. He talked about the emphasis of genetic technology that Americans are currently void of duplicating. He talked about the counterpart to our USDA actually emphasizing agricultural pursuits rather than social and wealth redistribution programs.
He also talked about Brazilian government’s target investment. That government has pledged 40% of investment capital for protein production. That seems incomprehensible, but that is the number.
America has no such concept. There has never been such a plan.
American investment in protein production has long been the domain of private investment. Recent year government investment has an environmental or human health slant.
The federal government, through its land management agencies, has even declared that (federal) EQIP improvements on federal lands cannot be reserved for livestock. Consider that.
American ranchers on federal lands are urged to invest in cost sharing improvement plans while knowing all such improvements cannot be expected to be matched with livestock increases. All improvements are reserved for wildlife.
This is an industry that cries for capital improvements. It is an industry that has suffered from the long absence of substantive capital infusions. What other industry on earth is urged to invest in itself, but the results can only be shared as peripheral externalities?
The Brazilian capitalization pledges stand in stark relief … as will their future in protein production.
Where the champions once roamed
As the environmental concerto thumps away in the boom box, the western cattle business must employ defensive measures and delaying tactics to hold itself together. In the land of the most iconic American model, the industry is engaging in tactics of retreat.
Then, several weeks ago, I saw a news release that made me smile. The release described an endowment to the University of Arizona for the purposes of “strengthening the ecological, economic, and social viability of Arizona ranching in the 21st Century.  The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation had pledged $4.5 million to the cause!
I must admit the accompanying words of enhance, ecological, social viability, and sustainability were tedious. My hope, though, is that the stewards of the foundation will enforce the character of Kemper Marley in the application of those funds.
This effort is important. We need to renew and reinvent this industry. We need to do it in a manner that deals with the antagonism we face as well as the real opportunities that exist.
The emergence of this name and the embodiment of his character should be welcomed. Perhaps it will serve to prompt similar actions.
 Kemper Marley, who was first and foremost a cowman, reemerges to be with us. There is something timeless about that.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Kemper smiled when he told me he was unaware of any patriarch in his immediate family that died a natural death … he was indeed Western.”

Baxter Black: Dad ponders cowboy son's dating future

A father has a responsibility to pass along to his male offspring those mechanical, philosophical and verbal skills to attract and select a suitable mate and mother for his future children.

But where can a busy young cowboy begin his search? My friend (I’ll call him Bob) has a busy teenage cowboy growing up in his house. Bob is pondering his son’s future and proposed designing a “girlfriend training enterprise.” It is based on his own horse training and trading business. Typical ads might read:

Team ropers and trainers: Need a dolly? Finished girlfriend available — 23 years old, fine-boned, plenty of chrome, current driver’s license CDL qualified, some shoeing experience, can warm up the rough ones, low maintenance, likes Mountain Dew and bologna, can play pitch and has no desire to barrel race.

Norwegian bachelors and West Texas ranchers of a certain age: Companion available: Over 30, can dead-lift 200 pounds, has been vaccinated for tetanus, flu, shingles, BSE, Bangs, Anaplaz and the Nile virus. Can make biscuits out of creosote bush, sagebrush or leafy spurge, is a dead-shot and is willing to move.

Eco-scams are as easy as 'A123'

by Michele Malkin   

    While President Obama was busy lambasting Big Oil tax breaks on Thursday, yet another one of his environmental welfare recipients (the very kind he wants to redistribute oil subsidies to) was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Who needs to win the Mega Millions lottery? Start a pie-in-the-sky eco-boondoggle, and a half-billion-dollar jackpot ripe for squandering is all yours!
    The Solyndra of the week is A123 Systems, an electric vehicle battery company based in Massachusetts. The firm also has battery plants in Michigan, where former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm once heralded   
    A123 as a federal stimulus "success story." Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the company headquarters and hailed it as a "great example of how Recovery Act funding is helping American companies." In addition to nearly $300 million in Obama Recovery Act funds, Granholm kicked in another $135 million in tax credits and subsidies to bribe the company to keep jobs in her state.
    How's the return on government investment? This green dud will have taxpayers seeing red. A123's official company motto is "Power. Safety. Life." But the firm's reality is "Out of power. Endangering safety. Clinging to life."
    Earlier this week, the company announced a recall of malfunctioning battery packs manufactured in Livonia, Mich. A123 makes the products for Fisker, Chevrolet and BMW electric cars. Consumer Reports flagged the potentially hazardous defect caused by faulty calibration earlier this month. The recall will cost upward of $55 million.
    A Deutsche Bank analyst wrote: "We no longer have enough confidence that (A123) can raise sufficient capital (without massive equity dilution) and/or continue to augment their book to future business. Recent quality issues may lead to concerns over (A123's) ability to manufacture with quality at high volumes, potentially leading to customer defections or at least difficulty in procuring new contracts."