Friday, March 29, 2013


Rap Battle - Babe Ruth vs Lance Armstrong

FBI ‘flying saucers’ N.M. memo bureau’s most viewed

A single-page FBI memo relaying a vague and unconfirmed report of flying saucers found in New Mexico in 1950 has become the most popular file in the bureau’s electronic reading room. The memo, dated March 22, 1950, was sent by FBI Washington, D.C.- field office chief Guy Hottel to then-Director J. Edgar Hoover. According to the FBI, the document was first made public in the late 1970s and more recently has been available in the “Vault,” an electronic reading room launched by the agency in 2011, where it has become the most popular item, viewed nearly 1 million times. The Vault contains around 6,700 public documents. Vaguely written, the memo describes a story told by an unnamed third party who claims an Air Force investigator reported that three flying saucers were recovered in New Mexico, though the memo doesn’t say exactly where in the state. The FBI indexed the report for its files but did not investigate further; the name of an “informant” reporting some of the information is blacked out in the memo. The memo offers several bizarre details. Inside each saucer, “each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture,” according to the report. “Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed fliers and test pilots.”...more

Homeland Security buying pricey ammo as department-wide cuts take hold

The Department of Homeland Security is spending more and more on pricey hollow-point bullets for law-enforcement officers -- even as it plans to enforce furloughs and other cuts on Customs and Border Protection employees due to sequestration. The Department of Homeland Security plans to buy more than 1.6 billion rounds over the next five years for training and on-duty purposes. They cite the numerous law enforcement agencies contained within the department with employees who carry weapons. But the purchases have led to criticism that the agency is spending money on bullets that can cost twice as much as regular ammo -- and questions over whether those bullets are really needed for training purposes. "Obviously you want to know how a hollow point is going to cycle through your weapon," Scott McCurley, manager for Maryland-based Horst and McCann firing range and a former soldier for the U.S. Army, told "But I don't think there's much of a difference when training. One box of rounds per gun is enough. The cost outweighs the purpose." It's unclear how many of the total rounds sought would be hollow-point, but a recent solicitation specifically called for 360,000 rounds of hollow-point bullets. "With more than 100,000 armed law enforcement personnel in DHS, significant quantities of ammunition are used to support law enforcement operations, quarterly qualifications, and training, to include advanced firearms training exercises," the department said...more

Bullets fly off store shelves over purchase limit fears

The caller wanted to know whether Lloyd Cook had any 9 mm ammunition in stock. “I asked him how much did he want,” said Cook, owner of an Independence gun range, “and he said, ‘All of it.’” Across the country, bullets are flying off store shelves as people stockpile ammunition. The big question: Why? “There is no good answer for this,” said Kevin Jamison, a Gladstone lawyer and spokesman for the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance. “Panic buying seems to account for some of the shortage, but I don’t believe it can be all of it.” Some point to concerns that the government might limit ammo purchases in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Others blame the Department of Homeland Security, which has a big purchase in the works. The rush to buy isn’t rational, said Larry Swickard, a member of the Western Missouri alliance. “But it seems to be having a ripple effect in that when people see a significant number of people buying up all the ammo they can find, they follow suit for fear of being left out with none for themselves,” Swickard said. Before Christmas, Cook said, you could buy a brick of .22s — 500 rounds — for $18. “Now I’m hearing people paying $60 or $70 for one,” he said. Retailers still can’t keep those small-caliber bullets in stock. “We haven’t got any .22 calibers — we’re out,” Cook said. “I don’t know who has any. Anytime anyone gets some, customers buy ’em up within a day.” Wal-Mart stores are limiting sales to three boxes per customer per day. The amount of ammunition in each box varies by caliber, a Wal-Mart spokesman said, such as a 25-count box for 9 mm bullets and a 50-round box of .45s. At Blue Steel Guns & Ammunition in Raytown, the ammo truck rolls into the parking lot on Fridays. Last week, a crowd of customers was waiting for the shipment, and all 60 boxes of .22-caliber and 9 mm ammunition — thousands of rounds — were gone in 18 minutes...more

Conservative, DC-based website goes after Heinrich

Getting elected the U.S. Senate has increased the profile of Martin Heinrich but it’s also attracted attention from a conservative website with a national audience. The Daily Caller, which is based in Washington D.C. and founded by pundit Tucker Carlson, has posted a story about Sen. Heinrich with the headline: Democratic New Mexico senator worked closely with convicted eco-terrorist...

The Westerner linked to the Daily Caller article here.

Back in 2008, when Heinrich first ran for Congress, the Albuquerque Journal looked into the issue:
Foreman helped found the radical environmental group Earth First! in the 1980s. But Heinrich said he never condoned that group’s methods.

    “There have been times when even on that board we argued very different approaches on how to do things. I think I had a relatively beneficial impact on them in taking a very mainstream approach.”

    Heinrich prefers to call himself a “conservationist” rather than environmentalist.

    “I’ll be the first to fault some environmental organizations for not being good compromisers,” he said, “for not getting what they want done by reaching out to people who are different.”
Let's hope the Senator is still willing to reach out to folks who are "different".  My recollection of his service on the House Resources committee is that he did the bidding of the environmental community.  By that I mean him taking the leadership in proposing an Omnibus Public Lands bill, and even voting against hunters being able to use a simple game cart  in a Wilderness area.  The  enviros were appreciative of his efforts:

The Daily Caller story reported that the Sierra Club spent $2 million in negative ads against Wilson and that the “League of Conservation Voters was Heinrich’s largest campaign contributor during the 2012 election cycle, donating $154,374.”

Will Senator Heinrich reach over or around the enviros to other groups?  Time will tell.

Ranchers fear expanding scope of ESA

The federal government wants to clarify the Endangered Species Act with two upcoming policy changes that ranching interests fear will greatly increase the law's scope. In both cases, the Obama administration is attempting to resolve legal disputes over language in the act -- and appears to side with arguments that would interpret its authority more broadly. Ranchers would be affected by a more expansive understanding of the ESA's scope, as many rely on public lands for grazing and own property potentially inhabited by protected species. The combined effect of the policies would be to subject more land to ESA restrictions while relieving the government from considering the law's full economic impact, according to rancher advocates. The first policy deals with how the government deals with a species that faces varying levels of danger across its range. Under the ESA, protections are extended to a species that is endangered or threatened "throughout all or a significant portion of its range." The Bush administration understood the law to mean that protections may only apply to the "significant portion" where the species is threatened or endangered, not to areas where it's healthy. However, two federal judges disagreed with that approach because it excluded some members of a listed species from ESA protection. The Obama administration withdrew the previous policy and has proposed a replacement to resolve "tensions and ambiguities" in the law. The proposed policy states that if the viability of a species is at risk in a significant portion of its range, protections will apply across all of its range. One practical effect of the new policy will be to open more of the landscape to designation as "critical habitat," said Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney who represents ranchers and other natural resource industries. "It will be more designations and bigger designations," she said...more

FAA on 'Drone Zone' Locations: Nothing Is Ruled Out

Drone tests may soon be carried out over a city near you. In response to Breitbart News queries about the limitations on the location of so-called “drone zones” – zones specifically designated to test commercial and military drones under Federal Aviation Administration regulations – FAA Pacific Division Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor told Breitbart News, “I don’t believe anything is ruled out.” This means that even heavily populated areas will be considered for possible drone zones. Gregor added, “The Congressional mandate states the FAA must consider ‘geographic and climatic diversity’ and ‘the location of ground infrastructure and research needs’ in selecting [unmanned aircraft system (UAS)] test sites ... The FAA does not believe the planned test sites need to be identical. It is possible that the size of the sites as well as the research work performed will vary from site to site.”...more

EPA Forces Man to Spend $200K to Expand Lake, Doesn't Grant Permit To Do It

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has launched a new campaign called "Victims of Government" that details how onerous government has destroyed people's lives. To launch the effort Senator Johnson posted a video yesterday in which he describes the plight of Stephen Lathrop from Granite City, Illinois. According to a letter from Senator Johnson and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to the Army Corps of Engineers, Mr. Lathrop's town has a severe flooding problem that the Army Corps of Engineers was ordered to fix in 1965 but never did. In light of this, Mr. Lathrop decided to buy a local dump, invest $100,000 of his own money, and build a lake to alleviate the flooding in his neighborhood. That's when the trouble started. Shortly after Mr. Lathrop built his lake, the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the dump he had put the lake on was a "wetland" according to the Clean Water Act and he would have to drain the lake. When Mr. Lathrop couldn't afford to do that the Corp referred him to the EPA for prosecution. While this was going on another incident of sever flooding occurred in the area. Granite City and its outlying areas were flooded and declared a disaster area by the federal government. However, Mr. Lathrop's lake prevented the same thing from happening to his neighborhood...more

Feds Spending $880,000 to Study Benefits of Snail Sex

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant for $876,752 to the University of Iowa to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails and whether that explains why any organism has sex. The study, first funded in 2011 and continuing until 2015, will study the New Zealand snails to see if it is better that they reproduce sexually or asexually – the snail can do both – hoping to gain insight on why so many organisms practice sexual reproduction. So far, the grant has paid out $502,357, according to NSF, and could pay out the full $880,000 between now and 2015. The study is funded through what NSF calls a continuing grant meaning that it agrees with the researcher to fund a certain amount, but can end up spending more on the grant if NSF agrees that more money is warranted...more Time to sequester some snails.

EPA to unveil plan to clean up tailpipe pollution that critics say would raise gas prices

The White House is planning to unveil a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to clean up gasoline and automobile emissions, a plan officials say will lead to cleaner air but also higher gas prices. The so-called Tier 3 standards would reduce sulfur in gasoline by more than 60 percent and reduce nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, by expanding across the country a standard already in place in California. It would go into effect in 2017. The oil industry, Republicans and some Democrats have pressed the EPA to delay the rule, saying it would be unwise to impose such a standard while many are still struggling in a bad economy. An oil industry study says the rule could increase gasoline prices by 6 to 9 cents per gallon. The EPA says the potential increase in gas prices would be slight, estimating the rules could increase gas prices by less than a penny per gallon and add $130 to the cost of a vehicle in 2025. Additionally, the agency argues the plan will yield billions of dollars in health benefits by slashing smog- and soot-forming pollution come 2030...more

Renewed interest in heirloom cattle from Florida

An ancient and hearty breed of cattle from Florida could be your next healthy meal. Known as Cracker Cattle, they are descendants of animals that arrived in Florida with Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521. While little-known outside the Sunshine State, ranchers say the cattle are experiencing a renaissance of sorts in Florida, mostly because the animals are easy to care for and less expensive to maintain than other breeds. They seem to be made for Florida's harsh terrain: they thrive on low-quality grass and in hot, humid and swampy climates. They were dubbed "Cracker" cattle after the nickname for the state's earliest settlers who cracked whips to drive the cows. "At one point, they ran feral in Florida, well into the forties," said Dr. William Broussard, who owns the state's largest Cracker Cattle herd at his ranch in St. Cloud. "They had to adapt." There's also a renewed interest in the cattle due to the state's celebration of its 500th anniversary. Although the cattle did not arrive on Florida shores during the Spanish explorer's first voyage in 1513, they were brought by de Leon on his second voyage to the new world. Historians say de Leon brought a small herd of Andalusian cattle from Spain with him, but when the Calusa Indians forced de Leon back to his ship, the cattle didn't follow. They are believed to have run wild into the swamps around de Leon's landing site south of present-day Fort Myers, according to Stephen Monroe, Florida's Cracker Cattle expert for the Department of Agriculture. Similar events happened on Florida's Panhandle in 1540, and when St. Augustine was founded in 1565, some 200 calves were shipped there to help feed soldiers. Soon after Jesuit and Franciscan friars began large-scale ranching, said Broussard, who is a 10th generation cattleman whose family raised cattle in Louisiana. "Large scale ranching was invented in Florida, not Texas," he said...more

Thursday, March 28, 2013

John Stossel tonight - Green Tyranny (9PM ET on FBN)

Tyranny is the stuff of dictatorships. We call this week's show "Green Tyranny" because government's regulations always go too far. At first, the EPA did good things. Environmental standards brought us cleaner air and water. Then government should have said, "stick a fork in it! It's done." But government never does. It just spends more and more. The Endangered Species Act seemed like a good idea. But now, Jim Burling from the Pacific Legal Foundation, says the ESA puts animals, like prairie dogs and frogs, above the interests of the people. Europe has spent billions to support "green" energy, but Bjorn Lomborg points out that Germany and Spain are now cutting back. Then, he debates Brian Wynne, the President of an electric car lobbying group (The Electric Drive Transportation Association). Celebs' like Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio jumped on the electric car bandwagon - but are electric cars really all that green? Lomborg doesn't think so. My mayor, Michael Bloomberg, now wants yet another ban-Styrofoam. He says it's "environmentally destructive." But Angela Logomasini, from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, argues that banning foam products hurts consumers without helping the environment. Science writer, Matt Ridley, argues that fossil fuels are actually good for the environment. Finally, a debate on global warming. If you can even call it that - We asked a dozen scientists who are concerned about man causing global warming to debate Roy Spencer, a skeptical climatologist at the University of Alabama. Most refused. Gavin Schmidt, a NASA scientist, was willing to talk, as long as it was not a debate. We found a weird compromise.  John Stossel

And from PLF:

Tonight’s show will highlight two cases of abuse that PLF is challenging:

Feds pit prairie dogs against people.  In Cedar City, Utah, residents are overwhelmed with an infestation of prairie dogs digging up yards and parks, blocking development of land, and threatening the health of the community — yet federal officials won’t permit commonsense control measures, because they’ve labeled the rodents as “threatened.”
Feds grab private land for a phantom frog.  In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, federal officials have imposed restrictions on more than 1,500 acres of private property by labeling the land as “critical habitat” for the dusky gopher frogeven though there aren’t any frogs on the property.  In fact, there aren’t any dusky gopher frogs in the entire state!

Mexican vigilantes seize town, arrest police

Hundreds of armed vigilantes have taken control of a town on a major highway in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, arresting local police officers and searching homes after a vigilante leader was killed. Several opened fire on a car of Mexican tourists headed to the beach for Easter week. Members of the area's self-described "community police" say more than 1,500 members of the force were stopping traffic Wednesday at improvised checkpoints in the town of Tierra Colorado, which sits on the highway connecting Mexico City to Acapulco. They arrested 12 police and the former director of public security in the town after a leader of the state's vigilante movement was slain on Monday. A tourist heading to the beach with relatives was slightly wounded Tuesday after they refused to stop at a roadblock and vigilantes fired shots at their car, officials said...more

Mexican immigrant scales 18-foot fence and jumps across US border – just a few yards away from four US senators who were on a fact-finding tour

Mexican immigrants illegally enter the United States every day, often scaling 18-foot-tall fences in the hope of finding work or, in some cases, trafficking drugs. But one woman picked the wrong day and the wrong place to cross over, jumping into America just a few yards away from four US senators who were visiting the Arizona border as part of a fact-finding tour. Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Democrat Michael Bennet of Utah and Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York were near the town of Nogales when the illegal immigrant made her mad dash and ended up in the waiting arms of US Customs and Border Patrol officers. McCain tweeted the surprising event Wednesday afternoon. 'Just witnessed a woman successfully climb an 18-ft bollard fence a few yards from us in #Nogales,' he wrote. 'Border Patrol successfully apprehended her, but incident is another reminder that threats to our border security are real.'...more

Drug war's toll in Mexico is guesswork as bodies vanish

REYNOSA, Mexico - Heavy gunfire echoed along the main thoroughfare and across several neighborhoods for hours, leaving burned vehicles scattered across the border city. Social media exploded with reports of dozens dead. Witnesses saw at least 12. But the hours of intense gunfights in Reynosa on March 10 gave way to an official body count the next day of a head-scratching two. The men who handle the city's dead insist the real figure is upward of 35, likely even more than 50. Ask where those bodies are and they avert their eyes and shift in their seats. Drug cartel members, they say, are retrieving and burying their casualties. "Physically, there are no bodies," said Ramon Martinez, director of Funerales San Jose in Reynosa, who put the toll at 40 to 50. If Reynosa is an example, even the government can't count how many are dying. The Felipe Calderón government stopped counting in September 2011...more

Mexico: 67 Journalist Killed & 14 Missing, Since 2006

As Mexico's drug cartels fight for dominance, reporters have fallen victim to physical threats, even murder. Testifying last summer, a special prosecutor said 67 Mexican journalists were killed since 2006, making them among the most targeted reporters in the world. Another 14 disappeared. Under the new president, the attacks appear to have increased. They’ve even led to news blackouts along the border. The Committee to Protect Journalists has consistently named Mexico as one of the deadliest places in the world for reporters. Carlos Lauria runs the organization’s Latin America program. "Many reporters and media are cowing to silence because they fear reprisal from organized crime and corrupt public officials," Lauria said. In the last two months, a newspaper and a television station in Ciudad Juárez were attacked in drive-by shootings. A reporter in the border town of Ojinaga was gunned down. Then five employees of a Coahuila news agency were kidnapped. Threats were spelled out on banners along a highway. The news agency announced it will no longer cover organized crime. In Reynosa, a gunfight reportedly happened with as many as 30 dead. The only account was in a U.S. newspaper. To the CPJ’s Lauria, the pattern is simple: Those trying to stop newsgathering, are winning...more

Agents Warn Budget Cuts Will Leave the Border Unprotected

While Homeland Security officials stick to their claim that the border is as "secure as it’s ever been," this week the Border Patrol effectively cut some 4,000 agents from its force due to budget cuts — 20 percent of its total manpower. The cuts, meant to close a $250 million shortfall due to “sequestration,” forced Border Patrol brass to make some tough choices. One option included putting agents on furlough two days a month — but agency administrators instead opted to eliminate overtime, according to Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council. While the overtime cuts could be seen as inconsequential, agents insisted it’s actually quite a blow. In many border areas, agents don't actually live in the immediate border region. They drive from home to headquarters, which in Tucson is more than an hour from the border, about the same as in San Diego. For agents in Casa Grande, Arizona, the commute is closer to 2 hours. For the agency, the drive time is treated as overtime, thus allowing line agents to put in a full eight-hour shift actually patrolling the border. However, effective April 7, agents will be forced to leave the border after a five- or six-hour shift in order to make it back under the mandated eight hours. Agents said the down side will be that areas of the border will be left unprotected for hours at a time. "This is best thing that could happen to smugglers and coyotes and drug smuggling organizations,” said Moran. “They already know the border patrol is looking at staffing cuts.” In some sectors, managers will increase the number of shifts to cover the overtime cuts, but they recognized that will mean fewer agents on patrol. In Arizona, elimination of overtime equates to 700 fewer agents on a daily basis — nationwide it’s 3,000 to 4,000...more

Western environmentalists oppose wolf delisting

Western environmental groups say they're alarmed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a plan to end federal protections for gray wolves in vast areas where the animals no longer exist. The groups say ending federal protections would keep wolves from expanding their range back into states that could support them, including Colorado and California. The Fish and Wildlife Service could announce as soon as this spring whether it will propose a blanket delisting of wolves in most of the lower 48 states. Wolves in the Northern Rockies and around the Great Lakes, where reintroduced populations are well-established, are already off the Endangered Species List. Chris Tollefson, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC, said Tuesday that the agency hasn't made any decision yet whether it will propose the blanket delisting. An agency report last year proposed dropping wolves from the endangered list in most areas where they're known not to live. Even if the Fish and Wildlife Service ends federal protections, Tollefson said states would be free to cultivate their own wolf populations. "It's fair to say that there wouldn't be a prohibition, it would simply be left to the states to determine how to manage wolves in their boundaries," he said. Tollefson said his agency regards the wolf recovery efforts in the Great Lakes states and Northern Rockies as enormous successes. "Our view, and that of the biological community is that those populations are thriving and no longer require the protections of the Endangered Species Act," Tollefson said. "Obviously, we'll be discussing other areas as we move forward on that."...more

Most grizzlies still in mountain dens; long-term, Front bears appear to be emerging sooner

Most grizzly bears along the Rocky Mountain Front remain in their dens, which is typical for late March, but over the long-term, grizzlies seem to be emerging sooner due to warmer and drier weather, according to a bear specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “I’ve been here long enough to be able to see it does appear to me bears in general are emerging earlier and earlier,” FWP’s Mike Madel said. Madel took a flight from the Sun River to Glacier National Park searching for signals from radio-collared bears Tuesday. During the flights, which are conducted every two weeks, bear researchers collect information on home ranges, habitat use patterns and survival and reproduction necessary to move the grizzly bear, currently designated as threatened, toward delisting. At this time of year, residents always are eager to know whether grizzlies are out of their dens, Madel said. “I would say the majority of the bears are still in their dens or still back in those mountainous environments,” Madel said. Madel picked up signals from six radio-collared females but no male grizzly bears. Of the six radio-collared females, four still were in the dens and signals from two were picked up very close to the dens. It’s typical for bears to spend five to 10 days near the dens when they first emerge lethargic, Madel said...more

Western News Roundup

Another Colorado lawmaker receives threats over gun debate, man arrested

Colorado gun lobbyist says he did nothing to warrant an ethics charge

Cow tail protection defeated for year in Colorado

Wyoming Gov. Mead vows to fight federal mineral royalties cuts

Grand Teton National Park achieves $700K in savings

Montana - Backers, opponents of Flathead water compact flood hearing

Oregon - Coal export foes vow to fight Port Westward industrial park expansion

Biologists spot wolf at central Washington ranch where cow died

Oregon - FDA meeting on food safety in Portland draws consumers, farmers, regulators

Oregon - Wolf OR-7 feeding on an elk carcass in Jackson County

Oregon - Judge stops Willamette National Forest timber sale

Western Oregon BLM lands get new environmental group website extolling their virtues


Interior Department cuts mineral payments to 35 states

The U.S. Department of Interior is cutting federal mineral payments to 35 states by about $110 million this fiscal year as part of the automatic federal spending cuts that started this month. Gov. Matt Mead announced this week that Wyoming faces the biggest cut — at least $53 million during the next five months. Wyoming is the nation's leading coal-producing state and last year received nearly $1 billion in federal mineral payments. The federal government paid a total of $2.1 billion last year to the states, representing their share of revenue from energy and mineral production that occurred on federal land within the states, as well as offshore. New Mexico will take the next-biggest hit, a loss of $26 million. The reduction for New Mexico, a leading natural gas and oil producer, represents about 0.5 percent of the total revenue the state expects to collect in its main budget account in the current budget year. Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith, chairman of the New Mexico State Senate committee that handles the budget, said he was concerned that the $26 million is the "tip of the iceberg" of potentially larger federal cutbacks to states. "As far as being able to ride the storm out right now in the short-term, obviously we can do that with the reserves that we are forecasting," Smith said. New Mexico should have a financial safety net of about $570 million at the end of this budget year, with those cash reserves roughly equal to 10 percent of the state's spending. Other states hit hardest include Colorado, which is losing $8.4 million, and California, which will get $5.5 million less. The states' losses range all the way down to $7 for North Carolina...more

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Prospects good for N.M. oil, gas boom

by Kevin Robinson-Avila 

Preliminary results from Mancos shale wells in northwestern New Mexico are boosting industry excitement about a new oil and gas boom in the region.
    Companies must learn a lot more about the shale formation before any gushers explode, but some of the 22 exploratory wells drilled to date have shown solid commercial potential for oil and gas production, according to industry executives who attended a conference this week in Farmington to discuss production potential in the Mancos play, a previously untapped section of the San Juan Basin.
    WPX Energy Inc.’s director for the San Juan Region, Ken McQueen, said two horizontal wells that WPX drilled in a dry natural gas section of the Mancos are some of the company’s best wells anywhere. Oklahoma-based WPX is one of the nation’s 10 largest natural gas producers.
    “These two wells are in the top 10 best wells drilled by WPX to date,” McQueen said. “They’re quite extraordinary for us.”
    The wells, drilled in 2010, have produced 2 billion cubic feet of gas so far, and will ultimately produce between 5 and 6 billion cubic feet each, McQueen said. That’s substantially more than the 4 billion cubic feet needed for commercial viability.
    “That makes for a very attractive target for WPX to pursue,” McQueen said.

Although the WPX wells are producing dry natural gas, companies are particularly upbeat about prospects for liquid natural gas, and for oil, in other sections of the Mancos, which is snuggled between soft sandstone layers in the San Juan Basin that producers have been exploiting for decades.
    The sandstone layers contain mostly dry gas. The Mancos, however, is divided into three sections in New Mexico — the dry gas zone that WPX is exploring, a “wet” or liquid gas region, and an oil zone.
    Until recently, those Mancos layers eluded producers because of the high cost of drilling into hard shale rock, and the difficulty of accurately pinpointing hard-to-reach pockets of hydrocarbons.
    But modern drilling techniques are helping to crack the Mancos open. That includes three-dimensional imaging to pinpoint “sweet spots” for oil and gas before drilling begins, hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — whereby operators pump water and sand at high pressure into wells to bust up tough shale rock, and horizontal drilling to penetrate sideways into the shale to reach trapped oil and gas.

Drought makes bigger fires

Without rains, and substantial rains, the 2013 fire season is likely to be nasty. The forest fuel specialist for the Lincoln National Forest's Smokey Bear Ranger District, Kim Kuhar, said long-term drought has changed things. "We're dealing with a different animal now than 20 or even 30 years ago on what fires are doing," Kuhar said. "The ERCs (energy release component -the heat release value at the head of a fire based on the moisture content of fuels, both live and dead), when they're up in the 80s, that's when we can expect large fires, one of those things we can plot out and look at over time and make some predictions. But what you want to look at is what was extreme in the '70s and '80s is now really more moderate now. That's telling you that things have dried out. It has nothing to do with vegetative density. It has nothing to do with the distribution of vegetation on the land. It has to do with how dry it is." Kuhar said history shows fires on the Lincoln National Forest became more plentiful and larger during the 2000s. "We're in climate change for whatever reason and things are drying out and we're seeing these large fires. In 1988, everybody remembers the Yellowstone Fire - it burned a million acres. And wow, that was a biggie then. Well, in 2002 we had the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in Arizona. And you have to think of it like this: The fires in Yellowstone started in July and they were a million acres in September. The Rodeo-Chediski started and in 10 days it was a half-million acres. So that's what we're dealing with is really, really large-scale changes, not only in the size of our fires but how frequently they happen." History Historic data for the Lincoln National Forest showed from 1971 to 1980 there were three fires of more than 1,000 acres forest-wide. The number doubled to six from 1981 to 1990, and 1991 to 2000. From 2001 through 2012 there were 16 large fires. During the 2000s, there also was a significant increase in ERCs. Fire sizes also increased significantly during the 2000s, with the largest fire of the decade in 2002. The Pepin Fire on the Capitan Mountains consumed more than 64,000 acres. In 2012, the Lincoln National Forest recorded 31 wildfires. A fire of 100 acres today, could be 30,000 acres by tomorrow morning, Kuhar said in an apparent reference to last year's Little Bear Fire...more

NY Times: New Mexico Farmers Seek ‘Priority Call’ as Drought Persists

by Fellicity Barranger

    Just after the local water board announced this month that its farmers would get only one-tenth of their normal water allotment this year, Ronnie Walterscheid, 53, stood up and called on his elected representatives to declare a water war on their upstream neighbors.
    “It’s always been about us giving up,” Mr. Walterscheid said, to nods. “I say we push back hard right now.”
     The drought-fueled anger of southeastern New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers is boiling, and there is nowhere near enough water in the desiccated Pecos River to cool it down. Roswell, about 75 miles to the north, has somewhat more water available and so is the focus of intense resentment here. Mr. Walterscheid and others believe that Roswell’s artesian wells reduce Carlsbad’s surface water.
     For decades, the regional status quo meant the northerners pumped groundwater and the southerners piped surface water. Now, amid the worst drought on record, some in Carlsbad say they must upend the status quo to survive. They want to make what is known as a priority call on the Pecos River.
     A priority call, an exceedingly rare maneuver, is the nuclear option in the world of water. Such a call would try to force the state to return to what had been the basic principle of water distribution in the West: the lands whose owners first used the water — in most cases farmland — get first call on it in times of scarcity. Big industries can be losers; small farmers winners.
     The threat of such a move reflects the political impact of the droughts that are becoming the new normal in the West. “A call on the river is a call for a shakeout,” explained Daniel McCool, a University of Utah political scientist and author of “River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers.”
     “It’s not going to be farmers versus environmentalists or liberals versus conservatives,” he said. “It’s going to be the people who have water versus the people who don’t.” And, he said, the have-nots will outnumber the haves.
     Dudley Jones, the manager for the Carlsbad Irrigation District said that water law and allocation practice have long diverged. “We have it in the state Constitution: First in time, first in right. But that’s not how it’s practiced.” In New Mexico’s political pecking order, his alfalfa farmers, despite senior priority rights dating back 100 years, have little clout. The state water authorities, he said, “are not going to cut out the city.”
     “They’re not going to cut out the dairy industry,” he added. “They’re not going to cut off the oil and gas industry, because that’s economic development. So we’re left with a dilemma — the New Mexico water dilemma.”
     A priority call, said Dr. McCool, “will glaringly demonstrate how unfair, how anachronistic the whole water law edifice is.”
     He added, “The all-or-nothing dynamic of prior appropriation instantly sets up conflict. I get all of mine, and you get nothing.”
     Despite the support Mr. Walterscheid got from two of the Carlsbad Irrigation District’s five members, however, the March 12 meeting produced not a priority call, but an ultimatum: The Legislature should give Carlsbad $2.5 million to tide it over, or the water district will make the call and start a traumatic legal and scientific battle.
     The prior appropriation system on the Pecos has its beginnings in the late 19th century. Its waters flow about 925 miles from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico, ending up in the Rio Grande in Texas. It has been a focus of conflict.

How blocking Cabinet nominees became common practice

Over the past few weeks, three senators have put three nominations by President Barack Obama — for head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Interior Department and Labor Department — in jeopardy. In none of these instances — CIA Director John Brennan, interior secretary-designate Sally Jewell and labor secretary-designate Thomas Perez — did the senators suggest the president’s nominees were unqualified. And in the case of Jewell, Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s objection had nothing to do with the nominee herself. So the question is this: Why has it become so common for senators to throw up roadblocks in the confirmation process? Because threatening a high-profile nomination has become one of the best ways senators can now achieve their policy objectives. Scott Segal, head of the policy resolution group at the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, puts it this way: “Confirmations mark one of the few times that the president can be vulnerable to congressional pressure. … So confirmation battles provide one of the few mechanisms for senators to leverage their support to focus executive branch attention on particular home-state concerns.” Take the example of Jewell, whose nomination finally cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 19-3 vote Friday. Murkowski, R-Alaska, held up her nomination to pressure the outgoing interior secretary, Ken Salazar, to approve a road through a wilderness area in Alaska. The Fish and Wildlife Service determined last month that putting a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge would threaten an ecologically important wetland. But Murkowski wants the road to allow the 792 residents of the remote village of King Cove easier access to an all-weather airport in case of medical emergencies. On Thursday, Salazar issued a memo pledging to dispatch one of his department’s top officials to Alaska to investigate whether the road was needed. While it remains unclear whether Murkowski will prevail in her effort to push through a road the Interior Department has resisted for decades, environmentalists described the agreement as a dangerous concession by the administration...more

Note the underlined quote.  Congress has delegated so much authority to the Executive branch that they now have to wait for an opportunity, like a nomination, to have an influence on policy.

News Roundup

Communities raise money to open Yellowstone's Wyoming entrances

 Water a life-and-death issue for Snake Valley 

 Senator Mike Lee vows to filibuster gun-control legislation

 Lower North Fork fire victims accuse Colorado Attorney General of delaying payment

South Dakota Sen. Johnson to retire, cites health and age

Oregon river swirls with biggest return of smelt in a decade

Feds monitor for hybrid wolves in NM, Arizona

Federal wildlife managers have been working to return the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the American Southwest for the past 15 years. Every now and then, there's a genetic hiccup. It happens when a wolf breeds with a domestic dog and produces a litter of hybridized pups. Just last month, an animal that looked like a wolf was spotted in the mountain community of Reserve near the Arizona-New Mexico border so experts with the wolf management team had to investigate. They determined that the uncollared animal was most likely a pet that showed some signs of northern gray wolf heritage. While it doesn't happen often, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Buckley said Tuesday that hybridization is a concern. "The bottom line is it's not a good thing, and we try not to allow that to happen," he said. Any mixing of Mexican gray wolves with dogs has the potential to throw a wrench in the federal government's efforts to reintroduce the predators to Arizona and New Mexico. Having a genetically diverse — yet pure — population has been identified as one of the keys to making the effort a success, and biologists have gone to great lengths over the years to pair genetically valuable wolves and to collect semen and eggs from some of the animals for captive breeding and research. When hybrid wolves are found in the wild, they are removed to protect the genetic pool. For example, wildlife managers in 2011 had to euthanize four wolf-dog pups that belonged to a female Mexican gray wolf that had initially been released into the Gila National Forest with hopes of being a mate for another lone wolf. Only two other cases have been documented — one in 2002 and another in 2005...more

Fight over Pendleton Round-Up costume heading to Oregon Supreme Court

 When Lois McIntyre was crowned queen of the Pendleton Round-Up 83 years ago, she couldn't have guessed her costume would trigger a cowboy country family feud that would land in the Oregon Supreme Court. McIntyre was an Oregon State University student before becoming queen of the Northwest's premier Wild West extravaganza in 1930. She died in 1964. The contested ownership of her divided, fringed leather skirt and vest, worn with a long-sleeved satin blouse, has already prompted two court battles and will be Exhibit A in an Oregon high court case scheduled to begin Sept. 16, said attorney Cody Hoesly of Portland. Hoesly represents 75-year-old Joan Rice of Athena, who claims ownership of the so-called Jazz Age costume currently in possession of Mary Rabb of Pendleton. This is a case steeped in rodeo history and Round-Up aristocracy. Rice was married to Jim Rice, son of Queen Lois McIntyre. Rabb was the 1968 Pendleton Round-Up queen and the daughter of 2008 Round-Up Westward Ho! Parade Grand Marshal Harold Thompson. The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled last summer that Rabb could keep the costume and dismissed Rice's claim because her original lawsuit was not brought within the time prescribed under state law. Court of Appeals records released last summer said the costume was inherited in 1964 by Jim Rice, and Jim and Joan Rice agreed to display it in the Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame. They asked Rabb's grandmother, Edna Pinkerton Lieuallen, to take it there, court records said. The costume remained in the Hall of Fame after the death of Jim Rice in 1972. In 2000, Rabb retrieved the costume from the Hall of Fame, said the documents. Rice, by that time legally blind, discovered the outfit was missing when the Round-Up/Happy Canyon exhibits were being relocated to another building seven years later, court documents said...more

Native U.S. Tribes Seek Federal Bailouts to Offset Casino Losses

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Connecticut, is among federally recognized tribes that, although considered “sovereign nations,” are seeking increased revenues through grants from the U.S. government. According to the Associated Press, the once billion-dollar Pequot casino empire has, in the past, distributed stipends of more than $100,000 annually to adult tribe members. Now, however, the Pequots join other gaming tribes, including nearby rival casino Mohegan Sun, in the pursuit of more federal aid. The pattern is getting the attention of those who opposed the law that allowed Indian tribes to develop casinos, since the law was promoted as one that would assist tribes in becoming financially self-reliant...The Pequots have since ended member stipends, but have kept other benefits in place. Federal grants to the tribe, awarded through the Interior Department, increased from $1 million in 2008 to $2.7 million in 2011. Federal monies granted though Health and Human Services, rose from $1.7 million in 2008 to $1.9 million in 2012. In January, Steven Thomas, the Pequots’ treasurer, and his brother Michael Thomas, a former tribal chairman, were indicted following an FBI investigation. The two men are accused of stealing a combined $800,000 in tribal money and federal grants...more

Thousands of Empty Govt. Buildings Costing Taxpayers up to $8 Billion

The U.S. government could save taxpayers up to $8 billion by selling off the estimated 55,000 to 77,000 vacant properties it owns or leases. At a time when the White House says it cannot find the $18,000 a week it needs to fund tours, unloading unused properties to save taxpayers billions might seem like a no-brainer. But the federal government does not even know how many unused properties it controls because no one has kept an inventory of them. Further, attempts to sell such properties are bound in red tape. This month, for example, the government sold a building for $19.5 million; the process took 10 years, leaving taxpayers paying for maintenance and upkeep for a decade. "This is a problem that has been identified for years,” said Tom Shatz of Citizens Against Government Waste. “Every time someone in the White House says 'let's sell property,' the red tape is simply too much for this process." One of the largest hurdles to expediting the sale of vacant federal buildings is a 1987 law that forces properties first to be offered to other federal agencies, then state agencies, and finally offered for use as homeless shelters before they can be sold. "We spend about 8 billion dollars a year maintaining properties that we have no use for,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). “Now that 8 billion dollars is just thrown down the drain because we can't get past the homeless lobby to get a common-sense way to take care of their problems and also us to unload properties."...more

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Drought threatens Hatch Valley - Video

by John Fleck

Shayne Franzoy, a fourth generation Hatch Valley farmer, can remember catching largemouth bass as a youngster in Elephant Butte Irrigation District canals.

“I used to fish in there when I was a kid,” Franzoy said as he piloted a big red Ford Expedition through a corner of the valley his family has farmed for nearly a century. “Now there’s no water at all.”
It is a nervous planting season.

With little Rio Grande irrigation water for the third straight year, the farming valleys that stretch across southern New Mexico from Elephant Butte Reservoir to the Texas border hum with the sound of irrigation pumps, pulling up groundwater to wet the fields. But it is a poor substitute for Rio Grande water, posing long-term problems.

“The guys that can pump will pump,” said valley farmer Dino Cervantes. “The guys that can’t pump will suffer.”

On a high field on the Hatch Valley’s eastern edge, a crew working for Franzoy is installing a drip irrigation system, something he’s done on most of his land in an effort to fight off drought. Pumps at the end of the field pull up groundwater, pushing it through the irrigation system and out beneath the crops. 

In other fields nearby, crews are planting onions and chiles – the valley’s famous Hatch green chiles. But with a drought lingering for more than a decade, capped by three particularly brutal years, Franzoy is worried.
The canals that usually supply clear, clean Rio Grande water to one of New Mexico’s most storied and agriculturally productive regions remain bone dry a month into the irrigation season. With a meager snowpack in the mountains to the north, the forecast calls for just 39 percent of average runoff on the Rio Grande.

For farmers like Franzoy, pumping groundwater to keep the crops alive is the only option. But it’s not a very good one. 

In the Hatch Valley (more properly called the “Rincon Valley,” but Hatch is the name that sticks) groundwater has dropped an average of 3 feet in the past three extreme drought years, according to an analysis by Erek Fuchs, groundwater resources manager for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District.

The Arms Race to Grow World's Hottest Pepper Goes Nuclear

"Please don't try this at home—we are fully trained idiots." So went the disclaimer back in October 2010 as British pepper aficionado Leo Scott and his friend Lok Chi uploaded a video of themselves eating a new variety, the Naga Viper, developed by fellow grower Gerald Fowler. The warning was warranted as the two very experienced chiliheads sweated, writhed in pain and briefly lost the ability to speak after each chewing and swallowing one of the bright-red capsicums. A month later, the Guinness Book of World Records certified what Mr. Scott found out the hard way: The Naga Viper was the hottest pepper ever grown, measuring 1.382 million Scoville Heat Units, the standard measure of heat. That is 225 times as hot as a jalapeño can sometimes be. Unfortunately for Mr. Fowler, his record wouldn't stand for long. Four months later, the Naga was dethroned by the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, the current record holder, at 1.464 million Scovilles. "I was shocked," says Mr. Scott, who lives near Bristol, England. "You've got this global community of chili growers who are competing ruthlessly with each other." The Naga itself had just surpassed the Infinity Chili, which held the official record for a mere eight months. Alex de Wit, who co-owns the Chilli Factory in Morisset, Australia, with his brother Marcel, is one of the evil geniuses behind the Butch T. The trick, besides some nifty breeding by Australia's Hippy Seed Co., is specially enriched soil. He says "worm poop" is one of his secret weapons. He plans to submit to Guinness another batch of Butch T peppers being grown in tropical Queensland. He estimates that the more favorable growing conditions could add 10% to their potency...more

NMSU begins selling hot sauce with a real kick

The New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute on March 4 began selling the Holy Jolokia Taco Sauce. It was unveiled over the weekend at the National Fiery Foods and Barbeque sauce in Albuquerque - the largest spicy foods show in the world. The sauce is made with the Bhut Jolokia chile pepper which have a heat rating of more one million scoville heat units - about one hundred times hotter than the jalapeno.  The Bhut Jolokia is considered the second hottest chile in the world.  The Trinidad Maruga Scorpion Chile is the hottest on the planet with a heat rating of two million scoville heat units.  "All are made with the hottest peppers.  we make them to be comfortable so they taste good, they have a good heat level," said Erica Sichler with the NMSU Chile Pepper Institute. "It's kind of a race around the world right now. Everyone wants to have the hottest pepper. In America alone there are tons of people that are trying for that hottest pepper." Sichler said he crew that does all of our seed extractions have to wear hazmat suits so it's pretty hot. "You don't want to touch it with your bare hands.....the raw pepper." KVIA

Roadless Rule Survives Final Legal Challenge

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today ended a challenge by the state of Alaska against a nationwide Clinton-era rule protecting tens of millions of acres of roadless forest lands from logging and road building. The Alaska case was the final litigation challenging the rule nationwide. The court held that no further challenges are allowed, because the statute of limitations has run out. Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo said, “This is a complete victory for the Roadless Rule. It means that it’s too late not only for the state of Alaska, but for anyone to file lawsuits against the rule, which has withstood every legal challenge. The Forest Service adopted it with overwhelming public support. It is important for clean water, fish, wildlife and recreation in the remaining intact areas of the national forests. American families cherish these places for camping, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting and all kinds of other recreation. The Roadless Rule ensures they will be available for generations to come.” The court dismissed the state’s lawsuit for being filed after the six-year statute of limitations. Conservation groups who helped galvanize a citizens’ campaign in the late 1990s to protect America’s last wild national forest lands breathed a sigh of relief after more than a decade of legal challenges. The State of Alaska’s case, though focused on state issues, sought to strike down the Roadless Rule nationwide. The federal government defended the rule with conservation groups allowed into the case as intervenors. On the side of Alaska, industry-aligned interests also intervened. Last fall, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal on a similar lawsuit brought by the State of Wyoming and a mining industry group from Colorado...more

Longhorn Legacy: Surprising Origins of Columbus' Cattle Found

The first cows brought to the Americas by explorer Christopher Columbus originated from two extinct wild beasts from India and Europe, a new genetic analysis shows.
Because the breeds analyzed, including the longhorn, have been closely connected to humans, the results could shed light on human migration over the past 10,000 years, said study co-author Emily Jane McTavish, an evolutionary biology doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, whose mascot is the longhorn cow.
The findings were published today (March 25) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wild beasts
About 10,000 years ago, ancient people domesticated cows from wild aurochs (bovines that are 1.5 to two times as big as domestic cattle) in two separate events, one in the Indian subcontinent and one in Europe.
Paleolithic people probably captured young aurochs and selected for the most docile of the creatures. The "fierce and scary" creatures gradually became tamer, domesticated animals, McTavish said. Wild aurochs survived until 1627, when hunting and habitat loss drove the creatures to extinction.
New world cows
On Columbus' second trip to the Americas in 1493, he brought cattle.
To untangle the history of these New World breeds, McTavish and her colleagues analyzed the genetic lineage of three cattle descended from the New World cows: Texas longhorn, Mexican Corriente and Romosinuano cattle from Colombia, and compared them with 55 other cattle breeds
The researchers found that the New World cows evolved from both Indian and European lineages. In addition, historical records suggest that Longhorns underwent natural selection while they were living in semiwild herds for 450 years, or about 80 to 200 generations.
The group hypothesizes that Indian cows made it to East Africa via trade routes, and cows from North Africa may have entered Spain when the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula.
Different origins
The findings suggest that New World cows differ from breeds brought by the French and the British, such as Angus and Hereford, which evolved only in Europe, McTavish said.
"All these European breeds have a different evolutionary history than the Spanish breeds brought by Columbus," McTavish said.
Because New World cows were adapted to frequent droughts and changing food supplies, "these traits could be useful to breeders developing hardier breeds of cattle, especially in the face of climate change," McTavish said.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter @tiaghose. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Passing on the stories

by Julie Carter

The Native Americans pass legends down through the generations by way of designated storytellers. It's the job of a gifted tribe member to be the keeper of the ancestral legends and pass them on to the next generation.

Cowboys do much the same thing. The Native American storyteller will have a name like Grandmother Two Bears or Old Father Story Teller. The cowboy will simply be named Ben, Joe or Charlie.

If those same fellows were in a tribe somewhere, they could possibly be labeled with names such as Man Who Walks Like Penguin, Hitch in the Get-a-Long or Redman Lump in Jaw. Old cowboys tend to be shorter than they were in their youth, a bit bow-legged and waddle when they walk.

The days of that long-legged strolling stride left when the "itis boys" (Arthur, Burs and Tendon) showed up in every limb of their body. What they don't have left in athletic ability has been enhanced with humor and their imaginative re-telling of "cowboy legends."

The number of topics from the old days when cowboys were king is endless. First, know that things were bigger, better and wilder "back then." They may not be able to accurately give you their wife's full name, but they can name every one of the ill-headed horses they rode during the past 40 years.

In every story of every wreck they were ever in that involved a rope and cow, they can also describe, in detail, the appearance, personality and pedigree of the horse they rode. However, the re-telling is not always in a verbiage fit to repeat in polite company.

For whatever reason, that same horse will consistently either be the best he ever rode, or the sorriest. There doesn't seem to be any recollection of any mediocre nags from that era.

The topic second in line for the windiest stories includes incredible tales of snakes. There are generations of big ugly diamondbacks that slithered into bedrolls, traveled up a catch rope to meet the roper or fell out of a tree on the unsuspecting cowboy riding by.

Snakes, in their mystical ability to strike fear in the heart of all men, garner a corner of cowboy history dedicated to that species. Ask any old bowlegged, cowboy-booted hombre you run into for his best snake story. It is guaranteed he will have more than one.

Additionally, there are the "goin' to town" stories. In the old days, not so long ago, cowboys went to town only to buy a few groceries and other necessary supplies.

During that same trip they might eat a steak at the local restaurant, spend a couple bucks for a haircut and then while away a few hours of sundown time at the local watering hole, imbibing in adult beverages.

One of my favorite cowboy storytellers told a great tale that had all the going-to-town ingredients. He gleefully recalled, often upon request, riding a young green-broke horse into a bar.

The blaring jukebox music didn't frighten the colt until it stopped and then the silence brought him to life. He blew up, fell over on the pool table and in doing so, seriously broke the cowboy's foot. Decades later, the cowboy delighted in detailing the reason for his obvious limp.

The cowboys that fill my pages with their stories had no expectations that their shenanigan-nonsense could entertain so many. I delight in being able to pass on those reasonable presentations of the truth.

Julie, a designated cowboy story teller, can be reached for comment at

Julie has pretty well described herself when she writes about designated Native American and cowboy storytellers. 

I wonder what the Native Americans would call Julie as a result of her sharing the "ancestral legends" of the cowboy. I can't think of anything with Grandmother or Old Father in it that fits. 

Maybe Chronicler of Cowboy Culture. No, that sounds too official. 

How about Puma with A Pen. No, she's too nice. 

Julie is more than a writer of course, so how would they describe the whole package, the Julie Carter of today? 

 I know, Carter The Cancer Slayer

Yeah, I like that.

The Westerner has had a High-Tech, Redneck, Wheelchair Wreck

My how we grow accustomed to technology and  technology has been letting me down since last Thursday.

I won't go into all the details, but my power chair has been on the blitz.  The repairman was out here on Friday, and as it turns out he made the situation worse.  So, he'll be back this afternoon. 

My mobility is pretty limited, but perhaps it will get better with his visit today.  My concern is I'll be told, "We're gonna have to order some parts from the manufacturer."  That can take 30 to 45 days.

Will do my best to keep The Westerner updated although it may be sparse from time to time.

And oh yes, don't pray for me...pray for the repairman.


The Travis Letter: Sovereignty or Death

The modern implications of the Travis letter
Sovereignty or Death
Victory or Death letter returns to the Alamo
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

             In one of the most famous Texas documents, the Victory or Death letter penned by William B. Travis in the chaos of facing the threat of death within the walls of the Alamo, a hopeful post script was added. It read:
            P.S. The Lord is on our side – When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn -  We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
            From the Alamo to Benghazi
            The desperation of those men within the Alamo, who sought nothing more than personal sovereignty, was likely elevated in the perspective of our view from outside looking in. Travis’ post script offered a glimpse of new found hope predicated on the discovery of food that had not been available to those ‘Texian’ defenders.
            Travis believed it was a clear sign God was with them.
            Absolutely, the hope for help to arrive continued to weigh heavily as the body of the letter described, but a signal had been received. With God’s blessings all obstacles were made less overwhelming. The men turned their full attention to their front and prepared to face the enemy. They were resolute and composed for what was to come.
            Was there any difference in the fate of the defenders in the Benghazi attack? In the case of our SEALS, they were not overtly seeking sovereignty, but they were defending sovereignty. After all, American sovereignty must be the object of their eventual deaths or we must ask the greater question of why we were even there.
            When they heard the sounds of the assault on the Embassy from afar, their response was automatic. Their training, their instincts, and their loyalty to their American vows demanded their full and unconditional commitment. There was no difference in their actions from their counterparts 177 years ago in Texas behind the walls of the Alamo.
            Like their counterparts, they signaled for help. There will be no Victory or Death letter for history to honor in their memory, but there were three calls for assistance. In the end, they died just like the men in the Alamo. They died while the leaders they were sworn to follow watched streaming video from the White House. Their president would eventually refer to the episode culminating in their deaths as a “bump in the road”.
            In their honor, let’s substitute a stanza of a poem penned by an anonymous Marine brother as the post script to their Victory or Death letter. It is:

The Battling Boys of Benghazi
“Just two of us, foes by the score, but we stood fast to bar the door.
Three calls for reinforcements, but all were denied,
So, we fought and we fought and we fought … ‘till we died.”
The Travis Letter
            From a historical perspective, the ‘Texians’ lit a fire that resulted in Texas declaring its independence from Mexico within days of their deaths. What was it that actually stirred such a flame? Surely the Alamo set the flame blazing more brightly, but that wasn’t the genesis of the rebellion.
            The rebellion was fanned by the pompous and cavalier attitude of the Mexican elite toward the settlers of Texas. The Mexican government, ensconced in its metastasized governing mockery that elevates the condescension of honor and the bastardization of truth to an art form, failed to adhere to its made promises to the wrong folks. The disregard and dismissal of those promises of constitutional liberty, trial by jury, and the right to bear arms created a ‘Texian’ buzz saw.  
            In fact, the issue of arms was so central to the very lives of those people it became a center piece in their Texas Declaration of Independence. Their words became:
“Our arms are our essential defence, the rightful property of Freemen and formidable only to tyrannical governments.
            Repeatedly, Texans would be required to defend their lives and their way of life solely on their own volition and their only means of defense. It wasn’t just Mexico that posed the threat. The United States government would eventually and repeatedly leave them standing in a hailstorm without recourse.
            Without question, though, the Travis letter is a monumental reminder of the native guts and single mindedness that exploded in the days following the Alamo slaughter. The letter is immensely important to share.
            It read:

Commandancy of the The Alamo

Bejar, Feby. 24th, 1836

To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World-

Fellow Citizens & compatriots-

I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna – I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man – The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken – I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls – I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch – The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country – Victory or Death.

William Barret Travis

Lt. Col. comdt. (Post Script herein followed in original letter)

            Sovereignty or Death
            After 177 years, the Travis letter is being returned to that sacred ground on which it was penned, The Alamo. It became a well traveled missive the State of Texas finally bought for $85. Humor from the original combatants in some celestial discussion about the earthly value of those words notwithstanding, the letter is home where it belongs.
            There is, however, more than a common thread between those now long deceased heroes and their modern counterparts. Tyranny, if allowed, reappears time and again.
            The Alamo warriors would fully understand the modern strife their descendents face in another encroachment of promises to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Federal lands ranchers have and continue to be vilified, minimized, and strangled in a polarized partnership with the federal government and the environmental movement. Their real life foes offer the same condescension and criticism of their existence as another historically abused segment of society, the post war share croppers.
            History now supports the contention of societal abuse those people endured. They were disallowed to own their lands, they remained constantly at risk of decisions they were not party to, and they existed in a perpetual state of inability to plan anything long term. Few infrastructure advantages were available to them. They were maligned and battered by a corrupt system. Only in their disappearance has their plight been elevated and revealed completely. The United States failed them miserably. What they endured was a crime, and, in fact, they were the post war slavery element of our society. More than half of them were white.  
            Suppose, in the heat of this modern battle, another Travis letter appeared to anyone who would read and understand the critical circumstances that exist. The fate of the federal lands rancher hangs by a thread. If the federal government allows their destruction, their fate is worse than death. At least the Alamo warriors did not die in vain.
            What would the letter say?
            It would read:

Stewards of Western Ranges

Any Sunday, April, 2013

To the People of the United States and to All Americans of the World

Fellow Citizens and compatriots,

We are besieged by thousands of agents intent on our destruction. We have endured a sustained and continuous assault for over 40 years. The enemy has demanded a surrender of our life, liberty, happiness, and stewardship of lands.  They demand a termination of our existence. We have answered with all we can bring to bear. Our flag has been at half mast in a widening front.  Our numbers have declined as our defense has weakened. The recruitment of future stewards has plummeted. We have lost the ability to plan.  Now, we call on you in the name of Liberty, patriotism and everything dear to the American character to come to our aid with all dispatch. We don’t want dollars … we want Freedom. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and they continue to increase. If this call is neglected, we are determined to sustain ourselves as long as possible and die as the proud stewards we once were. Sovereignty or Death.

American federal land ranchers
In God we Trust

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “When natural law is manipulated and debauched, tyranny reappears.”