Saturday, May 11, 2013

NM Horse Slaughter Plant Faces More Hurdles

New Mexico's Valley Meat Co. has another obstacle in its path to becoming a horse slaughterhouse. A Larkspur, Colo., group, Front Range Equine Rescue, has notified the Roswell company and two federal agencies - the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - of its intent to sue for violation of the Clean Water Act. Bruce Wagman, a partner at Schiff Hardin, a law firm representing Front Range Equine Rescue, said this issue goes back at least five years. "This is about the failure to obtain a permit for discharge of contaminants from storm water," he said. "It's an ongoing violation because, as far as we know, they had a Grant of Inspection for cow slaughter all those years and were in violation of the Clean Water Act every day they were doing it." A USDA Grant of Inspection is required before meat from a slaughterhouse can be sold. Wagman said the agency doesn't necessarily look at Clean Water Act issues when it decides on this document, so it is possible to be approved for business without being in compliance. Valley Meat's attorney, A. Blair Dunn, said the company will not be out of compliance by the end of the 60-day time period in the notice to sue...more

NYC elementary school adopts all-vegetarian menu

A city public school is one of the first in the nation to adopt an all-vegetarian menu, school officials said Tuesday. Public School 244, in the Flushing section of Queens, has been serving tofu wraps and vegetarian chili since going all-veggie earlier this year, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said during a lunchtime visit. "I am proud of the students and staff for trailblazing this extraordinary path," Walcott said. P.S. 244 opened in 2008 and houses just over 400 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade. The school, which wanted to offer the children healthy food options, started serving a vegetarian lunch three times a week and then increased it to four times a week before making the switch to an all-vegetarian menu every day. Since 2009, the school has partnered with the nonprofit New York Coalition for Healthy School Food to develop the healthy menus. A staff member at the animal-welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said he believes P.S. 244 may be the first all-vegetarian public elementary school in the nation. "We think this is a really exciting development," said Ryan Huling, who coordinates PETA's work with colleges that serve vegetarian fare. "The school should be commended for providing students with low-fat, nutrient-packed brain food."...more

BEEF magazine responds:

I think this is nothing short of child abuse and a nutritional decision based not on science or wellness, but on emotions and popular politics. It’s been proven that children need protein to fuel their active lifestyles, growing bodies and developing brains. According to the New York Beef Industry Council, “Are your kids getting enough nutrients to support their active body and learning needs? Are you not feeling as energetic or sharp as you should be? Do you know iron brings oxygen to our muscles as well as our brain? Iron deficiency is common among young children and women. Beef is the number-one natural food source of iron in our diet. “Iron is an essential mineral which plays a role in a variety of body functions. Iron’s primary role is to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide within the red blood cell from one body tissue to another. Iron is also necessary for the production of energy and to support the immune system. Many foods in the diet contain iron, but this iron is not always easily absorbed by your body. Iron in meat such as beef is better absorbed and available to our bodies than plant foods.”

NPR Coos Over 'Creating Passionate Environmentalists' To Pressure Colleges to Dump Coal Stocks

Today’s proof that National Public Radio is your taxpayer-funded rip-and-read press-release service for the Left: a Morning Edition story summarized as “College Divestment Campaigns Creating Passionate Environmentalists.” Reporter Elizabeth Shogren compared Brown University's anti-coal campaign to anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s: “Students at more than 300 colleges in the United States are asking their school's endowment fund to distance themselves from any coal-producing companies.” NPR’s chasing after Rolling Stone and The Nation magazine in promoting the fight to stop "climate change"...NPR won’t be checking if these “dozens” of students are grass-roots or astroturf. Guess who else is thumping Brown to divest, as they tout on the BrownDivestCoal website: billionaire Tom Steyer, the “Koch Brothers” of the greens. The greens at Brown (along with McKibben) were also promoted in December by the public-radio show Living On Earth...more

Friday, May 10, 2013

2 Va. Boys Suspended For Using Pencils As Guns

Two Suffolk second graders have been suspended for making shooting noises while pointing pencils at each other. Media outlets report the 7-year-old boys were suspended for two days for a violation of the Suffolk school system’s zero-tolerance policy on weapons. They were playing with one another in class Friday at Driver Elementary. “When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Well I was being a Marine and the other guy was being a bad guy,’” said Paul Marshall, one of the boys’ fathers. “It’s as simple as that.” Marshall, a former Marine, said he believes school officials overreacted. But Suffolk Public Schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said a pencil is considered a weapon when it’s pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made. “Some children would consider it threatening, who are scared about shootings in schools or shootings in the community,” Bradshaw said. “Kids don’t think about ‘Cowboys and Indians’ anymore, they think about drive-by shootings and murders and everything they see on television news every day.” Bradshaw said the policy has been in place for at least two decades. It also bans drawing a picture of a gun and pointing a finger in a threatening manner...more

Obama Might Actually Be the Environmental President

by Jonathan Chait

State of the Union addresses are wearying rituals, in which stitched-together lists of never-gonna-happen goals are woven into idealistic catchphrases, analyzed as rhetoric by an unqualified panel of poetry-critic-for-a-night political reporters, quickly followed by a hapless opposition-party response, and then, in almost every case, forgotten. This year, plunked into the midst of the tedium was a gigantic revelation, almost surely the most momentous news of President Obama’s second term. “I will direct my Cabinet,” he announced, “to come up with executive actions we can take now and in the future to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Here was a genuine bombshell. It sounded a little vague, and the president did not explain precisely what he intended to do or how he would pull it off. But a handful of environmental wonks had a fairly strong grasp of the project he had committed himself to, and they understood that it was very, very real and very, very doable. If they were to have summarized the news, the headline would have been OBAMA TO SAVE PLANET.

Few outside the green community grasped the meaning of the revelation, and it sank beneath the surface with barely a ripple as bored reporters quickly turned to other matters. Several elements of the Obama agenda—immigration reform, gun control, the budget wars—have since churned busily away in plain view, while his climate pledge has generated no visible action. (Which, as we’ll see, may be just how the administration wants it.)...

The second way to measure Obama’s climate-change record is: What has he done? He has done quite a bit, probably far more than you think, and not all of it advertised as climate legislation, or advertised as much of anything at all. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was many things—primarily, a desperate bid to shove money into enough Americans’ pockets to prevent another Great Depression—but one of them was a major piece of environmental reform. The law contained upwards of $90 billion in subsidies for green energy, which had a catalyzing effect on burgeoning industries. American wind-power generation has doubled, and solar power has increased more than six times over. As Time magazine’s Michael Grunwald detailed in his book The New New Deal, the new law suddenly transformed the Department of Energy, previously a sclerotic backwater charged mainly with overseeing the nuclear-weapons cache, into a massive new engine of cutting-edge environmental science.

The stimulus had the misfortune of absorbing the brunt of the public’s dismay with the economic crisis, and Republicans successfully turned Solyndra, an anomalous case of a green-energy subsidy that went bust, into a symbol that rendered the whole law so unpopular Democrats quickly grew afraid to tout it. Even a close observer like Lemann has forgotten that it was indeed “major environmental legislation.” And yet, the wave of innovation—new fuels, plus turbines, energy meters, and other futuristic devices—will reverberate for years. Envia Systems, a stimulus-financed clean-energy firm in Silicon Valley, has developed technology for electric-car batteries three times as efficient as the technology in the Volt, capable of shaving $5,000 off the sticker price of an electric car when it comes to market in 2015. Just a few weeks ago, the Times reported on a new stimulus-financed research project to increase the energy content (and thus reduce the emissions) of natural gas.

The administration has also carried out an ambitious program of regulation, having imposed or announced higher standards for gas mileage in cars, fuel cleanliness, energy efficiency in appliances, and emissions from new power plants. In aggregate, they amount to a major assault on climate change. Some environmentalists judge them to be insufficient—a fair critique—but many more Obama supporters aren’t even aware that they exist. This is likely because none of these regulations produced any political theater. There was no legislation, no ponderous Sunday-morning talk-show chin-scratching, no dramatic wrangling of votes on the House floor. Just the issuing of a new regulation, a smallish one-day story. Last August, for instance, the administration announced it was ratcheting up vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, from 29.7 miles per gallon to 54.5 miles per gallon. The news barely got a day of coverage, coming as it did during the first day of the Republican National Convention. About six weeks ago, the administration announced new standards for cleaner gasoline. “There is not another air-pollution-control strategy that we know of that will produce as substantial, cost-effective, and expeditious emissions reductions,” cooed the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Remember that?...

 Then, a few weeks after last year’s election, the Natural Resources Defense Council published a plan for the EPA to regulate existing power plants in a way that was neither ineffectual nor draconian. The proposal would set state-by-state limits on emissions. It sounds simple, but this was a conceptual breakthrough. Much like a cap-and-trade bill, it would allow market signals to indicate the most efficient ways for states to hit their targets—instead of shutting coal plants down, some utilities might pay consumers to weatherize their homes, while others might switch some of their generators over to cleaner fuels. The flexibility of the scheme would, in turn, reduce the costs passed on to consumers. Here is a way for Obama to use his powers—his own powers, unencumbered by the morass of a dysfunctional Congress—in such a way that is neither as ineffectual as a firecracker nor as devastating as a nuke: The NRDC calculates its plan would reduce our reliance on coal by about a quarter and national carbon emissions by 10 percent.

 This is the last best chance to deal with global warming in the Obama era. The prospect, for environmentalists, is exhilarating but also harrowing. The struggle will be lengthy, waged largely behind closed doors, and its outcome won’t be known until the Obama presidency is nearly over...

Here is a way for Obama to use his powers—his own powers, unencumbered by the morass of a dysfunctional Congress...

To think that one man has this kind of power should bring shame to each member of Congress, especially the Republicans.  When the R's controlled both the legislative and executive branches of government, they did nothing to revoke or limit the President's authority.  They scream when a Democrat sits in the White House and are quiet as a mouse pissin' on cotton when a R holds the seat, and the executive branch happily accumulates more power each year.


Fire-fighting plane to arrive at Ruidoso airport May 19

A small plane used in rapid responses to wildfires will arrive at Ruidoso's municipal airport May 19, and remain stationed there for much of the fire season. Even better, the Bureau of Indian Affairs working with the U.S. Forest Service will be paying the bill for the single-engine air tanker. The estimated cost for a 90-day fire danger period is about $252,000, according to a figure cited by Lincoln County Manager Nita Taylor last November. The threat to the forest around Ruidoso is enhanced by a prolonged drought, which creates prime conditions for wildfires. The community also owes appreciation to Gov. Susana Martinez and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, who visited the airport and the Little Bear Fire site last year and, "have never let up on the pressure to be proactive for the entire state," the airport manager said...more

Rep. Pearce took a lot of guff last year for being "rude" to forest officials.  Looks to me like he got their attention.  

Udall challenges Obama administration on sequestration hit on mineral royalties

Sen. Tom Udall has been a loyal supporter of President Obama, but the New Mexico Democrat is at odds over a move to take $26 million from the state in mineral and energy royalties and now he’s taking his case to the Senate itself. Udall on Thursday (May 9) will introduce the State Mineral Revenue Protection Act, which would prohibit the federal government from seizing royalties as part of sequestration cuts, New Mexico Watchdog has learned. “The agreement for mineral development needs to be honored,” Udall said by phone from his Capitol Hill office. “These aren’t federal funds. These revenues should not be subject to sequestration.” In late March, working through the U.S. Department of the Interior, the administration cut mineral and energy payments to 35 states by 5 percent. New Mexico stands to lose nearly $26 million— second only to Wyoming, which could lose $53 million for mineral and energy rights on state lands with federal leases...more

CDC: 1 in 5 Death Rate for New Chinese Bird Flu

About one in five people who have contracted a new strain of bird flu in China (H7N9) have died, according to a report released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So far, the virus has mostly struck older people, a majority of whom were male, and the evidence shows that transmission of the virus occurs largely from birds to people--although researchers suspect there have been a few cases of human-to-human transmission within families. “As of April 29, 2013, China had reported 126 confirmed H7N9 infections in humans, among whom 24 (19%) died,” said the May 10 edition of the CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."  H7N9 is also referred to as Avian Influenza and is spread mostly through chickens, ducks, and pigeons, according to the report...more

Wyden, Merkley seek emergency grazing in drought-stricken southern Oregon

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have asked the USDA to extend emergency grazing of cattle on federal land in drought-stricken southeastern Oregon counties. In a letter dated May 9, the Oregon Democrats wrote that this year's drought has created "disastrous conditions" for southeastern Oregon farmers and ranchers. "The situation facing these counties is dire, and requires bringing all available solutions to the table," the senators wrote.  "We ask that you expeditiously consider extending emergency grazing opportunities on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land, including land that might otherwise be incorporated in the Conservation Reserve Program," the senators wrote...more

Drought worsens in New Mexico; no relief in sight

Major stretches of river have already gone dry, farmers are leaving their land fallow, and cities are clamping down on water use, but things in New Mexico just went from bad to worse Thursday. The latest map from federal forecasters shows exceptional drought has spread from a quarter of New Mexico to nearly 40 percent in just one week. At this time last year, less than one-tenth of the state was affected by what is considered the worst category of drought. New Mexico — the nation’s fifth largest state — is in the worst shape of any state, and conditions have only intensified over the past seven days. This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor shows a swath of red and dark red across New Mexico, indicating extreme and exceptional drought conditions. The ominous colors stretch up through the Midwest, showing conditions have also worsened over the past year in parts of Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. “These kinds of conditions will certainly persist for a while,” said Tim Shy, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. “Even if we do get repeated rains over a long period of time, for them to crack the threshold and get us back out of the deep brown color is going to be pretty difficult indeed.”...more

Onslaught of cows

For the few Kansans who haven't noticed the poor condition of Kansas' parched prairie, loiter in Samples' Salina livestock market on sale day. With some of his territory entering into a third year of drought, he's seeing an onslaught of cows grace the sale ring as ranchers bring in what remains of their already depleted cowherds. "We have cows here from western Kansas, from Nebraska," said Samples, who operates Farmers and Ranchers Livestock, one of the largest sale barns in the state. "We have cows all the way from Colorado because of the dry weather -- cows that we wouldn't normally be selling this time of year," Samples said In fact, at the barn's monthly cow sale Tuesday just west of Salina, cow numbers were up more than 15 percent from a year ago, which was another drought-plagued year for the record books. Across much of the Midwest, drought has persisted since summer 2010. As drought wore on, ranchers have done the only thing they could as they watched their pastures bake, their feed costs skyrocket and their ponds dry up: They culled their cattle. The number of beef cattle on Kansas feedlots is now at its lowest point in 14 years. On April 1, there were 2.05 million cattle in Kansas feedlots, down 4 percent from a year ago. The parched pastures, along with shriveled corn and hay crops, have made it costlier to feed, as well...more

Jal, NM Residents Raise Concerns On T-Bar Well Field Project

And any mention of a threat to losing water is bound to raise some concern.    That's currently the case for residents of Jal, New Mexico, where city officials are worried that an upcoming pipeline project from Midland will hurt their water supply. "Without water, we don't have a community," said Curtis Schrader, city manager of Jal. He's worried about the proposed 70 mile pipeline to the Pecos Alluvium Aquifer in the T-Bar well field along the Texas -and New Mexico border. "The big concern is that project proposes to pump 10 million gallons a day," he said. "And we just don't feel like that aquifer will sustain 10 million gallons a day of pumping for the 100 years a geologist from midland estimates." Jal uses five wells at the north end of that aquifer and the city is concerned the more than 40 wells to be drilled will cut down on their water. "These are too many wells too close to our well field," Schrader said...more

Cattleman Scams NM Rancher

A four month investigation has led to the indictment of Kirvin business man, Jackie Lynn Farish.
The Freestone County grand jury handed down the felony charge on April 24th, "Theft of more than $20,000 but less than $100,000." The information was not made available for publication until after he surrendered himself to authorities at the Freestone County Jail on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Farish, trucker and owner of Farish Cattle Company, stands accused of never delivering 124 head of cattle to a New Mexico rancher. According to TSCRA Special Ranger Jimmy Dickson, Farish had taken payment for, at least, 55 head of the cattle, but never purchased them. Furthermore, Farish allegedly charged the victim thousands of dollars for feed and care for animals that did not exist...more

Rodeo supporters line up against 'horse tripping' bill

Two veterinarians, a county sheriff, a rodeo official, a mayor, state legislators and several ranchers spoke out against a bill that would ban “horse tripping” at rodeos in a hearing May 8 before the House Judiciary Committee. “First of all, what we do is not horse tripping,” said Jerry Rayburn of the Jordan Valley Rodeo board of directors in addressing Senate Bill 835. “It is horse roping with a 20-foot loop.” Secondly, Rayburn said, most, if not all, legislators in the House Judiciary Committee have never seen horse roping and are not equipped to legislate it. “We think it would only be fair if you could witness it in person before you pass judgment on us,” Rayburn said. The event that SB835 would ban, Rayburn said, involves containing horses by roping them around the neck, then roping their front legs. “Any intentional tripping would not only mean immediate disqualification,” he said, “but the contestant could also be banned from competing at our rodeo for at least three years and maybe more, depending on the infraction.” The annual Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo is one of only a handful of rodeos in Oregon that includes horse roping as an event. It is a signature event of the rodeo and a ban on it would subtract from the cultural appeal of the rodeo and could lead to a drop in revenue for the small Eastern Oregon town, Rayburn said. Sen. Mark Hass, D-Portland, one of the bill’s sponsors, said, however, the event is inhumane and should be banned. “For those of you who don’t know, horse tripping is the practice of roping the front or hind legs of a galloping horse, causing it to trip and come crashing to the ground for the purposes of entertainment or sport,” Hass said. Hass went on to say that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bans horse tripping in its sanctioned rodeos. But Douglas Corey, chair of the Livestock Welfare Committee of the PRCA, said that is not true. “While the PRCA does not have a position on horse tripping, as it has never been held in our sanctioned rodeos, we do have a concern about the language (in the bill) that would prohibit the roping of the horse’s leg,” Corey said. “We do not feel that simply roping the legs of a horse is an act that should be banned,” he said. “While this legislation seemed aimed at equine tripping, the language … seems to go much further,” he said. “I sincerely believe this legislation may have unintended consequences in the future,” Corey said...more

Oil industry: BLM prevents job creation in Calif.

Leading oil industry groups said Thursday federal land managers are blocking new energy development and job creation by postponing all oil and gas lease auctions on prime public lands in California until October. Officials with the American Petroleum Institute, the largest lobbying group for the oil and gas industry, said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's recent announcement that it will temporarily put off energy leasing in the state will prevent economic growth. "We now know that California holds a vast amount of oil and natural gas resources, especially in the Monterey Shale located in the central part of the state," John Felmy, the chief economist said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. "Unfortunately, current federal policy continues to prevent our nation from taking full advantage of this opportunity." BLM has said Friday's decision was forced by sequester-related budget problems, low staffing and the toll of environmental litigation over parcels near the Monterey Shale, one of the nation's largest deposits of shale oil. The immediate impact was to postpone an auction planned for later this month for leases to drill almost 1,300 acres of public lands in Fresno and Kern counties. Another auction for about 2,000 acres that had been in the works in Colusa County, about 75 miles northwest of Sacramento, also was put on hold until the end of the fiscal year. The agency will instead concentrate on enforcement of existing leases, issuing drilling permits for leased parcels and granting renewable energy permits, BLM's state director Jim Kenna said earlier this week...more

The IER may have it right:

The Institute for Energy Research, a conservative advocacy group, went further in its criticism, calling the decision "the Obama plan to maximize the sequester's harm to the U.S. economy."

Ore. smokejumpers skydive into illegal pot garden

A team of smokejumpers parachuting into a fire in the mountains of Southern Oregon landed in an illegal marijuana garden being prepared for growing season. The six smokejumpers from a base in Redmond found the site Monday evening, when there was a rash of lightning strikes. Jackson County sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson says the smokejumpers notified authorities, who hiked into the remote site in the Rogue River-Siskiyou (SIS'-kee-yoo) National Forest. They seized two guns and more than 1,000 little pot plants. Carlson says the site near the community of Applegate was being cultivated by growers for Mexican drug gangs, and it's been used before...more

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Wolf attacks on humans in North America

by Jonathan DuHamel

I begin with Alaska Department of Fish & Game Technical Bulletin 13 (2002) entitled “A Case History of Wolf-Human Encounters in Alaska and Canada.” That study was precipitated by a wolf attack on a 6-year-old boy near Icy Bay, Alaska, in April, 2000. The study documents 80 wolf-human “encounters.” “Thirty-nine cases contain elements of aggression among healthy wolves, 12 cases involve known or suspected rabid wolves, and 29 cases document fearless behavior among non-aggressive wolves. In 6 cases in which healthy wolves acted aggressively, the people were accompanied by dogs. Aggressive, non rabid wolves bit people in 16 cases; none of those bites was life-threatening, but in 6 cases the bites were severe.”
PIERCE, Idaho – A North Idaho grandmother considers herself lucky to be alive after she was able to shoot and kill a wolf as it tried to attack her on a recent hunting trip.
The wolf snuck up on Rene Anderson late last month near Headquarters, Idaho about 125 miles southeast of Spokane.
“It was coming down pretty fast towards me; it was kind of nerve racking. I laid my bow on the ground and I thought this thing seriously wants to eat me,” she said.
Anderson knew just how much danger she was in because just six days before, wolves had killed three of her best friend’s hunting dogs.
A wolf attacked a Tok trapper on his snowmachine last week about 30 miles off the Taylor Highway, biting through the man’s parka and three layers of clothing to put a 3-inch gash on his arm.
Lance Grangaard, 30, said he was “putting along” on his Ski-Doo Tundra on Thursday afternoon, coming down a frozen creek, when he saw the wolf out of the corner of his eye.
“I turned in time to stick my arm up,” said Grangaard, who was trapping with his father, Danny, in a remote area off the Taylor Highway known as Ketchumstuk. “A single black wolf grabbed my arm and started jerking on me.”
At least two wolves chased down and killed a teacher who was jogging on a road last year outside a rural Alaska village, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The body of Candice Berner, 32, a special education teacher originally from Slippery Rock, Pa., was found March 8, 2010, two miles outside Chignik Lake. The village is 474 miles southwest of Anchorage, on the Alaska Peninsula.
Biologists ruled out reasons for the attack other than aggression. Investigators found no evidence that the wolves had acted defensively or that Berner was carrying food. They found no kill site that wolves may have been defending, no indication that the wolves had become habituated to people, and no evidence of rabies.
“This appears to have been an aggressive, predatory attack that was relatively short in duration,” the report concluded. DNA tests confirmed Berner was killed by wolves.
When Delta Conservation District Executive Director Rory Mattson headed out to begin a forestry project Oct. 8 along Trombley Road, he didn’t expect to find himself treed by a small pack of wolves.

Los Zetas Cartel Is Throwing Parties for Kids

Last weekend, hundreds of kids in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas danced to bands and played with clowns hired by the Los Zetas cartel. In Ciudad Victoria, the state's capital, children attended parties and received gifts from the crime organization's proxies as part of a series of celebrations in honor of Día del Niño [Children's Day] according to Mexican magazine Proceso. As entertainers welcomed kids to games and trampolines, cartel members set up notices throughout the city, urging the population to rethink Los Zetas' role, and thanking children for bringing joy to their homes. "May God bless you all and always guide you on the good path to righteousness that you must follow to be men and women of good. God bless our little ones. Att. Los Z," the message read. For several decades, kingpins and drug trafficking organizations in countries like Mexico and Colombia have courted the civil population with money, presents and donations in an effort to garner popular support. Pablo Escobar in Medellín as well as drug dealers from around Sinaloa were known and admired for their generosity, which was implemented through events such as those that took place in Tamaulipas. The phenomenon is far from new, except for Los Zetas. As the most powerful Mexican cartel, this gesture could point to a strategic and dangerous political shift...more

Blood Along the Border: Environmental Activism and Violence in Juarez, Mexico

Saul Reyes Salazar is a man who understands loss. In January 2010, his sister Josefina was shot in the head, following a botched kidnapping in their hometown of Guadalupe los Bravos, across the border bridge from Tornillo, Texas. She was, at the time, one of the best-known activists in the Juarez Valley, the agricultural region that follows the Rio Grande river east of Ciudad Juarez. In the years before her death, Josefina became one of the strongest critics of the Mexican army's role in policing the drug war. Five thousand soldiers entered Juarez and the Valley in May of 2008, bringing along with them a wave of murders and kidnappings. Miguel Ángel Reyes Salazar, Josefina’s son, was kidnapped by soldiers in August 2008, and released a month later. Following his kidnapping, Josefina didn’t back down. Not until she was killed, that is. The Reyes Salazar family came together and declared that Josefina’s killing was not a coincidence. She was killed, they said, because of her political activities. Eyewitness testimony fed the family’s suspicion. Before he pulled the trigger, one of Josefina’s assassins said, “You think you are tough because you are with the organizations," according to someone who saw the killing. Seven months passed, and Saul’s brother Rubén was murdered in Guadalupe. His body was shot through with 19 rounds from an AK-47. According to Saul, Rubén had been the loudest voice calling into question the official story that Josefina’s killing was a random act of violence. That year, the Reyes Salazar family celebrated Christmas and the New Year as best they could, in a haze of sadness and mourning. Then, in February 2011, tragedy struck again. Saul’s sister, Magdalena, and his brother, Elías, were kidnapped, together with Elías’s wife, Luisa Ornelas. All three were kidnapped from Guadalupe. The remaining siblings set up a protest camp at the State District Attorney’s office in Juarez, demanding the safe return of their disappeared family members. They stayed for two weeks, during which time the house of their mother, Sara, was set on fire while she was out. Once the family moved their protest to Mexico City, the governor agreed to meet with Sara Reyes Salazar. Shortly thereafter, the bodies of Magdalena, Elías, and Luisa were found in shallow graves. All exhibited signs of torture...more

Gunman Shoots 6 at Government Building in Northern Mexico

Five guards and a state employee were wounded when a subject opened fire Thursday outside the Governor’s Palace in Saltillo, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, officials said. “It was a direct attack on the guards, wounding five police officers and a civilian who was working there,” state security spokesman Jesus Carranza told Efe. Coahuila has been at the center of a turf war among the Los Zetas, Gulf and Sinaloa drug cartels in recent years, leading to a spike in violence in the state...more

Border Violence Spillover to the U.S. Needs to Be Acknowledged

One early morning in mid-January of 2013, Jesús Juárez opened the front door of his Brownsville, Texas home and saw a package. It had the typical FedEx markings on it, and despite the fact that his daughter’s boyfriend didn’t see it on his way out the night before, Jesús brought the package inside and opened it. Fortunately, only one of the four pipe bombs inside the package detonated, but just that single device blew out the front door and windows and severely burned him, his wife and their young daughter. An investigation by the Brownsville Police Department began immediately, and was soon joined by the FBI. Local authorities told the media that the perpetrators knew what they were doing because the pipe bombs required a certain level of technical sophistication to create. However, they could only speculate on who might be interested in deliberately sending such a violent message to a quiet home in a nice south Texas neighborhood.  While cartel-on-cartel violence is the hallmark of drug-related violence in Mexico —along with violence directed at the Mexican police and army— DHS doesn’t take this type of violence into account when trying to assess the existence of such spillover. DHS officials have even stated in Congressional testimony that the agency doesn’t keep track of crime statistics involving cartel-on-cartel attacks in the U.S. Some U.S. law enforcement agencies are finally starting to acknowledge that these incidents are happening in their territory. In late October 2012, a Hidalgo County (also in south Texas) Sheriff’s deputy was shot three times by a gang member on the Gulf cartel payroll. Sheriff Lupe Treviño has traditionally been very hesitant to say spillover is a problem, but he had no qualms about telling the media after the shooting that this was the first authentic case of border violence spillover in his county. These two examples beg the question: how bad do things need to get along our southwest border before DHS —or any other agency, for that matter— will acknowledge that spillover violence is happening? The general message being sent is that no one seems to care as long as it’s just criminals getting killed or kidnapped in south Texas or Arizona. But in these cases, an innocent five year-old was burned to within inches of her life, and an American police officer —one of many involved in recent confrontations with cartel members and their associates— could have died...more

Racetrack owner guilty of laundering cartel drug money

Four businessmen — one of them the brother of two top leaders of Mexico’s Zetas cartel — have been convicted of money laundering conspiracy charges in an operation devised by the vicious criminal organization to wash millions of dollars through the U.S. quarter horse industry. Jesus Huitron, an Austin homebuilder, was found not guilty in the the case, which implicated nearly 20 people, more than a dozen of whom were arrested in a series of federal sweeps last summer at homes and ranches in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and California. Friends and family members of the defendants wept and embraced as the verdict was read in a crowded Austin federal courtroom, where the trial played out over four weeks. José Treviño Morales, owner of the prominent Tremor Enterprises Lexington, Okla., and the other men found guilty could receive sentences of up to 20 years in prison. In closing arguments, prosecutors said the Zetas poured the earnings of their illicit dealings into front companies similar to Tremor, which bought, bred, trained and raced horses. The horses were raced at least twice in competitions that several former drug traffickers said had been fixed. The studs and mares were bought by straw purchasers and placed under the names of other people to disguise their ownership, witnesses have said...more

Gardiner rancher shoots collared Yellowstone wolf after sheep slaughter

About 10 days ago, Gardiner rancher Bill Hoppe made a gruesome discovery - 18 of his sheep were slaughtered. He took pictures of the carnage. Federal investigators determined two wolves were responsible. Then, on Monday, he shot and killed a wolf he believes killed the sheep. "I've been going down and checking, saw two and the other one made it off the property before I could shoot it," Hoppe said. The wolf was collared. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, it was from the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park. According to FWP, Hoppe didn't break any laws, because he was issued a kill-on-site permit to kill two wolves after the loss of his sheep. Hoppe said he saw two other wolves with some cattle on his property north of Gardiner on Saturday night. "It's an on-going problem, every night. I spend most of the night checking to make sure wolves ain't in my calves and the sheep," he said. Hoppe says he'll continue to protect his livestock, noting that it'll be "interesting to see if they run out of wolves or I run out of sheep."...more

Ranch Family Fights For Montana Heritage (and against Wilderness)

Ross, Luke and Mark
For the better part of two years, since our first reporting on The Heritage Act, The Sun Times has heard from a number of Ranchers along the Eastern Slope who challenged the assertions of politicians and the media on the effects this undefined legislation would have on the state’s Ranchers. But getting a Rancher to sit still long enough to tell their side, a story not yet told, was the challenge. Recently we had the opportunity to interview Jim “Luke” Salmond and his sons, Mark and Ross. If there is a single ranch along the Eastern Slope of the Rocky Mountains that serves as the front line between the Cattlemen and those in the government and radical environmental groups that want to push them out of the foothills, it’s the Salmond Ranch. The ranch’s early history goes back to the late 1870’s when Nat Collins and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to a homestead west of Choteau. The history of federal action leaves no doubt as to the effect on Ranch life in the foothills. “It comes back to this Heritage Act,” Salmond says, “they make it a wilderness area and you’re gone.” Asked if there have been other attempts to move the family from the ranch, Luke Salmond doesn’t mince words, “Oh, yes! But we wouldn’t move because they would never offer what the land was worth, they wanted to steal our place… take it away from us. They would show up and want us to sell them an easement. They would make promises, but when it came time to show the money, they never did.” Easements, say the Salmonds, are a bad move for Ranchers. According to Luke, Ranchers lose much of the value of their land once they turn over their control by entering into an easement. “There’s a ranch north of here,” says Mark, “and the owner is wanting top dollar for it, but an easement was signed on the ranch. When potential buyers find out, they run from the deal.” Easements also have an adverse impact on local counties by reducing the amount of taxes paid on the land, says Luke. “The easements are a tax write-off. No Ranchers we know are in a position to take advantage of a write-off.” When asked if anyone from Senator Baucus’ office had been in touch, Mark says no one from the Senator’s office had initially reached out to the family. “One day we did get a phone call from one of the green groups pushing this anti-ranching agenda. I did not know the caller, but we did speak. He wanted to meet with me.” Mark says that instead he gave the caller “about ten or twelve names,” all the Ranchers along the Slope who would be affected by the Act. “I told him that if he contacted the other Ranchers and set up a meeting with all of us, we would be there. I never heard from him again.” The Salmonds have attended many of the public meetings on the Act, but feel that some of them were set up just to put pressure on Ranchers. “We had a meeting in Choteau, and four Forest Service officials showed up,” says Mark. “They only needed one.” At a meeting in Choteau, a member of Senator Baucus’ staff claimed that they had addressed the Salmonds’ concern that the wilderness area would be moved to their private land, removing the “buffer” zone of about eight miles. “This fellow slides a map over to me, and says ‘we moved the line so that the wilderness does not touch your land’.” Mark examined the map and saw that the wilderness had been moved back 120 yards. “I shoved the map back at him, I told him that was just insulting.”...more

Read the above and you'll come to an understanding of what the Cox family and other ranchers in Dona Ana County have been going through for the last 6+ years.

Interior secretary to oil industry: Don’t throw regulators under the bus

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell delivered a blunt message to some of the nation’s top oil industry executives during an inaugural meeting with the group on Wednesday: Don’t cast blame our way.
“I did poke them a little bit about not throwing the regulators under the bus or blaming us when there is actually shared responsibility, perhaps, when something doesn’t move forward,” Jewell said after meeting with the business leaders on the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference. “We don’t want to be in the way of development, but we have a job to do protecting the assets of the American people.” The closed-door gathering included top representatives from oil companies Anadarko, BP and Marathon Oil, as well as contractors FMC Technologies, Halliburton, Transocean and Schlumberger, and the trade groups American Petroleum Institute and National Ocean Industries Association. Some oil industry leaders have loudly complained about the pace of regulatory changes coming from the nation’s capital and pleaded for a more stable, predictable landscape. And ConocoPhillips cited regulatory uncertainties last month when the company announced it would delay its plans to drill in Arctic waters north of Alaska. Jewell said her main message to the executives was “that we need to work together — not at odds with each other.”...more

The Shameful and Painful Spotted Owl Saga: Shooting Stripes To Save Spots

By Teresa Platts

Spots versus stripes? Which do you prefer?

Our federal government prefers spots and is moving forward with a million-dollar-a-year plan to remove 9,000 striped owls from 2.3% of 14 million Western acres of protected spotted owl habitat. Our government is shooting wood owls with stripes to protect those with spots; to stop the stripes from breeding with the spots.

It had to come to this.

The 1990 listing of the Northern spotted owl under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) gave the bird totem status in management decisions.

It didn’t work.  Spotted owls declined 40% over 25 years.  Timber sales on federal government-managed lands dropped too.  Oregon harvests fell from 4.9 billion board feet (1988) to less than 5%, 240 million board feet (2009).  Beyond the jobs and business profits from making lumber, the Federal and County  governments used to benefit from these harvests too.  Harvests down: tax receipts down.  Today, with cutbacks in Federal budgets and sequestration, the States are arguing about how much of your tax dollars the Federal government should give them to keep impoverished County governments afloat in timber-rich areas.

Beyond competition from barred owls, and after years of not enough logging, mega-fires fueled by too many trees now threaten spotted owl survival.  An exhausted veteran of the spotted owl wars, who lives dangerously close to a federally-“managed” forest that is expected to go up in smoke soon, explained:
You have to realize that even moving a biomass project forward takes a court battle.  No salvage of dead or burned timber - it just rots.  Not much thinning or fuel reduction - without a two-year court fight the Forest Service usually loses.  Hell, the agency is still fighting lawsuits over the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment started in ‘97 - after four revisions and several court decisions - the Greens just keep suing until they get what they want. 
 National forest growth, removals (million cubic feet)

Taxpayers pay for the conservation plans, recovery plans, and action plans, many stalled in court.

Taxpayers pay for all the lawsuits too, on both sides.

Taxpayers pay the salaries and pensions of government workers figthing fire and those shooting striped owls in order to give, temporarily, an advantage to ones with spots.

All this sacrifice and the spots just keep declining and the stripes just keep on coming.

The Northern spotted owl might very well be the most expensive avian sub-species on the planet.

That chart speaks volumes.

Will The Shale Revolution Go Global?

By now, you've likely heard of the whopping energy bonanza known as the Shale Revolution. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking), the US is awash with cheap natural gas, giving energy firms a new source of revenue and businesses nationwide cheaper energy costs. Pretty much the entire world agrees we've hit the jackpot. So you'd think other nations would be keen to jump on the bandwagon. Yet the revolution hasn't much caught on globally—there's plenty of talk, but precious little action despite the obvious benefits. What's the holdup? In a word, governments. In the US, businesses and private citizens drive shale gas development. Sure, the government gets to yay or nay the broader practice of fracking, but because landowners have full rights to all resources underground, governments don't negotiate the contracts. Instead, businesses approach landowners sitting atop shale reserves, and landowners weigh the costs and benefits and decide whether to lease the rights. Individuals, not governments, get to determine whether cheaper energy, job gains and royalties are worth the potential environmental costs. Profit motive is the driving force, and that fosters progress. But this isn't the case elsewhere. In the rest of the world, landowners typically don't own mineral rights—the state does. Landowners—regular folks—don't get to make the decision on whether or not to develop reserves on their property. They don't get to bargain with energy firms, offer a lease and receive royalty payments. That's the government's privilege. As a result, international shale fracking efforts face a massive headwind of bureaucracy and political morass...more

Professors Publish Picture of Them Burning Book Refuting Global Warming

You would think university professors would have some respect for books regardless of their content. Apparently that's not the case for two San Jose State University professors who actually published a picture at their department's website of the two of them burning a book skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. The Heartland Institute's Jim Lakely reported Friday that his organization had recently distributed 100,000 copies of Steve Goreham’s book "The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism." Our friend Anthony Watts discovered that two recipients - Craig Clements, associate professor at the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University, and Alison Bridger, the chair of the department - actually published at the department's website a picture of them burning one of the books:

East about to be overrun by billions of cicadas

Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the East Coast. The insects will arrive in such numbers that people from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered roughly 600-to-1. Maybe more. Scientists even have a horror-movie name for the infestation: Brood II. But as ominous as that sounds, the insects are harmless. They won't hurt you or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs. They're looking for just one thing: sex. And they've been waiting quite a long time. Since 1996, this group of 1-inch bugs, in wingless nymph form, has been a few feet underground, sucking on tree roots and biding their time. They will emerge only when the ground temperature reaches precisely 64 degrees. After a few weeks up in the trees, they will die and their offspring will go underground, not to return until 2030. And they will make a big racket, too. The noise all the male cicadas make when they sing for sex can drown out your own thoughts, and maybe even rival a rock concert. In 2004, Gene Kritsky, an entomologist at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, measured cicadas at 94 decibels, saying it was so loud "you don't hear planes flying overhead." There are ordinary cicadas that come out every year around the world, but these are different. They're called magicicadas - as in magic - and are red-eyed. And these magicicadas are seen only in the eastern half of the United States, nowhere else in the world...more

5 ‘no-brainer’ ways to cut spending on energy and agriculture

1. Three separate federal agencies are responsible for catfish inspections, a duplication that costs taxpayers millions.

 The 2008 farm bill assigned the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsibility for catfish inspections—a task already carried out by two other agencies: the FDA and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The GAO estimates that eliminating the USDA’s catfish inspection would save taxpayers $14 million “without affecting the safety of catfish intended for human consumption.” (The White House’s proposed budget for 2014 would eliminate the USDA’s catfish inspection program.)

2. Renewable energy initiatives are fragmented across 23 agencies and 130 sub agencies.

In 2011, nine federal agencies implemented 82 overlapping and duplicative wind-related initiatives, “including 7 initiatives that have provided duplicative… financial support to the same recipient for a single project,” the GAO found. In 2010, 679 renewable energy initiatives were spread across dozens of different agencies, costing taxpayers $15 billion. Regardless of how you feel about renewable energy subsidies, reducing agency duplication and fragmentation is a no brainer.

3. Three rural water infrastructure programs with a combined funding of $4.3 billion could be coordinated between federal agencies to reduce state grant application costs.

Arizona Morgue Prepares For Migrant Deaths

In Southern Arizona, medical examiners and federal immigration agents are preparing for another year of dozens of deaths in the desert as people try crossing the border illegally. This year, officials say, they’ve developed a map showing exactly how many people have died in their attempts over the years. The massive door to the freezer slides open at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office. The freezer was built to handle the overflow of bodies brought here, people who died from heat stroke and dehydration as they tried walking through the desert. It’s used in the summer. So far this year 47 migrants have died. "Typically in June we’ll go up to 20. July in 2010 we had 55,” said Dr. Gregory Hess, the medical examiner. Every year, about 240 people crossing the border into Arizona are found dead. Some of those people are never identified...more

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Two-thirds of senators to vote on U.S.-Mexico border without having seen it

Border security is a key sticking point in this year’s immigration debate, but only a little more than one-third of senators have been to the southwestern border during their time in office to get a firsthand look at the security situation, according to a survey of the chamber’s members by The Washington Times. Of 100 senators, 34 said they have been down to observe the border, 64 senators have not, and two — the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which is writing the bill, and the chamber’s Republican leader — refused to answer. Those on all sides of the immigration debate agree that chances for passing a bill legalizing illegal immigrants and overhauling the legal system hinges on whether voters think the border is secure. President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano have said the border is secure and that the only way to improve it is to legalize illegal immigrants, which they argue will help authorities focus on illegal crossings and major criminals. But lawmakers journeying to the border to see for themselves often come back with a different impression. “It doesn’t help when you have the Department of Homeland Security secretary testifying that the border is already secure, and yet you have senators returning from weekend visits to the border as recently as this weekend and telling us that they personally witness people crossing, including people from as far away as Afghanistan,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who made a high-profile visit to the El Paso, Texas, segment of the border this year...more

Report: Obama Spent $11.45 Million per 'Green Job' Created

Without much fanfare, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently updated the list of loan guarantee projects on its website. Unlike in 2008, when Barack Obama pledged to create 5 million jobs over 10 years by directing taxpayer funds toward renewable energy projects, there were no press conferences or stump speeches. But the data are nonetheless revealing: for the over $26 billion spent since 2009, DOE Section 1703 and 1705 loan guarantees have created only 2,298 permanent jobs for a cost of over $11.45 million per job. As the astronomical cost of the DOE’s loan guarantee program indicates, subsidizing renewable energy is not a good deal for taxpayers. But loan guarantees are just one of the ways the federal government bankrolls risky green energy projects. Energy-related tax preferences cost taxpayers about $13.5 billion in FY 2012, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. But solar and wind power, for which the majority of the tax preferences for renewable energy were directed, produced only 3.6 percent of the nation’s generation in 2012. In addition, the Treasury Department’s 1603 grant program, which offers cash payments to renewable energy companies, cost taxpayers $5.8 billion in 2012. Many states also subsidize green energy through tax preferences as well as requiring renewable electricity mandates that require a specified amount of electricity to be generated from qualified renewable sources like wind and solar...more

GX McSherry 1924-2013

G.X. McSherry

Grover Xavier McSherry, 88, of Deming, passed away peacefully surrounded by family members on May 5, 2013. Known to most as G.X. or Xavier, he started his life on November 23, 1924, in Dwyer, New Mexico, the son of Grover Cleveland McSherry and Mary Ellen (O’Connor) McSherry.

Viewing will begin Friday, May 10, 2013 at 3 in the afternoon followed by the Rosary Service at 6:00 o'clock led by Suzanne Lundy at Baca’s Funeral Chapels in Deming, New Mexico. Funeral services will be held at 10 o'clock Saturday morning, May 11, 2013, at Holy Family Catholic Church. Bishop Ricardo Ramirez C.S.B. will officiate. The Rite of committal and interment will follow at Mountain View Cemetery.

G.X. is survived by Clara Jo (Remondini) McSherry, his wife of 67 years and their seven children: Paul, Patricia, Michael, Marcia, David, Keven and Rod, their spouses, plus seventeen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Two sisters, Rose and Vera Jo, also survive him. His parents; his sisters, Lena and Kathleen; and his brother, Regis, preceded him in death.

G.X. grew up on the Mimbres River Valley during some of the toughest economic times in New Mexico, shaped deeply by the Great Depression and the fallout of the Dust Bowl. He was always proud of the acres of apple trees that he helped his parents plant in the valley, a traditional crop that followed both lines of his parents’ families from Pennsylvania and West Virginia out to New Mexico. G.X. met his future bride during the trying years of World War II. He and Clara Jo (Jody) married in December 1945, just after the War’s end. They settled on the homestead of Clara Jo’s parent’s, about seven miles east of Deming, and set out to expand the farming and ranching operation. In the nearly 70 years that he farmed in Luna county, he increased his farming operation five-fold, moved from horse-drawn to high-tech methods, and was a constantly vigilant steward of the soil and water around his feet. G.X. was once quoted that his farm focused on producing the Three C’s: cattle, cotton and children.

Agriculture was G.X.’s passion until the very end of his life. He dedicated years to improving the marketing of crops and livestock (including serving on state and national commodity boards; being a founding member of the local cotton cooperative; and leading the New Mexico Hereford Association); he worked for 35 years on advising Luna County banks on agricultural financing; he was committed to sensible and balanced water use for agriculture and communities in the local, interstate and international arenas (serving on committees, commissions and holding national appointments to conservation bodies). He defended and expanded the rights and protection of New Mexico farmers and ranchers during his sixteen years as a State Representative, having been elected by voters from Luna, Hidalgo, Doña Ana, and Sierra counties over the course of his political career.

Education was a close second focus of G.X.’s life. In a fitting tribute to a man who ‘finished’ high school at the age of 14 and lacked the financial wherewithal to attend college, G.X. received an honorary doctorate from New Mexico State University in 2003. He also received the Philip J. Leyendecker Agriculturalist of Distinction Award from NMSU’s college of Agriculture in 1991. As a farmer/rancher and as a legislator, G.X. was one of the staunchest advocates of NMSU (and going back to the days of New Mexico A&M), participating in extension activities and eventually securing legislative funding for expansion of research and education facilities at the university. Another indication of his indelible support for education was his insistence that every one of his seven children received a university degree, something he and Clara Jo made happen.

G.X. was a committed supporter of his community. He was proud to be part of a dynamic border community and used his bilingual and bicultural abilities to strengthen relations with business, political and service organizations in Mexico. His cross-border identity made him a much sought-after advisor to Governors, Congressmen and businessmen. One of his many important contributions to bilateral relations between the U.S. and Mexico was his work on the New Mexico Border Commission, which eventually led to the development of the international port of Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

He was a past president of the local Rotary Club and recently popped in on occasion for lunch with fellow Rotarians. He was baptized in San Jose Church in Dwyer, New Mexico, was a strong supporter of Holy Family Catholic Church since 1945 when he married Clara Jo. G.X. was also a Knight of Columbus and a long-time contributor of beef to barbecue and cotton for auction at the annual Parish Klobase.

G.X.’s family would like to thank the compassionate professionals at Mimbres Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home for attending to him in his final days. In lieu of flowers, a donation in GX’s memory to the BorderBelles scholarship fund for young agriculturalists from Luna County would be appreciated. BorderBelles is a chapter of New Mexico Cowbelles. Memorials may be sent in care of Beverly Butler, PO Box 522, Columbus, New Mexico 88029. Alternatively, memorials to the Luna County Historical Society (Deming-Luna-Mimbres Museum) at 301 S Silver, Deming NM 88030 are in order and greatly appreciated.

New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell waiting for study on wild horses

New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday that she is still undecided about how to handle a burgeoning wild horse and burro population that is eating more than half the horse budget at the BLM and sparking outrage among wild horse advocates. Jewell said in an interview with The Denver Post that she is awaiting a National Academy of Sciences study, slated to come out in early June, to determine how best to handle the horses. "It's going to help identify what's the sustained capacity of our public lands to handle our wild horses, what is the effectiveness of things like birth control methodology to try and deal with the issue," Jewell said Tuesday. "So we appreciate their help and we look forward to that response." There are more wild horses and burros roaming federally managed rangelands today than there were in 1971, when Congress passed the landmark Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act that protects these iconic animals. There are 11,000 more than the range is supposed to currently sustain and another 51,000 holding in pricey short- and long-term corrals and pastures...more

BLM Postpones All California Oil and Gas Lease Sales

About four weeks after a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration violated the law by leasing California public land for oil development without considering the risks of fracking, the Bureau of Land Management has postponed all oil and gas lease sales in California for the rest of the fiscal year. The judge’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club. It was the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the risks of fracking. The BLM cites sequester-related budget cuts as the reason for the postponement, but lease sales continue in other states. “Whether the BLM admits it or not, the agency knows it can’t lawfully hold additional lease sales in California without a full environmental review of the serious risks fracking poses to our air, water and wildlife,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center. “The BLM’s decision to cancel planned lease sales in California for 2013 is a welcome sign that the agency finally recognizes that its rubber-stamp approach to oil leasing is no longer viable.”...more

Forest Service Inflamed By Anti-Fracking Artist's Smokey the Bear

Brooklyn-based artist and environmental activist Lopi LaRoe sees Smokey the Bear as a friend. As a kid raised by environmentalists, she grew up with him, she says, and feels a particular connection to the affable, but informative cultural touchstone invented by the US Forest Service in 1944. "So I thought it was a perfect culture-jamming opportunity to take this very familiar conservationist and turn him into an anti-fracking activist," she told the Voice. The Forest Service, on the other hand, isn't a fan of LaRoe's representation of a Smokey who tries to prevent "faucet fires." Nearly a year after LaRoe began carrying images of a newly-radicalized Smokey Bear to protests, selling t-shirts, and circulating what soon became a viral meme online, the Forest Service asked LaRoe to cease and desist. "The feds want to frack our national parks," LaRoe said. "It's not surprising that they're coming after me to try and censor my political speech."...more

Protections for Wolverines Draw States’ Opposition

State officials in the Northern Rockies on Monday lined up against a federal proposal to give new protections to the carnivorous wolverine, as climate change threatens to melt the species' snowy mountain strongholds. A pending U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal would declare the rare, elusive animal a threatened species across the Lower 48 states. That could end trapping for the ferocious member of the weasel family sometimes called the "mountain devil." And it would pave the way for Colorado to reintroduce wolverines in portions of the southern Rocky Mountains as part of a strategy to bolster their numbers ahead of future declines. But Montana, Idaho and Wyoming officials insist federal protections aren't necessary for the estimated 250-300 wolverines that live across the West. Despite their uncertain future prospects, state officials said wolverines are doing well now and don't need federal intervention...more

Utah’s oil shale, tar sands in for a bumpy ride

Eastern Utah might be blessed with abundant oil shale and tar sands, but getting those "unconventional" hydrocarbons out of the ground, processed and delivered to market still face financial, technical and regulatory obstacles, according to speakers Tuesday at a University of Utah energy conference. And that’s not to mention activist pushback, which conference goers got to experience when a small group of well-attired demonstrators briefly commandeered the conference during a keynote by Juan Palma, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Utah director. "Our land and water should be held for the good of everyone. Our lungs are not yours to fill with toxic dust," a protester shouted at the event staged by the U.’s Institute for Clean and Secure Energy in the Rice-Eccles Stadium tower. "We are standing up for life. You are profiting from death." Palma all but ceded the podium to the protesters, associated with Utah Tar Sands Resistance, who railed against petroleum extraction for about 10 minutes before U. police escorted them away...more

Feds add bigger, faster planes to wildfire fleet

As the wildfire season ramps up across the West, the U.S. Forest Service is adding bigger, faster planes to its fleet to fight the fires. The forest service announced Monday that it has selected contractors to provide seven air tankers that fly faster and drop a larger payload of fire retardant than other planes in its firefighting fleet. The agency will spend nearly $160 million over five years for access to several models of aircraft, including a converted DC-10 jumbo jet, which can carry about five times as much flame-resistant liquid as any aircraft in regular use. The cost is about double the amount spent in past years, but the planes are expected to provide better service, said forest service fire and aviation director Tom Harbour. They also require less maintenance. Each of the planes can carry more than 3,000 gallons of slurry and fly faster than 350 mph, the Forest Service says. The DC-10 can hold as much as 11,600 gallons...more

BLM to impose fire restrictions on federal land in 15 New Mexico counties

The Bureau of Land Management is planning to enact fire restrictions across more than 6 million acres of federal land in New Mexico. Officials say the restrictions will take effect Saturday. They will cover 15 counties that span parts of eastern and southern New Mexico. Little rainfall, low humidity levels and above-average temperatures are prompting the need for restrictions. Officials say they're aimed at preventing wildfires and ensuring public and firefighter safety. Under the restrictions, campfires will be allowed only where there are metal fire rings or metal grills. Charcoal, coal or wood stoves can be used only in develop campsites or picnic areas. Smoking will be limited to developed recreation sites, inside buildings or enclosed vehicles. Violating the restrictions could lead to a fine of up to $1,000. AP

Monday, May 06, 2013

Optimism for Congress to Break Stalemate, Protect New Public Lands

As the 112th Congress gaveled to a close last January, many wondered if Washington D.C.’s toxic political environment would continue to compromise popular land conservation bills. Setting aside lands for hunters and anglers, hikers and backpackers, mountain bikers and horseback riders is a uniquely American phenomenon that has remained a bipartisan endeavor for more than a century. But that came to a halt during the 112th, which was the first Congress since World War II not to protect a single new acre of public lands. Now, only a few months into the 113th Congress, we’re beginning to see potential signs of a thaw as elected officials from both sides of the aisle have begun to introduce legislation to protect America’s most prized landscapes. Just last week Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act of 2013. The bill would protect 108,000 acres of the San Juan National Forest, while also preserving all historic uses of the forest, including mountain biking, motorized recreation, selective timber harvesting and grazing. The bill mirrors a piece of legislation introduced by Senator Bennet during the previous Congress with one exception: This time around, Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO) joined the effort by introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The bipartisan effort by members of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation comes on the heels of a similar bipartisan push in Montana. There, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Representative Steve Daines (R-MT) are working together to protect the pristine North Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park from new oil and gas development and mining...more

Al Gore wants to ‘awaken’ Rupert Murdoch on climate change

Al Gore hopes to cross paths again with media titan Rupert Murdoch to pitch him on the dangers of climate change. Here’s the tail end of Steve Fishman’s big new Gore profile in New York magazine: And there’s one specific capitalist he hopes to enlighten. Gore tells me of his ambition to have another meeting with Rupert Murdoch, to talk him through the issue, convert him to the cause. “There is still hope that he will awaken to the reality of this,” Gore says. “It would make a huge difference if he would.”  Fox News, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages and other Murdoch-controlled outlets are skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change and its risks...more

Former park rangers launch group to protect America’s national parks from irresponsible oil & gas drilling

A big player in Canada’s oil sands believes the Keystone XL pipeline will eventually be needed to keep expanding production of the resource. “Long-term, we do need Keystone to be able to grow the volumes in Canada,” Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. President Steve Laut tells The Globe and Mail. The comment could provide political ammunition to environmental groups battling TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline. Keystone opponents argue it will be a catalyst for expanding oil sands production, thereby worsening greenhouse gas emissions...more

Jewell gets first up-close look at offshore operations

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is no stranger to the oil patch, but until Friday, her exposure was limited to land. The new perspective came courtesy of the Cabinet official's visit to an Ensco semisubmersible drilling rig and Chevron's Blind Faith production platform in the Gulf of Mexico — the kind of facilities that were off-limits to women when Jewell worked for Mobil Oil three decades ago. “I've never been on an offshore rig,” Jewell observed Friday after donning a hard hat and gloves on Chevron's platform 160 miles from New Orleans. “When I was in the oil business, they didn't let women offshore.” Now, Jewell is in charge of regulating the industry. It's a remarkable transformation for the mechanical engineer turned Interior secretary who now oversees energy development on 1.7 billion acres of federal waters. Along the way, she has been the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. and spent 19 years in the commercial banking industry, including a stint as an energy analyst. Friday, she got an up-close view of federal regulators conducting offshore inspections at oil production and drilling facilities...more

Popular eastern Idaho rock climbing spot threatened with permanent closure

The federal Bureau of Land Management may permanently close a popular climbing site in southeastern Idaho, over opposition from local rock climbers who argue the plan is too restrictive and was pushed through without stakeholder input. The 400-acre area known as Castle Rocks has been closed off and on to climbers since 2003, and may close permanently sometime this summer. Agency officials say they hope make a decision this month, depending how much feedback they receive from the public. Mike Courtney, BLM field manager in Burley, said both the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute tribes consider the land sacred and are worried cultural resources could be destroyed if climbing continues. BLM surveys have determined the region contains important archaeological resources and artifacts, including spearheads dating back thousands of years. Citing those and other reasons, a report from the BLM dated April 12 proposed closing the Cassia County area to climbers for good, although hikers and hunters would still have access to existing trails. Courtney said the plan targets climbing because soil erosion and vegetation destruction are most severe around staging areas, the spot near rock walls where climbers prepare for their assent. But the BLM's plan has left regional climbers upset. They argue they've offered less prohibitive proposals that still protect the area's abundant cultural heritage and environment. “They reversed course really quickly and went from considering the climbing management plan to coming to a decision that banned climbing right away,” said R.D. Pascoe, a policy director with the climber advocacy group Access Fund. Pascoe argues rock climbers are willing to avoid historical or archeologically significant sites, and his organization and local climbers came up with a plan that offered guidelines for when the BLM can close certain routes. The BLM's most recent proposal, he said, unnecessarily eliminates all climbing access...more

Geez, they find some arrowheads and shut down the whole thing.  

Best I recall there were no background checks, registration or other restrictions on Native American weapons, so you'll find remnants everywhere.  Haven't seen the BLM report, but this could be a formula for shutting down the West.

BLM Spending $100K to 'Increase Knowledge of Ethical Behavior'--Among ATV Drivers

The federal government will spend $100,000 over five years on a Bureau of Land Management program to "increase knowledge of ethical behavior" among people using off-road vehicles. “The purpose of this project is to increase knowledge of and conformance with the Utah Ride On Campaign message, and reduce incidents involving property and natural resource damage, unsafe practices, visitor conflicts and enhance access to public lands by improving recreationists’ behavior knowledge of ethical behavior among recreationists on BLM lands,” the grant description said. The main objective of the campaign is to “maintain and enhance access to public lands by improving recreationists’ behavior, increase knowledge of ethical behavior among recreationists on public lands,” and “reduce incidents involving property and natural resource damage, unsafe practices, visitor conflicts.”...more

Guess you can't teach "ethical behavior" to rock climbers

I could support this type of program...if it was taught to federal employees.  

Tomorrow I'll get started on the DuBois University for Ethical Behavior by Federal Employees.  It'll be way out in rough country.  You know, so you'll have to ride an ATV to get to class.

South Texas Ranchers tell Sen. Cornyn border is not secure

Senator John Cornyn visited Brooks County today to hear issues ranchers and authorities in the area are facing with the influx of immigrants making their way 60 miles north of the border. “We’ve rescued them, they are on the verge of dying out here and we’ve rescued hundreds of them,” rancher Dr. Mike Vickers said. Mike and his wife Linda Vickers live minutes from the Falfurrias checkpoint, making their land a popular crossing for illegal immigrants. “We’re running about a hundred a month and this is just a little quarter mile of fence line,” Linda said. The couple finds clothing, trash, water jugs and evidence of human smugglers are on their property daily. “Some of the ranchers in this county have been threatened, don’t call the Border Patrol, if you see people on your property,” Mike said. Smugglers also destroy fencing and water pumps costing the Vickers thousands of dollars each year. Senator Cornyn heard the concerns of the Vickers and several other ranchers today at a meeting with Brooks County elected officials and the South Texans’ Property Rights Association. County officials told Senator Cornyn they need money and resources to control what some call an invasion of illegal immigrants and drug trafficking. “The threat of danger is imminent to everybody in this county because of what is happening here, this is gang related,” Mike said. Brooks County Sheriff Department rescued 659 illegal immigrants, who were abandoned by smugglers on private property last year and found about 129 bodies...more

Drought threatens NM ranchers livelihood - video

New Mexico’s devastating drought could soon affect your wallet as cattle ranchers feel the pinch and begin selling off their herds to save their ranches. Hundreds of head of cattle waiting to be sold at auction Friday are proof that the drought is taking its toll on cattlemen. Charlie Myers, owner of Cattlemen’s Livestock Auction in Belen, said most of the cattle sold this month should not have been at his auction site. “We are seeing our volume double to what it should be for this time of the year,” Myers said. Myers said typically around this time of year they push through 500 head of cattle each auction. On Friday, around 1,400 made their way through the stalls and up for bid. Many sold are thinner and younger when you compare them to what cattle sold in the fall. “There's a calf that brings $300,” Myers said. “In all probability bring $700 this fall.” Myers said his customers have no choice but to sell some early and take a cut in profit to keep their business going. “It’s probably a herd he's built up over 20, 25 years,” Myers said. Myers said this is the worst he's seen in years when it comes to cattlemen being forced to cut their cattle early. The problem is statewide. The Belen auction has been selling stock from as far south as Deming to as far east as Santa Rosa...more