Saturday, December 29, 2012

DuBois Rodeo Scholarship

If you appreciate what we do here at The Westerner, or if you'd just like to help some great student athletes, please consider a donation. Just clip the coupon, make check out to NMSU Foundation and mail to the address on the letterhead.  Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Bucky Allred - New Years Eve Dance

NM sheriff suspects drug cartels in slayings

The Rio Arriba County Sheriff says he believes the recent execution-style slayings of two men and the case of two other men found dead in a burned out trailer are linked to Mexican drug cartels. Sheriff Tommy Rodella says one of two men found dead in the burned trailer in Medanales on Dec. 21 was a suspect in the double murder 11 days earlier in Hernandez. Those bodies were also found in a mobile home that had been set on fire. Rodella says the slayings have all the earmarks of a Mexican cartel hit. "There was drugs involved," he said. "And I think because of the level of drug dealing that has been going on now for some time I think that is indicative that the (cartels) are here. The thing is, that this isn't the first case where someone has been murdered and burned. That sends a hell of a message." Rodella says 20-year-old Tomas J. Sanchez was one of two people found dead inside the burned trailer. He says he was the top suspect in the Dec. 10 deaths of 53-year-old Matthew Maestas and 47-year-old Joseph Eugene Valdez, both of whom has been shot five times before their trailer was set on fire...more

Friday, December 28, 2012

Court ruling in Siskiyou Co. case bolsters water rights

In a decision that protects private water rights while maintaining environmental protections, a Siskiyou County Superior Court judge ruled that a state agency had overstepped its authority in trying to regulate farmers' water use. The ruling by Judge Karen L. Dixon determined that the California Department of Fish and Game had exceeded its authority by requiring farmers and ranchers to obtain a permit from DFG before they irrigate their crops. The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau filed suit against DFG last year, on behalf of members who farm along the Scott and Shasta rivers. "This ruling establishes an important, statewide precedent," Siskiyou County Farm Bureau President Jeff Fowle said. "There is no doubt that if DFG had been able to expand its authority here, it would have tried to regulate water rights elsewhere in the state. This decision reaffirms that water rights are administered by the courts and State Water Resources Control Board. Now, we can turn our attention to finding collaborative ways to improve conditions for fish while maintaining the sustainability of our farms and ranches." The case centered on Section 1602 of the Fish and Game Code, which requires individuals to notify DFG and potentially obtain a Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement before conducting certain activities that alter a streambed. Permits have been required under the section for gravel mining, construction of push-up dams and other projects that physically alter streambeds -- but DFG began notifying landowners along the Scott and Shasta that they would need to obtain permits simply to open an existing headgate or activate an existing pump in order to irrigate their crops...more

Five guys Ken Salazar should offer to punch out

Uneasy hangs the cowboy-hatted head of the man in charge of one-fifth of the land mass in the United States. The strain of running the Department of the Interior seems to be catching up with Ken Salazar, who offered to "punch out" a reporter last month in response to a question about Interior's scandal-riddled program for managing wild horses. Salazar later apologized to Dave Philipps of the Colorado Springs Gazette, whose piece for ProPublica about how thousands of supposedly "protected" horses sold by the Bureau of Land Management have disappeared (and were probably sent to slaughterhouses) has triggered a federal investigation. But persistent criticism of the Interior Secretary from the energy industry on one side and environmentalists on the other has fueled speculation that he might be one of the Cabinet members to hit the road when the Obama administration reshuffles the talent for its second term. Still, if Salazar is going to continue to ride herd over one of the most ornery and confusing bureaucracies ever devised, he's going to have to find more productive ways of channeling his anger and frustration. The next time he's feeling punchy, here are some more deserving candidates to consider for a possible jab-jab-cross combination...more

I agree with one of the five

Secretary Salazar Appoints Members to the U.S.ExtractiveIndustries Transparency Initiative Committee

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar appointed 21 primary and 20 alternate members to an advisory committee that will guide and oversee implementation of the United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI). Convened under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the committee will serve as the initial USEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group and includes representatives from federal and state government agencies, companies and public stakeholders. The names of those appointed to the Committee can be found at the USEITI web site at: The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a voluntary, global effort designed to increase transparency, strengthen the accountability of natural resource revenue reporting, and build public trust for the governance of these vital activities. Participating countries publicly disclose revenues received by the government for oil, gas, and mining development, while companies make corresponding disclosures regarding these same payments to the government, and both sets of data are reviewed and reconciled by a mutually agreed upon independent third party. Results are then released in a public report...more

They want U.S. companies to provide full disclosure to the entire world, while at the same time they stonewall the House Resources Committee over documents they refuse to provide.

2012 Land Report 100

Britain’s Daily Mail was flabbergasted — and rightly so. The amount of acreage owned by Liberty Media’s Chairman John Malone is beyond the comprehension of city slickers, suburban dwellers, and even plain country folk. As the Mail put it, the 71-year-old’s holdings are “just under the size of the Middle Eastern country Jordan and just over the size of Serbia. That means the total sum of Mr. Malone’s land is nearly three Rhode Islands. Or two Delawares. It is the size of 151 Manhattan islands. It’s a lot of land.” Most of the ink devoted to this Connecticut native follows the developments at Liberty, which Malone has shepherded from its infancy as a minor spin-off of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) in 1991 to a major media holding company whose wide-ranging interests include the Atlanta Braves and Starz. Malone’s track record as a landowner has followed a similar arc. Over the last two decades, it too has ascended sharply. Out west, Malone’s Silver Spur Ranches are headquartered in Encampment, Wyoming. The ranches themselves are in Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico. The most famous is the Bell Ranch, a 290,100-acre cattle kingdom whose roots go back to the 1824 Montoya Land Grant. Malone acquired The Bell from Chicago’s Lane family in 2010...more

The list of 100 is at the link provided or you can read the entire report by going here.

Why all the cool kids are reading Executive Order 13423

A war of words is brewing. But this one doesn’t involve slinging insults. It’s a battle over what forms of writing – novels, poems, and non-fiction – will define English instruction for millions of American schoolchildren in the years to come. Sparking this war is the Common Core standards push – an effort to nationalize the standards and assessments upon which every public school in America would base its curriculum. The Obama administration has poured billions of dollars into the effort via federal “Race to the Top” grants. As always when it comes to federal largesse, there are strings attached. And in this case, it’s pulling the rug out from under classic literature. Literacy experts point out that The Common Core denigrates the value of teaching literature in the classroom. Instead, English teachers are being told that 50 percent of their course material must be derived from “informational texts.” (Actually, the informational text requirement starts at a “mere” 25 percent of reading material for kindergarteners. It rises to 70 percent for high school seniors.) What, exactly, meets the definition of informational texts? Among those recommended on the national standards list we find The Federal Reserve Bank’s “FedViews,” “The Evolution of the Grocery Bag,” and “Health Care Costs in McAllen, Texas.” And, roll over “For Whom the Bell Tolls” it’s time to make way for that GSA classic: “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.” Thus is the literary genius of Washington bureaucrats elevated over that of Hugo, Heller, and Huxley. Eschewing great literature for ghastly technical reports doesn’t make much sense to those charged with getting young people to read—hopefully with some degree of enthusiasm. And there’s a total lack of research suggesting that education will be advanced by a forced march to Executive Orders...more


"Either you think -- or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

A beautiful song, done the right way by The Time Jumpers

Hat Tip: Emmit Brooks 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stepping down after tumultuous term

The Obama administration's chief environmental watchdog, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, is stepping down after a nearly four-year tenure marked by high-profile brawls over global warming pollution, the Keystone XL oil pipeline, new controls on coal-fired plants and several other hot-button issues that affect the nation's economy and people's health. Jackson, the agency's first black administrator, constantly found herself caught between administration pledges to solve controversial environmental problems and steady resistance from Republicans and industrial groups who complained that the agency's rules destroyed jobs and made it harder for American companies to compete internationally. The GOP chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Fred Upton, said last year that Jackson would need her own parking spot at the Capitol because he planned to bring her in so frequently for questioning. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for her firing, a stance that had little downside during the GOP primary. Environmental groups had high expectations for the Obama administration after eight years of President George W. Bush, a Texas oilman who rebuffed the agency's scientists and refused to take action on climate change. Jackson came into office promising a more active EPA. But she soon learned that changes would not occur as quickly as she had hoped. Jackson watched as a Democratic-led effort to reduce global warming emissions passed the House in 2009 but was abandoned by the Senate as economic concerns became the priority. The concept behind the bill, referred to as cap-and-trade, would have set up a system in which power companies bought and sold pollution rights. Jackson experienced another big setback last year when the administration scrubbed a clean-air regulation aimed at reducing health-threatening smog. Republican lawmakers had been hammering the president over the proposed rule, accusing his administration of making it harder for companies to create jobs. Jackson had some victories, too. During her tenure, the administration finalized a new rule doubling fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. The requirements will be phased in over 13 years and eventually require all new vehicles to average 54.5 mpg, up from 28.6 mpg at the end of last year. She shepherded another rule that forces power plants to control mercury and other toxic pollutants for the first time. Previously, the nation's coal- and oil-fired power plants had been allowed to run without addressing their full environmental and public health costs. Jackson also helped persuade the administration to table the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought carbon-heavy tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in Texas...more And I thought every decision in the Obama adm. would be based on "science".

Sunday, December 23, 2012

DuBois Rodeo Scholarship

If you appreciate what we do here at The Westerner, or if you'd just like to help some great student athletes, please consider a donation. Just clip the coupon, make check out to NMSU Foundation and mail to the address on the letterhead. Thanks.

Merry Christmas

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Christmas comes every day

 by Julie Carter

The catalogs that clogged the mailboxes for two months have ceased arriving only to be replaced with endless piles of Christmas cards, each expressing good wishes for a holiday season.

Tucked among those colorful happy-grams is the occasional glaring reminder that January is within spittin’ distance – such as a notice from Turbo Tax offering bigger and better ways to make money on my tax return.

People everywhere are in the grips of the last minute “I’m not ready for Christmas” anxieties.

Me? Over the years, I’ve done both. I’ve been organized, scheduled, on time and ready early and I’ve been late, never got it done, and more than once, sent my Christmas letters in January or not at all. And no one seems to remember or care which year was which.

I prefer the laid-back-late-plan so I am successfully working toward that goal again this year. I look at it as my rebellion to the commercialism of the season and the importance that is put on all the wrong things.

It also means I’ve learned that Christmas is only 24-hours long, that there is a day after Christmas and a day after that.

I love Jesus and I love the reason we honor this day for Him. What I don’t love is the tidal wave of retail pressure that surfaces at the end of summer and builds to a crescendo rivaling both the Holy birth and the resurrection. Pretty much takes the fun out it as far as I’m concerned.

So in my attempt at a wise adulthood, I decided I didn’t have to give up the joy of Christmas. The way to do that for me was to not sign up for the schedule dictated by the marketing world, the post office or anyone else who put themselves in charge of Christmas.

I often get wishes for my birthday late, sometimes early and sometimes not at all, but it doesn’t steal from my joy of being alive to have another birthday. I appreciate the thoughts whenever they come. I chose to believe Jesus feels the same way.

One of things I love most about ranching is that the very nature of the industry forces generation after generation to keep their priorities in order. Christmas comes every December, but so does winter, breaking ice on livestock waters, feeding cattle and for some, the onset of calving season.

On the menu are cold crisp mornings that look the same seven days a week including Christmas day. You’ll find each stockman bundled up in layers of coats and vests; hat pulled down tight and gloves nearby as they drive off in the feed pickup to tend to next year’s paycheck.

The routine of the work to be done happens without boundaries dictated by a calendar, catalogs or 60 percent-off sales at the big-box stores.

At the ranch, Christmas -- we still call it that and always will -- is celebrated in every time-honored way. But with that reverence comes a dedication to the priorities -- caring for the livestock first.

The critters have no idea it is any day other than another day to be alive – waiting in anticipation for sounds of the feed pickup that comes without question.

The least we can do, as beings with the ability for a higher level of thought, is to learn from them. For those that look to and for Him, Jesus will come bringing daily feed, manna to the faithful and so much more. It’s His priority.

Merry blessed Christmas to you all.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The Christmas tree: Yesterday, or was it a century ago?

Simple Measures
The Christmas tree
Yesterday, or was it a century ago?
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Growing up in Grant County, New Mexico pretty much guaranteed you were never hungry but you weren’t eating off white table cloths with linen napkins, either.
            It was fourth grade when a salad fork was finally brought to our attention. It was almost Christmas, 1960 when we got that lesson. Mrs. Borenstein had been on the prod all week for reasons none of us could rationalize. Poor Ramon Leyba had even taken a direct head shot from her dictionary when he couldn’t come up with the proper spelling of some word now lost in time.
            She was screaming at us when she grabbed somebody by the ear and shrieked when she looked closer in it. She ordered us to stand and served notice she was going to inspect us!
            “You children are not only insolent you are filthy,” she continued.
            We stood as she inspected us. She concluded each and every one of us was deficient and inspections would continue until there was improvement.
            “If you want to come to my class you are at least going to be civilized,” she concluded. “Not a bunch of barbarians!”
            The next morning we arrived polished and honed. We endured the promised inspection. With ears pulled, hair parted, and collars checked, we lived through the ordeal.
            “While we are at this you are going to get a lesson in table manners,” she groused. It was obvious she had decided to give us the works. She cleaned the top of her desk and set it starting with a white table cloth. Each of us in succession was seated and put through the drill.
            “Only unfold that napkin half way … start with the outside fork … spoon the soup forward and away from you … elbows off the table … dab that napkin … ask to be excused!”
            In that hour, we got more training in civilization than many of us had before or since. To this day, I remember the lesson.
            Later that week, she lined us up again as we waited for the bell that would release us for Christmas vacation. We were excited!
Giving us final instructions, she hugged each and every one of us as we marched by her on our way out the door.
            “I expect you to remember the significance of this season,” she shouted, “I’ll see you next year … have a Merry Christmas!”
            If there was an artificial Christmas tree around in those days, I don’t remember it. We cut our own.
            Even then, the Forest Service was protecting all those trees that should have been thinned. Rules and regulations complete with a permit was the legal course. The best trees, though, were those out on the fringe of brush expansion without growth constraints.
            Randolph Franks’ place was the best spot close by to get that kind of tree. My mother would look for them all year in our frequent trips out to Cliff. She would have a tree or two in her mind when she called the Franks to get permission to climb the fence to cut it.
            The tool of choice, of course, was a double bitted saddle axe. Like a good pack tarp, anybody with any moxie at all had a saddle axe. Several times a year there would be a conversation about them. There would be the obligatory point that it was good to take good care of them. I must admit, though, I really didn’t understand what care implied since the extent of care ours got was to anchor it in a chopping block after kindling was cut. It would be there and retrieved when it was time to go cut the Christmas tree.
            Before I was 10, I was a regular on the end of the axe when the tree was cut. By that time I was swinging (cross handed) a baseball bat right handed, but I always swung an axe left handed. I’d get down there and trim the lower limbs away and let fly. By the second or third swing, rhythm was achieved, and, with several more, the tree was ours. Like a dog with a bone, we’d head to the truck with our Christmas prize in tow.  
When we got home, we would take the meat saw to square the cut to fit the stand.  The stand would be 2X4’s nailed together in a cross. We’d have to hunt for something bigger than a 16 penny nail to anchor the tree in place. The tree would then be ready to haul into the house. We then endured the placement process.
“No, turn it clear around,” it would start. “Just a little more the left.”
“Oh, Mom!”
Finally, we’d get to that certain spot … if we could just fill in a hole. We’d go outside and cut limbs off what was trimmed. Then the task would then be to find a bit big enough to fit in the brace to drill a hole to insert the limb. More than once, I’d trot a quarter mile across the flat to Hanks’ to borrow one. We would end the affair with a short piece of baling wire to hold the transplanted limbs in a natural position, and the tree, in all of its Christmas glory would be ready to decorate.
The Ritual
We’d stoke a fire in the fireplace. It would be a grand fire. It would start without the screen. By the time the greener juniper logs were launching sparked missiles out into the middle of the living room, we would have to put the screen in place just to keep from burning the place down.
Mom would commence carrying decorations out and laying them on the table. She’d be in a dither about where everything was. I guess she may have been prone to unsubstantiated suspicions that I had robbed the stash of Christmas balls to serve as BB gun targets.
Billy Vaughn or somebody would be spinning Christmas from the record player. My dad would elevate paternalism to a seasonal high. Invariably, he would remind us if he had life to live over he’d be a musician. He’d even light his pipe and the sweet smell of the tobacco would waft visibly into a silent odoriferous harmony of the tree, the smoke from the near uncontrolled, three alarm fire, and …the pine pitch still on our hands.
The spirit was upon us!
We’d start by hanging lights. If I could now offer a short list of lessons to young couples, it would start with the suggestion that stringing lights on Christmas trees should be avoided at all costs. By the time that little foray was concluded the pipe was gone, Billy Vaughn was silently bumping against the repeating stop, and the veiled threat was no longer even veiled for attempting to add one more log to that blankety-blank fire!
Mom would regain a bit of composure and everybody would be conditionally welcomed back to hang the balls. That would last until the ubiquitous reminder that balls must be placed uniformly around the tree not in just one place. It was also then little brother was found to be the victim of being robbed of his share of the good balls or sister had her feelings hurt for looking at her cross-eyed.
Finally, the foil icicles were relegated to the care of Mom and whoever needed the most compensatory remuneration … little brother or sister. Dad would be lying on the floor mesmerized by the next LP visualizing his date in the next turn as a famed musician. Seasonal bliss was hanging by a thread.
Hope, though, was stirring. The fire was finally at a pleasant and safe rate of burn. Mom was ready to light the tree formally, and she was again in a mood of higher cheer.
At her call, there it was … the lit tree stood in all of its glory. Christmas Peace … Goodwill to all, and to all the promise of what would come when Santa finally made his way to southern New Mexico. That would happen, but that is another story.
For now, Merry Christmas to all … God bless you and your families. God bless our land, and … God bless our way of life.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Mrs. Borenstein’s husband, Barney, was a well known and respected businessman in Silver City. He was never without a big, black stogie. He would come into school to see his wife and that big cigar would be spewing smoke like a freight train. On one of those visits, Mrs. Borenstein suggested to us boys we could do worse than to emulate her husband. Playing workup at recess, we discussed that matter. Chintis suggested we not wait until we were old to emulate Barney. All we needed was a box of stogies! We embarked diligently on that task.”

Baxter Black: Moustaches should come with a warning label

Moustaches have become de rigueur in certain lifestyle choices: mountain men, Arctic explorers, Fu Man Chu-ists, carnival acts such as the bearded lady and cowboy poets. As we know, if something becomes popular, the government soon tries to get involved.

Here’s a word about moustache safety and maintenance: HAPHAZARD! There are really no official rules, no regulations passed down by the Department of Sanitation or Landscaping or Aerodynamics. But I suppose one might encounter moustache restrictions for jobs such as wine tasting, orthodontry, or swallowing fire.

However, moustache freedom may soon be endangered. Already, well-meaning socialist potentates have passed intrusive laws in their kingdom decreeing no smoking, no soda pop, no Big Macs, no voting Republican and no spitting on the sidewalk laws. What if these little self-appointed kinglets discovered moustaches can be life-threatening?

Let’s consider the story of LeeRay, a good ol’ Nebraska farm boy. It was calving season and things were not going well. They had a lot of scouring calves and heifers not pairing up. LeeRay was the ground-man at the calving barn. He’s a big fellow, not fleet-of-foot, but strong and hard working. He was being helped by two cowboys who watched the “heavy bunch.”

One late afternoon the cowboys brought in a big Angus cow that, in spite of her calving difficulty, still was on the fight. The cowboys backed the trailer up to the loading pen and led their horses out. LeeRay walked in, opened the middle divider and quickly stepped back. Momma cow disembarked like a long-jumper in the Ungulate Olympics and put LeeRay over the fence.

Judge sides with ski areas, rejects Forest Service water rights rule

A U.S. District judge on Wednesday overturned a controversial new water law requiring ski area permit holders on public land to turn over water rights to the Forest Service. Judge William Martinez ruled that the Forest Service's revision of 2011 and 2012 permit regulations governing water rights violated federal procedural rules, failed to evaluate economic impact and violated ski area rights. Martinez sided with the National Ski Areas Association, which was suing the Forest Service over the new water rights permit rules, ordering the agency to not enforce the terms of the new rules. Martinez remanded the issue back to the Forest Service. The Forest Service argued that the new clause - which required ski area permit holders to transfer water rights secured by areas operating on public land to the federal government - kept the natural resource connected to the land. In mid-November oral arguments before Martinez, the Forest Service argued it merely returned permit water policy to long-held conditions imposed before a 2004 change in the rules. Still, Martinez's ruling noted that during the last three decades, the Forest Service "did not follow a uniform policy and did not require federal ownership of water rights in all ski area permits." The agency said it changed the permit requirements to assure that ski areas never sold water rights connected to federal land...more

Depending on what the judge actually said, this could have wide implications.  For instance, requiring water or access as a condition of a grazing permit. 

Ken Salazar, considering next move, still committed to Interior

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he is still mulling whether to stay on another four years with a second Obama term — a job that sources say he can keep if he wants it. Heading Interior means Salazar is the custodian of managing the more than 500 million acres of the nation's public lands and another 1.7 billion acres offshore — a job rife with politics from environmentalists, energy companies and members of Congress in districts rich with natural resources. Salazar is said to be weighing the job — it's work he very much enjoys — against the tug of his extended family in Colorado. Heading a federal agency means long hours, a life in Washington and days upon days of travel. He is expected to make an announcement in the coming months. According to sources close to the department, his schedule has plans inked on the calendar through February...more

Baker to health board: Hands off my dough

A looming trans fat ban in Chelsea is leaving one local baker wondering how his turnovers are responsible for the obesity epidemic and wishing the government would keep its hands off his dough At Katz's Bagel Bakery, a Chelsea fixture since 1938, the bagels have always been the big draw, but owner Richard Katz also does a brisk business with pastries like turnovers and whoopie pies, pastries that he makes with partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening. That shortening will be banned on Jan. 1, leaving Katz vowing to stop selling pastries rather than peddle what he calls "awful" tasting trans fat-free baked goods. He's made the pastries the same way for years, starting the dough by mixing flour with a heaping mound of shortening, loaded with two and a half grams of trans fats per serving. In just a few weeks when the ban takes effect, the creamy white shortening will be contraband. And that's when Katz's dilemma begins, because the soon-to-be banned trans fats make his turnover dough taste good. "No question the other stuff is much healthier for you, but this tastes better," said Katz, who still looks fit and trim for his 70 years...more

Appeals court upholds EPA authority over emissions

An appeals court on Thursday denied a request from industry groups to rehear a case in which the court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change regulations. The industry challenge failed to win a majority vote by judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for an en banc (before the entire bench) rehearing of Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, which sought to challenge the EPA’s power to address greenhouse gas emissions.  In their dissenting opinions, Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Janice Rogers Brown attacked the majority decision with flourish, detailing grievances with this summer’s ruling. And like the original opinion, one judge again cited a Schoolhouse Rock song, this time turning to “Three Ring Government.” In June, the court deemed the EPA “unambiguously correct” in the legal reasoning behind its regulation of greenhouse gases. A three-judge panel issued a sweeping opinion strenuously backing the agency’s finding that emissions pose a danger to public health and welfare, and upheld several subsequent regulations for vehicles and new industrial plants. In Thursday’s order, Chief Justice David Sentelle, along with Justices Judith Rogers and David Tatel, defended their decision in the case and said the policies are “undoubtedly matters of exceptional importance.” In turning back the petition for rehearing filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the State of Alaska, Peabody Energy, Southeastern Legal Foundation, the National Association of Manufacturers and others, the court said the legal issues were straightforward...more

Faulty FBI Crime Lab Procedures May Have Filtered to States

Thousands of criminal cases at the state and local level may have relied on exaggerated testimony or false forensic evidence to convict defendants of murder, rape and other felonies. The forensic experts in these cases were trained by the same elite FBI team whose members gave misleading court testimony about hair matches and later taught the local examiners to follow the same suspect practices, according to interviews and documents. In July, the Justice Department announced a nationwide review of all cases handled by the FBI Laboratory’s hair and fibers unit before 2000 — at least 21,000 cases — to determine whether improper lab reports or testimony might have contributed to wrongful convictions. But about three dozen FBI agents trained 600 to 1,000 state and local examiners to apply the same standards that have proved problematic. None of the local cases is included in the federal review. As a result, legal experts say, although the federal inquiry is laudable, the number of flawed cases at the state and local levels could be even higher, and those are going uncorrected. The FBI review was prompted by a series of articles in The Washington Post about errors at the bureau’s renowned crime lab involving microscopic hair comparisons. The articles highlighted the cases of two District men who each spent more than 20 years in prison based on false hair matches by FBI experts. Since The Post’s articles, the men have been declared innocent by D.C. Superior Court judges...more

When will the states learn to stay away from the feds?

Big Wind tax credit exterminates endangered species

By Paul Driessen

The American Wind Energy Association wants its production tax credit (PTC) for wind electricity extended yet again. Congress should say no — and terminate the PTC now.

Wind energy is expensive and unreliable. It does nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is land- and raw-materials-intensive, parasitic and redundant. Whenever the wind is low or inconsistent, every megawatt of wind power must be supported by electricity generated by fossil-fuel plants. Even more damning, wind turbines disrupt wildlife habitats and butcher birds and bats that are vital to ecological diversity and agriculture.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.

New studies reveal that these appalling estimates are frightfully low and based on misleading or even fraudulent data. The horrific reality is that in the United States alone, “eco-friendly” wind turbines kill an estimated 13 million to 39 million birds and bats every year.

These shocking figures reflect the presence of more than 39,000 turbines in the United States, many located in habitats with large numbers of raptors, other birds and bats, says Mark Duchamp, president of Save the Eagles International. The estimates are based on a 2012 study by the Spanish Ornithological Society, which used data from 136 official turbine-monitoring studies in Spain, and is corroborated by a 1993 study of bird mortality from wind turbines in Germany and Sweden, Mr. Duchamp says.