Saturday, December 22, 2012

Can UAE-Backed Film Shut Down U.S. Fracking Boom?

As the U.S. changes the balance of power by exporting some of its abundant natural gas resources, a Hollywood propaganda film debuts claiming the technology making it possible will poison America's small towns. 'Promised Land," a film that does nothing to alter Hollywood's stereotype of businessmen, particularly energy industry executives, as greedy plunderers of the planet, opens this week in selected theatres.
The anti-fracking film is based on a not-true story about well contamination in a small Pennsylvania town with a healthy dose of junk science. As documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer, who is working on his own documentary, "FrackNation", has pointed out, the inspiration for the film was a spate of news reports about alleged ground water contamination from fracking wells in Dimock, Pa. "Promised Land" is set in rural Pennsylvania. At one point, Hollywood celebrities even brought water to 11 families who claimed fracking had destroyed their water and their lives. The only problem, notes McAleer, is the claims were debunked by both the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency, both of which found no evidence of contamination. But why spoil a good story with the facts? States like the United Arab Emirates, an OPEC member, are threatened by the oil and natural gas boom in shale formations like the Bakken in North Dakota and the Marcellus in, yes, Pennsylvania. The film's nothing more than an anti-fracking infomercial paid for by an Arab oil state. It should not surprise that major funding for the film, according to the Heritage Foundation's Lachlan Markey, comes from Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media...more

Friday, December 21, 2012

Song Of The Day #991

There's some western swing Christmas on Ranch Radio today with Let It Snow by the Original Texas Playboys, Leon Rausch on vocal.

Lawmakers Want DOJ's Legal Basis for Keeping Dossiers on Innocent Americans

As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, a new program run by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is collecting and analyzing all manner of government data on American citizens, even those not suspected of any crime. This sweeping surveillance program was enacted in secret, with no input from either the people or our representatives in Congress, and records that the ACLU has obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request make it clear that the program was controversial even among those who knew about it. In a letter released yesterday, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) take Attorney General Eric Holder to task. They ask whether the Justice Department believes that the government has the legal authority to a) keep data on citizens who are not suspected of any crime; b) analyze aggregated government databases; and c) change fundamental rules governing surveillance without approval from Congress. Chaffetz chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that deals with terror-related issues...more

Human Hands Evolved for Punching

Human hands evolved so that men could make fists and fight, and not just for manual dexterity, new research finds. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, adds to a growing body of evidence that humans are among the most aggressive and violent animals on the planet. For this latest study, he and co-author Michael Morgan, a medical student, conducted three experiments. First, they analyzed what happened when men, aged from 22 to 50, hit a punching bag as hard as they could. The peak stress delivered to the bag -- the force per area -- was 1.7 to 3 times greater with a fist strike compared with a slap. "Because you have higher pressure when hitting with a fist, you are more likely to cause injury to tissue, bones, teeth, eyes and the jaw," Carrier said. The second and third experiments determined that buttressing provided by the human fist increases the stiffness of the knuckle joint fourfold. It also doubles the ability of the fingers to transmit punching force, mainly due to the force transferred from the fingers to the thumb when the fist is clenched. In terms of the size and shape of hand anatomy, the scientists point out that humans could have evolved manual dexterity with longer thumbs, but without the fingers and palms getting shorter. The researchers additionally point out that humans use fists during threat displays. There is also a difference in body size between males and females, particularly evident with hands and arms. This, Carrier said, is "consistent with the hand being a weapon." Defending children may even help to explain human hand anatomy, since both men and women are often driven to protect their offspring, in addition to fighting with others over territory, resources and for other reasons...more

Students Vote to Rename Columbus Day ‘Indigenous People’s Day’

The student government at Arizona State University has voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People Day. The Tempe Undergraduate Student Government Senate passed Bill 44 to rename the holiday after contentious debate on campus. Christopher Columbus has long been known as an admirable adventurer in American lore whose adventurous spirit led him to “discover” America. But, in recent years his legacy has faced mounting criticism for the perceived negative effects his life had on Native Americans. In the United States, Columbus Day is an official federal holiday. However, not all states recognize the day. South Dakota, instead, celebrates Native American Day. The name “Indigenous People Day” originated in Berkley, California, a city that began celebrating the holiday as an alternative to Columbus Day in 1992...more

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Congress Is Quietly Abandoning the 5th Amendment By Conor Friedersdorf

...News junkies likely know that I'm alluding to a specific law that has passed both the Senate and the House, and is presently in a conference committee, where lawmakers reconcile the two versions. Observers once worried that the law would permit the indefinite detention of American citizens, or at least force them to rely on uncertain court challenges if unjustly imprisoned. In response, Senator Dianne Feinstein tried to allay these concerns with an amendment:

An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.
You'd think the part about American citizens being protected from indefinite detention would be uncontroversial. It wasn't. But the amendment did manage to pass in the United States Senate.

Afterward everyone forgot about it pretty quickly. But not Charlie Savage. He's a journalist at The New York Times. If every journalist were more like him the United States government would be far less able to radically expand the president's unchecked authority without many people noticing.

Here is his scoop:

Lawmakers charged with merging the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act decided on Tuesday to drop a provision that would have explicitly barred the military from holding American citizens and permanent residents in indefinite detention without trial as terrorism suspects, according to Congressional staff members familiar with the negotiations.  
Says Adam Serwer, another journalist who treats these issues with the urgency that they deserve:

Of the four main negotiators on the defense bill, only one of the Democrats, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), opposes domestic indefinite detention of Americans. The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), believes detaining Americans without charge or trial is constitutional, and only voted for the Feinstein amendment because he and some of his Republican colleagues in the Senate convinced themselves through a convoluted legal rationale that Feinstein's proposal didn't actually ban the practice. Both of the main Republican negotiators, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) believe it's constitutional to lock up American citizens suspected of terrorism without ever proving they're guilty.


I'm told this is the language in the conference report:

 SEC. 1029. RIGHTS UNAFFECTED. Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112–81) shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution to any person inside the United States who would be entitled to the availability of such writ or to such rights in the absence of such laws.

World Wildlife Fund doesn't like cloning of jaguars

Last month I linked to an article about Brazilian scientists cloning endangered species, including the jaguar.

The World Wildlife fund doesn't like this and Miles Mason, writing at Post Scarcity Alliance, explains why:

For the committed environmentalist, if a solution to an environmental problem doesn’t involve limiting and controlling human behavior, then the solution is labeled as ineffective, too expensive, and a waste of time and resources.  Of course if conservation dollars were to go to cloning efforts and research in genetic engineering, then this would be a direct funding competition to the World Wildlife Fund, so naturally their lead spokesperson is against such an effort.  Notice how once the economic resources of this organization are threatened the organization adopts a decidedly anti-science posture against the hard science of biochemistry.
And you thought all they cared about were the fuzzy little creatures.  Nope, seems their annual budget comes first.

U.S. unveils plan to manage huge Alaskan oil reserve

The U.S. federal government on Wednesday announced a plan to manage energy drilling on part of Alaska's North Slope, with the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve to be divided between areas available for oil and gas leases and those that are protected from development. Under Wednesday's blueprint 11.8 million acres would be open for development, which are estimated to hold 549 million barrels of economically recoverable oil and 8.7 trillion cubic feet of economically recoverable natural gas. Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, takes the view that the reserve's legal purpose is to provide petroleum to the United States to ensure the nation's energy security. The administration's plan "locks up 83.5 percent of the likely natural gas in the reserve. That is totally unacceptable," she said. The reserve is the largest single tract of public land in the country, roughly the size of Indiana, and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management...more

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mexico says some 80 drug cartels at work in country, up from 8 reported by previous government

Mexico's new attorney general said Tuesday that as many as 80 small and medium-size drug cartels are operating in the country, a number far higher than the last formal government assessment. Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam's critique extended an attack by the new Mexican government on the security policy of former President Felipe Calderon, who focused on killing and capturing the heads of cartels. This week, the new administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto began blaming that strategy for splintering Mexico's relatively few large cartels into a larger number of more dangerous small and mid-size organizations. Murillo Karam told MVS Radio that officials are working to identify all the country's 60-80 small- and mid-size drug trafficking organizations. Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong launched the critique of Calderon's strategy by telling a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday that financial resources dedicated to security had more than doubled but crime had increased, and with the capture of dozens of drug capos, drug cartels had splintered and become more dangerous...more

Pistol purchased by ATF agent found at alleged cartel crime scene in Mexico

CBS News has learned that two guns found in the area of a recent Mexican drug cartel shootout have been linked to Fast and Furious: One trafficked by a suspect in the case, and the other purchased by a federal agent. Mexican beauty queen Susana Flores Maria Gamez and four others died in the brutal gun battle between Sinaloa cartel members and the Mexican military in November. CBS News has learned that an FN Herstal pistol recovered near the crime scene in November was originally purchased by an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) manager who was faulted by the Inspector General in Operation Fast and Furious: George Gillett. Gillett was the Asst. Special Agent in Charge of ATF Phoenix when Fast and Furious began. The Herstal pistol is nicknamed a "cop-killer" because of its designation as a "weapon of choice" for Mexican drug cartels. CBS News has learned the Inspector General planned to question Gillett today after a hastily-opened inquiry to determine how this agent's personal weapon got into the hands of suspected cartel members...more

Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change

Forget the Doha climate jamboree that ended earlier this month. The theological discussions in Qatar of the arcana of climate treaties are irrelevant. By far the most important debate about climate change is taking place among scientists, on the issue of climate sensitivity: How much warming will a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide actually produce? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has to pronounce its answer to this question in its Fifth Assessment Report next year.

The general public is not privy to the IPCC debate. But I have been speaking to somebody who understands the issues: Nic Lewis. A semiretired successful financier from Bath, England, with a strong mathematics and physics background, Mr. Lewis has made significant contributions to the subject of climate change.

He first collaborated with others to expose major statistical errors in a 2009 study of Antarctic temperatures. In 2011 he discovered that the IPCC had, by an unjustified statistical manipulation, altered the results of a key 2006 paper by Piers Forster of Reading University and Jonathan Gregory of the Met Office (the United Kingdom's national weather service), to vastly increase the small risk that the paper showed of climate sensitivity being high. Mr. Lewis also found that the IPCC had misreported the results of another study, leading to the IPCC issuing an Erratum in 2011.

Mr. Lewis tells me that the latest observational estimates of the effect of aerosols (such as sulfurous particles from coal smoke) find that they have much less cooling effect than thought when the last IPCC report was written. The rate at which the ocean is absorbing greenhouse-gas-induced warming is also now known to be fairly modest. In other words, the two excuses used to explain away the slow, mild warming we have actually experienced—culminating in a standstill in which global temperatures are no higher than they were 16 years ago—no longer work.

Americans Snap Up Guns at Wal-Mart, Ammo Clips on eBay

With President Barack Obama endorsing sweeping gun restrictions in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, prices for handgun magazines are surging on EBay and semi-automatic rifles are sold out at many Wal-Mart Stores Inc. locations. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said yesterday that it would continue to sell guns, including rifles like the one used at Newtown, where 26 people, most of them children, were killed on Dec. 14. By contrast, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. suspended sales of similar guns at its more than 500 stores. Searches of five kinds of semi-automatic rifles on Wal- Mart’s website showed them to be out of stock at stores in five states, including Pennsylvania, Kansas and Alabama. Wal-Mart doesn’t sell guns online, instead asking customers to input a zip code to see if their local store carries a specific weapon.  On EBay, the auction website, shoppers have recently bid up gun magazines. The current bid for four Glock handgun magazines, ammunition for one of the guns used at Newtown, is $118.37 compared with $45 on the day before the shooting. The bid for seven Glock magazines hit $201 Dec. 17 from $71.01 before the massacre. Gun buyers have flooded other firearms retailers too. The Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, racked up more than $1 million in sales Tuesday for the best single-day performance since the store opened in 1959, according to Justin Anderson, director of online sales. At the top of shoppers’ lists was the Bushmaster AR-15, the model of rifle used at Newtown that sells for as much as $4,000 and had almost sold out, he said...more

Great stocking stuffers, complements of the feds.

Professor: Ignoring Global Warming Akin to Manslaughter

A prominent UC Berkeley professor recently linked ignoring global warming with watching people die during a guest seminar at Ohio State University. Citing monsoons and other extreme weather phenomenon on the other side of the globe, Kirk Smith, a global environmental health professor, said climate change is “a moral issue.”...more

Freedom!! No Yolk! Liberty for Layers!

Iowa City will join the growing ranks of towns that allow people to keep chickens in city limits. The City Council last night adopted an ordinance that sets a permit process for so-called urban or backyard chickens and, in a separate vote, approved a policy establishing rules for keeping chickens — including a provision that gives someone the power to veto a neighbor’s request for a permit. That veto was the subject of much debate, but it also led to an unexpected unanimous vote in favor of the policy. A couple of council members spoke against the veto power but agreed to it to get backyard chickens in Iowa City. Opponents of chickens also voted “yes” because they felt the policy protected the interests of people who don’t want the birds next door...more

Song Of The Day #990

Ranch Radio brings you The Reindeer Boogie by Hank Snow.

A Challenge To The Santa Fe New Mexican

This is an editorial from 12/18 Santa Fe New Mexican

Worthy of preservation

    News that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was in Taos last Saturday to hear comments about how best to preserve the Rio Grande del Norte is sending hearts aflutter across Northern New Mexico. Traditionally, before land is set aside, a last, listening meeting takes place, meaning (cross your fingers) that before the end of 2012, the designation of the Rio Grande del Norte as deserving special protection will happen.
    This status would protect some of Northern New Mexico’s most precious outdoors areas, whether for hunting, fishing, rafting, wood cutting, grazing or plain ol’ enjoying. A dream of a wide variety of norteƱos, this designation — some 236,00 acres of public land northwest of Taos — also is a fitting tribute to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who is retiring after 30 years in the Senate. Indian, Hispanic and Anglo peoples of the north, outdoorsmen and conservationists, business owners and environmentalists all have worked together to show the benefits of preserving the area, which contains parts of the Rio Grande Gorge, Ute Mountain and the Taos Plateau; in other words, some of the most spectacular and wild places in New Mexico.
    Because the current Congress has been so reluctant to preserve wilderness — this session likely will be the first since 1966 where lawmakers fail to set aside new areas for protection — it could fall to President Barack Obama to use his executive powers instead. Under the Antiquities Act, the president can designate this important recreational and wildlife area as a national monument. Instead of the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area, we could have the Rio Grande del Norte Monument. Either works.
    We urge the president to follow in the footsteps of conservation pioneer President Teddy Roosevelt, and even President Richard Nixon, both of whom knew the value of the wild. It was Roosevelt who started the practice of setting aside land so the wild core of this nation would not be lost. Nixon was the president who returned the sacred Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo — a victory both for the rights of indigenous peoples and for the land itself. Today, more than ever, this country must preserve the wild, safeguard our water and protect people’s access to nature. Creating the Rio Grande del Norte Monument is in the best tradition of our nation and in the best interests of New Mexico.

The Challenge:  The editors should pay for a study to establish a baseline for "hunting, fishing, rafting, wood cutting, grazing" prior to Monument status, then go back in at 10 and 20 years to see what has really happened to the access granted to the "Indian, Hispanic and Anglo peoples of the north."  

Unmentioned is the fact that in January of this year northern NM Hispanics sued the Forest Service over the way they've been treated by the feds.


Feds look other way as wind farms kill birds -- but haul oil and gas firms to court

Lights left on during a foggy night last year at a West Virginia wind farm are thought to be behind the grizzly deaths of nearly 500 songbirds. It was the third time it happened -- and each time, the federal government looked the other way. Fast forward to last week. Following the deaths of a dozen migratory birds in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska several years back, a Denver-based oil company was fined $22,500. The company was also ordered to make an additional $7,500 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The disconnect demonstrates what critics call a blatant double standard that has to change. While the federal government aggressively pursues oil and gas companies for wildlife deaths, it often gives wind producers a pass...more

CBS News: ‘Fast and Furious’ Gun Found At Site Where Mexican Beauty Queen Killed

A gun found at the scene of a shootout between a Mexican drug cartel and soldiers where a beauty queen died was part of the botched “Fast and Furious” operation, CBS News reports. Authorities had said that Maria Susana Flores Gamez was likely used as a human shield and that an automatic rifle had been found near her body after the Nov. 23 shootout. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tells CBS News that the Justice Department did not notify Congress that a Fast and Furious firearm was found at the scene in Sinaloa. CBS News learned the Romanian AK-47-type WASR-10 rifle found near her body was purchased by Uriel Patino at an Arizona gun shop in 2010. Patino is a suspect who allegedly purchased 700 guns while under the ATF’s watch...more

Businesses, TV & Movies Becoming Gun-Shy

Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), one of the largest retailers in its industry, said Tuesday it is suspending the sale of certain military-style semiautomatic rifles similar to the one used by the Newtown killer. Fox News reported that Discovery Channel (DISCA) has decided to cancel its popular reality show, American Guns. Less visible to consumers, but no less important, Cerberus Capital Management, a $20 billion private-equity firm based in New York, announced overnight that, under pressure from the California teachers’ pension fund, it will sell its controlling stake in the country’s largest guns-and-ammo manufacturer, a conglomerate called Freedom Group. The semiautomatic rifle used to slaughter 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 20 of them children, was made by Bushmaster Firearms, one of the companies operating under the Freedom Group umbrella. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which has $751 million invested with Cerberus, said it would review its relationship with the private-equity firm, “given the tragic events last Friday in Newtown, Conn.” Cerberus then followed with its announcement, saying that unloading Freedom Group “allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate” on gun control. In the entertainment world, the cable channel TLC has already delayed airing a show called Best Funeral Ever. Violent movie trailers might get postponed or edited. The massacre during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., in July prompted Warner Bros. (TWX) to pull the trailer for the forthcoming Gangster Squad, which depicted a theater shooting. Later the studio cut the scene entirely...more

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Song Of The Day #989

Ranch Radio's tune today is Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy by Buck Owens.

Some astounding numbers on public school and federal employees

"In the 1,420 days since he took the oath of office, the federal government has daily hired on average 101 new employees. Every day. Seven days a week. All 202 weeks. That makes 143,000 more federal workers than when Obama talked forever on that cold day in January of 2009."...Source

“[B]etween fiscal year 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent school employees grew 386 percent. “Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.”...Source

Now any fool can see why we need to raise taxes.  We've been starving the public sector to death! 

The proof is out there.  See what an inadequately funded Hope & Change has brought us:

"Over the past four years, prosperity has increased around the globe, while it has remained stagnant in the United States, the Legatum Institute reports. As a result, the Institute ranked the United States 12th out of 142 countries on its 2012 Prosperity Index, putting the country outside the top ten for the first time"...Source

Come on folks, get with the Obama-Boehner program.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Florida’s Property Rights Abuse Lands at the Supreme Court

In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a California regulatory agency for trying to force homeowners to grant the government a right-of-way over their land in exchange for a necessary building permit. This requirement, the Court held in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, was “not a valid regulation of land use but ‘an out-and-out plan of extortion.’”
    Several years later, in the case of Dolan v. City of Tigard (1994), the Supreme Court nullified a similar regulatory shakedown from Oregon. In that case, local officials told a business owner she would not be allowed to expand her store unless she also handed over part of the property to the city for a totally unrelated public use. Thankfully, the Supreme Court put a stop to the scam. “Government may not require a person to give up a constitutional right—here the right to receive just compensation for a public use,” Chief Justice William Rehnquist held for the majority, “in exchange for a discretionary benefit conferred by the government where the benefit has little or no relationship to the property.”
    Taken together, these two decisions stand for the rule that when land-use agencies impose conditions on the issuance of a permit, those conditions must bear a close relationship to the intended use of the property and its expected impact on the environment. In legal terms, Nollan requires an “essential nexus” between permit conditions and property use while Dolan requires a “rough proportionality” between the two.
    Or at least that’s what the Supreme Court has had to say about it. The St. Johns River Water Management District of Florida has a different view of the matter. Since 1994, that agency has refused to permit the commercial development of a small piece of property located in Orange County, Florida, unless the owner first agrees to transfer the title to 75 percent of the lot to the government for conservation purposes and also fund costly and unrelated improvements to 50 acres of public land located between 4.5 and 7 miles away. The owner, Coy Koontz Sr. (now deceased), agreed to the first condition but balked at the second. Had Koontz agreed to fund the uncompensated upkeep of state land, the agency admits, “the exact project [he] proposed would have been permitted.”
    But Koontz refused to pay what he saw as an extortionate demand and instead brought suit, charging the Florida regulators with violating Nollan and Dolan while also dodging the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment, which requires the government to pay just compensation when it takes private property for a public use.
    After years of litigation, the Supreme Court is finally scheduled to hear Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District next month, with Coy Koontz Jr. carrying on his father’s legal battle.


Feds: Mexican owl recovery could cost $42M by 2022

The federal government estimates it will cost more than $42 million over the next decade to help get the Mexican spotted owl off the national list of threatened species. The estimate is included in a new recovery plan for the owl that was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday. The plan calls for a combination of more research and management that focuses on limiting the biggest threat: wildfires that burn hot enough to wipe out entire stands of trees. Part of that management could include thinning projects to prevent more severe wildfires in owl habitat, and that has environmentalists concerned. ``The problem with this revised recovery plan is that it's got nearly no strong protections for the owl and gives the U.S. Forest Service a pass on the thinning and logging. It's fire hysteria rather than sound science,'' said Bryan Bird of the Santa Fe-based group WildEarth Guardians. Federal officials argued the plan is based on the best available science. ``Areas currently occupied by owls require the greatest protection to ensure continued occupancy, reproduction and survival. By no means, however, does this translate to a hands-off approach,'' the plan states. ``In some cases, protection of these areas requires active intervention.''...more

Enviros worry about Arizona's control of wolves

A four-year lapse in release of new captive-born Mexican gray wolves to Southwest national forests could end next year, but the proposal, floated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is already drawing fire from environmentalists as inadequate and little more than a way to forestall more robust releases. The proposal is also worrisome, environmentalists say, because it appears to illustrate how much the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has deferred decision-making authority over the controversial releases to the Arizona agency. The Fish and Wildlife Service has “made it clear that they want the state wildlife agencies to approve those releases and, because of that, we haven’t seen those releases,” said Sandy Bahr, the Phoenix-based director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter. Asked whether the Arizona commission or its Game and Fish Department have the final say on whether wolves are released into the recovery zone in that state, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman issued a statement saying the federal government is responsible under the Endangered Species Act for recovering the wild wolf population. The statement also said the federal agency and state work as “partners” in wolf recovery under a memorandum of understanding and that state partners “have no decision-making authority over” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But Peter Ossorio, a Las Cruces-based advocate of wolf recovery, said he was skeptical of the Service’s stated position. Ossorio said Arizona’s proposal amounts to a “veto” over new releases. The Arizona Game and Fish Department proposal calls for the release of between one and three captive wolves to replace three lobos illegally shot between November 2011 and July 2012 in Arizona. Two of the wolves shot were males from the Bluestem pack. In the various proposals under consideration, Arizona’s goal is to establish a breeding pair in the Bluestem pack and to, in essence, replace another pair, the Rim pack, that has not produced pups since the spring of 2010. The proposal follows an Arizona Game and Fish Commission policy that says the agency will only support initial releases of wolves in the state to replace wolves killed illegally or that have died from “natural events,” such as vehicle collisions or lightning strikes. Under existing rules, captive-bred wolves can be released only to a primary recovery zone in Arizona. That means the “secondary” recovery zone in New Mexico, including the Gila National Forest, is available only for the relocation of previously captured wolves. Supporters of the reintroduction program have long urged the Fish and Wildlife Service to change the project’s rules to allow the direct release of wolves into the Gila National Forest, since it makes up roughly three-fourths of the 4.4-million-acre Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The recovery area straddles the Arizona-New Mexico line and includes about 700,000 acres that are both roadless and free of livestock...more

Enviros keep telling us you can graze in Wilderness Areas, but note the 700,000 acres that are "free of livestock."

Notice the use of "free".  They don't say "no grazing" or where "grazing doesn't occur".  No, the land is "free" of livestock.  I guess the rest of the areas suffer under the "tyranny" of livestock grazing.  

U.N. summit's meltdown ignites new Internet Cold War

When the history of early 21st century Internet politicking is written, the meltdown of a United Nations summit last week will mark the date a virtual Cold War began. In retrospect, the implosion of the Dubai summit was all but foreordained: it pitted nations with little tolerance for human rights against Western democracies which, at least in theory, uphold those principles. And it capped nearly a decade of behind-the-scenes jockeying by a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union, created in 1865 to coordinate telegraph connectivity, to gain more authority over how the Internet is managed. It didn't work. Backed by nearly a million people and some of the engineers responsible for creating the Internet and World Wide Web, the U.S. and dozens of other western democracies rejected the Dubai treaty. That dealt a serious blow to an alliance of repressive regimes -- led by Russia, China, Algeria, and Iran -- that tend to lack appreciation of the virtues of a traditionally free-wheeling Internet...more

Gun prosecutions under Obama down more than 45 percent

Despite his calls for greater gun control, including a new assault weapons ban that extends to handguns, President Obama's administration has turned away from enforcing gun laws, cutting weapons prosecutions some 40 percent since a high of about 11,000 under former President Bush. "If you are not going to enforce the laws on the books, then don't start talking about a whole new wave of new laws," said a gun rights advocate...more

"Peak Farmland" - Study says we have all the farmland we need

The amount of land needed to grow crops worldwide is at a peak, and a geographical area more than twice the size of France will be able to return to its natural state by 2060 as a result of rising yields and slower population growth, a group of experts said on Monday. Their report, conflicting with United Nations studies that say more cropland will be needed in coming decades to avert hunger and price spikes as the world population rises above 7 billion, said humanity had reached what it called "Peak Farmland". More crops for use as biofuels and increased meat consumption in emerging economies such as China and India, demanding more cropland to feed livestock, would not offset a fall from the peak driven by improved yields, it calculated. If the report is accurate, the land freed up from crop farming would be some 10 percent of what is currently in use - equivalent to 2.5 times the size of France, Europe's biggest country bar Russia, or more than all the arable land now utilized in China. "We believe that humanity has reached Peak Farmland, and that a large net global restoration of land to nature is ready to begin," said Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at the Rockefeller University in New York. "Happily, the cause is not exhaustion of arable land, as many had feared, but rather moderation of population and tastes and ingenuity of farmers," he wrote in a speech about the study he led in the journal Population and Development Review. The report, supplied to Reuters by Ausubel, projected that almost 150 million hectares (370 million acres) could be restored to natural conditions such as forest by 2060. That is also equivalent to 1.5 times the area of Egypt or 10 times the size of Iowa. It said the global arable land and permanent crop areas rose from 1.37 billion hectares (3.38 billion acres) in 1961 to 1.53 billion (3.78 billion acres) in 2009. It projected a fall to 1.38 billion hectares (3.41 billion acres) in 2060. Gary Blumenthal, head of Washington-based agricultural consultancy World Perspectives, said the report's conclusions were not surprising as technology already exists to dramatically boost crop production...more

New Mexico named one of the worst for animal abuse

New Mexico has been named one of the top five states for animal abusers, alongside Iowa, Kentucky, North Dakota and South Dakota. It's news that’s alarming to many New Mexico residents. “They're defenseless. You should treat 'em just like your own child,” animal lover Janice Raley said. She has her own one-year-old dog named Ginger. The list was created by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which rates states based on punishments for animal abuse offenders, education programs to prevent animal abuse, and the law enforcement authority afforded to humane officers. New Mexico received an “F” for the felony charges available in animal abuse cases, and didn’t have many of the programs other states had to prevent it from happening in the first place...more

Here's the KOB video report:

Thoughts On Song Of The Day

We are creeping up on #1000 and I need your thoughts on this feature.

I stared out playing country classics by Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, Bob Wills, etc. with a rarity thrown in every once in a while. Most recently, I've concentrated on selections that are hard to find and 78s.

I've had very few repeats except for requests.

Here's where you can help me:

Do you want me to continue with Song Of The Day?

Classics, rarities...what kind of a mix do you prefer?

Most selections are from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.  Should I expand this to the 60s and beyond?

Most selections are either country, western, western swing, swing, bluegrass or rockabilly with a dixieland jazz piece thrown in every once in a while.  Should this be expanded to include some pop tunes from those eras?

Please give me your thoughts and comments so I can decide whether to continue and if so, your preferences on what should be featured here.

You can use the comments section below, email me, or comment on Facebook or Twitter.

Mucho thanks for your help,


Song Of The Day #988

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and it's Christmas season. What to do?  The Original Texas Playboys fit the bill with Cotton-Eyed Jingle Bells.

Would also appreciate some feedback...see post above.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The passing of an old cowboy

 by Julie Carter

Another old cowboy stepped out into eternity this week with little notice from the world in general but leaving a hole in the fabric of the universe because his simple life mattered more than he knew.

Charlie lived in an RV park just outside of town. He arrived about seven years ago with a tiny old 10-foot trailer in tow. He had been living on a ranch in it with no utilities of any kind. He was worn out, broke and needed some place to call home. The park owner cut him a deal to “watch the far end of the park” in exchange for lower rent.

He finally had heat, electricity and water and was very content. Later someone came along and gave him a fifth-wheel trailer, tripling his living space and adding hot water and a refrigerator to his sparse living. Life couldn’t be better.

His guitar and his dog Wendy were his two constant companions. When folks would bring food to Charlie, he’d feed Wendy first while he sipped a little whiskey. Friends would chuckle and comment that he loved Wendy more than food or maybe he just loved whiskey more than food.

The sounds of his guitar strumming old cowboy tunes would travel through the little valley in the evening, adding a peaceful ambience to the serenity of summer. Life was just that simple for Charlie and the enjoyment others got out of it was a memorable bonus.

About a year ago at a local saloon, he fell off a bar stool and broke his hip. He was more than a little ticked off about the whole deal because by golly, it was his good hip. Ironically the next night, his guitar picking, singing best buddy fell off the same stool and broke his hip. This allowed for a little cowboy quality time together at the hospital while they recovered. Don’t you know the orthopedic ward was never again the same?

These same two old cowboys built a porch on the “barn” that serves as the social center to the RV park. It gave them a place for some summer porch sittin’ and song singin’ with the park residents gathered ’round. Built with whiskey and love, it is fondly referred to as the “porch that Jack Daniels built” and will always be a reminder of Charlie and the good times.

Charlie will be greatly missed and Wendy remains with the park owner for the rest of her life, as was promised.

In our own backyards, there is likely a Charlie. Someone we would think needed or wanted more from life, but is truly very happy with everything just the way it is. Simple and uncomplicated.

Old broke, worn out cowboys aren’t a rarity; they are just a quiet, unassuming by-product of a lifestyle that has no retirement plan.  A few may be living out their latter days in a friend’s bunkhouse where hot coffee and sittin’ a spell for a game of checkers mark the peak of any day. Others, like Charlie, make a way for themselves the best they can, knowing it’s as good as it gets.
Either way, they represent a time and place in this world that we won’t see again. So lean in a little closer and listen to the songs sung by the Charlies of the world. They are the writing on the wall for all of us.

Julie can be reached for comment at

NMSU Presidential Search

The Relevance of Agriculture
NMSU Presidential Search
Seek regional solutions
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            At one juncture of our ongoing border conflict, a newspaper correspondent asked our rancher group what we were going to give up to satisfy the environmental claim for our ranchlands.  The insinuation, of course, was the erroneously implied absence of shared benefaction accrued to wilderness proponents during rancher tenure on federal lands.
            The image today of that exchange remains similar to the exchange between the farmer and his pig. “What are you going to give up this morning for your upkeep around here?” the farmer asked the pig. “Is it going to be a ham or a side of bacon?”
            Our plight has been very similar to that of the pig. The vast majority of federal land ranchers have never been able to create enough wealth to develop parallel enterprises to add to a robust existence. The reality is either to take us out completely or recognize we can’t exist with part of our meager box of options excised from our ranching units.
            It is that simple.
            The Search
            New Mexico State University (NMSU) is seeking a new president. The most recent dismissal among a revolving gaggle of chief administrators was done without disclosing the reason. All New Mexicans got out of the deal was a bill of nearly a half million dollars for the golden parachute.
            The Board of Regents has embarked on a new search with listening sessions around the state. They have assured the public the input they derive from all the talking will help identify the right candidate.
Actually, the headline used for the press release could have been taken from any of the last four similar searches that have failed to land an enduring leader. Such is the world today … or is it?
            Back to the beginning
            NMSU was once one of the great land grant universities.
The whole concept of land grant schools was started when a Vermont congressman, Jonathan Morrill, introduced the idea that Congress should foster the opportunity for rural Americans, the common folks, to seek a higher education. These were citizens who would otherwise not likely get such an opportunity. The education would extend to commoners a practical education that had relevance to their lives. The methodology was to grant lands from which to capitalize the investment. The year was 1857.
            In 1862, the legislation was passed and signed into law by President Lincoln. From a historical perspective, it might appear that one of the pillars of the concept, agricultural science, was being elevated into higher importance. The truth, though, was the Union needed to accelerate the training of military officers, and one of the other two pillars, military science, was the most pressing issue.
            Mechanics, or, more appropriately engineering, was the other priority. In the case of NMSU, this pillar has always remained an important emphasis. It is agriculture and military science that have become near step children in the university’s priorities.
            The legislative history of the land grant system expanded with a second Morrill Act in 1890 that replaced initial funding of land with cash. There were not enough federal lands in the South to capitalize the schools!
Along the way, complimentary legislation took place to establish extension services, create experiment stations, and develop programs to specifically study soil mineral and plant growth relationship.  This process grew to envelop all of agriculture. It was extremely effective in developing scientists and agriculturists. Those graduates fueled the modern agricultural revolution.
It can be argued the best of times at the school came from about 1960 to the end of the tenure of the presidency of Dr. Gerald Thomas. During that 30 plus year period, the university enrollment quadrupled. The helm was solidly overseen by only three university presidents. They each complimented and promoted land grant ideals.
Since the Thomas retirement, NMSU has fielded administrators who have come through Las Cruces seemingly with open, but prepurchased tickets out of town. Tenure has changed from nearly a dozen years to just over three.
How has that worked out?
A short list of negative press has included being elevated to the second most dangerous campus in the nation, the loss of certification of the nursing program, the graduation of more social workers than agriculturists, and the void of securing any permanence in the school’s athletic affiliation. Forbes now lists the school at 422nd in the country. Finishing the football season at 1-11 is indicative of the dangerously fragile allure the school now projects.
With the exception of the school’s engineering program, the focus has taken all the appearances of seeking any and all grant tasks except the land grant heritage. This Board of Regents must remember this school is not a sea grant, not an urban grant, and not a sun grant university.  It remains a land grant university, and, until the legislature and the vote of the Congress deem it otherwise, it is imperative it remain so.
Matter of Relevance
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently told a gathering that rural America is becoming less and less relevant. His words certainly sparked anger amongst many who view the trends in political clout contrary to their very existence.
“How are you going to encourage young people to want to be involved in rural America or farming if you don’t have a proactive message?” He asked. “Because you are now competing against the world.”
After withstanding the initial outrage from the comments, the Secretary is at least partially correct. Agriculture has become less politically potent. It has lost critical mass at the ballot box, but, more worrisome, it has lost critical mass in its home grown national leadership. It is in danger of accidental death simply because it is on the verge of being incapable of withstanding the growing Tsunami of competing factional programs. It is in danger of the growing onslaught of emerging antagonists who are much more attuned to a Harry Potter world than they are to the natural one.
During one of the recent NMSU search listening sessions, a crowd gathered on the campus in Las Cruces with several of the Regents. The crowd was fairly sizeable. In that crowd was one recognizable agriculturist. Of more than 80 participants, there was one actual farmer or rancher.
The vast majority of those who spoke were in one way or another affiliated with the school itself. There were staff members, professors, program directors, campus groups, and retirees in abundance. A number spoke of the land grant model, but they also spoke about their programs, their implied need for funding and recognition, and the importance of their endeavors. To an outsider looking in, the realization that self preservation was very much a priority. Isn’t that the same dilemma that tax payers observe in the staggering growth of all government?
This university, like government, has grown tentacles that are reaching in all directions without a defined course. The course is being set by the imagination of the behemoth itself …not regional needs.   
The current course
New Mexico has huge constraints, but equally intriguing relative advantages.
A veterans’ group spoke about the need to make the school a friendly destination for veterans. That is a legitimate demand. After all, military science is a pillar of the land grant concept and it should be elevated in importance and intent.
The engineering school with its solid partnerships with industry is and can maintain its world class status. Engineering remains a pillar of the land grant concept and it must continue that importance.
It is agriculture that is worrisome. It is agriculture and its marriage with the state and the school that has some of the brightest potential though untested ventures.
For adherence to the original principles, NMSU must revert to foundational intent and discard the tendency to ignore relationships within its boundaries. That is appropriate for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the enabling legislation.
Perhaps a problem contributing to the revolving magazine of chief administrators is the Board of Regents itself. Why isn’t there perpetual leadership framing the original pillars of the land grant system? Doesn’t it make sense to have leadership from agriculture, from engineering, and from the military on that board?
When that occurs, board oversight should then necessarily measure appropriateness of resource application based not on the benefit of some foreign country, but to the state of New Mexico … the northwest quadrant, the northeast quadrant, the southwest quadrant, and the southeast quadrant, equally!
A bona fide leader will then emerge.     

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Thirty five years ago New Mexico State agricultural students were viewed in places like California with a certain intrigue. Those young people were not necessarily the most gifted, but their work ethic became legend. The state produced a product that was shaped by native constraints. It must be remembered the greatest insight comes from constraints not abundance. That remains at heart in our relative advantage.”