Friday, July 05, 2013

U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement

Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home. “Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green. “It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who with his wife owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else. As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service. Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images. Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail. The mail covers program, used to monitor Mr. Pickering, is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) The information is sent to the law enforcement agency that asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny. “In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the fraud section of the criminal division of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be, ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.” Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and an author, said whether it was a postal worker taking down information or a computer taking images, the program was still an invasion of privacy. “Basically they are doing the same thing as the other programs, collecting the information on the outside of your mail, the metadata, if you will, of names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, which gives the government a pretty good map of your contacts, even if they aren’t reading the contents,” he said...more

Arctic expedition to highlight global warming brings guns to fight off polar bears

In an effort to highlight the effects of global warming, an Irish-Canadian team plans to cross the arctic’s Northwest Passage in a rowboat while armed with rubber bullets to ward off polar bears. The team will also carry shotguns to kill the animals if necessary. “They are the only animal out there that will actively hunt down a human being,” said seasoned adventurer Kevin Vallely, who is part of the rowing expedition which will take about 80 days and traverse the distance between Inuvik in Canada’s Northwest Territories and Pond Inlet, Nunavut. Despite being the poster child for species affected by global warming, the polar bear is the king of the arctic and has no natural predator. The bears can range in weight from 900 pounds to 1,600 pounds and can reach sizes of up to 8 feet in length...more

Whatever it takes to "highlight the effects" of global warming.  Even if we have to take a shotgun and blow the head off a polar bear, why surely its worth it.

Of course the polar bear is listed as "threatened" supposedly as a result of global warming.  Thank you George W. Bush. 

Polar bears were added to the Endangered Species List because of global warming and were classified as “threatened” in May 2008. However, today there are as many as 25,000 polar bears worldwide, far more than there were four decades ago. “There are far more polar bears alive today than there were 40 years ago,” author Zac Unger told NPR in an interview about his new book, “Never Look a Polar Bear in The Eye.” “There are about 25,000 polar bears alive today worldwide. In 1973, there was a global hunting ban. So once hunting was dramatically reduced, the population exploded.”

Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and 35 years later Bush Jr. listed the Polar Bear, even though the population "exploded" after the hunting ban.  

And here we are 40 years later and the critters do need protection...from the enviros.  

Homeland Security Conducts “Top Secret” July 4 Drill

The Department of Homeland Security is conducting a “top secret” drill codenamed ‘Operation Independence’ across the United States today, during which officers in riot gear as well as undercover agents will patrol transport hubs. According to a report by KTTV, the exercise is a “full scale terrorism drill”  taking place nationwide. In Los Angeles, the drill involves the LA County Sheriff’s Department, Homeland Security and TSA agents, as well as plain clothed officers who will be, “working undercover, looking like any other passenger, they scour faces, briefcases and backpacks, looking for anything out of the ordinary.” Officials claim the drills are to make the public feel “safe” in light of claims that the alleged Boston Bombers had planned a July 4 terror attack in New York. According to Nicole Nishida of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Americans will celebrate their “independence” from tyranny by submitting to random bag searches. Although the drill is “high visibility” in one sense – cops dressed in riot gear will be involved – many details of the exercise remain “top secret and that’s the way it should be. Only they need to know what the game plan is,” reports KTTV. L.A. County’s Homeland Security Division chief Ted Sexton admitted that the DHS drill was not based on “any credible threat information.”...more

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Jefferson Weeping

by Andrew Napolitano

Do you have more personal liberty today than on the Fourth of July 2012?

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he used language that has become iconic. He wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not only did he write those words, but the first Congress adopted them unanimously, and they are still the law of the land today. By acknowledging that our rights are inalienable, Jefferson’s words and the first federal statute recognize that our rights come from our humanity – from within us – and not from the government.

The government the Framers gave us was not one that had the power and ability to decide how much freedom each of us should have, but rather one in which we individually and then collectively decided how much power the government should have. That, of course, is also recognized in the Declaration, wherein Jefferson wrote that the government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.

To what governmental powers may the governed morally consent in a free society? We can consent to the powers necessary to protect us from force and fraud, and to the means of revenue to pay for a government to exercise those powers. But no one can consent to the diminution of anyone else’s natural rights, because, as Jefferson wrote and the Congress enacted, they are inalienable.

Just as I cannot morally consent to give the government the power to take your freedom of speech or travel or privacy, you cannot consent to give the government the power to take mine. This is the principle of the natural law: We all have areas of human behavior in which each of us is sovereign and for the exercise of which we do not need the government’s permission. Those areas are immune from government interference.

That is at least the theory of the Declaration of Independence, and that is the basis for our 237-year-old American experiment in limited government, and it is the system to which everyone who works for the government today pledges fidelity. 

Regrettably, today we have the opposite of what the Framers gave us. Today we have a government that alone decides how much wealth we can retain, how much free expression we can exercise, how much privacy we can enjoy. And since the Fourth of July 2012, freedom has been diminished.

In the past year, all branches of the federal government have combined to diminish personal freedoms, in obvious and in subtle ways. In the case of privacy, we now know that the federal government has the ability to read all of our texts and emails and listen to all of our telephone calls – mobile and landline – and can do so without complying with the Constitution’s requirements for a search warrant. We now know that President Obama authorized this, federal judges signed off on this, and select members of Congress knew of this, but all were sworn to secrecy, and so none could discuss it. And we only learned of this because a young former spy risked his life, liberty and property to reveal it.

In the past year, Obama admitted that he ordered the CIA in Virginia to use a drone to kill two Americans in Yemen, one of whom was a 16-year-old boy. He did so because the boy’s father, who was with him at the time of the murders, was encouraging militants to wage war against the U.S. 

He wasn’t waging war, according to the president; he was encouraging it. 

Simultaneously with this, the president claimed he can use a drone to kill whomever he wants, so long as the person is posing an active threat to the U.S., is difficult to arrest and fits within guidelines that the president himself has secretly written to govern himself.

In the past year, the Supreme Court has ruled that if you are in police custody and fail to assert your right to remain silent, the police at the time of trial can ask the jury to infer that you are guilty. This may seem like a technical ruling about who can say what to whom in a courtroom, but it is in truth a radical break from the past. 

Everyone knows that we all have the natural and constitutionally guaranteed right to silence. And anyone in the legal community knows that judges for generations have told jurors that they may construe nothing with respect to guilt or innocence from the exercise of that right. No longer. Today, you remain silent at your peril.

In the past year, the same Supreme Court has ruled that not only can you be punished for silence, but you can literally be forced to open your mouth. The court held that upon arrest – not conviction, but arrest – the police can force you to open your mouth so they can swab the inside of it and gather DNA material from you. 

Put aside the legal truism that an arrest is evidence of nothing and can and does come about for flimsy reasons; DNA is the gateway to personal data about us all. Its involuntary extraction has been insulated by the Fourth Amendment’s requirements of relevance and probable cause of crime. No longer. Today, if you cross the street outside of a crosswalk, get ready to open your mouth for the police.

The litany of the loss of freedom is sad and unconstitutional and irreversible. The government does whatever it can to retain its power, and it continues so long as it can get away with it. It can listen to your phone calls, read your emails, seize your DNA and challenge your silence, all in violation of the Constitution. Bitterly and ironically, the government Jefferson wrought is proving the accuracy of Jefferson’s prediction that in the long march of history, government grows and liberty shrinks. Somewhere Jefferson is weeping.

Happy Fourth of July 2013.

Originally posted here

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Oregon bans some insecticides following bee deaths

Bees and other insects can breathe a little easier in Oregon — for now. The state has responded to the recent bumbleocalypse in a Target parking lot by temporarily banning use of the type of pesticide responsible for the high-profile pollinator die-off. For the next six months, it will be illegal to spray Safari or other pesticides [PDF] containing dinotefuran neonicotinoids in the state. Oregon’s ban comes after more than 50,000 bumblebees and other pollinators were killed when Safari was sprayed over blooming linden trees to control aphids in a Wilsonville, Ore., parking lot. A similar incident in Hillsboro, Ore., was also cited by the state’s agriculture department as a reason for the ban...more

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

K-State Showcases Drones Designed To Aid Farmers

It's called precision agriculture- using using unmanned aerial systems to improve the care of crops and livestock- and the emerging technology has farmers lining up to buy it, according to industry leaders. On Tuesday, Kansas State University Salina hosted a flight demonstration of several different unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at the Great Plains Joint Training Center in Lindsborg. K-State is one of two four-year institutions in the country involved in the development of the unmanned aircrafts. "It’s a way for us to showcase an often misunderstood technology for a purpose that really could touch everyone on the planet and that’s agriculture. These small devices have the ability to increase agriculture productivity greatly in some cases," said Dr. Kurt Barnhart, a professor, head of the department of aviation, and executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State University. The drones, ranging in price from around $5,000 to upwards of $100,000, take video and color infrared imagery that can detect subtle differences in crops that can't be seen with the naked eye. They're designed to help farmers with their crop yields- detecting infect infestations and diseases in crops and processing images and data so that farmers can make the best decisions when it comes to what they're producing. The agriculture sector is expected to be the largest market for UAS technology, Toscano said, and they can save farmers the significant cost of hiring or operating manned aircraft. Right now, farmers can use UAS for personal use over their individual fields and Toscano says in the near future, farmers will be able to hire companies to come out and survey their crops. It’s predicted that in the first year that unmanned aircrafts are introduced into the national airspace, it will create 770 new jobs at K-State and $750 million in economic impact. On a global standpoint, in the first three years the aircrafts are allowed to fly in the national airspace, they will generate $13.6 billion in economic impact and create around 70,000 jobs, officials said...more

Irrigation backers rally in Klamath Falls; more than 200 vehicles in downtown drive - video

John Briggs, who ranches north of Chiloquin, stood with hundreds of people Monday morning on the steps of the Klamath County Courthouse. Briggs has been on his ranch for 30 years. “I built it,” he said. “I put in the pumps. I put in the irrigation. I took out the stumps. I planted the grass. I built the corrals. I built the barn. I built everything. And I created my piece of the American dream. I have fed, in 30 years, thousands of people with the beef that I raised.” Like many of the ranchers standing beside Briggs, he has had his water shut off. His was stopped Thursday. “This is my piece of the American dream,” he said. “I am 63 years old. Every single president of the United States has talked about the American dream. And mine was just taken away from me.” Briggs and ranchers from around the Klamath Basin rallied Monday from the Klamath County Fairgrounds to the courthouse. They drove through Klamath Falls in a long convoy of trucks, semis, hay trailers, cattle trailers, tractors and nearly every other type of farm vehicle. At the courthouse, about 500 people waited with signs, cheering the convoy. Ranchers were making a statement: If water is shut off, it will hurt the Basin. It won’t just hurt the ranchers who may have to sell their cattle early or move the animals out of the area, it will hurt all of the local economy...more

Here's a tv video report.

Judge orders BLM to sell more timber (I know, I know, but the headline is accurate)

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to sell more timber in Southern Oregon, and vacated a system federal scientists use to avoid harming the northern spotted owl. The ruling out of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia came in a case filed by the timber industry against the Department of Interior. Judge Richard J. Leon ruled that BLM has failed to consistently offer as much timber as called for in its 1995 resource management plans for the Medford and Roseburg districts since 2004. And he found that a computer model used by government agencies to estimate spotted owl numbers in timber sale areas was adopted without input from the public, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act. He prohibited government agencies from using the protocol until it goes through a public comment process. The ruling did not address whether timber sales that have been sold based on the invalidated owl estimation protocol, but not yet cut, were still valid. The timber industry called it a clear win, validating their longstanding position that a 1937 law known as the O&C Act sets timber production as the top priority for the BLM forests. “This is clearly a victory for timber dependent communities in southwest Oregon, and it’s a victory for the forest, that has not been managed appropriately,” said Anne Forest Burns, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group involved in the lawsuit. The judge ordered the agency to fulfill its obligation to meet 80 percent of the amount set in management plans in future years. The next fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Burns estimated that BLM will have to offer double the timber it now sells on the Medford District, and increase it by 55 percent on the Roseburg District. The extra 54 million board feet would be enough to fuel more than 400 logging and mill jobs. She noted that the extra timber will come too late for one of the plaintiffs, Rough & Ready Lumber Co., which shut its O’Brien sawmill last month for lack of logs...more

I think I'll bookmark this one, we'll probably never see a headline like that again.  

Mustangs: How to manage America's wild horses? The debate rages

Just after dawn, a dozen mustangs stampede across the high desert, harassed by a white helicopter that dips and swoops like a relentless insect. Frightened stallions lead a tightknit family band, including two wild-eyed foals that struggle to keep up. Three animal activists watch through long-range camera lenses as wranglers hired by the federal Bureau of Land Management help drive the animals into a camouflaged corral. The private-contract pilot is paid $500 for each captured horse, dead or alive. After a 10-mile run, one band of horses storms past the corral, prolonging the chase. While most of the horses enter the trap, a few break for open territory, the chopper in pursuit. Few escape. The roundup corrals 180 mustangs, often employing a tactic that sets the species up to betray itself: A wrangler holds the reins of a tame horse at the mouth of the trap. As the mustangs draw close, the worker releases the animal — known as a Judas horse — which dashes into the corral, followed instinctively by the others. The decades-long debate over how to manage America’s wild horses has descended into an often-rancorous feud between animal advocates and state and federal authorities. BLM officials say the mustang population is out of control. Activists insist the agency has scapegoated an animal whose poise and dignity make it an apt 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 range land and whether mustangs are a native or invasive species. They can’t even agree how many wild horses are left on the range. This wasn’t the scenario envisioned when the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 directed the BLM to maintain a “natural ecological balance” among horses, wildlife and cattle...more

BLM Using Sprinklers to Mitigate Heat Wave's Effects

In expectation of continued three-digit temperatures this weekend and to address public concerns, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center, located outside Reno, Nev., has installed sprinklers to three of the large, outside wild horse pens and five mare/foal pens as a stop-gap measure to attempt to reduce heat levels inside the corrals. BLM staff will observe how the animals respond to the sprinklers, which could include avoidance, or chewing on and rubbing against the sprinklers, which are foreign structures to the animals. Weather conditions, as well as determining the most appropriate way to address the needs of the animals, vary across the country. What works well and is needed for a small facility in the midwest might not be necessary or work well for a large facility in Southern California or Nevada, the BLM says. Each facility uses methods compatible with local animal husbandry practices to provide the best solution for maintaining the large numbers of animals for which the BLM provides care. Nonetheless, plans are underway for the BLM to consult the scientific research community to inform future options on this issue. The Palomino Valley Center is the largest BLM preparation and adoption facility in the country with a capacity of 1,850 animals. It serves as the primary preparation center for wild horses and burros gathered from the public lands in Nevada and nearby states...more

Feds Approve Huge Wind Facility Near Lake Mead

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has signed off on a wind power facility that would cover almost 60 square miles of public lands in Arizona near the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The Mohave County Wind Farm, built by BP Wind Energy North America, would include up to 243 wind turbines with blades about 180 feet long. The project would occupy 35,329 acres of land under the Bureau of Land Management and 2,781 acres of Bureau of Reclamation land, and would butt up against Lake Mead NRA about 44 miles east of Las Vegas. Depending on the transmission connection eventually chosen, the project would max out at between 425 and 500 megawatts peak generating capacity. According to the Interior Department, the design of the Mohave County Wind Farm was altered significantly due to the presence of eagle nesting areas on nearby Squaw Peak, to the east of the main road leading to the popular Temple Bar Marina on Lake Mead. As a concession to the eagles the redrawn plan includes a nesting zone buffer area at least 1.2 miles wide, a distance it would take an adult eagle at least one minute and 48 seconds to traverse at a typical unhurried soaring speed of 30 miles per hour or so...more

Off-Roaders' Dream or Environmental Nightmare?

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use on public land is the issue this week in a Salt Lake courtroom. On Tuesday, the first of six Resource Management Plans by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will come under fire from conservation groups. It is a battle that started in 2008, when they first challenged the Richfield Resource Management Plan (RMP) for south central Utah. Attorney Steve Bloch with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), said his group believes the plan puts too much emphasis on off-roading and oil and gas development in areas that deserve greater protection. "What we're seeking at this hearing on Tuesday is to bring some balance back to how the public lands are managed," Bloch said. "It's our position that designating more than 4,200 miles of dirt roads and trails, in this office alone, is not a balanced decision." Supporters of keeping the Richfield RMP as it is have pointed out that it resulted from six years of input and is a compromise plan, so none of the parties involved got exactly what they wanted. The conservation groups' challenge has languished in Washington, D.C., for the past few years until being reassigned to the federal district court in Salt Lake City, where oral arguments will be heard on Tuesday...more

Artist Christo wins appeal for 'Over the River' art project suspending fabric over Arkansas River

An appeals board has upheld the Bureau of Land Management's decision to grant the artist Christo a permit for his Colorado art project. The "Over The River" project will string 5.9 miles of fabric temporarily over certain sections on a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River. The team hopes to start construction next year and exhibit Over the River in August 2015 for two weeks before dismantling the project. Opponents say the project will be too disruptive to bighorn sheep in the area, local traffic, and fishing and river rafting businesses. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, in approving the project, has required dozens of measures to mitigate impacts to wildlife, traffic and the environment. Opponents of "Over the River" are still challenging the project in lawsuits pending in state and federal courts...more

The Branding Tradition - video

TIMBER LAKE, SD - In some parts of KELOLAND getting together with friends means going to a coffee shop. In other parts it means chasing a cow. Many west river ranchers take part in a long standing tradition of branding cattle and look forward to the event every year. If you're not willing to put yourself in the path of a running cow or tackle a calf, branding day on the Gill Red Angus Ranch near Timber Lake isn't one for you. "We've been doing it this way for 40 years here at our place," Larry Gill said. Branding cattle that is. As far as Larry Gill is concerned, it can continue for the next 40 years. The day begins with cowboys on horseback riding out to pasture to gather the cattle. After bringing them into a corral, they separate the cows and calves. Ranchers run the cows through a shoot and give them all shots. Then they rope calves and hold them down to vaccinate and brand them. The process leaves a mark on the calves showing who owns them in case they get out or mix with another rancher's herd. In addition to identifying cattle, branding serves as a way of life in ranch country. "I guess we wouldn't be here if we didn't like what we're doing. We do, we all love what we're doing here," Larry Gill said...more

Here's the KELO video report:

The Dixon family – A love of ranching “way out there”

by Heather Hamilton

    When Clayton Dixon’s granddad came to America from England looking to make a living in American agriculture, he started a family tradition of ranching in one of the country’s most remote areas that is still going strong four and five generations later.
     “My granddads name was Snowden, and he was only 5’3” so they called him Little Snow. He and his two brothers came from England on a ship and ended up in Missouri first. The immigration people told them that if they wanted to be in agriculture they should be in Missouri. Well, they tried it and realized that wasn’t what they wanted, so they migrated to Wyoming and my granddad ended up over in the Black Hills of western South Dakota while his brothers settled in Northeast Wyoming,” explained Clayton of the early travels that lead his family west.
    After meeting his wife, Little Snow moved back to Wyoming and homesteaded near Newcastle, running what Clayton described as a small ranch by today’s standards.
    “He raised three boys on it, including my dad Robert, or Bob, who got his start in ranching working for Dick Pfister on the Cheyenne River. My mom Helen came along and they got married when they were both about 20 and continued working at various ranches around the country before finally homesteading over on   Snyder Creek in northern Niobrara County in the late 1920s,” noted Clayton.
    His parents ran both Hereford cattle and Rambouillet sheep in the early days of the operation, sometimes taking a week to trail to the Lusk sale barn to sell calves each fall.
    “In 1934 there were so many grasshoppers in this country, and no rain, that five different ranchers from around the Cheyenne River, my folks included, all got together with their sheep and cows and trailed them on foot and horseback from here to south of Torrington at Yoder. They got down there in the beet fields and that’s where they wintered and where I was born. The doctor told my dad it would be $35 if he paid now, and more if he had to wait, so my dad would always joke that I cost him $35,” recalled Clayton.
    When his family headed back north, Clayton’s mother drove the team pulling the sheep wagon, and pulled a drawer out to lay Clayton in for the ride.
    “I don’t know if when I got to fussing if they shut the drawer or not, but that’s the way we came back,” added Clayton with a chuckle.
    During the depression, coyote pelts were the only available form of income, with a large one fetching up to $25.
    “That’s kind of how they lived. They had three or four big hound dogs, and they would take them and go horseback and chase those coyotes all over the country hunting them. Selling the furs is the way they survived,” explained Clayton.
    But, while the grasshoppers and depression were tough, the blizzard of ’49 was the worst thing the family ever got into according to Clayton.

Song Of The Day #1046

Monday, July 01, 2013

The Tenuous Connection Between Wilderness, Recreation, and Rural Economic Growth

Deep down inside, you have to wonder if environmentalists experience any level of self-loathing when their actions decimate rural economies, kill the livelihoods of millions of workers, and destroy the creation of wealth.  I suspect most of them are so blindly committed to their cause, that they don’t think too much about this, but if they do experience any level of self-loathing that would explain why they are always trying to share studies that vindicate the havoc they wreak by claiming that recreation and tourism replace the economic activity that they destroy. Any time you hear an environmentalist start to justify their sociopathic behavior by touting the economic benefits of wilderness, recreation, and tourism, you need to remember that they can’t be trusted. For example, in California, Local officials are warning that federal action to save toads, frogs will jeopardize recreation...more

Westerners, especially those in Utah, should check out The Petroglyph:  Setting the record straight on wilderness, environmental, rural, and recreation focused news in the West, and more specifically in Utah.

While there, be sure and read Michael Brune and The Sierra Club’s “Our Wild America” Hypocrisy Tour

Notes on The Westerner and Song Of The Day

Here is the explanation (short version) for the constantly changing appearance of The Westerner.

First, Firefox all of a sudden wouldn’t let me into blogger. 

So, I switched to Chrome. 

Worked great except it would pick up stuff when I would copy and paste which didn’t match with the color scheme on The Westerner, or added other stuff I didn’t want.

So, I changed the template so there would be a simple white background. 

Some didn’t like that template so I changed to the template you see today.

Chrome also did some things I didn’t like in the email version of The Westerner.  So there for awhile I was using Chrome to do the blog, then switching to Firefox to do the email version.

Now, Firefox is working again, but I’m staying with the white background just in case.

Please let me know if you have any comments, pro or con, on the current version.

On Song of the Day, I had several complaints over the years from people who couldn’t play them.  This I ignored, figuring “this is the best I can do folks” and besides, most people could play the songs.

Then came the email from Mom. 

She couldn’t play the songs anymore.  Suddenly, “this is the best I can do folks” wasn’t going to cut it.

I tried several different players, but none of them worked for everybody.  Then I tried YouTube, and it worked for everyone who’d had trouble before.

That’s great, except I’ve had to learn how to use MovieMaker…and I’m still learning.  Should be starting up again this week.

Federal control of lands not bad, Interior Secretary Jewell tells Western governors

New U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told the Western Governors Association on Friday there's a need to get away from seeing federally managed lands as bad and state control over resources as good. Jewell called for a balanced approach to using public lands in the West, pledging the federal government will be a partner in identifying what local communities "want from a grass-roots level," whether that's preserving or developing the land. Gov. Gary Herbert, the association's outgoing chairman, asked Jewell after her keynote address on the first of three days of meetings to define balance, noting that "like beauty, balance is sometimes in the eye of the beholder." Herbert noted that nearly 70 percent of Utah is federally controlled at a time when the nation needs the energy resources available on those lands, as well as to protect pristine wilderness. "I look forward to understanding what balance means to the state of Utah," Jewell said. Earlier in her speech to the 400 government leaders from the western U.S. and Canada and lobbyists, she spoke of a shift in federal land use in the West, from traditional grazing, mining and forestry to recreational tourism. Rather than turn back land held by the federal government to the states, Jewell said, "there is an appetite in the federal government to work with state government to more thoughtfully manage our land." A Utah lawmaker behind the push to get the federal government to give up its claims in Utah, Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, said Jewell's comments "ignore the fundamental question." Ivory said the state is suffering as a result of how federal lands are managed, including losing access to roads and "abundant recourse that creates a tax base and jobs. So the speech sounds nice, but on the ground, it doesn't happen." Herbert said he welcomed Jewell's focus on outdoor recreational use of public lands but added while that may be a big part, it's not all the holdings can provide. Utah, he said, is taking an "all of the above" approach to how federal land should be utilized...more

Earlier in her speech to the 400 government leaders from the western U.S. and Canada and lobbyists, she spoke of a shift in federal land use in the West, from traditional grazing, mining and forestry to recreational tourism.

If that were naturally happening by people making a choice of which amenities and products they preferred, that would be one thing.  Instead, it's being rammed down our throats no matter what preferences are expressed.

Rather than turn back land held by the federal government to the states, Jewell said, "there is an appetite in the federal government to work with state government to more thoughtfully manage our land."

The feds have been on an appetite suppressant diet for years.  They aren't as hungry as the Secretary thinks, at least as far as working with the states and local communities.  And just what does "more thoughtfully"mean?  Probably ties right back in to "shift" she mentioned.

Utah, he said, is taking an "all of the above" approach to how federal land should be utilized

Nice shot Governor, throwing their "all of the above" quote right back at them.

With The Summer Heat Comes Global Warming Assaults

I have very little insight to the inner workings of the Washington Beltway, but history tells us that the climate change push will come in the summer, as the heat increased. Sure enough, on Tuesday, President Obama announced his aggressive new environmental push aimed at carbon-based fuels. With poverty and unemployment at record levels, Washington beset by scandal, our foreign policy in disarray, and climate change languishing near the bottom of the average American's priorities, the president nonetheless decides to declare war on coal. I don't know about saving the planet, but one assured outcome is likely higher costs for energy. But there won't be a lot of room for discussion, as Obama compared the critics of proposed global warming solutions to "the flat earth society." He also made the case that since passage of legislation on this issue would be difficult politically, he would begin to attack the problem through directives and regulatory devices available to him. It's no secret that the environmental movement has been frustrated by the Obama administration's perceived lack of commitment to climate change and its failure to act as aggressively as they believe he had promised. The long-accepted explanation/strategy has been that once the U.S economy recovered and took off, it would be easier to absorb the economic challenges created by these policies and would promote the political will to act. I’m not sure what it says about us, or the administration, when there is an acceptance that the economy isn't going to recover in any vigorous way. But with the legislative branch of the federal government unwilling to address these contentious issues, the president and his people have decided to bypass the legislative process and simply do it by agency fiat. Thus, energy, industry and business are preparing themselves for what promises to be an intense battle as the climate debate moves into its annual summer global warming push...more

Mountain bikers work with ranchers

Mountain bikers are trying to show they can coexist with cows on The Crown. The Mid Valley Trails Committee teamed with the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association and the Bureau of Land Management last week to install two cattle guards that replace gates on grazing allotments on The Crown, the hump of land between the Roaring Fork River and Mount Sopris in the midvalley. The Crown is ground zero in the collision of New West and Old West. It’s evolved into a hotspot for mountain bikers but there are also several, decades-old federal grazing allotments for area ranchers. Ranchers complain that as recreation use soars, it’s becoming harder for them to use historic grazing lands. Gates get left open, and cattle wander onto other allotments or to private property. Members of the Mid Valley Trails Committee wanted to show ranchers they are sympathetic to their concerns and can ease some of them, said Temple Glassier, consultant to the committee. The committee purchased six cattle guards for $585 each for a total of $3,510, she said...more

Look at the cattle guard and tell me what you think.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Arizona Forestry spokesman says 19 firefighters die battling fast-moving wildfire

Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years. 
    The “hotshot” firefighters were forced to deploy their emergency fire shelters — tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat — when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.
    The flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town, and smoke from the blaze could be smelled for miles.
    The fire started after a lightning strike on Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of 50 homes in several communities, and later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the order to include more residents in Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.
    Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said that the 19 firefighters were a part of the city’s fire department.
    “We grieve for the family. We grieve for the department. We grieve for the city,” he said at a news conference Sunday evening. “We’re devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you’ll ever meet.”
    Hot shot crews are elite firefighters who often hike for miles into the wilderness with chain saws and backpacks filled with heavy gear to build lines of protection between people and fires. They remove brush, trees and anything that might burn in the direction of homes and cities.
    The crew killed in the blaze had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona, Fraijo said.
    “By the time they got there, it was moving very quickly,” Fraijo told the AP of Sunday’s fire.
He added that the firefighters had to deploy the emergency shelters when “something drastic” occurred.
    “One of the last fail safe methods that a firefighter can do under those conditions is literally to dig as much as they can down and cover themselves with a protective — kinda looks like a foil type — fire-resistant material — with the desire, the hope at least, is that the fire will burn over the top of them and they can survive it,” Fraijo said.
    “Under certain conditions there’s usually only sometimes a 50 percent chance that they survive,” he said. “It’s an extreme measure that’s taken under the absolute worst conditions.”
    The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.
    U.S. wildfire disasters date back more than two centuries and include tragedies like the 1949 Mann Gulch fire near Helena, Mont., that killed 13, or the Rattlesnake blaze four years later that claimed 15 firefighters in Southern California.

Faux Native: On prosecuting Indian arts and crafts counterfeiters

by Barron Jones

A federal judge sentenced 60-year-old Andrew Gene Alvarez aka “Redhorse” to 30 months probation for violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act by falsely stating that jewelry he made and sold was the creation of a Native American. Part of Alvarez's sentence prohibits him from claiming that any jewelry he makes is a Native American product.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act forbids the offer or display for sale and the sale of any good in a manner falsely suggesting that it is Indian-produced, an Indian product or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe. It's a “truth-in-advertising law designed to prevent products from being marketed as ‘Indian-made,’ when the products are, in fact, not made by Indians as defined in the Act.”

According to court records, the FBI launched an investigation into Alvarez after receiving a tip from the Interior Department’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB). The IACB asserted that Alvarez, who is not an enrolled member of any recognized Native American tribe, claimed he was either Mescalero Apache or Colville and Mayo Indian as he sold goods in Santa Fe and across the U.S.

The feds busted Alvarez after he sold fake Indian jewelry to undercover agents at the Native Treasures show in Santa Fe; that show's program listed him as a Colville/Apache jewelry maker. In addition to passing his jewelry off as Native American-made, authorities said Alvarez even concocted an oral bio detailing a fake Native American heritage.

“It’s crazy, but it happens all the time. And it’s a shame because it is a national treasure that we have Native American communities who can create such beautiful artwork that you don’t find anywhere else,” said Wayne Bobrick of Wright’s Indian Art.

Bobrick said in the many years he's bought and sold Indian art and jewelry, he's seen many cases where non-Natives have undermined the market by claiming Native American heritage and producing counterfeit work. Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, Indian art is defined as any product produced by one of the 1.9 million members of the 565 federally- or state-recognized Indian tribes or individuals certified as Indian artisans by an Indian tribe.

Native American artist and activist Tony Eriacho said Alvarez is just part of the problem and that these types of cases persist because of lax laws and very little meaningful prosecution. “Nobody has gone to jail or put any teeth into the law,” he said. According to a 2011 Government Accountability Report, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board received almost 650 complaints alleging misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods between 2006 and 2010. The same report revealed that the IACB determined 150 of these complaints involved apparent law violations, and it determined 117 needed more investigation, but no cases were filed in federal court as a result.

In actuality only five people have been prosecuted for violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act between 1990 and 2010. Of those five cases, two were dismissed and the other three resulted in sentences ranging from probation to 13 months jail time.

N Scott Momaday to Receive 2013 Stewart Udall Environmental Award

This morning, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust announced that Native author N Scott Momaday is the chosen recipient for the 2013 Stewart Udall Environmental Award. The Conservation Trust is a local nonprofit that works to protect local open spaces and wildlife in perpetuity. The award, which was created in 2002, “is given to honor those values, that work, or that person or persons who inspire us to love the land, care for it, preserve its sweep and heal its wounds.”  A writer, artist and teacher, Momaday, born in 1934, is a member of both the Kiowa and Cherokee tribes, and is the founder of the nonprofit Rainy Mountain Foundation and Buffalo Trust, which works to preserve Native cultures. Momaday wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel House Made of Dawn, among several other novels and books of poetry, and is known for paving the way for modern Native American literature. The award will be presented at the annual Stewart Udall Legacy Dinner on Sunday, Sept. 15. Dale and Sylvia Ball, Janie Bingham, William deBuys, Nancy Wirth, Stewart Udall, among others, have been honored at the dinner in the past. For dinner information or reservations, call 989-7019 or visit

Obama creates Native American Affairs Council, places non-Indian as chair

President Obama created a council of non-Indian bureaucrats and deceptively named it the “White House Council on Native American Affairs” on Wednesday, fooling many into believing that it was actually a council of Native Americans. In an act of typical US paternalism and inappropriate irony, the US Secretary of Interior was placed as the chair of the new council to honor Native American treaties, resources and rights. The non-Indian, British born Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell worked previously for Mobil oil in Oklahoma and the banking industry...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Head ’em up, move ’em out

by Julie Carter

A cowboy on the move isn’t always about cows, horses and the trail ahead. Moving camp is a tedious but often necessary part of cowboy living.
The relocation process is not usually accompanied with fond memories especially if it involves a bride and more belongings than just a saddle and slicker.
The first requirement for this sojourn are trailers that come in assorted sizes, age and condition. Cleanliness is subject to their history but we are talking horse and livestock trailers here so you get the idea.
It all started when the officially “retired” cowboy couple decided to sell their place and move a little closer to the roping action, also known as “town.” The only good in this plan was the idea. It pretty much went downhill from there.
It wasn’t their first move. In fact, about the 25th if anyone was counting and she was. Her job was always to pack the house up and his was to tackle the periphery. Because his tendency was to save everything in case he needed it, his part of the move was monumental and often an emotional challenge for them both.
While she emptied the house of dishes, clothes, linens, keepsakes and such, he packed up his office, barn, tack and tool rooms. Broken things that needed repair but were “too good to throw away” along with teenage used tires once again made it into the moving trailer.
She did have a short surge of hope of downsizing when he walked all the way from the barn to tell her he had actually thrown away a calendar from 1995 even though it had never been used.
One of the moves this pair made was just across the road to another house they had built. While the cowboy left for the day to go check water on a ranch a ways off, she moved the breakable stuff across the way to the new house and hired a couple gorillas to move the heavy stuff. It did startle him a little when he came home and walked into the empty house, but after 20 years or so, he was about over it. And for her? Easiest move ever.
Horse trailer moving is an art in itself. The household bedding is used to pad and buffer the furniture from scratches and dents. If it happens to be raining or snowing, everything arrives wet and those cowboy helpers will track every bit of it in and out of the old and new house.  The bride will recognize that by the time you’ve fed this crew pizza, sandwiches and beer, she’d have been money ahead to call the movers.
A legendary cowboy mover referred to in all moving stories was Joe Dan Marshall. He moved often and suspiciously that fell simultaneously with the day the rent was due. According to those that knew him well, he had a couch with a 350 engine in it and pull rope starter like a lawn mower.
The barn has been raised at the new headquarters. However, showing the wisdom earned over 30-plus years of marriage, the tack room sports His and Her doors. Designed by the head cowboy, he determined he would not have to go around her when she was saddling and she can tie her horse by her door. Well, that is when he gets her door fixed and it opens properly. New doesn’t always mean functional.
Along with his tendency to save every last thing from his Boy Scout uniform forward, she has the inclination to gift unsuspecting friends with items she will no longer need. Now with a new barn and pens, at the top of her give-away list is a pink post driver. This thoughtful gift was bestowed to her by her hero following her comment about “every set of corrals they had was falling down.” Her appreciation was boundless.

Julie, of transient gypsy blood, can be reached for comment at

Harvey, Smokey, Tuffy, and The Gila River Kid

Nunn Better
Harvey, Smokey, Tuffy, and
The Gila River Kid
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Smokey Nunn’s was laid to rest June 18, on the Nunn Ranch in Luna County, New Mexico. He was a gentleman.
            He was also a great cowman, a native son of New Mexico, and, for the last decade, our neighbor. If there was anybody who offered the kindest wishes of wellbeing, it was Smokey. Every time I saw him there would be his handshake and then his hand on my shoulder asking how things were going. He had no idea how much I appreciated that simple gesture.
            Striking in appearance and humble and careful in speech, he was … a Westerner.
            There are many stories of Smokey, but none typifies him more than when the dude, discovering he was a rancher, set out to determine how big a rancher he was.  When the fellow asked him how much money he had in the bank, Smokey involuntarily expelled the mouth full of whatever he was drinking and contemplated how to answer the question.
            In his modesty, he was said to have answered under his breath, “Oh, maybe a million dollars.”
When that didn’t deter the dude, the next question was how many cows he had. Without hesitation and those Nunn eyes flashing, he spat his answer.
“None of your G**D*** business!”
Money was one thing, but cows … that was another!
Nunn Better
I knew three Nunns of Smokey’s generation. They were Harvey, Smokey, and Tuffy. All are now gone.
Brother, Harvey, was one of the first men I sought when we returned from California. He was a respected name in my family by way of my uncle, Roy, and their horse dealings. Harvey was the Marine who gallantly served his country and came home to the Flying Y. He was a stocker operator … a steer man.  
Good horses and stocker cattle were his credentials and set him apart from cow-calf operators. There was just a smidge of grand separation in that qualification that was worn by Harvey.
There was something about him that made me smile. We once spent an immensely pleasant afternoon in a fall wind storm on the ridge above McKnight Cabin. He had braces on his legs full time then broken up by horses and life. His smile and his black hat, though, were intact.
I had inquired how I could contact him and I was given several telephone numbers. When asked which one I should try, the qualified answer was to call the one to the Nutt Bar.
“If you call before 8:30 PM, call the Nutt Bar,” was the actual answer. I did …!
Tuffy was their cousin. The first time I laid eyes on Tuffy, he and his Black Range fire crew pulled into the crew quarters at Gila Center. They had hauled a mule they called Jumbo and that monstrosity was straddled over the divider in the two horse government trailer! That defining event mirrored every adventure that was to transpire with Tuffy Nunn. Every 18 year old in the world would never be the same again after spending a month in fire camp with Tuffy, and I was no exception.
With long white hair and goatee, he looked like a miniature version of Buffalo Bill.
I am going to hold most memories in confidence, but there was more packed into that short span of life than any similar period in my life. There was the night we determined Tuffy was dead. He was laying there seemingly lifeless and not breathing on his bunk clothed only in the white garments in which he came into the world. Somebody came to the conclusion it was too late to call the coroner so we’d call in the morning. The next morning he shocked the creases out of us when we found him cooking breakfast!
There was another night we lined the ’62 purple Bonneville Tuffy was test driving up alongside Hugh Reed’s new Chevy pickup at Lyon’s Lodge. Craig Dunn started the race to the pavement with his Smith and Wesson. Nine river crossings later and water mottes stuck through the Bonneville’s radiator grill, Tuffy turned left to take some young lady home to Silver City. The rest of us went on to Gila Center and to bed.
No … I’m just not going to divulge anything else except, when that fire bust was over and we were lined up out there to leave to go on with the rest of our lives, Tuffy announced that I was, officially, one of his boys … what a proud moment in the annals of life.
The Gila River Kid
Several years ago, I was in a meeting with several men including Tito Morales, a Mexican cow buyer. As we talked, Tito paused as if some great thought occurred to him, looked at me, and said, “Steve, you have family in Mexico!”
“No, I don’t have family in Mexico.”
“Yea, you do,” he concluded. “You have family in Mexico.”
Later, I saw another friend, Jerry Billings, at a local equipment auction. As we talked, Smokey’s son, Joe Bill, walked by looking at auction offerings. We greeted each other and visited briefly before Joe Bill walked on.
“Steve, did your granddad ever tell you about the Gila River Kid,” Jerry asked.
“No, I know nothing about any Gila River Kid.”
As Jerry stood there contemplating my answer he said, “You know, there is a brethren from the colonies here and I want to introduce you to him (Jerry is LDS and his reference was of another Mormon from Mexico who was present at the auction).”
We found that fellow and I was introduced to him. When he heard my name he stepped back and looked at me.
Without pause, Jerry told him, “Tell him the story of the Gila River Kid.”
The story took place circa 1916 after the Nunns and my father’s family had come to southwestern New Mexico. The gist of the story was the friendship that developed between a young Nunn and what we believed was a long lost younger brother of my paternal grandfather. The setting was on the Gila River at Cliff. The young Wilmeth’s name was Ben. There was no reference to the given name of Nunn.
The two were at a dance and, in the course of the event, the young Nunn got into a row. The tiff was serious enough that notice was served that they were to disarm and the fight would be decided with fists.
That was done and before long the Nunn boy was getting the worst end of a serious beating. He called for help and purportedly yelled, “Shoot him … he’s going to kill me!”
Young Ben Wilmeth did.
The victim was not killed outright, but, in minutes, the constable had Wilmeth in custody and both the gunshot victim and the shooter were on their way to Silver City … one to the hospital and the other to jail.
The story progressed from that point to the decision made by the Nunn family to make sure the Wilmeth boy wasn’t incarcerated or hanged depending on the outcome of the victim’s plight. They hatched a plan to spring Ben from jail and get him out of the country … to Mexico.
They did exactly that.
With horses staged on the route south, they relayed young Wilmeth to the border. Arriving there, there was an anecdotal suggestion the friends called their deal even with a handshake. There is no evidence they saw each other again.
The Mormon elder concluded the story by stating the Mexicans around northern Chihuahua and Casas Grande knew the young man by a different name, the Gila River Kid.
The finale
A year later, we were branding calves and I asked Casas Grande native son and vaquero extraordinaire, Ramon Villanueva, if he knew the name Wilmeth.
“Steeph, how du yu hs’pell su nombre,” he asked. “Tell me a’gin.”
When I did, his eyes lit up. “Veelmuth … Kiko Veelmuth!”
“Yea, Kiko … purty goot cowa’boy … con ojos azul, tambien.”
He knew this Kiko who likely would have to be the son of Ben Wilmeth and the generation of my father. They would have been first cousins.
Kiko had died within months of the Villanueva conversation. Ramon related how the Wilmeths had ranched somewhere southeast from Casas Grande. He knew nothing about Ben Wilmeth.
As Joe Delk played ‘Amazing Grace’ on his fiddle at Smokey Nunn’s service, I gazed at the picture of Smokey and thought about the story of the Gila River Kid. In the program was a poem. A line read, “Thinking of friends past and places far that held hunks of (our) history in their grip.”
Indeed, friends past and places far put us in this place at this time. We have crossed paths, and we shall do so … again.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “God bless Smokey Nunn.”