Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Sly Coyote Becomes a Bounty Hunters’ Target in Utah

...Mr. Glauser is not alone in his aversion or in his desire to do something about it. Last year, the Utah Legislature enacted a “Predator Control” incentive program as a way to jointly curb coyotes and safeguard their occasional prey, the mule deer. Under the law, the state now pays civilians to hunt coyotes. So this winter, when Mr. Glauser, 18, spotted a coyote on a patch of ice, he ably called it to him, and shot it. Then he made his way with the carcass to a Division of Wildlife Resources office here, where a government pickup truck served as a repository for parts. Ears, jaws, scalps and nose-to-tail pelts were deposited in an iced-over flatbed as hunters pulled up with garbage bags carrying the animals’ remains. In orderly fashion, their hauls were documented. One veteran trapper came with a cargo of a dozen skins. Others, like Mr. Glauser, proudly carried one capture. They lined up to qualify for their bounty: $50 per coyote. Coyotes are considered a persistent menace in the West, where they and a highly adaptable neighbor, humans, have been encroaching on each other’s territory for decades. “I’ve seen them pull down animals, and they’re vicious,” said Chase Hufstetler, 29, who has been hunting coyotes for 15 years. “I think they are a nuisance.”  The new bounty program represents one of the nation’s largest hunter-based efforts to manage predatory wildlife. Though no one knows how many coyotes there are in Utah, the law allows for as many as 10,000 animals to be killed. (The state is also home to the country’s only coyote research facility financed by the government.) By early March, six months into the collection, the remains of 5,988 coyotes had been turned in. Utah residents pride themselves on the state’s natural beauty, its wildlife and the acumen of its hunters, and so the bounty program also represents an experiment in managing the competing agendas of conservation and culture, scientific and economic development. So far, hunters are enthusiastic, environmentalists are crying foul, and state wildlife administrators are stuck in the middle...more

Friday, March 22, 2013

Salad is more dangerous than beefburgers, leading food expert warns

Salad labelled as "ready-to-eat" is more dangerous than beefburgers, one of Britain`s top food experts has said, following a spate of Cryptosporidium infections linked to the product. Certain types of bacteria found in the pre-cut salad bags can be almost impossible to kill, Professor Hugh Pennington said, unless the leaves are irradiated – a process the public would oppose. His claim follows a Health Protection Agency investigation into an outbreak of salad-linked Cryptosporidium infections that affected around 300 people in England and Scotland in May. In the analysis of the exposure to different salad vegetables a significant statistical association was found between infection and the consumption of pre-cut spinach. When specific retailers were included in the analysis, the strongest association with infection was found to be with consumption of ready to eat pre-cut mixed salad leaves from a major supermarket chain. Professor Pennington said the case also followed on from several in the USA where they are "very worried" about "washed and ready-to-eat" bagged salad. Last year produce giant Dole issued a recall on its American Blend bagged salad in 10 states in those two regions, after the Tennessee Department of Health found listeria bacteria in one sample. Demand for salad has boomed because of healthily eating campaigns. But salad is considered one of the products most likely to cause food-related illness – largely because greens are grown directly in the soil, and some pathogens can only be killed by heat or strong detergents, not just water. Professor Pennington said: "It is generally safer to eat a burger than the salad that goes with it...more

Number of dead pigs found in Chinese rivers rises to 16,000

The number of dead pigs recovered in the last two weeks from rivers that supply water to Shanghai has risen to more than 16,000. The government in China's financial hub said 10,570 carcasses had been pulled from its Huangpu river. That is in addition to 5,528 pigs plucked from upstream tributaries in the Jiaxing area of Zhejiang province. Authorities give daily updates, telling the public that tests show Shanghai's water is safe, but no official has given any full explanation about the massive dumping of pig carcasses. Hog farmers have told state media that the dumping of carcasses is rising because police have started cracking down on the illicit sale of pork products made from dead, diseased pigs...more  

I'm sure this is caused by the sequester.

Obama to designate 5 national monuments, largest in NM

President Barack Obama is designating five new national monuments, using executive authority to protect historic or ecologically significant sites—including one in Delaware sought by Vice President Joe Biden. The White House said Obama would make the designations Monday, using the century-old Antiquities Act to protect unique natural and historic landmarks. The sites are Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; First State National Monument in Delaware; Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state. The largest site is Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico, where Obama will designate nearly 240,000 acres for protection. The site includes wildlife habitat valued by hunters and anglers; rafting, camping, and other recreation, and is prized by the region's Hispanic and tribal groups. Advocates say the new monument in New Mexico, to be run by the U.S Bureau of Land Management, will contribute an estimated $15 million a year in economic benefits to the area. Supporters called the monument designations especially important at a time of partisan gridlock over wilderness issues. No new wilderness areas were approved in the last Congress, the first time lawmakers have failed to create new wilderness since the 1960s. "Understanding that Congress is broken, The Wilderness Society is very pleased to see President Obama taking important steps toward putting conservation on equal ground with energy development," said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. "Protecting our lands and waters can't wait." The New Mexico project in particular is crucial, Williams and other environmentalists said, because it includes some of the most ecologically significant lands in the state, most notably Ute Mountain, which towers over the region and provides habitat for the elk, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, great horned owl and other species...more

Lee Proposes Supermajority to Pass Gun Control Bills

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, will offer an amendment to the Democrats’ fiscal 2014 budget resolution that seeks to require a two-thirds majority for the passage of any gun control legislation in the Senate. The amendment by Lee, a member of the Judiciary Committee who has tea party backing, comes ahead of the biggest floor debate on gun control in nearly two decades. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Thursday that he would bring a package of gun-related bills to the floor during the week of April 8, when lawmakers return from their two-week spring recess. Lee’s amendment, which his office provided to CQ Roll Call, features a broad definition of gun control and seeks to require a 67-vote supermajority threshold for passage of a number of the proposals that are expected to be debated on the floor next month. The amendment, for example, seeks to require the supermajority for any bill that “prohibits specific firearms or categories or firearms” or “limits the size of ammunition feeding devices,” an apparent reference to the assault weapons ban (S 150) sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. It would also require a supermajority for any bill that “requires background checks through a federal firearms licensee for private transfers of firearms,” a reference to a proposal (S 374) by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., that has been the subject of weeks of bipartisan negotiations and also will be included in the April floor debate...more

Comcast Cable Bans All Firearm, Ammunition Advertisers

Gun stores in areas that Comcast Cable serves are looking for new ways to advertise after the cable provider said it would not accept firearm and ammunition commercials. Comcast (CMCSA), the nation's largest cable-TV company, made the decision last month after it finalized its purchase of media company NBCUniversal, which Adweek magazine said has had a long-standing in place banning those items and fireworks. "Consistent with long-standing NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward," said spokesman Chris Ellis of Comcast's advertising sales division, Comcast Spotlight. Comcast has operations in 39 states and the District of Columbia...more

Orren Mixer Exhibit

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum’s newest exhibit is a tribute to the late artist Orren Mixer, renowned for his paintings of several equine breed associations and livestock. Orren Mixer: Artist of the American Quarter Horse is open to the public and remains open through July 27, 2013.   In 1968, the AQHA commissioned Mixer to paint "the ideal American Quarter Horse," and six other breed associations followed suit. He depicted the ideal Pinto, Paint, Palomino, Appaloosa, Buckskin and Pony.  Mixer’s celebrity as a well-known western artist started during the 1950s and 1960s. Livestock, particularly horses, became his specialty, and his work graced the covers of Western Horseman, Quarter Horse Journal, Cattleman and Oklahoma Today.  The exhibit is a collection of personal artifacts from the Hall of Fame archive as well as the Mixer family, AQHA and private collections. The selection in this exhibit demonstrates Mixer’s talent and captures his passion for the animals he so loved to illustrate on canvas. Visitors to the museum can learn more about his technique from clips of archived videotaped interviews.  Can’t make it to the exhibit? The Hall of Fame has an online exhibit posted at The online exhibit consists of artwork on display, interviews with Mixer and have the ability to purchase prints of his work.    AQHA

The farmer and the little old lady

A farmer stopped by the local mechanics shop to have his truck fixed.  They couldn't do it while he waited, so he said he didn't live far and would just walk home.

On the way home he stopped at the hardware store and bought a bucket and a gallon of paint. He then stopped by the feed store and picked up a couple of chickens and a goose. However, struggling outside the store he now had a problem - how to carry his entire purchases home.

While he was scratching his head he was approached by a little old lady who told him she was lost. She asked, 'Can you tell me how to get to 1603 Mockingbird Lane?'

The farmer said, 'Well, as a matter of fact, my farm is very close to that house.  I would walk you there but I can't carry this lot.'

The old lady suggested, 'Why don't you put the can of paint in the bucket. Carry the bucket in one hand, put a chicken under each arm and carry the goose in your other hand?'

'Why thank you very much,' he said and proceeded to walk the old girl home.

On the way he says 'Let's take my short cut and go down this alley. We'll be there in no time.'

The little old lady looked him over cautiously then said, 'I am a lonely widow without a husband to defend me.. How do I know that when we get in the alley you won't hold me up against the wall, pull up my skirt, and have your way with me?'

The farmer said, 'Holy smokes lady! I'm carrying a bucket, a gallon of paint, two chickens, and a goose.  How in the world could I possibly hold you up against the wall and do that?'

The old lady replied, 'Set the goose down, cover him with the bucket, put the paint on top of the bucket, and I'll hold the chickens'

Song Of The Day #1045

It's Out West on Ranch Radio and here's the Jimmy Wakely Trio with a 1942 radio transcription of Rainbow Valley.

Pro-Obama group signals more emphasis on climate, green policies

Republicans want to turn the budget plan from Senate Democrats into a “legislative sledgehammer” against President Obama's green agenda, Organizing for Action warned Thursday. The outside group, which was formed from the remnants of Obama's reelection campaign, asked supporters to sign a petition demanding a “clean budget” in the Senate. It warned of GOP-backed amendments to the resolution that are “designed to destroy environmental protections and set back decades of progress.”  “Let's be clear — there are very real, very powerful interests behind these measures, and this fight is only beginning. Organizing for Action is going to be on the front lines, fighting back,” Ivan Frishberg, climate campaign manager with OFA, wrote in the letter. The memo said the GOP measures could include proposals to thwart Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas emissions rules, stomp out clean-energy tax credits and bypass administrative authority on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. The email comes shortly after Obama encouraged attendees at an Organizing for Action (OFA) event in Washington, D.C., to embolden lawmakers by voicing support for climate policies. “If we move aggressively on an issue like climate change — that’s not an easy issue for a lot of folks, because the benefits may be out in the future. And I want to make sure that a congressman, senator feels as if they've got the information and the grassroots network that’s going to support them in that effort,” Obama said at the event last week. Following up on that call, OFA asked people in the email to sign the clean-budget petition to let “members of Congress ... know that we’ve got a massive community of supporters ready to help them out if they do the right thing — or make life very hard for them if they don’t.”...more

Judge rules largely in favor of Utah on rural roads dispute

A federal judge handed a landmark victory to Kane County and the state of Utah on Wednesday in a years-long dispute with the federal government over whether some rural routes should remain in use as roads, or if they should be closed to the public. In two decisions, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups found he had jurisdiction to hear Kane County’s claim, gave parameters for "reasonable" right-of-way widths on some routes and determined that 12 of 15 routes in dispute were roads and therefore accessible by the public. The distinction hinged on an 1866 law through which Congress sought to encourage development by allowing local jurisdictions to manage routes across public lands...Kane County Commission Chairman Doug Heaton said Thursday the ruling vindicates the county in its fight to continue to travel what he described as historic thoroughfares. "We’re confident the judge took great pains to get it right," he said. "We’re excited the court has ruled in our favor." Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General John Swallow also hailed the decision, which Swallow said shows "these historic public roads have and will continue to belong to the people of Utah." Swallow said the federal government’s refusal to recognize the routes as state and county roads had "damaged the economy and put motorists at risk" by impeding routine maintenance. Of the 12 routes deemed roads, four are in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The rest are on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Kanab office. Waddoups traveled all of the disputed routes with attorneys in the case over two days in December 2010. He presided over a trial in the case in August 2011 and took additional testimony in January 2012. Waddoups heard from county workers and local residents about how each route was used prior to 1976 and then how most were maintained later by the county. Waddoups noted, for example, that Upper Mill Creek was used prior to 1976 for "the apparent purposes of gathering firewood, cutting cedar posts, hunting and scouting for deer, gathering pine nuts, and general sightseeing." One Kane County rancher recounted local lore of how John D. Lee cut timber and operated a saw mill in the area in the late 1800s, which led to the route’s name. Similar uses were declared for most of the other disputed routes. The state and 22 of Utah’s 29 counties have filed more than 20 lawsuits laying claim to more than 12,000 rights-of-way on public land...more 

 Utah you see, is a state.  NM is, well I'm not sure what we are anymore.  And then there is this from the Utah Attorney General:

 Swallow said the federal government’s refusal to recognize the routes as state and county roads had "damaged the economy and put motorists at risk" by impeding routine maintenance.

The feds would rather put the public at risk than relinquish one single acre of "public" land.

Arizona commission backs request to remove wolves from endangered list - NM??

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Wednesday voted to back an effort by Western lawmakers to remove gray wolves from the endangered-species list. The commission unanimously supported a letter by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to drop federal protections for wolves nationwide. That would include Mexican gray wolves, which have struggled to find a foothold in the Southwest since reintroduction in 1998, though the commission reasserted its support for at least 100 “wolves on the ground.” That’s a number that wolf supporters find unacceptable, and they don’t trust the state to nurse the animals to a fully recovered population. But Hatch and Lummis, in their March 15 letter to Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, said that wolves are not endangered and that states don’t need federal meddling on the predators’ behalf. “Unmanaged wolves are devastating to livestock and indigenous wildlife,” they wrote. “Currently, state wildlife officials have their hands tied any time wolves are involved.” Commission Chairman Jack Husted said wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains — reintroduced in the 1990s, just like Arizona’s — have thrived to the point that they are damaging prey populations such as elk. Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have hosted more than 1,000 wolves between them for years. “We’ve time and again voiced our support for wild wolves on the ground (in Arizona),” Husted said, “but not in unlimited numbers.”...more  

And the NM commission?

Federal budget cuts could take toll on New Mexico forest workers

About 670 trailheads, picnic sites and campgrounds run by the U.S. Forest Service across the country could close due to federal budget cuts. According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — the Forest Service’s parent agency — specific sites have not yet been selected for closure. “We do estimate, however, that there will be an across-the-board temporary closure of 670 campgrounds, trailheads and picnic sites around the country in peak use season in the spring and summer, but we are still determining which, exactly, those areas will be,” the statement says. “The closing of these recreation sites would likely result in loss of the opportunity for 1.6 million visitors to national forests.” The Santa Fe National Forest has 23 campgrounds, 13 picnic areas and 1,002 miles of trails, according to its website. The Department of Agriculture said funds for fighting wildfires also will decrease. “The 5.2 percent reduction caused by sequestration will reduce the agency’s initial attack capability which will increase the probability of larger, costlier fires,” a statement says. “The reduction of funds could result in 500 fewer firefighters and 50- 70 fewer available engines, and will impact aviation assets.” The statement goes on to say that a severe fire season is expected this summer...more

 “The 5.2 percent reduction caused by sequestration will reduce the agency’s initial attack capability which will increase the probability of larger, costlier fires,” a statement says.

Damn, there it is again.  I tried to sort this out here on Wednesday.  You recall a 1995 policy saying, "Wildland fire, as a critical natural process, must be reintroduced into the ecosystem", the 2012 Hubbard memo saying "safe aggressive initial attack is often the best suppression strategy to keep unwanted  wildfires small and less costly" and the 2013 Tidwell memo which doesn't repeat the initial attack language, resulting in the Let It Burn headlines.

However, reading today's article would have one conclude it has nothing to do with "policy" or "guidance" because it is a result of the sequestration.  Which is it guys?

I tried to help the Forest Service out yesterday, but this sequestration scare stuff is pure bullshit.



Montana sued over trapping in lynx habitat

Three conservation groups filed a federal court lawsuit Thursday against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners and Director Jeff Hagener for allowing trapping and snaring in Canada lynx habitat. The Friends of the Wild Swan, the WildEarth Guardians and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies say FWP reported at least nine incidents since 2000 of lynx being caught in traps set for other species; and say four of those animals died. They alleged that this violates the federal Endangered Species Act, which lists lynx as a threatened species and warranted for protection, and want the trapping prohibited in lynx habitat. The lawsuit outlines some of the cases in which lynx were caught and died, including one that starved to death. They note in the lawsuit that in 2006, lynx researchers for federal government documented 49 moralities of radio-collared lynx in Montana. Causes of mortality included incidental trapping or shooting, predation, starvation and other unknown causes. Lynx trapping is banned in Montana because the animal is protected under the ESA. However, Montana allows regulated trapping of other species. The conservation groups allege that trapping and snaring in occupied lynx habitat is illegal because the Endangered Species Act mandates that states prevent the “take” of threatened animals. Canada lynx that are captured in traps endure physiological and psychological trauma, dehydration, and exposure as well as injuries to bone and tissue that reduces their fitness and chances for persistence, according to the lawsuit. They claim that trapping also causes indirect mortality to lynx kits since adults harmed or killed by traps and snares cannot adequately feed and nurture their young...more

USFS vs. your ability to sue them

by Emily Guerin

...This is the line of reasoning the feds’ lawyers will push when U.S. Forest Service vs. Pacific Rivers Council hits the Supreme Court this fall. The debate--who has the right to sue over a forest plan and when--dates back to 2005, when Pacific Rivers Council sued the Forest Service over the Bush-era Framework, arguing that it did not do enough to protect watersheds and fish...

In lawyer-speak, the issue at hand is “legal standing,” which, in plain English, means the person bringing the case has been harmed by the person they’re suing, and a favorable court ruling could make things better...

The government’s counter-argument is to say that the Sierra Nevada Framework is just a plan, and no one is harmed until an actual logging project is approved. In other words, the feds are arguing the PRC can’t legally challenge the forest plan until the things they are opposing—increased logging and road building, for example—are underway.

But Greg Loarie, an Earthjustice attorney who brought a different lawsuit against the Forest Service over the Bush-era Framework, questions this logic. “If (the plan) is just paper on a shelf somewhere, then why did Congress see fit to require them?”...

In a blog for Legal Planet, Rick Frank, director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center, doubts the court will rule in PRC’s favor. He says the court has a track record of interpreting the legal standing issue to “bar environmental organizations from pursuing their legal grievances in federal court,” and notes that the court has never, in the 43-year history of NEPA, ruled against the government when it is challenged by an environmental group.

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear gold dredging/endangered species case

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling ordering the U.S. Forest Service to consult with wildlife agencies prior to granting Notices of Intent to weekend hobbyists using suction dredges to mine for gold in northern California was allowed to stand by the nation’s highest court Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, The New 49’ers, Inc., et al. v. Karuk Tribe of California. Environmental NGOs and the Karuk Indian tribe, which filed the original litigation to stop gold dredging in the Coho Salmon critical habitat in northern California called the original June decision an historic one. While the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge who wrote the dissenting opinion on the case--believed the 9th Circuit ruling has ramifications well beyond the weekend hobbyist miners who dredge for gold along the Klamath River. The decision “effectively shuts down the entire suction dredge mining industry in the states within our jurisdiction,” wrote Circuit Judge Milan Smith, Jr., in June 1, 2012. These states include the mining states of Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Washington...more

And here's the Karuk Tribe's take on the decision:

Supreme Court: ESA Trumps 1872 Mining Act

Today the Supreme Court let stand a decision from the En Banc panel of 11 judges of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that essentially establishes that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) trumps the 1872 Mining Act. Recreational mining groups had filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking that they overturn the lower court decision, but the petition was denied.

"This decision is a great victory for the Karuk Tribe and everyone else who believes that federal agencies must act to protect our natural resources and fisheries," according to Buster Attebery, Chairman of the Karuk Tribe...

The Appeals Court rejected that claim, concluding that: "We therefore hold that the Forest Service violated the ESA by not consulting with the appropriate wildlife agencies before approving NOIs to conduct mining activities in coho salmon critical habitat within the Klamath National Forest."

"This decision sets a major precedent across the western states," said Roger Flynn, lead attorney representing the Tribe, and the Director and Managing Attorney of the Western Mining Action Project, a Colorado-based non-profit environmental law firm specializing in mining issues in the West. "The government and miners had argued that the archaic 1872 Mining Law, which is still on the books today, overrides environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act. The Appeals Court flatly rejected that untenable position and today the Supreme Court refused to overturn that ruling." said Flynn....

Although focused on the mining in northern California, the Forest Service's practice of failing to consider the ESA when approving smaller-scale mining projects such as suction dredging occurs throughout the West.

Cattle ranchers resort to a centuries-old drought cuisine

The unrelenting drought is taking its toll on South Texas cattle ranchers who are resorting to a centuries-old emergency method of feeding cattle, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent. “Ranchers down here commonly refer to it as ‘chamuscando,’ the Spanish word for the process of burning off spines from prickly pear cactus so cattle can eat the pods for food and water,” said Omar Montemayor, an AgriLife Extension agent in Starr County. “For many of our aging ranchers, chamuscando and hauling hay and water to their livestock are last-ditch efforts to stay in the cattle business.” Burning cactus is a practice that dates back to the mid-1700s, when Spanish settlers moved here from Mexico City and raised cattle for sustenance along both sides of the Rio Grande, Montemayor said. The pioneers burned cactus over mesquite fires, which eventually gave way to kerosene burners until the 1950s, when ranchers switched to butane then propane. “In times of drought, when pastures have no grass or hay for cattle to feed on, ranchers use a propane-fueled torch to burn the needles off nopal, or cactus. The pads or stems of the plant contain moisture and fiber, but very little protein. Ranchers supplement their cattle’s diets with protein pellets called range cubes.”...more

Song Of The Day #1044

Ranch Radio is Out West this week and today's selection is the Prairie Ramblers 1938 recording of Headin'For The Rio Grande.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Panel approves Obama's Interior pick

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 19-3 Thursday to approve Sally Jewell, President Obama’s nominee to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted against Jewell, the CEO of outdoor gear giant REI Inc. While the nomination cleared the panel, a number of GOP senators have not ruled out placing procedural barriers in front of Jewell before her nomination comes before the full Senate.  The vote proceeded after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the panel’s top Republican, said she secured an agreement from Salazar to revisit a preliminary decision not to allow a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Murkowski and other Alaskan lawmakers say the road is needed to provide emergency medical access to a small village called King Cove...more

NY to reverse ban on magazine size in gun law (wait till you see why!)

What a Government Gong Show.  AP reports:

Cuomo and legislative leaders in state budget talks plan to change the law that was passed in January before a provision kicks in banning the sale of 10-bullet magazines. The gun measure outlaws the purchase of any magazines that carry more than seven bullets, the nation's most stringent limit. That would have put a severe limit on the sale of guns with industry standard 10-bullet magazines when the provision of the law went onto effect on April 15. "There is no such thing as a seven-bullet magazine. That doesn't exist, so you really have no practical option," Cuomo said. He told reporters that any suggestion this will be a rollback of the law is "wholly without basis." Cuomo said the state needs to allow the sale of handguns and rifles with 10-shot magazines, but New Yorkers will still be required to keep no more than seven bullets in them, except at shooting ranges and competitions. Violating the seven-bullet limit is a misdemeanor, but a violation if the magazine was in the owner's home. Cuomo minimized the cleanup now needed in the bill as addressing "ambiguities" and "grammatical errors" and routine for complex measures. They include exempting police and their weapons and allowing Hollywood to continue to film violent movies and TV shows in New York using weapons outlawed under his measure...more

Yes, just little "ambiguities" like forgetting your public law enforcement officers and then seeing all the tv and movie sets pulling up and leaving town.  No big deal.  Besides, they were in a hurry.

Although Cuomo said Wednesday that the gun bill was developed over months within his administration, it was rushed to a vote in the Legislature after closed-door negotiations on Jan. 15. Cuomo issued an order approved by the Legislature that suspends the three days' public review of all bills under the constitution.

Why the hurry?  If this is really about public safety and protecting children wouldn't you want to get it right?  Yes, but that is not what this is about.  When Cuomo runs for President expect to see ads shouting his administration passed the toughest gun law in the nation...all to protect our children.

Supreme Court Rules Logging Roads Don’t Violate Pollution Law

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with timber interests in a dispute over the regulation of runoff from logging roads in western forests. In a 7-1 vote, the court reversed a federal appeals court ruling which held that muddy water running off roads used in industrial logging is the same as any other industrial pollution, requiring a Clean Water Act permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA itself disagreed with that court ruling, and Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court that the agency’s reading of its own regulations is entitled to deference from the court. In any event, the agency has since issued a new regulation that removes any doubt that water from logging roads is the same as runoff from a farmer’s field, not industrial pollution. AP

And here is a Q&A from OPM:
Q: What was at stake in this case?
A: There are hundreds of thousands of miles of logging roads in the Northwest and some of those roads send runoff into nearby streams.
Q: So what’s the problem?
A: That fine sediment can smother fish eggs and cause problems for salmon. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has said that the Clean Water Act leaves this kind of stormwater pollution on timberland up to individual states to regulate.
The Northwest Environmental Law Center sued. It said that under the plain language of the Clean Water Act, logging road runoff is industrial pollution and the EPA has to regulate it.
Q: A lower court had sided with the environmental groups, but the Supreme Court reversed that decision. Why?
A: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act was illogical. And it had found that runoff from logging roads fit the definition of industrial stormwater pollution.
In a 7-to-1 decision the Supreme Court said that was wrong. The EPA had for 35 years interpreted the law not to apply to logging roads. And the court should defer to the EPA’s reading of its own rules.
Q: So one justice dissented in this case. Who was it?
A: It was Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices. Scalia actually agreed with the environmental groups in this case and wrote a very forceful dissent. Enough is enough, he said. According to the Clean Water Act, forest road runoff that flows through a culvert is industrial pollution. And government agencies like the EPA should follow a plain reading of the law.
Q: What are court-watchers making of this odd-bedfellows situation?
A: Allison LaPlante, Clinical Law Professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, says it’s very unusual for Scalia to side with an environmental group.
“On the one hand, it’s pretty uncommon to see Justice Scalia aligned in any way, shape or form with the environmentalists. It’s on some level, though, not surprising, because Justice Scalia is often known to advocate for a plain meaning approach to the law, which is the statute means what it says, the regulations mean what they say.”
Q: What did the other justices think of that argument?
A: Chief Justice John Roberts actually suggested he’s sympathetic to it. There is a longstanding legal precedent behind this idea of the courts deferring to government agencies when it comes to interpreting this kind of regulation. And Roberts wrote that he’d like to see more cases that challenge that issue. Here’s LaPlante again:
“Okay, the bar is now aware that their might be some interest in reconsidering this, so have at it, bring it on. It was to me clearly an invitation to litigants to bring this issue back before the court.”

$384,949 Federal Study Looks at 'Plasticity in Duck Penis Length'

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $384,949 grant to Yale University for a study on “Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia”, according to the website. The grant was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package.  The project has been receiving money from the NSF since 2009 and is slated for funding through July of this year. “In the last quarter, we have prepared a manuscript for submission on the results of the first two years of experiments on social phenotypic plasticity in duck penis length in Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck. Experiments continued on genital social phenotypic plasticity in Mandarin Duck and Laysan Teal,” a 2010 fourth quarter update on the study says. Many duck penises are cork-screw shaped and some scientists believe this is because of a form of evolution known as "sexual conflict"...more

Sequester, what sequester?  I should have titled this Big Bucks for Duck Dicks, Now how Daffy is that?

Maybe I should change DC Deep Thinkers to DC Dumb Clucks.  

On Western Lands, a Free-Market Path

Deep in the jagged heart of central Colorado lies one of the world’s most beautiful backyards: a rugged and wild quilt of national forest where elk roam and bobcats hunt. It is public land, and as the song says, made for you and me. But the rights to drill it for oil and gas belong to private companies. Stories of fiercely loved lands like this one often chart a predictable path. Residents opposed to drilling lodge protests with the government, and when that fails, they head to court. But recently, environmental advocates have begun banding together with ranchers, hunters and rich landowners with a novel tactic to preserve the landscapes of the West: they buy out their opponents. For years, conservation groups across the country have hammered out deals to preserve private ranches and old homesteads as parks and open space, rather than see them sold off to become mini-malls or subdivisions. But the federal government is the biggest landlord in the West, and one cannot simply buy a forest or mountain to keep it from being drilled. Instead, conservation groups are trying to buy the mineral leases that oil and gas companies purchase from the federal government at regular energy auctions, sometimes for as little as $2 an acre. Conservation groups pay the companies a premium to buy up the leases. Then elected officials draw up laws to ensure that nobody else will be able to drill there in the future. And the land is forever enshrined as open country, locking away whatever resources may lie beneath. The groups have had some early successes...more

Ariz. Game and Fish supports new travel management law

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously in a strike-everything ammendment to a House bill that strengthens state authority on enforcing travel management rules on federal Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. HB 2551 is supported by Sen. Chester Crandell (R-Heber), but the commissions support is contingent on changes that will be offered by the commission allowing the State of Arizona to decide which federal rules and regulations will become enforceable by state wildlife officers under state law. "As the situation currently exists, federal rules, whether created from Washington D.C. or at the individual Forest Supervisor level, can force Arizona law enforcement to enforce those rules, without appropriately consulting or involving the Arizona Game and Fish Department or the local County Sheriff's Office," Game and Fish Commission Chair Jack Husted said. The commission's support is based on its concerns that the new Forest Service travel management rules exceed science-based protection of habitat. Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles said that currently state law says that if a federal entity establishes regulations related to roads, trails, routes and closed areas, they are automatically codified by Arizona state law and if a person operates outside the parameters of the federal regulation, that individual is automatically in violation of state law.  KOLD

A state should never have a law that automatically adopts ever changing federal regs.  I've seen this before, and its all because they are too lazy to come back and amend the state law each time the federal regs change. 

Battle to legally kill wolves heats up in Olympia

A battle over whether to make it legal to kill wolves for protection is heating up in Olympia. At a hearing Wednesday, legislators heard from ranchers who say if the laws don’t change, they’ll take matters into their own hands. The ranchers and rural county officials didn’t travel to Olympia to put things lightly. “Under threat of being sued, I will make that choice to act,” said West McCart, Stevens County Commissioner. Many spoke out in support of a bill allowing ranchers to kill attacking wolves. A separate bill would add wolves to the state’s list of game animals. “The wolf is a predator,” said Ray Campbell, Okanogan County Commissioner. “It’s not a magnificent wonder of nature placed on earth for people to worship.” Legislators from the wolf-rich east side of the state are making these bills a priority. They save wolves are increasingly dangerous to livestock and humans. Several agencies, including the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, support killing the wolf for protection, saying it would not affect wolf recovery...more

Land commissioner backs Río Grande del Norte monument near Taos

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell has reiterated his support for monument designation for the Río Grande del Norte area. The 236,000-acre area in Taos and Río Arriba counties has been the focus of a number of federal efforts seeking to lend it permanent protection. Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, introduced a bill last year to create a National Conservation Area around the Río Grande Corridor, including more than 21,000 acres of wilderness around Ute Mountain and San Antonio Mountain. However, Bingaman’s legislation stalled in Congress. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, reintroduced similar legislation this year in the Senate and House. However, during a visit to Taos Feb. 16, cosponsor Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, said “gridlock” in Washington, D.C., is the biggest enemy of legislative efforts to protect the Río Grande del Norte. In light of such “gridlock,” New Mexico’s Congressional delegates and others have also appealed to President Obama to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to establish a National Monument around the Río Grande del Norte area. During his visit last month, Heinrich said he met with Obama about the idea earlier this year and came away from the meeting “very positive and optimistic.”...more

PETA killed 90% (1,600) of cats and dogs at its Virginia headquarters last year

Animal rights charity PETA killed almost 90 per cent of dogs and cats placed in the care of the shelter at its Virginia headquarters last year, it has been revealed today. The charity, well-known for attention grabbing publicity campaigns such as the 'I'd rather go naked' anti-fur campaign, euthanized 1,647 cats and dogs last year and only placed 19 in new homes according to the data submitted to the Virginia Department for Agriculture and Consumer Services. PETA told Mail Online that the animals they take in at the center are 'unadoptable', however 89.4 per cent of pets is much higher than their own approximation that half of animals taken to shelters end up being euthanized. According to the statistics 1,110 cats and 733 dogs were handed in to the charity in 2012. 22 cats and 108 dogs were transferred to another shelter, two cats and three dogs were reclaimed by their owner while 1,045 cats and 602 were euthanized. 34 cats and 7 dogs were placed under a category entitled 'Miscellaneous'...more

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Video - NM Horse slaughterhouse may soon open

NM Horse slaughterhouse may soon open

A Q&A with jaguar advocate -- and jag critical habitat opponent -- Alan Rabinowitz

“You don’t know how frustrated I am,” says Alan Rabinowitz, the world-renowned jaguar biologist and protector who opposes U.S. government designation of jaguar critical habitat in Southern Arizona. “I don’t like being on side of people fighting wildliands and wild spaces. "But the worst thing is when the other side says environmentalists will do anything to get what they want. If I don’t go by the science of this issue, that is lending credence to this argument. This is what the data shows, that this is not critical habitat.” But Rabinowitz’s critics in the environmental community say that designating at least 838,000 acres of Southern Arizona as jaguar critical habitat fits the best science, and with the Endangered Species Act’s definition of species recovery. In addition, Earth First! maintains that Rabinowitz is tainted by the fact that a mining company executive, Thomas Kaplan, is Panthera’s board chairman and helped found the group in 2006. Panthera’s web page describes Kaplan as “a passionate environmentalist and supporter of wildlife conservation.” Rabinowitz, CEO of the big cat conservation group Panthera, has spent much of his career fighting to protect a corridor for jaguars from South America into Mexico, and to create a jaguar preserve in Belize, in Central America. He hinges much of his argument against critical habitat in Arizona on his view that Arizona doesn’t have a resident jaguar population anymore. He says that if the few jaguars seen here since the 1970s were to be the last ones ever seen, it wouldn’t have a big effect on the species as a whole. He doesn’t doubt that Arizona at one time had a resident jaguar population, about a century ago. He also agrees with critical habitat supporters that it’s possible that this state could someday host a resident jaguar population, although he adds that it will probably take reintroducing of the large cats to bring that about...more

Farm Subsidies: Inexcusable Waste

March 20, 2013

Subsidies are typically economic assistance or tax benefits for businesses and industries to support their growth and limit their decline. Agriculture subsidies for farmers were introduced in the 1930s to help struggling small family farms. Today, they represent a form of corporate welfare that must be eliminated, says Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center.
  • On January 2, the same day President Obama signed the fiscal cliff deal, he also extended a 2008 farm bill another nine months that rewards wealthy dairy farmers with milk subsidies.
  • The Department of Agriculture spent $22 billion on subsidy programs in 2012, though only 2 percent of Americans are directly engaged in farming.
  • An average farm household earned $84,400 in 2010, already above the average nationwide household income.
Most subsidies go to only a handful of farmers who produce wheat, corn, soybeans, rice and cotton.
  • The Environmental Working Group reports that since 1995, just 10 percent of subsidized farms --the largest and wealthiest operations -- have raked in 74 percent of all subsidy payments.
  • Sixty-two percent of farms in the United States did not collect subsidy payments.
  • In 2011, more than $4 billion was spent on direct payments to farmers through a temporary initiative in 1996 that is still around.
  • In 2010, roughly 90,000 direct payments went to wealthy investors or absentee landowners.
Efforts to end farm subsidies have been politically unsustainable. If direct payments are eliminated, as some members of Congress are now proposing, it is likely that crop insurance will expand to compensate farmers for their loss. Crop insurance guarantees farmers against poor yields or declining prices and the government pays about 66 percent of the premiums at a cost of $7 billion annually.
  • In addition to direct payments and crop insurance, farmers also receive price support loans for marketing, conservation subsidies that pay farmers not to farm and export subsidies that aid farmers in foreign sales.
  • Subsidies are also combined with import quotas to create industries whose products are more expensive than world prices.
  • Large amounts of farm land are rented to young farmers who incur a higher cost of renting and buying due to subsidies.
Farm subsidies are a massive waste of taxpayer dollars and hurt the poor while benefiting the rich.
Source: Veronique de Rugy, "Farm Subsidies Must Die," Reason Magazine, March 12, 2013.


Song Of The Day #1043

Ranch Radio heads Out West this week with Saddle Your Bronc And Ride by Andy Parker & the Plainsmen.

Little Bear Forest Reform Coalition members calls report 'sensational'

Recent national headlines that claimed the U.S.D.A. Forest Service this year will let wildland fires burn in the name of fuels reduction and improved woodlands were tempered Monday by the Lincoln National Forest's Smokey Bear District Ranger Dave Warnack. The district ranger spoke before the Little Bear Forest Reform Coalition, a group that grew out of last year's Little Bear Fire. "I was just as concerned as everybody else was when I heard that on the news last week," Warnack said of the headlines. "I think the article was very poorly written," former hot shot crew member and Little Bear Forest Reform Coalition participant Bill Riggles said. "It was vague. They really didn't say what they were going to do. They just had that headline, 'They're going to let it burn,' which is very sensational and it didn't tell anything about how they're going to let it burn." Warnack said the Associated Press report also did not explain the process for deciding where and what kind of fire would be allowed to burn. Riggles said fires can be managed but suppression resources must be available in case something goes wrong. Warnack said he believed that was a factor in last year's Forest Service guidance to put out all fires. "Because there was such a significant fire season across the west the chief said we're not going to entertain all of these managed fires across the landscapes because the resources just aren't available in case one of them goes gunny sack," Warnack told the coalition. Warnack said he researched last May's Wildfire Guidance letter to try to understand the new headline of letting fires burn...more

Wildfire Today posted this on March 14:

We wrote on March 10 that according to a February directive titled “Wildland Fire Response Protocol”, Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, changed the policy on “fire use” this year, to make it easier to use a less than aggressive suppression strategy on wildfires. In 2012 a two-page letter from Jim Hubbard, their Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry, required that any fire strategy having fire use or restoration as one of the objectives must first be approved by a Regional Forester, due to a shortage of firefighting resources.

In an undated statement on the USFS web site that appears to have been posted on March 13, 2013 (the articles before and after were both dated March 13), Chief Tidwell said their fire policy has not changed, just their “guidance”:
Statement from U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on wildland fire policy
 The federal wildland fire policy has not changed since 1995. Neither the direction issued last year nor my letter this year represented a shift in Forest Service policy for fighting fires. We always look at the conditions that exist around each fire season, our available resources, and then provide guidance to the field. It takes resources to suppress fires, and to manage them for resource benefits. We do have a set amount of expertise in this country but when we get a wildfire season like we did last year, we have to take some steps to manage just how much fire we can have on the landscape. So last year we asked forests to elevate decisions on wildfires to the regional forester. Based on this year’s projections, we no longer see that as a necessary step at this time.

But, go back and read the original AP Story:

After coming in $400 million over budget following last year's busy fire season, the Forest Service is altering its approach and may let more fires burn instead of attacking every one. The move, quietly made in a letter late last month by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, brings the agency more in line with the National Parks Service and back to what it had done until last year. It also answers critics who said the agency wasted money and endangered firefighters by battling fires in remote areas that posed little or no danger to property or critical habitat. Tidwell played down the change, saying it's simply an "evolution of the science and the expertise" that has led to more emphasis on pre-fire planning and managed burns, which involve purposely setting fires to eliminate dead trees and other fuels that could help a wildfire quickly spread. "We have to be able to structure (fire management) this way to help all of us," Tidwell told The Associated Press. "So that we're thinking about the right things when we make these decisions."  The more aggressive approach instituted last year was prompted by fears that fires left unchecked would quickly devour large swaths of the drought-stricken West, Tidwell said. New Mexico and Colorado reported record fire seasons in 2012, and with dry conditions remaining in much of the region 2013 could be another bad year in the West.

So, the wildland fire policy has "not changed since 1995", yet somehow there is an "evolution of the science and the expertise."  I always though if something evolved it had changed. Anyway, the 1995 policy says "Wildland fire, as a critical natural process, must be reintroduced into the ecosystem."  The confusion seems to be over the language in the 2012 Hubbard memo saying, "safe aggressive initial attack is often the best suppression strategy to keep unwanted  wildfires small and less costly."   Notice it says unwanted.

Apparently we have a 1995 policy, which hasn't changed.  But the FS issues annual guidance in relation to the policy, which has changed back and forth the last two years.  Go here for the most recent "guidance".  Now isn't all that clear as a bell?

I think we may have a situation of either:

° sloppy reporting, where the reporter doesn't understand "governmentese"
° poor communication by the Forest Service, or
° A Chief covering his tracks or responding to political pressure

Personally, I would bet its a combination of the first two.  Right or wrong, I know the whole damn thing has given me a headache.

Finally, even though this is not an election year like 2012, if the West starts burning up watch for some revised guidance.

Jaguars, Ranchers, Loggers and Bureaucrats

Last summer, Mexican rancher Abner Rios noticed a curious thing. Cows that were ready to give birth wandered off only to come back from pasture alone. “We began to notice that pregnant cattle were not returning with calves,” Rios told FNS. Months later, Rios estimated he had lost ten calves while his neighbors in the Costa Grande region of southern Guerrero state counted many others missing. A prime suspect in the mystery: Panthera onca, the majestic jaguar of Mesoamerican lore and legend. Also a veterinarian by trade, Rios has seen the elusive cat, which is classified as an endangered and protected species in Mexico. He first spotted a large black specimen in the wild more than a decade ago. “We thought they were extinct, and I thought it would be the last one I saw, but there would be one more,” Rios said, adding that he recently observed what appeared to be a young jaguar. Together with other rural residents, Rios and his sister Yadira reached out to authorities who might trap and remove any animal with a taste for beef. That’s when the frustration began, according to the siblings. Reconstructing a bureaucratic maze, Yadira Rios described a ping-pong like journey that had her bouncing between local, state and federal environmental offices, with one official disclaiming authority over the matter and directing her to the next one who would tell a similar story. “There are dozens of institutions dedicated to environmental protection,” Rios said. “How is it that not one of them acts?” By the end of last year, the Costa Grande ranchers were restive. In a New Year’s Eve letter sent to the federal Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) and the Federal Attorney General for Environmental Protection (Profepa), residents reiterated their wish to have a cattle-killing jaguar safely removed but warned that continued governmental inaction could lead to a less desirable solution.

Idaho House panel agrees to study public land transfer

State lawmakers officially began their efforts Tuesday to wrest control from the federal government millions of acres of public forest, backcountry and rangelands across the state. The House State Affairs Committee voted along party lines in support of a resolution that demands the federal government transfer ownership of about 35 million acres now overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies. Republican proponents insist the state can do a better job as stewards of the land, reducing the size and damage caused by summer wildfires and earn significantly more revenue from those lands with oversight of industries looking to cut timber, mine or graze Idaho's vast inventory of public acreage. Rep. Lawerence Denney, the plan's chief sponsor, said the time has come for Idaho to assume a bigger role as landlord, even if it brings increased costs and administrative responsibility. The committee also signed off on a separate resolution that calls for appointing a panel of lawmakers to spend the summer months studying all aspects, costs and potential benefits and pitfalls of a future handover of federal lands. Both measures are headed to the House for more debate. Idaho's model for ownership change mirrors legislation adopted in Utah a year ago that demanded that the federal government surrender control over 20 million acres of federal land in that state by 2014. Should the government ignore the deadline, Utah lawmakers spearheading the issue say they are poised to make their case in court that federal officials long ago reneged on a constitutional pledge to relinquish control of federal landholdings in each state...more

Professor offers unique wolf proposal

The question is as intriguing as wolves are controversial in Northeast Oregon. Would paying ranchers a meaningful sum for each wolf on their land make them more willing to accept the growing presence of wolves in this region? Peter Maille, an assistant professor of economics at Eastern Oregon University, posed this question Friday during a presentation in La Grande, “Rethinking the rancher-wolf relationship in Northeast Oregon.” Maille believes that the possibility of paying ranchers for their wolves should at least be examined in light of what the predator, whose numbers are growing in Northeast Oregon, costs ranchers. “Wolves are costly to ranchers in more than lost cattle and other livestock. There are indirect costs,” the economics professor said. The indirect costs are significant. They include lower conception rates among livestock and slower weight gain because of the stress animals being harassed by wolves experience. Maille said the preliminary results of one university study indicate the indirect costs ranchers encounter because of wolves may be many times greater than the cost of losing livestock to wolf kills. Wolves unquestionably hurt ranchers but they should not be discounted as harmful to the region overall for they offer potential benefits, Maille said. For example, they could conceivably boost tourism and may improve riparian habitat. Wolves, according to some studies, boost riparian areas by keeping deer and elk moving, preventing them from spending too much time consuming vegetation near streams. Such benefits theoretically could be boosted in at least a small way if ranchers became more accepting of wolves through a program which compensated them for the wolves on their property, Maille said...more

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Mexico's water crisis forces tough choice for Carlsbad Irrigation District

A bill that would have averted a priority water call on junior water right holders in the Lower Pecos River Basin failed to pass in the waning hours of the legislative session that ended Saturday. Senate Bill 462, co-sponsored by Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Eddy and Lea, and Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Eddy, would have provided $2.5 million to the Carlsbad Irrigation District farmers, who say they are not getting the water they are entitled to, but the junior right water right owners are pumping their maximum. With the failure of the bill's inclusion in the state's budget, CID leaders have to decide whether the district will carry out its threat to issue a priority call. The call would shut down agriculture wells in North Eddy County and Chaves County to give senior water right holders in the CID their rightful amount of water. The CID Board of Directors will meet April 2 to decide the agency's course of action. According to the State Engineer's website, a priority call means a temporary curtailment of junior water rights in times of water shortage, so that more senior water rights can be served by the available water supply. Senior water rights are those held by the first water users to "put the water to beneficial use" in the state. Under the state constitution, senior water rights have priority over junior water rights...more

Undocumented Immigrant Deaths Spike At Border

Crossing the border may be more dangerous than ever before. A study released Tuesday, by The National Foundation for American Policy suggests an immigrant attempting to cross illegally into the United States is eight times more likely to die in the attempt than a decade ago. In 2012, immigrant deaths rose by 27 percent to 477 individuals. This number is the second highest in more than a decade. The figures obtained by the U.S. Border Patrol show a rise in deaths over time, despite the significant decline in the numbers of immigrants crossing the border. Border apprehensions, are a measurement to determine how many individuals are attempting to cross illegally. Comparing the number of apprehensions with the number of immigrant deaths illustrates the sharp increase in fatalities along the border...more

“Between FY 1999 and FY 2012, immigrant deaths increased by more than 80 percent at the same time apprehensions, a measure of illegal entry, declined by 77 percent.” Credit: National Foundation for American Policy
“Between FY 1999 and FY 2012, immigrant deaths increased by more than 80 percent at the same time apprehensions, a measure of illegal entry, declined by 77 percent.” Credit: National Foundation for American Policy

Song Of The Day #1043

The computer was in Ranch Radio's sick pen yesterday, so we missed Swingin' Monday.  We're back on the trail today and cravin' some gypsy swing.  Here's John Jorgenson with Swing Junction.

The myth behind Meatless Mondays

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. "Meatless Mondays has become huge, and the overall message becomes, ‘Yes, you can drive your Hummer if you don’t eat that burger. I do not say that we should do nothing about climate change, but there are 330-million people in the US. If they all go meatless on Monday, it would cut the US’s total emissions by less than a third of a percent. We need to understand how eating a burger compares with the other things we do." The US has the world’s highest per-capita emissions and its second-highest output of greenhouse gas emissions, at 5,461,014 tons or 18.27% of the global total, as estimated by the United Nations. Meat, however, will not disappear from plates, says Capper. "There are 7-billion people on the planet now, and there will be 9.5-billion in 40 years time. Also, consumers in the developing world will have more income, and when that happens people want more meat, eggs and dairy in their diet. We will want 70% more food than we are producing now." Put simply, there is not enough land to produce all that food unless production is made more efficient, and that, says Capper, is where technology comes in. Technology has, in one way or another, made milk and beef production more efficient and environmentally friendly, with the dairy industry’s carbon footprint for every kilogram of milk down 63% in 2007 from 1944, and the beef industry’s dipping 16% since 1977, according to calculations by Capper and her postdoctoral supervisor at Cornell University. "Why is it that technology is seen as good elsewhere, but bad when it comes to food?"  How about this one: a 220g steak from an animal given a hormone implant contains 42% more oestrogen than a steak from a nonimplanted animal — 5.1 nanograms to be exact. Capper explains that one nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. By contrast, one birth-control pill, taken daily by more than 100-million women worldwide, contains 35,000 nanograms of oestrogen...more

Export-Import Bank subsidizing exports of green energy technology

The Export-Import Bank’s involvement in the green energy sector has renewed criticisms of the program and rallied defenders to its side. The Export-Import Bank of the United States, typically referred to as Ex-Im, helps finance the export of American goods into foreign markets in support of American jobs, according to its website and charter. The bank financed $355.5 million for renewable energy in fiscal year 2012, down from $721 million in 2011, according to data provided by the bank. The bank financed almost $36 billion total in fiscal year 2012. Critics of the bank say the experience of two solar energy companies illustrates how politics unfairly props up connected industries. First Solar cut 2,000 jobs and announced a factory closure last April. Just a few months later, the federal government financed a deal between the struggling solar panel manufacturer and two Indian companies wanting to buy First Solar’s products. SolarWorld is another struggling solar panel manufacturer that received financing from the bank. SolarWorld announced layoffs and the closure of one of its manufacturing plants at the beginning of September 2011. The company benefitted from an $18.9 million dollar loan to an Indian company to support its purchase of its solar panels at the end of the month. The green energy sector has struggled with high costs and strong competition from overseas despite generous help from the Obama administration. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s William Yeatman said solar panel manufacturers were the worst performers in the Department of Energy’s 1705 loan guarantee program, part of the 2009 stimulus. Both SolarWorld and First Solar received stimulus money...more

School bans homemade snacks, hugs

Don’t hug. Don’t hand out birthday party invitations. And definitely don’t bring in any homemade snacks. The Huffington Post reports those are among the new policies put in place at one public elementary school in Maryland — the same state that just made national headlines for a school suspension of a 7-year-old who nibbled his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. All parents, visitors and students to St. Mary’s County schools are required to abide the policy. The policy reads, as Huffington Post reports: Birthday party invitation distribution is banned at school because students who aren’t on the list could get their feelings hurt. Foods brought in for parties and celebrations should be store-bought so children with allergies can double-check the ingredients. And parents should not hug any children other than their own — or walk with their kids when they leave the cafeteria. Visitors must also sign in at the front desk — and get photographed. And parents aren’t allowed any longer to walk up to teachers and request meetings, Huffington Post says. Ostensibly, all meetings with teachers must be schedule by email or telephone. WTimes

Harry Reid shoots down Feinstein gun-ban bill

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on Monday that a controversial assault weapons ban will not be part of a Democratic gun bill that was expected to reach the Senate floor next month. After a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday, a frustrated Feinstein said she learned that the bill she sponsored — which bans 157 different models of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill to be offered on the Senate floor. Instead, it can be offered as an amendment. But its exclusion from the package makes what was already an uphill battle an almost certain defeat. “My understanding is it will not be [part of the base bill],” Feinstein said. “It will be separate.” Asked if she were concerned about the decision, Feinstein paused and said, “Sure. I would like to [see the bill moved], but the leader has decided not to do it.” “You will have to ask him [Reid],” she said, when asked why the decision was made...more

$1M pilot project in NM aims to take out feral pigs

Bill Humphries
Ray Powell
 Using the cover of darkness, feral pigs have learned to outsmart even the most seasoned hunters as they set about on their nightly terrors, rooting up crops and suburban gardens, harassing native wildlife and turning watering holes into pigsties. The invasive porkers have made themselves at home across more than three quarters of the U.S. and are responsible for an estimated $1.5 billion in damages each year. Most worrisome is their ability to learn from each encounter with a frustrated human. Ask anyone who has had a run-in with feral pigs. The conversation always circles back to intelligence. "They're much brighter than I am," said Ray Powell, a veterinarian and New Mexico's land commissioner. "If they had the dexterity, they'd be driving vehicles around. I mean these guys are really smart." Feral pigs have already taken over Texas and are expanding their numbers in other states, but federal and state land managers think they have a chance to tip the balance in New Mexico. They're willing to bet $1 million in federal funds on a yearlong pilot project aimed at eradicating the pigs and using what they learn here to keep them from gaining a foothold elsewhere. A small army of state and federal employees has been trained to stalk, trap and kill New Mexico's feral pigs. Various techniques have been used by wildlife managers and landowners for decades in the fight against feral swine, but the New Mexico team is focusing on determining what combination works best in which circumstances and how effectively helicopters can be to track the pigs across vast landscapes. The wild pig population in the U.S. has ballooned to more than 5 million. In one year alone, federal managers trapped and killed more than 32,000 pigs from 28 states and collected thousands of samples to check for the nearly three dozen diseases feral pigs are capable of carrying and passing on to humans, livestock and other wildlife. New Mexico is embarking on its third straight year of drought, water supplies have dipped to record lows, farmers and ranchers are struggling, and there are now signs of feral swine in 22 of the state's 33 counties. "Here, it's a new problem," said Quay County farmer Donnie Bidegain, who has seen pig numbers in his area grow from zero to nearly 300 over the last two years. "You research, read stuff on the Internet and watch videos of how other guys are trying to do it. It's almost like you have to stalk them for two months before you figure out how they operate." Bidegain has to watch for big potholes left behind by the pigs to keep from damaging his tractor. Nearby, Quay County rancher Bill Humphries said the pigs were responsible for leaving "bomb craters everywhere" along a quarter-mile stretch of road on his family ranch. On other ranches, pigs have learned to break the floats in stock tanks to keep water flowing for their mud baths. Feral pigs are also moving into southeastern New Mexico, where the federal government has been trying to boost the number of sand dune lizards and lesser prairie chickens. Both are on the menu for pigs...more

Looky there, two NM Land Commissioners in the same article.  Former Commissioner Humphries who's ranch is being torn up and current Land Commissioner Powell who is trying to help him and other ag producers across the state.  Powell has also been instrumental in pushing for reasonable alternatives to outright listing of endangered species, so I'm sure the last two sentences are important to him.