Saturday, April 13, 2013

Highway patrol gave feds Missouri weapon permits data

Missouri's database of concealed weapon permits was twice given to federal authorities investigating Social Security disability fraud in a move that has enraged lawmakers already angry over potential abuses in a new driver's licensing system. Missouri State Highway Patrol Col. Ron Replogle was questioned for nearly an hour this morning by the Senate Appropriations Committee after he revealed to Chairman Kurt Schaefer yesterday that his agency had turned over the data. The data was turned over because the Office of Inspector General is a law enforcement agency, Replogle said. It was done by a mid-level supervisor at the patrol. Replogle said he was not informed of the transfer until four weeks ago. The intention was to cross-check the names on the concealed carry list with the agency's list of those with disabilities attributed to mental illness to find possible evidence of fraud in the system...more

Not to worry.  You can trust the SSA with your data.  For instance, see SSA data center approaching 'catastrophic failure'

Conn. Senator Is Actually Urging Fox Not to Air Saturday’s NASCAR Race…Because the NRA Is Sponsoring It

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy does not like the NRA, and he’s making that quite clear. In a letter to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, he’s asking that Fox cancel plans to air Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race — because the NRA is sponsoring it. Murphy wrote that the race is taking place during Senate consideration of legislation to reduce gun violence in the wake of the elementary school shootings last December in Newtown, Conn., and feared the race will give national attention “to an organization that has been the face of one side of this heated debate.” Fox officials declined comment Thursday. The NRA 500 from Texas Motor Speedway will be broadcast as scheduled. Murphy also questioned the Victory Lane tradition at Texas, where the winner gets a cowboy hat and can fire six-shooters loaded with blanks into the air. Murphy also questioned the Victory Lane tradition at Texas, where the winner gets a cowboy hat and can fire six-shooters loaded with blanks into the air. “This celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre,” Murphy added...more

IRS claims it can read your e-mail without a warrant

The Internal Revenue Service doesn't believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail. Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy "generally no privacy" in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications -- meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge. That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans' e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone's home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet. An IRS 2009 Search Warrant Handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that "emails and other transmissions generally lose their reasonable expectation of privacy and thus their Fourth Amendment protection once they have been sent from an individual's computer." The handbook was prepared by the Office of Chief Counsel for the Criminal Tax Division and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.Nathan Wessler, a staff attorney at the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, said in a blog post that the IRS's view of privacy rights violates the Fourth Amendment...The IRS continued to take the same position, the documents indicate, even after a federal appeals court ruled in the 2010 case U.S. v. Warshak that Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail. A few e-mail providers, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook, but not all, have taken the position that Warshak mandates warrants for e-mail...more

Sen. Mike Lee blasts ‘closed-door backroom deals’ on gun bill; demands full text

On the Senate floor moments ago, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, reminded his colleagues that they still didn’t have the full text of the gun control bill they were about to vote on. Lee explained that the text of the background check compromise proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Wednesday had still not been revealed. “As of this morning, as of this very moment, not a single senator has been provided with the legislative text of that very provision.” Lee stated, reminding his colleagues that the provision was the “heart” of the bill. "We should not be legislating by negotiating closed-door backroom deals away from the eyes of the American people,” Lee stated. “We should not be voting before we read and understand exactly how these proposals will affect the rights law abiding citizens.” {link} The link also has a video of his complete statement or you can watch it on YouTube here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

AQHA Seeking Child Actors

The American Quarter Horse Association is offering young riders a great opportunity to star in a new video series for a new, innovative digital platform.

AQHA and its production partners are pleased to announce the development of a web-based video series about young riders and horses. The videos will be featured on Take Me Riding, a new digital platform designed to interest young children in horses and encourage them to ride. This recently renamed platform, originally announced at the 2012 AQHA Convention under the project name Digital Oats, will launch in 2014.
Take Me Riding is seeking child actors with riding experience to star in the new online video series.
The ideal candidate is a 9- to 13-year-old male or female with experience in major roles in theater camps, school plays or local dinner theater productions.
The ideal candidate has significant riding experience, understands correct riding behavior and attire, and has shown horses or is comfortable riding horses in an open arena around cattle.
Take Me Riding is seeking outgoing, energetic and highly-personable individuals who are willing to work on a video shoot that will include riding for two consecutive days. Members of any horse breed association are encouraged to apply.
Parents or guardians of interested candidates should email a completed liability waiver, a formal headshot or digital photo, a brief list of acting credentials, a summary of relevant experience with horses and a video reel to If a video reel is not available, consider making a short one-minute or less video clip on a cell phone in which a child explains why he or she wants to participate. All submissions must be received via email by May 3.
Candidates who meet the qualifications will be contacted to provide names, dates and locations of upcoming horse shows where he or she is planning to compete or about the name of working ranches or stables where he or she rides.
Please send submissions to by May 3. No phone calls or mailed auditions will be accepted.


Boehner: ‘I fully expect the House will act’ on gun legislation in coming months

House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that he fully expects the House of Representatives to act on gun legislation in the coming months, but said he wasn’t prepared to make a commitment on Senate measures that are still in flux. “I’ve never been for just a blanket…commitment when I don’t know what the product is,” said Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “I fully expect that the House will act on legislation in the coming months. But I want this to go through a regular order, and I want the Judiciary Committee to take the time to look at whatever the Senate does produce, assuming they produce something, and have members on both sides review that and make their determination.” Asked if he would violate the so-called “Hastert rule” on legislation dealing with guns, immigration, or fiscal matters, Mr. Boehner said his intention is always to pass bills with robust GOP support. The unofficial rule, named after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, says that a Speaker will not bring a bill forward for a vote unless it has majority support of the majority party in the House. Mr. Boehner, however, has recently allowed the House to pass measures — relief for Superstorm Sandy, the year-end “fiscal cliff” deal, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — that were not supported by a majority of House Republicans...more

Legislation offers new angle in battle over Keystone pipeline

Proponents of the Keystone XL Pipeline flexed their muscle Wednesday at a congressional hearing over legislation to force approval of the long-delayed project. The hearing didn’t discuss whether the legislation, which would eliminate a requirement that the pipeline receive a presidential permit, could overcome a likely White House veto or pass constitutional muster. Instead, its supporters touted the 1,179-mile line as a job creator that would lower oil prices. “America is a nation of builders, and the American people want to see Keystone XL built,” Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said at Wednesday’s hearing. Similar legislation co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana is pending in the Senate. It’s unclear if Congress would succeed in forcing the president’s hand on Keystone. The White House largely ignored legislation that had set a date — February 2012 — for the president to make a final decision on the pipeline. And the president’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget unveiled Wednesday makes no mention of the project...more

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mexican Poultry Producers Destroy Nearly 4 Million Birds Due to Flu

Nearly 4 million birds were destroyed at poultry farms in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Guanajuato due to the outbreak of avian influenza in February, Agriculture Secretary Enrique Martinez said. “The damage could have been greater, and in the end nearly 4 million birds were killed, both chickens for consumption, nearly half, and laying hens,” Martinez said. The outbreak was detected in time and contained with a vaccination program, the agriculture secretary said after inaugurating the 13th Agriculture and Fisheries Industry Outlook Conference. Officials declared a health emergency on Feb. 15 after the Bachoco poultry company reported an outbreak of bird flu at its farms in the central state of Guanajuato...more

Senate moves forward on gun control, 68-31

The Senate voted to move forward on gun control Thursday, clearing the first of what is expected to be many 60-vote hurdles for the legislation. In a 68-31 vote, the Senate approved a procedural motion that will allow debate on the Democratic measure to begin. Sixty votes were required for approval. Sixteen Republicans voted in favor of the motion, while two Democrats — both from states President Obama lost in the 2012 election — voted against it. The two Democrats were Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Pryor (Ark.), both of whom face reelection next year. The 16 Republicans who voted to proceed were Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), John McCain (Ariz.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.). Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) missed the vote...more

Ranchers will fork over for fire repairs; Forest Service says costs can be claimed

About a dozen ranchers will pay to repair damage from the controlled burn that got away from the Forest Service on the Grand River National Grasslands last week. They were told they can file federal claims for reimbursement, but they say they need help now. District ranger Paul Hancock told the Perkins County Commission that the agency will start Monday on repairs to its own 28 miles of fencing damaged when a small controlled burn jumped away from the fire crew on a warm, windy afternoon and burned through 14,000 acres of private and federal pastures.The ranger oversees the grasslands located just across the border between Hettinger and Lemmon, S.D. Ranchers will have to pay for their own fence repairs and any feed they buy for their livestock, then be reimbursed by filing a federal tort claim. Even though the ashes are cold on the fire after a weekend of dampening hot spots on the perimeter and Monday’s light snow, tempers are still warm. The commission had its own questions for the ranger and kept him on the hot seat in the commission chambers for more than an hour Tuesday, delaying lunch to get it all said. Commission Vice Chairman Wayne Henderson gave on overview of what ranchers went through during the fire and said volunteer firefighters didn’t get food or clear directions during the 10 hours they helped battle the blaze. “To say that your emergency response system failed is an understatement,” he told Hancock...more

From a previous post: The Forest Service has said it intends to compensate landowners for damages to fences, hay bales and anything else hurt by the fire.   

So how does this federal tort claim work?

The commission said the ranchers need help right away and Perkins County State’s Attorney Shane Penfield said he didn’t like the tort claim process because when they file for reimbursements, ranchers have to agree the claim settles their damage. The extent of some damage won’t be known for a long time, Henderson said. “A lot of them won’t know until they pregnancy-check their cows this fall and if they’re 20 percent down, then they’ll know,” he said. Stress from poor feed can reduce pregnancy rates in cows. Hancock said he didn’t know how long claims will take to get pushed through, and he asked the county for ideas for other funding sources in the meantime.

Them federales are pretty sneaky.  Wonder what process the Forest Service would use if the fire was set on private property and burned up federal land, improvements and facilities? Would they go after the culprit and all his assets or would they seek out "other funding sources"?  Let's just say I'd hate to be the poor bastard who set the fire.

And wouldn't a little "collaboration" have prevented this whole thing?  After all, the Chief is really big on that:

In testimony on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell emphasized the importance of collaboration in developing restoration projects on national forests and grasslands. FS Press Release 

As deputy regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region, Tom facilitated collaborative approaches to wildland fire management, roadless area management, and other issues. As regional forester for the Northern Region, Tom strongly supported community-based collaboration in the region, finding solutions based on mutual goals and thereby reducing the number of appeals and lawsuits. FS web site 

As regional forester, I focused on community-based collaboration—on finding solutions based on mutual goals. That was my experience as regional forester, and that’s how I’ve served as Chief. Tidwell speech.

So how's that working for these burned out ranchers?

Tim Smith, who heads the Grand River Grazing Association, which handles grazing permits on the grasslands, said the damage will exceed $1.5 million and cost the ranchers at least 60 percent of their grass under the best recovery conditions. “These are people’s lives and their life’s work got burned up over a burn that would have maybe improved grazing on 135 acres,” Smith said. “We (grazing association) don’t have a relationship with the Forest Service. They don’t listen.”

EPA acknowledges releasing personal details on farmers, senator slams agency

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Tuesday that it released personal information on potentially thousands of farmers and ranchers to environmental groups, following concerns from congressional Republicans and agriculture groups that the release could endanger their safety. According to a document obtained by, the EPA said “some of the personal information that could have been protected … was released." Though the EPA has already sent out the documents, the agency now says it has since redacted sensitive details and asked the environmental groups to “return the information.” But Sen. John Thune, who originally complained about the release, slammed the EPA for trying to retroactively recover the sensitive data. "It is inexcusable for the EPA to release the personal information of American families and then call for it back, knowing full well that the erroneously released information will never be fully returned," he said in a statement to "While EPA acknowledging that it erred is a first step, more must be done to protect the personal information of our farmers and ranchers now and in the future. I will continue to demand answers from the EPA on how this information was collected and why it is still being distributed to extreme environmental groups to the detriment of our farm and ranch families." The information on livestock and produce farmers was sought through a Freedom of Information Act request by the groups Earth Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pew Charitable Trust. They were given information on roughly 80,000 farmers and ranchers...more

You have to wonder how many of those 80,000 were NM producers. 


Timber! Feds want another $600,000 from NM, citing sequestration

A little more than a week after reporting the Obama administration is taking $26 million from the state’s coffers in mineral extraction, New Mexico Watchdog has learned the feds — citing sequestration — want nearly $600,000 more from timber. In a letter obtained by New Mexico Watchdog, the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Thomas Tidwell, wrote a letter three weeks ago to 41 governors across the country, including New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, demanding states return funds that were paid to them under the Secure Rural Schools Act from fiscal year 2013.  The price tag for New Mexico amounts to $572,761.76, with Tidwell saying the state has the option of having the amount taken from its federal funding or “we will send you a bill for collection.”  Similar to the justification that came when the U.S. Department of the Interior informed the state that its royalty payments for energy and mineral extractions on federal lands were to be reduced by $26 million, the Forest Service said that it is forced to make the 5.1 percent reductions to states because of “mandated cuts” through the Budget Control Act of 2011, which calls for reducing $85 billion in federal spending. But what makes the Forest Service cuts different is that the federal government under the Obama administration is asking for monies to be returned retroactively...more

The feds don't like sharing revenues with the states and they are using the sequestration as an excuse to hammer them. 

Idaho Rancher Gets a $24,651 Bill for 2012 Livestock Trespass

Western Watersheds Project’s work to help document ongoing trespass livestock has paid off!

WWP staff (Katie Fite and Ken Cole) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) documented a single rancher’s trespass cattle throughout the 2012 season. After receiving three trespass notices for having cattle on several allotments in the Juniper Mountain area of southwestern Owyhee County, an Owyhee County rancher agreed to pay $24,651 in trespass grazing fees and administrative costs.

The trespassing rancher, Jack Payne, is the owner of the C Ranch in Owyhee County and owner of Nevada Livestock Marketing in Fallon, Nevada. The BLM first observed his trespassing livestock on the Trout Springs and Pole Creek allotments on July 20th, 2012.  Payne did not have a permit to graze cattle on either of these allotments; the Trout Springs allotment had been completely closed to grazing since 2008 after another rancher lost his permit due to repeated willful trespass violations.  Some of Payne’s cattle also remained on the Bull Basin allotment long after the July 15 permit deadline for removal adding to the unauthorized use violations. In total, Payne’s trespass cattle were found on four allotments: Trout Springs, Pole Creek, Cliffs and Bull Basin.

WWP obtained documents about the trespass through a Freedom of Information Act request...more

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Senate endorses Sally Jewell for interior chief

Sally Jewell, CEO of outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc., won easy Senate confirmation Wednesday to be the nation's next interior secretary. The Senate approved her nomination, 87-11, with all the no votes coming from Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was among those who opposed Jewell. At Interior, Jewell will oversee more than 500 million acres of national parks and other public lands, plus more than 1 billion acres offshore. The lands are used for energy development, mining, recreation and other purposes...more

OIG: Checkoff audit finds no evidence of wrongdoing

A recently completed audit of the beef checkoff has determined that the $52 million program is operating according to law and USDA regulations. “The Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that the relationship between the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (beef board) and other industry-related organizations, including the beef board’s primary contractor, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), complied with legislation,” the report stated. Specifically addressing allegations that beef checkoff funds may have been misused, the authors of the report said, “We found no evidence to support that the board’s activities… did not comply with legislation, and AMS guidelines and policies. Funds were collected, distributed and expended in accordance with the legislation.” Following the release of the OIG report, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board issued the following statement: “We are proud to receive this validation of the effectiveness of our systems and processes to safeguard producer and importer investments into the Beef Checkoff Program. The bottom line: producers and importers can be assured by the OIG report and the Beef Board’s mission of continual improvement that our checkoff dollars are being invested appropriately and effectively.”...more

R-CALF responds to Beef Checkoff ruling

Last week, the USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an audit report essentially clearing the Beef Board and NCBA of any violations of laws regulating checkoff spending, and soon after, R-CALF USA called the report a “colossal whitewash."  In response, R-CALF sent an April 5 letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong, calling the report a "colossal whitewash of monumental proportions." The group also accused USDA of corruption. “Only within an agency fraught with corruption and cronyism can a conclusive finding that the NCBA had improperly charged the beef checkoff fund hundreds of thousands of dollars nevertheless result in a conclusion by USDA that NCBA is guilty of no wrong doing. The agency’s pronouncement that such is the case defies any semblance of logic, impartiality and credibility.”  R-CALF USA urged USDA to denounce the OIG report as a colossal political sham and whitewash; to permanently suspend the NCBA's eligibility as a checkoff contractor; to require a complete separation between the NCBA and the Federation of State Beef Councils; to clarify that no lobbying group is eligible to contract for beef checkoff funds; and, to amend the beef checkoff program so the CBB can contract directly to carry out beef checkoff programs. Read the full text of the R-CALF complaint...more

Canada ready for Canadian $1 billion sanctions against U.S. over labels

Canada is prepared to impose sanctions of up to C$1 billion ($980 million) a year against the United States unless it complies with a WTO order to redesign its meat labels, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Tuesday. The United States introduced country of origin labels for meat in 2009. Mexico and Canada successfully argued before the World Trade Organization that the labels were discriminatory and Washington has until May 23 this year to change them. The Canadians and Mexicans want Washington to comply with the WTO ruling that it must amend its meat labeling rules. The labels right now identify where beef, pork, chicken and lamb sold in the United States come from. The rules cut U.S. imports of Canadian pigs and cattle sharply because it raised costs for U.S. packers who must now segregate imported animals from U.S. livestock. Ritz said Canada would consider imposing "extensive retaliatory measures" if the United States failed to act and noted Canadian beef and pork producers complained the rules were costing them C$1 billion a year in lost sales. "We're looking for those kinds of dollars in retaliatory action. Should the Americans put in place the proper response to the WTO ... then this won't be required," he told reporters from Washington after talks with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack...more

SCOTUS will decide Fri whether to hear Tombstone's lawsuit v. feds!

by Nick Dranias

For over a year and a half, the historic town of Tombstone, Ariz., has been in a stand-off with the U.S. Forest Service over the restoration of its municipal water system in the Huachuca Mountains.

 It all started when the Forest Service refused to allow the city to restore its water supply after it was destroyed by flooding caused by the Monument Fire’s denuding of the Coronado National Forest.

Disregarding a State of Emergency declared by Governor Brewer which authorized immediate repairs, the Forest Service instead wrapped the town in red tape. Before allowing the restoration work to go forward, it required multiple interagency and interdepartmental consultations. Eventually the Forest Service approved partial repairs to two of the city’s 25 springheads. For over a year and a half, the historic town of Tombstone, Ariz., has been in a stand-off with the U.S. Forest Service over the restoration of its municipal water system in the Huachuca Mountains.

Today, only three springheads are delivering water to Tombstone from the Huachuca Mountains. The city’s water supply is nearly as precarious as it was after the Monument Fire. While the Forest Service mulls over authorizing additional repairs, the fire-prone, desert-parched city’s existence hangs in the balance.

To vindicate Tombstone’s right to exist, the Goldwater Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. We are also requesting permission to allow Tombstone to immediately continue its restoration work.

Fortunately, Tombstone is not standing alone before the U.S. Supreme Court. On April 1st, amicus briefs supporting Tombstone were filed by a coalition of 13 counties in Arizona and New Mexico, and five leading national and western state think tanks, including the Cato Institute, the Rio Grande Foundation, the Montana Policy Institute, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. A veritable posse has joined the fight for Tombstone’s right to exist—and not a moment too soon; the Supreme Court conferences on April 12 to determine whether to take the case.  Goldwater Institute

Learn More:
Petition for certiorari
Amicus brief, Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties
Amicus brief, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Panel hears proposal to change NM water rules

A battle is brewing over how to best protect groundwater at mining sites around New Mexico. The state Environment Department said Tuesday the rules it has proposed would be the most stringent of any copper producing state in the West, including Arizona, Nevada and Utah. They include new engineering requirements for handling left-over rock, leach piles, tanks and pipelines. "This idea that we've somehow lowered our standards or created a safe haven for polluters is completely untrue," said Ryan Flynn, general counsel for the department. "We've actually raised the bar." The proposed rules have the support of New Mexico's copper mining industry, but environmentalists argue that the state stands to take a step back if the rules are approved by the state's Water Quality Control Commission. Environmentalists accuse the department of giving in to the industry despite months of stakeholder meetings. Attorney General Gary King has also come out in opposition, saying the proposed rules would violate state water protection laws...more

NY Times: Amid Drought, Water Board in New Mexico Confronts State Over Supply

A small water agency in southern New Mexico has moved to force state agencies that control water distribution to deprive some users of their supplies. The local agency, the Carlsbad Irrigation District, or C.I.D., acted to ensure that its alfalfa farmers receive the supplemental deliveries to which they say they are entitled. The irrigation district voted unanimously last week to make what is known as a “priority call” on the Pecos River, a move that could force New Mexico’s Office of the State Engineer to reallocate supplies, relying on a longstanding priority list and assigning water to all the users of the river based on their seniority.  On Tuesday, the district was pressing its case at meetings with state officials. This year, Carlsbad farmers have been told that they will receive only 10 percent of their normal water allotment, in part because of the lack of supplemental water from state-run wells. The priority call, in the midst of the worst drought on record in the Pecos River Basin, which runs almost the full length of the state from north to south, could mean a loss of water for newer but more economically robust industries, including oil and gas extraction and cheese production. The oldest claims on water across the West tend to belong to the heirs of the farmers who first seeded the land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Last month, Estevan R. L√≥pez, the director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, warned the Carlsbad agency against taking the action. “I understand the frustration of the C.I.D.’s farmers given the lack of water and the disappointing future climate forecasts,” he wrote in a letter to the district. “However, a priority call may not result in improvement...more

Texas: Racing the drought to protect endangered species

Sitting on a submerged cradle of steel beams in the middle of the Comal River, an excavator the size of a small house dug into an island packed with invasive plants. By removing the island, the machine is helping to restore the habitat of one of the rarest and most endangered fish in Texas. If the assumptions of the biologists overseeing the work are correct, when native aquatic plants are re-established, there will be more territory for the inch-long fountain darter, raising the chances of its survival if the drought persists this summer. Across the Edwards Aquifer, projects such as these are under way as part of the first comprehensive plan to maintain springflows and protect the habitat of the eight endangered species that depend on springs in New Braunfels and San Marcos. The work is in a race against the drought, which could become the second-most severe on record in Texas this summer, the state meteorologist told the San Antonio Express-News...more

Grand Canyon Mules To Stop Delivering Packages

It’s a long way from the rim of the Grand Canyon down to the bottom where the Colorado River flows. Since the 1920s mules have delivered mail and care packages to the boatmen and backpackers at Phantom Ranch, a small outpost on the floor of the canyon. But now the company that runs the mule train says it’s too much of a burden. The last day for package delivery will be April 15. On a recent chilly morning the packers were up at 3 a.m. getting the mules ready for their seven-mile trek down into the Grand Canyon. They brushed and fed the mules, then strapped each one with 150 pounds of saddlebags filled with boxes. They worked quickly so they could leave at first light. The mules supply Phantom Ranch with what it needs 365 days a year. Phantom — as it’s called — is a modest resort, about a dozen cabins, two bunk houses and a restaurant nestled in the trees beside Bright Angel Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River. The company that runs the mules, and all the hotels and restaurants in the park, is Xanterra. John Berry works for the company and is in charge of the mules on the south rim. "We pack everything from food to bedding, pillows, windows, everything, Christmas trees during Christmas and the mail all on the back of a mule," Berry said. "It got too big for us," Berry said. "We just could not handle how many boxes were being sent down." And Berry says they also had to haul a lot of boxes out...more

Feds pay for data they could have just Googled, audit finds

Congress’s top auditor said Tuesday that the Commerce Department has been charging other government agencies millions of dollars for reports that the other agencies could just as easily have gotten online, for free. The Government Accountability Office, releasing its third annual report on duplication in the federal government, said 74 percent of all the reports held by the National Technical Information Service were available elsewhere, usually for free — and often just by a simple Google search. “The source that most often had the reports GAO was searching for was another website located at,” the auditors said. The reports don’t amount to much — the agency reported revenues of $1.5 million in fiscal year 2011 — but overall, duplication and waste are likely costing the federal government billions of dollars a year, the auditors said. In one example GAO said the federal government paid for 679 separate renewable energy programs in 2010. The 2009 stimulus alone created or boosted 157 of the initiatives. Altogether, 23 federal agencies have renewable energy programs. But the Government Accountability Office said it can’t even begin to measure how much overlap there is because the agencies don’t keep sufficient records to evaluate that...more

India deploys drones to save rhinos

India has deployed aerial drones over Kaziranga National Park in Assam state in a bid to protect endangered one-horned rhinos from poachers. Kaziranga chief NK Vasu said the maiden drone flight on Monday was a "milestone in wildlife protection". The park is home to two-thirds of the world's one-horned rhino population and also has a large number of elephants, tigers and other wildlife. In recent months, rhinos have been killed in large numbers by poachers. Drones and other successful anti-poaching measures have also been used by the WWF in nearby Chitwan National Park in Nepal, where the hunting of one-horned rhinos has been drastically reduced. "The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was up in the sky for 15 minutes. It landed safely," Mr Vasu said. "We hope this technology will go a long way in effective surveillance of the park." Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said this was the first time that drones had been used for wildlife protection anywhere in India. "The UAVs will deter poachers who will now have to reckon with surveillance from air as well as on ground," Mr Hussain said...more

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Colorado sheriffs planning lawsuit to block new gun laws

More than half of Colorado sheriffs have agreed to launch a legal challenge to the state's recently passed gun restrictions. Thirty-seven of the state's 62 elected sheriffs are prepared to sue to overturn laws that now prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines holding more than 15 rounds and require background checks for all private gun sales, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said Tuesday. Cooke said he expects more sheriffs will sign on to the lawsuit, but other sheriffs said they oppose the effort. The proposed lawsuit would say the law violates the Constitution's Second Amendment right to bear arms and the 14th Amendment, which bars states from abridging the "privileges and immunities" of citizens, Cooke said. The lawsuit would be handled by lawyer Dave Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, a conservative think-tank, and adjunct Professor of Advanced Constitutional Law at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law, Cooke said...more

Senator criticizes Forest Service officials' judgment that led to Pautre Fire

Though U.S. Forest Service announced Sunday that the Pautre Fire in Perkins County was determined to have been completely contained, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp spoke out Monday on behalf of ranchers who lost thousands of acres of grazing land. The Fire, escaped containment south of Hettinger and Lemmon after starting April 3 as a 130-acre prescribed burn by the Forest Service in the Grand River National Grasslands and scorched nearly 11,000 acres over 16 square miles. The area received several inches of snow on Monday. Heitkamp, a Democrat, released a statement regarding the fire on Monday, sending her condolences to ranchers and landowners while criticizing the judgment used by the Forest Service. “This fire was avoidable and I am disappointed with the lack of judgment used by the U.S. Forest Service to proceed with the controlled burn given the high winds and dry conditions at the time,” Heitkamp said. The Forest Service has said it intends to compensate landowners for damages to fences, hay bales and anything else hurt by the fire...more

Also see Forest Service apologizes for Dakotas fire

Rancher Who Lost 354 Cows to Feds Can Sue

An Arizona cattle rancher can sue the U.S. Forest Service for seizing and selling nearly 400 of his herd, the Court of Federal Claims ruled. Though Daniel Gabino Martinez's land sits in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, he refused to get federal permits so that his cattle could graze because he claimed that his water and forage rights entitled such use. The Forest Service issued a notice of trespass in February 2005, but Gabino Martinez refused to remove the cattle. Agents ultimately seized 354 of his cattle in November 2004, but Gabino Martinez waited until November 2011 to file suit. The government claimed that the complaint failed under the six-year statute of limitations, but Judge Eric Bruggink disagreed Thursday. "If impoundment of the cattle were grounds for asserting a taking, then presumably those impoundments which took place more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint could be dismissed as stale," Bruggink wrote. During oral arguments, however, the government's counsel argued the Forest Service's actions should be analyzed as the exercise of a police power, not as a taking. "If we agree with counsel that impoundment by the government would not create liability for a taking, then it is difficult to understand how plaintiff forfeited its taking claim by not suing before November 8, 2011," Bruggink wrote. Gabino Martinez maintains that since his cattle were not sold until December 2005, he was within the six-year statutory period when he filed suit in November 2011. The government claimed, however, that the clock started when it took possession of the cattle on Nov. 8, 2005. "We are reluctant to dismiss the action at this early stage, when plaintiff's theory is that the sale of the cattle constituted the taking, when it is the government's real position that neither the impoundment nor the sale would ever trigger a taking, when the government conduct was pursuant to a regulatory scheme, and when defendant's counsel ventured at oral argument that, if the claim was brought before the sale and viewed as a regulatory taking, 'then the government would have an argument that his claim is not ripe,'" Bruggink wrote.  Courthouse News

USDA does about-face, won’t jettison Forest Service’s shield logo

by Scott Sandsberry

A plan to drop a recognizable logo in this part of the country — the Forest Service’s iconic shield — generated so much outrage among the agency’s retirees that the idea has been dropped.

In early January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly introduced a policy to phase out all of its sub-agencies’ logos, including the Forest Service’s, and replace them with the USDA symbol.

But that policy was kept so under wraps that not even Pacific Northwest forest supervisors were told. Some of them only heard about it in retrospect late last week — after the USDA had decided, in light of the virulent opposition from the Forest Service’s “Old Smokies” retiree group, to keep the service’s shield logo intact.

“We were all getting ready for a good fight,” said Jim Golden of Sonora, Calif., chairman of the retiree group...

The retirees, though, didn’t swing into action until barely two weeks ago because the new USDA policy — while ostensibly already in force for 31/2 months — wasn’t known to the people in the field.

Questions sent Monday morning by the Yakima Herald-Republic to the office of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack prompted a short email reply with this statement, which was “to be attributed to ‘a USDA spokesperson’ ”: “The US Forest Service shield is exempted from the One USDA branding directive.”

Also Monday morning, Forest Service headquarters around the country received the same message, with this terse directive, from Forest Service headquarters in Washington, D.C.: “Good morning, colleagues. Per USDA, we are cleared at all levels to provide only the following comment when queried about the (Forest Service) shield. If we get further guidance, we will let you know.”

While current Forest Service employees could not comment on the record, many retirees were aghast at the idea of what they saw as the USDA’s usurping the service’s shield logo.

“I just think that’s horrible,” said Doug Jenkins, who retired as a Naches Ranger District information specialist four months ago. “It doesn’t surprise me, as if they didn’t have better things to do than do away with the Forest Service shield so they can have their own little realm.”

The Forest Service’s logo has been around since the agency’s inception in 1905 under then-chief forester Gifford Pinchot. It was a former Gifford Pinchot National Forest supervisor who was instrumental in marshaling the opposition to the shield logo’s removal...

One retired 34-year employee sent sarcastic congratulations through the USDA’s online feedback forum, calling the new standards “egotistical bureaucratic tunnel vision” and “the best example of top-down, super-centralized, micro-managed piece of bureaucratic direction that it has been my disgust to read.”  

Black-backed Woodpeckers One Step Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection in California, Oregon, South Dakota

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will conduct a full status review to determine whether genetically distinct populations of black-backed woodpeckers — which thrive in forests where fires have burned — will get protection under the Endangered Species Act in two regions, California/Oregon and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Today’s decision that protection may be warranted for these birds comes in response to a scientific petition submitted by four conservation groups last May. Black-backed woodpeckers are threatened by logging that destroys their post-fire habitat. “This is the first time in the history of the Endangered Species Act that the government has initiated steps to protect a wildlife species that depends upon stands of fire-killed trees,” said Dr. Chad Hanson, an ecologist and black-backed woodpecker expert. “We are pleased to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognize the naturalness and ecological importance of this post-fire habitat.” Black-backed woodpeckers rely on what is known as “snag forest,” high-diversity habitat that’s extremely rare and ephemeral because it is only created when either fire or beetles kill the majority of trees in an area. These standing dead trees — called “snags” — then become a virtual bed and breakfast for black-backed woodpeckers by providing nesting space as well as large amounts of wood-boring beetle larvae for the woodpeckers to eat. Post-disturbance forests are only livable for the species for a short time — roughly 7-10 years — which means the woodpeckers need newly burned or beetle-killed forests to continually appear on the landscape. Unfortunately, that habitat is often destroyed by post-disturbance logging that removes the very trees the birds rely on. Because of logging, suppression of the natural fire regime and large-scale forest “thinning” to prevent fires in backcountry areas, there is now an extremely limited amount of usable habitat available to black-backed woodpeckers...more

It's pretty simple folks.  Don't log, which over time creates  the environment for a mega fire.  Then don't log after the fire, which could disturb the habitat for the wood pecker or some other critter or plant.  Use the ESA to accomplish both.   

Judge rules administration overlooked fracking risks in California mineral leases

A federal judge has ruled the Obama administration broke the law when it issued oil leases in central California without fully weighing the environmental impact of "fracking," a setback for companies seeking to exploit the region's enormous energy resources. The decision, made public on Monday, effectively bars for the time being any drilling on two tracts of land comprising 2,500 acres leased for oil and gas development in 2011 by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management in Monterey County. The tracts lie atop a massive bed of sedimentary rock known as the Monterey Shale Formation, estimated by the Energy Department to contain more than 15 billion barrels of oil, equal to 64 percent of the total U.S. shale oil reserves. Most of that oil is not economically retrievable except by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a production-boosting technique in which large amounts of water, sand and chemicals are injected into shale formations to force hydrocarbon fuels to the surface. Grewal held that BLM's analysis was flawed because it "did not adequately consider the development impact of hydraulic fracturing techniques ... when used in combination with technologies such as horizontal drilling." "The potential risk for contamination from fracking, while unknown, is not so remote or speculative to be completely ignored," Grewal wrote. But the judge stopped short of ordering the leases canceled, as sought by environmental groups. Instead, he ordered the parties to confer and either submit a joint plan of action if they can agree or prepare to argue their respective cases for a remedy if they cannot...more

BLM restricting grazing due to drought

Due to drought conditions across southwest Montana, the Bureau of Land Management is asking livestock owners to limit grazing on public land. BLM officials say permit-holding livestock owners should graze no more than 70 percent of their allocated forage on lands administered by the Dillon and Butte field offices. Reductions can be made by limiting the number of livestock, the length of time spent on public land or a combination of the two...more

Monday, April 08, 2013

76-Year-Old Man Facing Charges After Killing Bear In His Backyard - video

A 76-year-old Auburn man is facing charges after killing a bear in his backyard. Richard Ahlstrand told WBZ-TV he was stocking his bird feeder Friday night when a bear about seven feet tall and 300-to-400 pounds started chasing him. That’s when he turned his shotgun on the bear. “I didn’t have time to aim through the sights, but I aimed in the direction of the head on this thing and I pulled the trigger before it got to me. It just dropped,” he said. Ahlstrand said he was carrying the shotgun Friday night because he thought he saw the bear in his yard Thursday. “If that ever jumped on me, I wouldn’t even be here right know, I don’t think. I know it was going to seriously maul me,” he said. Ahlstrand is now charged with illegally killing a bear, illegally baiting a bear, illegal possession of a firearm and failing to secure a weapon...more

Here's the video report:

Another Solar Company Can't Take The Heat, Closes Despite $10 Million In Stimulus

A Pittsburgh, Pa. solar energy company has shut its doors four years after receiving nearly $10.2 million in tax credits from the Obama Administration as part of the as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Flabeg Solar U.S. Corp., a $30 million solar plant located near the Pittsburgh International Airport, opened its doors in 2009 and was said to provide 300 jobs. Now, just four years later, the plant has shut down and laid off more than 60 workers. In addition to this, 10 of its former employees have petitioned a federal judge for severance pay after they lost their jobs last month, according to PA Independent. In addition to the $10 million received in stimulus funds, the state and Allegheny County added an additional $9 million in job creation grants, loans, and other financial aid to help launch the plant, bringing the total to $20 million in assistance to the company...more

PETA Plans to Fly Drones That Would 'Stalk Hunters'

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is actively shopping for a drone that would "stalk hunters," the organization said Monday. The group says it will "soon have some impressive new weapons at its disposal to combat those who gun down deer and doves" and that it is "shopping for one or more drone aircraft with which to monitor those who are out in the woods with death on their minds." The group says it will not weaponize the drones, but will use them to film potentially illegal hunting activity and turn it over to law enforcement. "The talk is usually about drones being used as killing machines, but PETA drones will be used to save lives," PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said in a statement. They are currently considering purchasing the CineStar Octocopter, which is capable of carrying a DSLR camera for up to 5 minutes. With smaller cameras, the drone can fly for about 20 minutes. The group says it also hopes to fly drones over factory farms, fishing spots and "other venues where animals routinely suffer and die."...more

Albuquergue: Hundreds rallied to support labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Around 200 people, some wearing blindfolds and vegetable costumes, attended “What’s on Our Plates?” last week, a community forum in northeast Albuquerque. Organizers say the purpose of the meeting was to inform the public about genetically-engineered (GE) foods and push the city for legislation that would require companies to label genetically-engineered foods. Yong Jung Cho, field organizer for Food & Water Watch, said the forum is just one of many of an ongoing campaign to make labeling of GE food mandatory by law. “There are no long-term studies proving that genetically engineered foods are safe for human consumption or for the environment and yet the Federal Drug Administration still doesn’t require labeling. However at the heart of the issue is consumers deserve the right to know what we are eating and what we are feeding our families.”  Some of the most common genetically-engineered foods are corn, alfalfa, cotton and soybeans. In 1992, the FDA approved Calgene’s Flavr Savr™ tomatoes making it the first genetically modified food to be sold in U.S. stores. Earlier this year the New Mexico State Senate voted down a bill that if passed would have made it mandatory for companies to label of genetically-engineered food throughout the state...more

Ranchers: Forest Service had 'zero support' for burn

On day two of the Pautre Fire that destroyed more than 14,000 acres of grasslands in northwest South Dakota, the biggest question ranchers were asking was, “Why?” “There’s a real big question here that nobody’s asking and that question is ‘Should it have been burned?’” said Tim Smith, president of the Grand River Cooperative Grazing District. “Their reasons, their methods were incorrect for this area. They had very poor judgment in what they did on that day. There were red flag warnings out — the temperature in Hettinger, North Dakota, was 71 degrees, highest in the state of North Dakota. The fire started 10 miles southeast of Hettinger, North Dakota”. A 130-acre controlled burn turned into a 14,000-acre wildfire when winds picked up. “The science behind what they’re doing is not applied to here,” Smith said. While there was no loss of structure or life — including livestock — Smith said enough grazing land was lost to feed 1,000 cow-calf pairs for an entire summer. The grazing association represents about 150,000 acres that can sustain 10,000 cow-calf pairs for a summer...more

In testimony on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell emphasized the importance of collaboration in developing restoration projects on national forests and grasslands. FS Press Release 

As deputy regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region, Tom facilitated collaborative approaches to wildland fire management, roadless area management, and other issues. As regional forester for the Northern Region, Tom strongly supported community-based collaboration in the region, finding solutions based on mutual goals and thereby reducing the number of appeals and lawsuits. FS web site 

As regional forester, I focused on community-based collaboration—on finding solutions based on mutual goals. That was my experience as regional forester, and that’s how I’ve served as Chief. Tidwell speech.

What happened to all that FS "collaboration"?  Does it apply to ranchers?

“The (U.S.) Forest Service and the association are supposed to work cooperatively to manage this land,” Smith said. “If you had 85 to 90 members in your association that were adamantly against burning, would you burn it? That’s the big question right there. They had zero support.” Numerous people, many members of the Grand River Valley Grazing Association, told Forest Service officials when asked that burning on Thursday would not be a good idea. “They called me about the burn, I said, ‘Don’t burn,’” rancher John Johnson said. “They said, ‘Well, why?’ I said ‘Cause we’re having a cold front moving in and when a cold front moves in, we have high winds. Don’t burn.’” The crews ignored the locals’ advice, citing their professionalism. “So now I’m asking whether they’re professional fire people or are they professional arsonists?” Johnson said.

Guess not.

Moonifisant is brilliant in $231,438 New Mexican Spring Futurity

The unbeaten Moonifisant scored a brilliant win in the $231,438 New Mexican Spring Futurity at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on Sunday. The half-brother to the champion First Moonflash continues to raise eyebrows after racing to a half length win in the rich 300 yard feature for New Mexico-bred two-year-olds. Racing for the talented trainer Juan M. Gonzalez, Moonifisant roared through the distance in a fast 14.706 seconds, good for a 99 speed index. The 9-5 favorite produced a late surge to pull clear of 16-1 long shot Threedeewoodee in the final yards. The brown colt is a perfect three for three this season at Sunland Park. Gonzalez owns three wins in the New Mexican Spring Futurity. Jockey Jaime Parga Leos rode the winner who returned a generous $5.80 to win. He was the top qualifier. Gonzalez indicated that Moonifisant would be pointed to the Mountain Top and All American Futurities at Ruidoso Downs this summer. Gonzalez won the All American Futurity in 2003 with By By J J. Moonifisant earned $108,775 for owners Peter Gallegos, Robert Sanchez and Patricia Gonzalez of Alcade, New Mexico...more

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Dead Man's Burden - Official Trailer #1

N.Y. Dad’s Pistol License Suspended Over Something His 10-Year-Old Son Said — and It Could Be 8 Years Before He Gets It Back

A New York father has had his firearms all but confiscated after the Suffolk County Pistol License Bureau suspended his pistol license indefinitely over a perceived threat made by his 10-year-old son and two of his classmates at school. John Mayer, of Commack, N.Y., told TheBlaze that the incident occurred on March 1. It was like any other day, the father explained. He put his son on the bus and sent him off to school. Later that day, Mayer got a call from school officials at Pines Elementary School informing him that his 10-year-old son and two other students were talking about going to a boy’s house with a water gun, “paint gun” and a BB gun. There had reportedly been a school yard pushing incident the day before involving the boys, excluding Mayer’s son, and they were seemingly talking about getting even in some way. Mayer told TheBlaze that a teacher overheard the students talking and informed the principal, who then immediately called police and filed a report. He said the principal told police something to the effect of, there’s a “kid with a gun, ready to go.” School officials then “interrogated” the boys, Mayer explained. It was later determined that the 10-year-old boys did not have access to a BB gun, paintball gun or any actual firearms. The school’s principal later informed the father that his son would be suspended for two days for the incident. But the ordeal was far from over. Mayer said police officers were then deployed to his home where he was advised by officers that they might have to confiscate his firearms, which he says were all properly stored and secured. “I just couldn’t believe what was happening,” he told TheBlaze. The following Monday, Mayer got a call from the Suffolk County Pistol Licensing Bureau. He was reportedly told that his license would be suspended and police would arrive at his house the next morning to retrieve his handguns...more

12 GOP senators back Rand Paul on gun-control filibuster

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s threat to filibuster any new gun restrictions is gathering steam, as a dozen of his Republican colleagues have now signed onto his plan. The Kentucky Republican and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) first wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid late last month to warn him of their intention to try to tie up the Senate if, as planned, Reid moved forward with legislation that would expand background checks and attempt to crack down on interstate gun trafficking. Reid is expected to bring a gun-control bill to the floor as early as next week, or perhaps the following week, and Paul is renewing his vow to try to block the measure. Paul’s follow-up letter, obtained by POLITICO, bears Monday’s date and is signed by 13 Republicans, including fellow potential 2016 presidential aspirant Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who signed on shortly after Paul’s first threat was issued — and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas. While Paul gained a new measure of fame among libertarian-minded voters on the right and left during a recent filibuster sparked by the administration’s policy of targeted drone strikes, Reid has an ace in the hole. A new Senate rule would allow him to circumvent a filibuster on the motion to proceed to the gun bill by promising each party two amendments on the legislation. Under that scenario, Paul and his allies would still get a chance to raise their objections on the floor for hours on end, but they couldn’t stop the Senate from starting debate on the bill...more

And you can thank Tom Udall for that "new rule".

States look to tax guns, ammo

Cook County, Ill., this month began collecting a $25 tax on gun purchases, and at least six states are considering new taxes on firearms or ammunition as a way to help pay for the consequences of gun violence.  Gun and ammunition purchases are subject to local sales taxes, and manufacturers pay a federal excise tax — 10% for pistols and revolvers, 11% for other guns, shells and cartridges — that funds wildlife programs. Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers, says proposals for new gun taxes are "a coordinated effort by gun-control groups to try to impose a poll tax on the exercise of the Second Amendment." Such taxes don't create safer communities, Keane says. "They burden and frustrate the exercise of a constitutional right," he says. Legislation introduced in Congress would add a 10% tax to handgun purchases to pay for gun buybacks and other programs. Bills creating new taxes are pending in state legislatures in New Jersey and Washington state. Elsewhere...more

Reid’s Gun Control Bill Makes a Missing Firearm a Ticket to Five Years in Prison

Under Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) gun control bill (S. 649), if somebody steals your firearm or you lose it, you can go to prison for up to five years if you have not reported the theft or loss to local police and to Attorney General Eric Holder within 24 hours.
The provision merits ridicule for treating as a felon someone who misplaces a firearm and does not report it to the police and the federal government fast enough.
Section 123 of the Reid bill adds a new provision to section 922 of title 18 of the U.S. Code:
It shall be unlawful for any person who lawfully possesses or owns a firearm that has been shipped or transported in, or has been possessed in or affecting, interstate or foreign commerce, to fail to report the theft or loss of the firearm, within 24 hours after the person discovers the theft or loss, to the Attorney General and to the appropriate local authorities.
It also amends section 924 of title 18 so that a violation of the 24-hour reporting requirement committed “knowingly” is punishable by up to five years in prison or a criminal fine, or both. To punish someone who “knowingly” violates the 24-hour rule might sound reasonable to some people—until you know what a lawyer means by the word “knowingly” when it comes to a criminal statute.
The Supreme Court said in Bryan v. U.S. in 1994 that when a federal statute punishes someone for a crime committed “willfully,” the federal government must prove at trial that the individual knew that his conduct was unlawful. However, the Court also said that, when the statute provides that the government must prove merely that the crime was committed “knowingly,” the government does not have to prove that the individual knew that his or her conduct was unlawful. Thus, an individual who knew his or her gun was missing and did not report it to local authorities and the Attorney General in 24 hours would potentially face five years in prison...

Loose Language in Reid’s Gun Control Bill Allows the Beginnings of a National Gun Registry

by David Addington

...As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) must know, Americans who own firearms have a special sensitivity to a “Big Brother” federal government that wants to keep centralized records on who owns what guns and where in America. Loose language in his gun control bill (S. 649) could start America down that slippery slope.
Since the Second Amendment guarantees to the people the right to keep and bear arms, many Americans look askance at efforts to create centralized records that might some day, in some distant future neither wanted nor expected, facilitate a despotic government’s efforts to disarm the populace or ensure that its supporters but not its opponents possess arms. Some Americans look at history and view that concern as far-fetched; others look at history and see careful attention to that concern as essential to maintaining freedom.
Congress has attended carefully to the concern about a federal gun registry in the past. Thus, for example, section 103(i) of Public Law 103-159 (18 U.S.C. 922 note) regarding the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) provides:
No department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States may–
(1) require that any record or portion thereof generated by the system established under this section be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or political subdivision thereof; or
(2) use the system established under this section to establish any system for the registration of firearms, firearm owners, or firearm transactions or dispositions, except with respect to persons, prohibited by section 922(g) or (n) of title 18, United States Code, or State law, from receiving a firearm.
Unfortunately, the Reid legislation deviates from this strong guarantee that protects against misuse of the NICS process to start a national firearms registry.
Title I of the Reid gun control bill purports to “fix gun checks.” The proposed “fix” in section 122 of S. 649 is to take away an individual’s right to sell or give away a firearm to another individual unless, in most cases, the individual uses a licensed importer, dealer, or manufacturer to make the transfer of the firearm.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Clothesline nostalgia 

by Julie Carter 

She set her bushel basket atop a small wooden keg to save from bending over so far with each piece of clothing to be hung on the line. The sun shone brightly as she methodically shook out each piece and pinned it properly to the heavy wire line that ran parallel to two others the full length of the back yard. 

Sliding the clothespin bag down the line as she progressed, without a thought she went about hanging aprons, dish towels and an assortment of undershirts and underwear. 

The next line would be full of shirts, always hung by the tails, never the shoulders, followed by a dozen pair of jeans in graduated sizes. Socks were matched up before hanging by the toes so they could easily be folded or rolled when taken off the line.

There are a couple of generations of us left that remember our mother’s time spent at the clothesline and a few more that might have carried the age-old tradition into a more modern time.

I've raised children who now have children and none of them have used a clothesline. If they lived anywhere there was one, it might have served to throw a rug over it or tie the dog to, but never did they experience life's connection offered by a clothesline.

They never learned about wiping off the lines with a cloth before hanging up the freshly washed clothes. They missed the lessons of clothesline etiquette -- hanging whites with whites and preferably the undies went on the line behind the bed sheets for propriety's sake. 

They have never been scrutinized by a neighbor’s raised eyebrow for dingy gray whites or ever shopped for Mrs. Stewart's Bluing. They may have only some recall of unconventional uses for clothespins such as fire-throwing catapults with stick matches, mousetraps, rubber band shooters and detonators.

I still have visions of my mother racing the rain that was blowing down off the mountain, pushing dirt clouds ahead of it and promising to ruin the efforts of her day-long washing project. 

Grabbing huge armloads of clothes in one fell swoop, clothespins flying, she'd move to rescue, first, the sheets and white things before they became dimpled with muddied drops.

In the day before the plastic laundry baskets, Mom would buy an oil-cloth liner for about a dollar at the five-and-dime store to use in another wooden fruit basket. She would sprinkle the clothes with a bottle of water with an attachment made just for this job, roll them tightly and place them in layers in the basket. Then she would cover it all in more plastic to hold the moisture until the ironing began.

The elevation at the ranch house where we lived was 8,200 feet, making summer very brief and winter fierce and long. For more months than not, freshly laundered clothes freezing on the line was the bigger problem.

It wasn't uncommon to have clothes that refused to dry outside strung around the dining room and hung on the backs of chairs to dry. There was also that flimsy folding rack that sat near the only source of heat in the main part of the house. I recall it full of drying diapers long before the day of disposables.

A memory of a time when life was simpler but work was harder. Propped up in the middle by a two-by-four post, old sagging clothes lines still offer a friendly greeting to a home where clothes are cared for by love, not by Whirlpool.

Julie can be reached for comment at