Saturday, June 22, 2013

California Sheriff Strips Forest Service Of State-Law Enforcement Power - video

The El Dorado County Sheriff says he’s not happy with the U.S. Forest Service, so he’s stripping them of their authority by keeping them from enforcing state law within the county. Sheriff John D’Agostini is taking the unusual step of pulling the police powers from the federal agency because he says he has received “numerous, numerous complaints.” In a letter obtained by CBS13, the sheriff informs the federal agency that its officers will no longer be able to enforce California state law anywhere in his county. “I take the service that we provide to the citizens of El Dorado County and the visitors to El Dorado County very seriously, and the style and manner of service we provide,” D’Agostini said. “The U.S. Forest Service, after many attempts and given many opportunities, has failed to meet that standard.” The sheriff won’t give specifics, but he says he’s concerned about the number of complaints his department’s received against the federal officers. We asked law professor John Myers if the sheriff’s actions can supercede the feds. “Looks to me as though the sheriff can do this,” he said. “They don’t have state powers in the first place, but essentially the sheriff can deputize individuals to have authority in his or her jurisdiction.”...more

Sierra Club director visits Río Grande del Norte

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune joined local supporters — and a couple of llamas — Monday (June 17) as the sun set on La Junta campground to celebrate the Río Grande del Norte National Monument. Brune is traveling across the West with his family, visiting sites of successful and hoped-for preservation efforts. He said since they left their home in the San Francisco Bay area, they had seen Nevada, Canyonlands, Rifle, Colo., Browns Canyon (where permanent protection is being sought), Crested Butte and Chimney Rock. After hiking the Little Arsenic Trail Tuesday (June 18), the Brunes planned to travel to Santa Fe and then the Grand Canyon, where the Sierra Club is advocating for a new National Monument to protect the Grand Canyon Watershed. “We’re calling it a work-ation,” Brune said. March 25, President Obama signed a proclamation creating a 242,555-acre national monument around the Río Grande Gorge and surrounding plateau in Taos and Río Arriba counties. The signing capped decades of local advocacy for protection, though efforts continue to create two new wilderness areas within the monument, around Ute Mountain and the Río San Antonio...more

Many more packing heat in N.M.

The number of applications for state permits to carry concealed handguns has exploded in New Mexico over the past six months, reaching a rate of more than double what it was last year. From Jan. 1 through June 14, the Department of Public Safety reported receiving 5,529 applications for concealed carry permits and approving 4,016 of those. For all of 2012, there were 5,859 applications and 4,800 approvals. The apparent reasons for the spike include the school shooting in December in Newtown, Conn., and the resulting push by the Obama administration and others for additional gun-control laws. New Mexico firearms dealers, like their counterparts nationwide, have also seen a run on guns and ammunition since Newtown. Currently, there are nearly 29,000 valid concealed carry permits, according to the DPS. Firearms training is required for a permit and a person must be 21 or over to obtain one. The application fee for a concealed carry permit is $100 and the fee for renewal every four years is $75. Under state law, the money goes into the Concealed Handgun Carry Fund to finance the permit program. Despite the costs of the temporary workers, the fund has a balance of about $1 million...more

Flooding takes over Grounds at the Calgary Stampede

The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is supposed to kick off in two weeks. But today, much of the grounds at the Calgary Stampede are covered by water as flooding continues to plague Calgary and the surrounding area. Video of the Grounds show that there is water from one side of the area to the other. The infield at the Grandstand looks like a giant, muddy swimming pool, and the horse barns are flooded. Organizers are taking a wait-and-see approach to the level of damage on the site’s buildings and facilities, which are spread over a 200-acre site. “We’re in the midst of a flooding situation,” Calgary Stampede spokesperson Kurt Kadatz said this morning. “We are continuing to assess the situation, but a large portion of our site has been impacted by water.” “Water levels are still rising on both the Elbow and Bow Rivers. We’re in a state of monitoring right now, protecting our people and staff. “We are not asking people to get too close to assess or monitor.” As for damage, “we have to wait until flood waters begin to recede before we can go in and do a thorough investigation,” he said. A pedestrian bridge, one of four bridges on the site, was swept away by the raging waters, he confirmed...more

Friday, June 21, 2013

GOP lawmakers protest efforts to expand wildlife refuges

Republicans in the House are criticizing the Obama administration's efforts to expand federally protected lands while the debt skyrockets. In protesting more federal wildlife refuges, the lawmakers also alluded to scandals at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the National Security Agency (NSA), and claimed all are the product of executive federal power. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said on Thursday, "Regardless of our national debt, the Obama administration will not stop its insatiable obsession to acquire more and more private property coupled with a lack of a comprehensive strategy to maintain those lands in the future." "We're $17 trillion in debt in this nation," Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said. "We're borrowing money from China just to meet our own operating expenses as a nation and we're going to borrow more money from China to buy more property in Tennessee?" To expand a protected area, as the FWS has proposed to do with the Lower Hatchie and Chickasaw refuges in Tennessee, the agency goes through a public and internal review process, at the end of which it can purchase land from willing landowners at market rate. Acquiring the 120,000 proposed acres in Tennessee would, at current prices, cost about $300 million...more

One would hope they were opposed to expanding the federal estate no matter the size of the federal debt.

Why not put a freeze on all federal land acquisitions in the appropriations bills this year?

NBC Nightly News - Magdalena Water Problems

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Hage Back to Claims Court

Monday, June 17th, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition to hear the Hage v. United States takings case overturned, in part, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2012 (Appellate Court).
The case, originally filed in 1991, by Wayne and Jean Hage, claimed the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management caused the taking of their ranch through regulations and physical confiscations of property. They received a landmark judgment that, with interest, totaled $14 million, plus attorney fees from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 2008 (Claims Court). The court awarded the Hages compensation for the taking of their range improvements, ditch rights-of-ways and the water that flowed from the federal lands to their private lands. The case was the first ever filed asserting the taking of private property rights on federal grazing allotments.
The U.S. Government appealed the decision to the Appellate Court and was successful in overturning parts of the case. The Appellate Court also remanded the case back to the Claims Court “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.” (Estate of Hage v. United States, 697 F.3rd 1281, 1292 (2012)).
Now that a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court has been denied, the case moves back to the Claims Court for final resolution. The Hage Estate has argued that the Appellate Court's reversal was very narrow; particularly those issues not reversed, and discussed these in their Supreme Court Petition.
For example, the Appeals Court found that compensation for the range improvements owned by the Hages was not ripe, and therefore denied compensation for these property rights. Executors for the Hage Estate opted not to contest this ruling, because in a separate, but related case, United States v. Hage, the U.S. District Court in Nevada has required the government to reinstate the cooperative agreements it cancelled, which authorize the use of the range improvements owned by the Hages.
The District Court also ordered the government to reissue the grazing permits it cancelled and ordered Wayne Hage, Jr. to sign these permits to authorize grazing on the federal lands. This action, in effect, prevents the agencies from barring access to the Hage’s water and ditch rights-of-way. The Claims Court found that these rights were owned by the Hages and in the Supreme Court brief the Estate argues that the Appellate Court did not reverse these findings.
The other key issue raised by the Appellate Court was whether a taking of the ditch rights-of-way occurred because the Hages failed to apply for a special use permit. The Claims Court found that a special use permit was not required to maintain an Act of 1866 ditch right-of-way and additionally in this case that seeking a permit was futile because of the longstanding conflict between the agencies and the Hages. The Appellate Court did not overturn the factual finding that a permit was not required, but found that the action of seeking the permit to be futile was not sufficient grounds to assert the government had taken the property.
In the Supreme Court brief the Estate argues that in essence, the Appeals Court overturned the “regulatory” finding by the Claims Court for the ditch rights-of-way, but, did not overturn the Claims Court’s “physical” taking finding, therefore leaving this portion of the takings decision intact.
Ultimately, since the Appeals Court directed the Claims Court to reconsider its original ruling in light of their findings, the case is once again in the hands of the Claims Court and Judge Smith for final resolution.

BLM warns people could die of thirst due to budget cuts - BYOW

If you are planning to take in the views along the Bureau of Land Management's Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail or planning to enjoy a picnic at BLM's Beauty Bay site, you'll need to bring some drinking water with you this summer. The water systems at both locations are not functioning and because of budget impacts from federal cuts, funding to fix them is not available. To further complicate getting the water systems operational, the BLM's Coeur d'Alene office is unable to conduct the necessary bi-weekly water sampling in order to meet the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality drinking water standards due to a lack of personnel...more

I recently posted BLM Spending $100K to 'Increase Knowledge of Ethical Behavior'--Among ATV Drivers.  That's much more important than fixing two water systems!

Note BLM also can't meet the IDEQ drinking waters standards.  Those state standards are based on...federal law.  

If a private company didn't have the money to comply with federal reg's they would go out of business.  

Now that you mention it...

U.S. Forest Service upbeat about Rainbows (You've got to be kidding)

Though the Rainbow Family still owes the U.S. Forest Service $7,500 from its last gathering in Montana in 2000, a Forest Service spokesperson said her experience with the group has been largely positive. Cass Cairns, an information officer with the Forest Service, said dealing with the Rainbow Family is unique because it rejects the traditional hierarchal leadership structure, but that the group is interested in managing its annual event in responsible and healthy ways. For this year’s event, no special-use permit was issued to the Rainbow Family because of the lack of leaders who could sign off on such a document, though Cairns did say a specific plan of operations was established...more

OK, let's rewrite that.

Forest Service upbeat about ranch family returning
Though the Julie Carter Ranch Family still owes the Forest Service $7500 for past grazing fees, a Forest Service spokesperson said her experience with the family has been positive.  For this year's grazing season no permit was issued because no one in the family would sign such a document.  The Forest Service spokesperson said she wasn't sure how many cattle would graze this year.

Yup, when that happens I can shut down this blog and go back to living a normal life. 

Environmentalists Sue, Settle, and Apologize Later

Environmental groups are the biggest abusers of a legal tactic known as “sue and settle,” according to a recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  It works this way: An environmental advocacy group sues a federal agency—usually the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Department of Interior—charging that the government hasn’t performed a duty it is legally required to perform. The agency then settles the lawsuit with the environmental group, allowing them to circumvent the notice and comment requirements that are built into the regulatory system. They then enter into a consent decree or settlement agreement, which is often enforceable by a court. By the time the public and regulated industries have any say in the matter, the details have already been determined. Too often the result has been onerous regulations that satisfy an extreme agenda of an environmental special-interest group but seriously affect regulated parties who aren’t given a seat at the negotiating table. Environmental groups brought at least 71 sue-and-settle lawsuits between 2009 and 2012. Thirty-four of those lawsuits were brought by the Sierra Club alone. They have resulted in over 100 new regulations from the EPA. This system works nicely for government and special interests: Federal agencies appear forced into action by judicial fiat, but in fact the court’s order is more of a blessing to do what the special interests wanted to do in the first place but lacked the political means to do it. The abuses of sue-and-settle should serve as yet one more red flag that our environmental laws aren’t working for Americans. Instead, they are allowing the EPA to work around Americans in cahoots with radical environmental groups behind closed doors...more

EPA abandons study that linked fracking, Wyoming water pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it won’t finalize a draft 2011 study that concluded water pollution in a Wyoming region might stem from hydraulic fracturing, the controversial oil-and-gas development method. The decision to abandon the probe quickly buoyed gas industry advocates of the method dubbed “fracking,” who say it’s a safe practice. The EPA said it will not complete or seek peer review of a 2011 draft study, which found that groundwater pollution in the Pavillion, Wyo., area was consistent with chemicals used in gas production. The EPA, in a 2011 summary of its draft findings, had said its investigation “indicates that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.” But Wyoming state officials and industry officials have criticized the EPA’s draft report that linked pollution to fracking, notes The Associated Press, which broke the news of the agency’s decision not to finalize its study. Steve Everley, a spokesman for the industry group Energy In Depth, said EPA's decision “says pretty clearly that the agency is finally acknowledging the severity of the report’s flaws, and leaning once again on the expertise of state regulators.”...more

30 US House members want new Interior secretary to reform BLM's costly wild horse program

Thirty U.S. representatives urged new U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Thursday to make a priority out of reforming the government's wild horse management program and its spiraling budget that they say has created an "untenable situation" for both the mustangs and taxpayers. Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation, wrote the letter appealing to Jewell "as a conservationist and outdoor enthusiast" to help bring "long overdue" changes at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management charged with protecting the horses. Florida Rep. C.W. Bill Young, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, was the lone Republican to sign the letter. The majority of the co-signers were from states in the East and South, but several joined from states that are home to some of the estimated 37,000 free-roaming wild horses and burros on federal land in the West, including Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., five representatives from California and three from Oregon...more

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Won’t Back Down To Animal Rights Extremists

Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, which produces the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, has some advice for beef producers on the topic of animal rights. “I don’t believe in turning the other cheek in a debate like this. You just get slapped twice,” he says. Payne contacted me after having read my article on carriage driver Tommy Doyle and his family’s Palmetto Carriage Works of Charleston, SC, in the June 7 issue ofBEEF Cow-Calf Weekly. That article detailed the challenges and the approach of the Doyle family in working with livestock in the heart of an urban area. Payne reports that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey operation faces a similar challenge, in that it serves more than 10 million people annually and is under constant scrutiny – harassment really – from animal rights activists. Payne says Feld Entertainment, like the Doyle family, takes a firmly proactive stance when it comes to animal welfare. And, like the Doyles, he believes industries that rely on animals for their livelihoods must stick and work together...more

Wallenda to cross Gorge near Grand Canyon on wire

Nik Wallenda, the Florida-based daredevil, acrobat and heir to the famed Flying Wallendas circus family, is afraid of only one thing. "I would say the only thing I fear is God," said the 34-year-old Wallenda. He certainly had no fear of walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, riding a bike on a high wire 260 feet above the ground or hanging from a hovering helicopter by his teeth. On Sunday, Wallenda will attempt an even more ambitious feat, even for a man who was born into a family of risk-takers. He will attempt to walk on a tightrope stretched across the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon. The event, which will be broadcast on live television at 8 p.m. EST with a 10 second delay, will take place on the Navajo reservation near Cameron, outside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park. Wallenda will walk a third of a mile across a wire suspended 1,500 feet above the river. (In comparison, the Empire State Building in New York City is 1,454 feet high)...more

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Court says bison transfer is legal: Decision based upon property rights reversed

The relocation of Yellowstone National Park bison to tribal lands in Montana can resume under a Wednesday ruling from the state’s Supreme Court that revives a stalled conservation initiative for the animals. That’s when a lower court sided with ranchers and property rights advocates, who sued to block further transfers of the animals after Montana wildlife officials moved more than 60 bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Critics said the move was illegal under state law. They argued wild bison damage fences, eat hay meant for cattle and potentially could spread animal diseases to livestock. In March of 2012, state district Judge John McKeon sided with plaintiffs and issued an order blocking future transfers of Yellowstone bison. The move effectively halted the restoration program. In Wednesday’s ruling, state high court justices came down on the side of the state, which had argued that the law in question did not apply to tribal lands...more

Northwest New Mexico oil, gas production continues slide

Natural gas production in northwest New Mexico decreased 15.8 percent during the first three months of 2013, continuing a years-long decline that has rippled across the San Juan Basin. Perhaps most discouraging for the basin's sprawling oil and gas industry, oil production -- a source of some hope -- was also down by 12.3 percent, according to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division.  Natural gas production fell to 168.4 billion cubic feet from 200 billion cubic feet during the same period in 2012. This year is on track to mark the seventh consecutive year of declining gas production in northwest New Mexico. Oil production also fell to 227,553 barrels, down from 259,548 barrels during the first quarter of 2012. That's a reversal after two years of climbing oil production. Industry officials said the two are linked because most oil production in the San Juan Basin is a byproduct of natural gas drilling. San Juan Basin well operators are increasingly shutting in old gas wells until prices improve...more

Genetically engineered sugar beets destroyed in southern Oregon

Federal investigators are asking the public to help solve middle-of-the-night crimes that left ruined fields of genetically engineered sugar beets in rural Jackson County. The crop destruction took place over the course of two separate nights in early June, when an unknown individual or group destroyed about 6,500 sugar beet plants genetically engineered to stand up to the herbicide Roundup on a pair of privately-owned plots of land leased and managed by Syngenta. The first act of what the FBI considers "economic sabotage and a violation of federal law involving damage to commercial agricultural enterprises," took place during the night of June 8, when about 1,000 sugar beet plants on one property were destroyed. Three nights later, the destruction continued on another property, where another 5,500 plants were ruined. Estimates for the damage were not specified but the financial losses are significant, according to FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele. A group, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, is offering a reward up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the culprits...more

Farm bill fails in House

The House has rejected a five year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill that would have cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive them. Those cuts weren't deep enough for many Republicans who objected to the cost of the nearly $80 billion-a-year program, which has doubled in the past five years. The vote was 234-195 against the bill, with 62 Republicans voting against it. The bill also suffered from lack of Democratic support necessary for the traditionally bipartisan farm bill to pass. Only 24 Democrats voted in favor of the legislation after many said the food stamp cuts could remove as many as 2 million needy recipients from the rolls. The addition of the optional state work requirements by an amendment just before final passage turned away any remaining Democratic votes the bill's supporters may have had...more

Utah’s federal land, roads fights a ‘wild goose chase’?

State leaders’ quest to gain title to federal land and thousands of dirt tracks and roads amounts to "a wild goose chase" that squanders taxpayer money and could ultimately degrade the state’s natural beauty, education advocates told a legislative committee Wednesday.  "We don’t believe these initiatives will solve our education funding issues. We fear they will distract our leaders from seeking realistic and lasting solutions. We are chasing after an imaginary unicorn," said Heather Bennett, a Salt Lake City school board member.   The comments by Bennett, a co-founder of the new campaign called For Kids and Lands, were a blunt challenge to the Legislature’s Natural Resources Interim Committee, whose leadership endorses lawsuits against the federal government in a bid to enable greater resource development on public lands.  Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, used the occasion to blast conservation groups that advocate greater landscape protection.  "You are wrong on this issue. These groups have an agenda and feed you misinformation. They don’t care about your kids. I do," said Noel, among the state’s leading critics of federal land management.  Backers of the state push to take title to federal land say the move is necessary to secure education funding for Utah, which ranks dead-last in per-pupil spending. Getting the state on par with the national average would take $2.6 billion.  That would require doubling the state income tax, which would wreck the economy, said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who authored the 2012 legislation demanding the land transfer.  The state has done a superior job generating revenue off state lands, backers say as proof that Utah is better suited to manage land than federal authorities...more

The Ethanol Mandate: Don’t Mend It, End It

Praised as a policy that would reduce dependence on oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refineries to blend ethanol into gasoline, has been fraught with unintended consequences. The RFS mandates the use of an inefficient fuel, drives up food prices, and causes adverse environmental effects. The 2012 drought and problems meeting the quotas in the RFS have put the program under the political microscope. The Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris explains how the only true reform to the Renewable Fuel Standard is to eliminate it, and why Congress should repeal the costly and unnecessary mandate.
Read the policy report here.

Slim Whitman

Country singer Slim Whitman, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy "Mars Attacks!," died Wednesday at a Florida hospital. He was 90. Whitman recorded more than 65 albums and sold millions of records, including 4 million of "All My Best" that was marketed on TV. His career spanned six decades, beginning in the late 1940s, but he achieved cult figure status in the 1980s. His visage as an ordinary guy singing romantic ballads struck a responsive chord with the public. Born Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr. in Tampa on Jan. 23, 1923, he worked as a young man in a meatpacking plant, at a shipyard and as a postman. He was able to get on radio in Tampa and signed with RCA Records in 1949 with the help of Col. Tom Parker, who later became Presley's longtime manager. RCA gave Whitman the show business name Slim - he was a slender 6-foot-1 - to replace his uninspiring birth name. In 1952, Whitman had his first hit record, "Love Song of the Waterfall," which 25 years later became part of the soundtrack of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Another Whitman hit from that year, "Indian Love Call," was used to humorous effect in the 1996 "Mars Attacks!" - his yodel causes the Martians' heads to explode. With Whitman's early hits, he became a star on the "Louisiana Hayride" radio show. His version of "Rose Marie," the title song from the venerable operetta that spawned "Indian Love Call," became a huge hit in England in 1955, staying at No. 1 on the charts for 11 weeks...more

From the NY Times:

...He recorded more than 500 songs, made more than 100 albums and sold more than 70 million records. In the 1970s his recording of “Rose Marie” was No. 1 on the British pop charts for 11 weeks, a feat the Beatles never accomplished. 

For better or worse, he helped put a twist on how records were sold. In 1979 he blitzed daytime and late-night television for months with advertisements for a greatest-hits album, “All My Best.” Without radio airplay or record-store sales, it became a strong seller. He followed up with three more albums of old songs in the 1980s and ’90s. “Twilight on the Trail,” his first studio album in 20 years, came out in 2010.
Ottis (pronounced AH-tis) Dewey Whitman Jr. was born in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 23, 1923, and liked to listen to Jimmie Rodgers yodel on the family radio. After leaving high school he worked at a meatpacking plant, where he lost part of a finger in an accident. In 1941 he eloped with Alma Crist, who would help him overcome his severe stutter.
He joined the Navy, where he served in the South Pacific and entertained shipmates by singing, yodeling and playing the guitar, which he had learned to play upside down and left-handed.
After the war he played weekly in a supermarket and was hired to perform on local radio stations. Colonel Tom Parker, who later managed Presley, heard him and helped him get a contract with RCA Victor Records. Mr. Whitman adopted the stage name Slim and began to appear on the radio show “Louisiana Hayride,” whose performers also included Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.

LA Times: Auction sends wild horses to sanctuary — or slaughter

The gate swings open and the wild mustang rushes into the auction pen. Yearling by its side, the big mare paces the muddy floor, neck craning, nostrils flaring. Graceful creatures that have never known saddle or rider are now biddable commodities. The unluckiest of America's wild horses end up in places like this: a livestock yard in rural Nevada, where potential buyers coolly assess each animal's physique, looking for a deal. On this day, 23 mustangs that state officials removed from public rangeland outside Reno will have their fates determined in the crescent-shaped bidding theater. A showdown looms. In the crowd are so-called kill buyers scouting product to ship to a foreign slaughterhouse. Also on hand are animal activists who, checkbook in hand, plan to outbid the kill buyers. The mood is prison-yard tense, with armed state Department of Agriculture officers looking on. Sally Summers, an activist in Wrangler jeans and hiking boots, suspiciously eyes a well-known kill buyer named Zena Quinlan. Then the auctioneer begins his racing beat. The federal Bureau of Land Management says the mustang population is out of control. Activists say the BLM has scapegoated an animal whose poise and dignity make it a symbol of the West. The two sides disagree on just about everything: on how to stem the growth of mustang herds, whether domestic cattle or wild horses do more damage to rangeland, whether mustangs are a native or invasive species. Critics say the bureau bends to the interests of ranchers, who for generations have grazed their livestock on public lands leased for below-market cost. "The agency removes horses, but you don't see them taking cattle off the range," said Bob Edwards, a former BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program official. Officials counter that it's the animal activists who are inflexible. When the BLM proposed gelding more males, activists sued, saying it robbed stallions of their spirit. Each year the BLM rounds up thousands of mustangs — pintos and bays, roans and grays — and trucks them off to be readied for adoption or sent to fenced-in Midwestern tracts, where ranchers are paid by the government to house the horses for the rest of their lives. The BLM estimates that 49,000 wild horses are held in such facilities. In 2012, holding costs of $42 million devoured more than half of the BLM's $72-million budget for its horse and burro program. About 31,500 remain on the range...more

New Mexico Game and Fish funds to help ranchers, wildlife

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is providing some money to ranchers to help wildlife during the current drought. The department is providing a one-time $40,000 payment to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to help ranchers offset the cost of hauling or pumping water to livestock tanks that also are used by wildlife. The funding will pass through the nonprofit New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts. The organization will make up to $350 available to individual ranchers to pay for fuel needed to haul water or pay for electricity to pump water to tanks. The money comes from the Department of Game and Fish budget, which is funded primarily by hunting, fishing and trapping license sales. The money will be available through the 47 conservation district offices on a first-come, first-served basis. Department of Game and Fish Director Jim Lane and Agriculture Director/Secretary Jeff Witte announced the funding Tuesday...more

Mexican Gray Wolves, Nearly Extinct, Born in Captivity in Sonora

Six Mexican gray wolves, a species on the brink of extinction, were born in a nature reserve in the northern state of Sonora, a state environmental official said.  “The birth of these pups is a big accomplishment for the conservation of an extinct species in its natural habitat,” Sonora Environmental Commission director Oscar Tellez told Efe.  The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is a subspecies that has “difficulty reproducing in captivity,” Tellez said.  The pups are the offspring of “Wuera,” who was brought to the park in 2008 from a zoo in the central state of Guanajuato, and “Federiko,” who arrived at the reserve in 2012 from a state park in New Mexico.  The pups were probably born last month, but no one spotted them until the female moved them to a new den, experts said.  Nine pups were born, but three “died from natural causes,” Tellez said...more

20 Completely Unjustified Programs in the House Farm Bill


The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a $1 trillion package of agriculture subsidies and welfare benefits that exemplifies warped federal policy. Within its 575 pages, the proposed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act includes massive spending on food stamps, a bumper crop of insurance subsidies, and lots of conservation largesse.
But there are also a multitude of lesser-known programs that will inflate commodity prices, escalate risks, and expand the size and scope of government. Below are 20 such programs that represent the noxious nature of the so-called farm bill.
  1. Income limitation for commodity and conservation programs. Allows the wealthy(annual adjusted gross income up to $950,000) to collect agriculture subsidies. So much for “family farmers.”
  2. Demonstration projects on Acceptance of Benefits of Mobile Transactions.Enables needy food stamp recipients to use their iPhones to make grocery purchases.
  3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pilot program for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Expands food stamp benefits among the 58,000 inhabitants of 15 islands in the western Pacific Ocean.
  4. Rural Business Investment Program. Provides $20 million annually to create government-subsidized businesses in places evidently inhospitable to private business investment.
  5. Policy research centers. Authorizes $5 million annually for grants to politically favored think tanks to do the same type of work as the Congressional Research Service and the Office of Management and Budget.
  6. Special import quota for upland cotton. Imposes a trade restriction to ensure that American consumers pay more for the fabric of our lives.
  7. Natural Stone Research and Promotion Board. Creates a quasi-government entity to spend the revenue generated by a new tax on rocks.
  8. Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program. Provides $40 million annually to redecorate farmers’ market stalls and roadside stands in a manner befitting their yuppie customers.
  9. SNAP Nutrition Education Program. Budgets a whopping $375 million for 2015 to teach food stamp recipients that candy, soda, and chips do not constitute a well-rounded diet.
  10. Weather radio transmitters. Authorizes $1 million annually for radio equipment that falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Weather Service), not the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  11. Agriculture research and development (also known as the “No Commodity Left Behind” provision). Designates research priorities to be specialty crops, sorghum, peanuts, and sugarcane. But what about heirloom tomatoes and organic pineapple?
  12. National Sheep Industry Improvement Center. Subsidizes modern shepherds and herders who evidently need government assistance to market their sheep and goats.
  13. National Clean Plant Network. A lot of green—$137.5 million—to promote the use of healthy plants (as opposed to farmers using diseased and pest-ridden ones).
  14. Honey Report. Requires the Department of Agriculture to consider a federal standard that would inevitably make honey more expensive.
  15. Olive oil import control. Imposes import controls on olive oil (to drive up prices).
  16. Rural Energy for America Program. Provides subsidies to farmers and rural businesses for “renewable” energy systems so they, too, can have costly and inefficient energy.
  17. Community Wood Energy Program. Grants to state and local governments to return their communities to the good ol’ days of burning trees for heat.
  18. Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program. Provides grants to communities and Indian tribes to establish local forests (since there would be none without the federal government).
  19. Christmas tree tax. Allows the government to collect a new tax on Christmas trees for promotion (because otherwise we might forget to buy one for December 25).
  20. Price-loss coverage for peanuts. Guarantees the incomes of peanut farmers, because they have a very strong lobby in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First-Time Buyers Bolster Gun Makers, Retailers

Firearms have been flying off shelves across the country amid calls from some lawmakers to increase gun control, and manufacturers are benefiting from the surge in demand. But retailers and makers of firearms aren’t simply relying on returning gun owners looking to make another purchase. They’re also getting a boost from first-time buyers, thanks to an increasing number of people interested in firearms. In its annual Firearms Retailer Survey Report, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said there is an upward trend in the number of first-time buyers purchasing firearms, while more women are frequenting gun shops and ranges. “There’s no question that the number of people becoming interested in owning firearms for personal protection or shooting sports is growing,” said Mike Bazinet, Director of Public Affairs at the NSSF. Retailers surveyed by the NSSF, a trade association for the firearms industry, reported that 25.8% of their customers were first-time firearm buyers in 2012...more

Readin', writin', oil drillin' on school land

Tight school budgets have New Mexico schools trying to find different ways to raise money. The Carlsbad Municipal School District is doing it by pumping black gold. The district's director of finance said nearly seven acres owned by the district aren't being used, so why not put it to good use by pumping oil? "If it's a resource available to us, and it's not currently being used," Laura Garcia said. "I think the main idea is to utilize what we have." Garcia said with enrollment up by nearly 100 students since 2012, the Carlsbad district needed to find another source of income. She says RSC Resources, L.P., a New Mexico oil drilling company, approached the district with the idea. The company plans to drill for oil on the old Malaga Elementary School property. In return the company promised the District $500 per acre and 20 percent of the profits made on the land...more

Alright, now we are drilling for oil...for the children!

Banff motorcyclist pursued by 'massive' grey wolf along stretch of B.C. highway, takes pictures

Last Saturday, Banff mechanic Tim Bartlett was christening a new motorcycle through the Rocky Mountains when he had a rare wildlife encounter that was equal parts terrifying and enchanting. On a stretch of British Columbia’s Highway 93, a massive grey wolf emerged from the trees, lunged at his speeding ride and chased after him at full speed as he pulled away. The story would have become little more than another legend clanging around the roadhouses of Western Canada if Mr. Bartlett had not whipped a camera out of his top pocket to record the event for posterity; capturing a series of rare snapshots that have since been beamed around the world. The Post’s Tristin Hopper reached him by phone on Friday morning...more

Obama calls climate change the ‘global threat of our time’ in Berlin address

President Obama on Wednesday called climate change the “global threat of our time" in a speech in Berlin. Amid signs the White House is getting ready to unveil new executive-level steps to curb greenhouse gases, Obama linked fighting climate change to peace and justice while calling for bold action. President Obama on Wednesday called climate change the “global threat of our time" in a speech in Berlin. Amid signs the White House is getting ready to unveil new executive-level steps to curb greenhouse gases, Obama linked fighting climate change to peace and justice while calling for bold action. “Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet," he said in a speech at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. "The effort to slow climate change requires bold action.” Obama touted his first-term work on green energy and boosting auto efficiency rules, but added: “We know we have to do more — and we will do more.” The White House within the next few weeks is expected to outline executive actions to be taken by the Environmental Protection Agency and other departments...more

Top White House climate adviser vows Obama will act soon

President Obama's top climate adviser on Wednesday vowed that “meaningful” action on global warming was coming soon. Heather Zichal, the deputy assistant to the president on energy and climate change, said she didn’t want to get “in front of the big man” and unveil specific plans during an event in Washington, D.C., hosted by The New RepublicShe spoke broadly, however, of bolstering energy efficiency, expanding clean energy on public lands and using various “tools” -- including the Clean Air Act -- to address climate. Zichal’s comments come as speculation grows that the administration is preparing sweeping climate change proposals. Bloomberg reported that Obama has told donors he will take action next month...more

House Farm Bill Would Outspend Obama on Most Expensive Farm Program

The House farm bill would spend more than Obama on the most expensive farm program. Yes, you read that right. President Obama hasn’t all of a sudden become a fiscal conservative, but even he evidently recognizes how out of hand the crop insurance program has become. When it comes to this most expensive farm program, President Obama’s plan would spend less than the House farm bill. When the House bill is to the left of Obama on the most expensive farm program, what does that say about the House farm bill? Taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance costs are skyrocketing. From 2000 to 2006, crop insurance costs averaged $3.1 billion annually. The Congressional Budget Office has projected the costs will average about $9 billion annually from 2013-2022. That’s nearly triple the cost. While President Obama’s budget is projected to reduce crop insurance costs by $11.7 billion from 2014-2023, the House farm bill is projected to increase the costs by $8.9 billion during that same time...more

VA Farmer Claims IRS Targeting After Clash With Environmental Group

by Kevin Mooney
After clashing in court with a powerful Virginia environmental group, farmer Martha Boneta faced a second threat: an ominous U.S. Internal Revenue Service audit notice she received in the mail.
Boneta suspects the events are related, that her struggle to protect her property rights is part of a larger national story involving IRS harassment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. A former IRS commissioner who serves on a council that has sparred with Boneta over her property said the concerns are unfounded.
“You are humbled and terrorized by the whole process,” Boneta told Watchdog. “You wake up every day with a terrible feeling, and initially you don’t want to tell anyone what has happened. But as I gradually began to speak out, more people began to join with me. Anyone who is a farmer, or a concerned citizen, has a stake in this fight. But I came into the process very reluctantly.”
As Watchdog previously reported, Boneta’s name is now synonymous with the fight for property rights in Virginia. The Boneta Bill (House Bill 1430), which is designed to strengthen and clarify the state’s Right to Farm Act, passed the House of Delegates in a 77-22 vote in February.
Inside the barn on her 70-acre property in Paris, Va., a small rural village in Fauquier County, an hour’s drive west of Washington, D.C., Boneta told Watchdog the IRS notice followed a fight that began when the Piedmont Environmental Council began working with county officials to rezone her property. PEC officials threatened to sue Boneta in 2009 for a variety of supposed violations before focusing their complaint on the presence of an apartment on the property.
Boneta and PEC settled in 2011, but by then, Fauquier County planners, prompted by PEC, had changed zoning laws to specifically ban Boneta’s sale of fresh fruit, vegetables, beverages and homemade handicrafts from her on-site farm store. That change led to the Boneta Bill.
It also led, in April 2012, to county citations against Boneta – each a claim that Boneta was violating the county’s planning ordinances.
Then came the IRS notice saying that Bryon C. Jose, an IRS agent based in Fairfax, would audit Boneta’s 2010 and 2011 tax returns. Boneta calls that time frame “highly suggestive” because it coincides closely with the heavily publicized litigation concerning the operations on her property.
Boneta asserts the IRS audit is the latest event in a “coordinated effort” aimed at forcing her off her farm.
It’s not just timing that makes Boneta suspicious of the IRS audit, or even the fact that the audit asks for information that was key to the lawsuit PEC filed against Boneta. It’s the presence on the PEC board of directors of Margaret “Peggy” Richardson, aClinton-era IRS commissioner.

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Hage Takings Case Petition


(WASHINGTON, DC)  Monday the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Hage family's petition for certiorari in their Constitutional Fifth Amendment takings case, Estate of E. Wayne and Jean Hage v. U.S.  The Hage's appealed a narrowly worded reversal by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to determine if a permit was required to conduct routine maintenance on a vested 1866 Mining Act right-of-way.  

                The 22 year-old case involved the Hage's seeking just compensation for the government's temporary taking of their historic vested water rights, rights-of-ways, and range improvements on their central Nevada Pine Creek Ranch.  The last procedural step for the Hage's involves the case being remanded back to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for a hearing and final order consistent with the Federal Circuit ruling bringing this multi-generation saga to a close.

                Wayne N. Hage, son of late property rights advocate and author, E. Wayne Hage, commented from the family's ranch.  "We of course are disappointed the Court failed to settle a dispute so central to the road and water way infrastructure of the West.  However, the question before the Supreme Court involved only a very small part of the eight published decisions issued by Judge Loren Smith and its impact on our ranching operation is minimal."

               Hage summarized by saying, "All of Judge Smith's property findings and most of the original $2.8 million judgment remain intact.  Also important to ranchers is that the Federal Circuit found that we must be guaranteed access to our vested stock water rights."

                In a related case, on May 24 Chief Judge Robert C. Jones of the Federal District Court of Nevada issued a historic 104-page ruling in the related case, U.S. v. Hage.   Two agencies of the federal government were found to have entered into a "literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their permits but also their vested water rights.  This behavior shocks the conscience of the Court and provides a sufficient bases for a finding of irreparable harm" to support permanent injunctive relief.

                The Jones ruling follows a 21-day trial in Reno, NV in the Spring of 2012 wherein attorney Mark Pollot represented the estate, and Hage, unable to afford an attorney represented himself pro se.

                Pollot, who is the lead attorney for both cases, remarked, "I am unaware of any case in recent history where federal agency employees have been found by a court to have engaged in a conspiracy.  In light of the recent revelations about the IRS, Justice Department, Health and Human Services and the State Department, the Jones ruling is truly timely.  Unfortunately, the only reason the FS and BLM find themselves in this position is because they repeatedly ignored the rulings from Judge Smith, for what Judge Jones determined to be 'vindictive' reasons." 

                Judge Jones specifically noted in that the Department of Justice, representing the BLM and USFS, brought the most recent case, filed in 2007, because they were "unsatisfied with the outcome" in the ongoing related takings case in the Court of Federal Claims.               

                Fallout from the District Court's interpretation of BLM and USFS actions is surfacing.  Agency officials were found to be in contempt of court by Judge Jones for witness intimidation and referred to the U.S. attorney for possible criminal prosecution.  In August 2012 in a three-day show cause hearing for contempt of court agency brass turned up in Reno to defend the agency personnel charged with contempt.   FS Regional Director Harv Forsgeren was found by the court to be "prevaricating" and FS State Director Jeannie Higgins was deemed not entirely truthful.  Both took unscheduled retirements shortly after the hearing.  BLM Manager Tom Seley, specifically found to be in contempt and owning monetary compensation to the Hage's, retired May 31.

Mueller Admits FBI Uses Drones in Domestic Surveillance

The FBI uses drones in domestic surveillance operations in a “very, very minimal way,” Director Robert Mueller said. Mueller, in Senate testimony today, acknowledged for the first time that the Federal Bureau of Investigation uses “very few” drones in a limited capacity during its investigations. “It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,” Mueller said when asked about the bureau’s use of pilotless aircraft with surveillance capabilities. “It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs.” Lawmakers, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the impact on privacy of drones used by federal law enforcement agencies. The Homeland Security Department regularly deploys drones to oversee the southern border. Mueller said the FBI is in “the initial stages” of formulating privacy guidelines related to its use of drones. “There are a number of issues related to drones that will need to be debated in the future,” Mueller said. “It’s still in its nascent stages, this debate.” NewsMax

Columbine hero electrocuted, killed working on New Mexico power lines

One of the first students to dial for help on the morning of the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 was electrocuted and killed while working on power lines in New Mexico Monday morning. Xcel Energy confirmed the news of Matthew DePew’s death in a statement Wednesday morning. “Tragically, one of our servicemen, Matthew DePew, died early Saturday while working on outage restoration activities outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico,” the company wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the friends, family and co-workers affected by this tragic accident.” DePew’s father was a Denver police officer on April 20, 1999, and DePew phoned him that fateful morning after reportedly seeing a classmate shot outside Columbine High School. That call proved to be one of the first emergency notifications authorities received. According to a report from the Farmington Daily Times, DePew was one of the Xcel employees who volunteered to assist in the wake of Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast earlier this year, driving 2,300 miles to Long Island and working 10 days to help restore power to the region...more

Government Gong Show - Obamacare mandate could phase out full-time work + video

As a person with multiple sclerosis, I watch the healthcare scene closely.

My wife, Sharon, received a phone call yesterday from a friend who works for a national retail food establishment.  The friend was excited because she was pregnant.  However, she said all employees had been cut back to part-time so she no longer has health insurance.  Obamacare is responsible, as this article explains:

President Obama’s health care reform is prompting employers to hire more part-time and temporary workers to escape paying benefits under a mandate that goes into effect next year, amplifying a trend toward transient employment that took hold during the recession, according to a growing number of economic indicators. Hardest hit by the move toward cutting work hours and increasing temporary hiring are lower-income workers, millions of whom already lack health insurance and are afflicted with constant turnover in jobs at fast-food restaurants, big-box retailers and other businesses with large numbers of low-paid staff.

Monthly reports from the Labor Department show a rising trend of temporary hiring and still-elevated levels of part-time workers, though the recession officially ended four years ago this month. Economists say the looming Jan. 1 deadline for providing health insurance to all full-time workers may be the reason why. The mandate applies to companies employing more than 50 people who work 30 or more hours per week.

“The increased use of temp workers may lead to more permanent hiring, but there is also the possibility that employers are taking on more temp workers to keep payrolls under the threshold of 50 workers and thus to remain free from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act,” said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director at Moody's Analytics. Temporary jobs have grown far faster than the overall job market, with the total temporary workforce reaching pre-recession levels of more than 26 million this year and surging noticeably in recent months.

And it's not just the private sector responding to the Obamacare mandates:

The pressures are cutting the hours even of those who already work part time. Officials in Floyd County, Ind., announced last week plans to pare back the hours of part-time county workers who now work 34 hours a week to get them under the 30-hour-a-week Obamacare mandate. The Southern Lehigh School District in Pennsylvania voted to cut the hours of 51 part-time secretaries, custodians and cafeteria workers to avoid the health care mandate.

So who gets hurt the most by Obamacare?

Ball State University economist Michael Hicks said the trend to reduce hours is hurting the same uneducated and unskilled workers who suffered the most during the recession and have been getting an ever-smaller piece of the income and benefits pie for decades. More educated, higher-income workers already have health care benefits from their employers, by and large, and the law is not expected to have as much effect on them, he said.

“The incentives shift to hire higher-income workers full time and low-income workers part time” because health care costs are largely the same per person but constitute a much smaller share of compensation costs with workers earning higher wages, he said. “Employment opportunities for college graduates will continue to expand, but the share of part-time employment will also grow” among the most hard-pressed workers with less education, he said.

“Right now there’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence the ACA is promoting a shift from full- to part-time employment,” he said. “At some point in the coming months, we’ll have more certainty from the data” as employers who are cutting work hours to escape the mandate will do so in a mass rush before the Jan. 1 deadline, he said.

So those who Obamacare was supposed to help, low income workers and the poor, are the ones who are hurt the most.  This is typical of most gov't interventions in the economy, but is brought home for all to see with Obamacare.  Federal programs and regulations had already screwed up our healthcare system and Obamacare will further damage what's left.

What's next?  This will follow the usual pattern where gov't will initiate new programs, regulations and mandates to "fix" the problems caused by them in the first place.

In other words, the Government Gong Show is just beginning.

For those of you not old enough to have seen The Gong Show on tv, here's an example of the quality of your future healthcare: