Saturday, August 03, 2013

Bureau of Land Management proposals threaten rural Montana

by TOBY DAHL


The Bureau of Land Management is currently considering several Resource Management Plan proposals in Montana, with one major objective ostensibly aimed at conserving sage grouse habitat to bolster population growth. However, one look at the management plans clearly shows that the stated intentions are very different from what the plans would actually accomplish. In reality, these RMPs are one of the biggest threats to private property rights and natural resource development that our state has seen in years.
The RMPs would effectively shut down BLM-managed land, as well as some privately held land, to development by eliminating grazing permits, restricting surface occupancy, as well as the use and development of roads and rail lines.
BLM has conducted a preliminary environmental impact statement in order to analyze what new conservation measures should be undertaken in the management plans where they believe sage-grouse is most in need of conservation. The BLM EIS is rife with vague and ambiguous language, resulting in inaccurate conclusions. For instance, the BLM’s economic modeling leads them to the conclusion that the proposed rules would have no impact on “very small towns dependent on agriculture.” There’s simply no credible way to believe that imposing such a dramatic change of use across hundreds of thousands of acres of land could have no impact on local economies.
The EIS completely ignores the negative effects on property rights and local economies which the new RMP guidelines would create. The aggregate effect of these multiple errors and omissions by BLM points to a much more duplicitous agenda than simply protecting sage grouse.
Modeling future outcomes is highly dependent on the accuracy of the input information used in the forecast. BLM simply has not gathered enough data to make reasonable models. In a short, 21-page passage discussing a modeling system, the words “assumptions, estimates, predictions, potentials, could be, may be, expected, approximately, and about” are used 183 times – clearly indicating the EIS does not contain enough hard data to make a justified decision about closing down thousands of acres of Montana land to existing productive uses.


Friday, August 02, 2013

Forest Service supervisor promotions rile up officers

by Kyung M. Song Seattle Times Washington bureau

Ordinarily, seven U.S. Forest Service supervisors getting promotions and pay increases might not raise hackles.

These are not ordinary times for sequestration-pinched federal employees.

Last week, the Forest Service revealed it elevated the jobs of seven of the agency’s top nine
law-enforcement managers to level 15, the highest federal pay grade below the senior executive ranks. The reclassification for the managers, called special agents in charge, could boost their base pay by $20,000 or more, to as much as $155,500 a year in the Northwest.

Among Forest Service workers already chafing under budget cuts and hiring freezes, the news about their big bosses stirred inordinate anger.

Matthew Valenta, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees Local 5300, which represents 650 forest law-enforcement workers around the nation, said many union members have been swapping outraged reactions.

“The timing of these raises for top managers is a slap in the face to the officers on the ground,” Valenta said. “They are disgusted.”...

A half dozen departments, including the Pentagon and Internal Revenue Service, are furloughing workers without pay because of mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration that went into effect earlier this year. But the Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, is not among them.

Still, Valenta, a law-enforcement officer in the Colville National Forest in Eastern Washington, said forest workers are coping with severely low morale. He questioned the decision by David Ferrell, Forest Service’s director of law enforcement and investigations, to pursue the job-grade change last year after the agency’s human-resources office initially ruled against it.

The federal pay scale, known as the “general schedule,” is based on the scope of job responsibilities, not worker performance. Two of the nine forest regions overseen by special agents in charge were elevated to Grade 15 several years ago.

Valenta said the union has received no explanation whether the duties of the seven other law-enforcement chiefs were expanded to warrant a job upgrade.






Judge blocks planned horse slaughter at 2 plants

A federal judge on Friday temporarily halted plans by companies in New Mexico and Iowa to start slaughtering horses next week. U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo issued a restraining order in a lawsuit brought by The Humane Society of the United States and other groups in a case that has sparked an emotional national debate about how best to deal with the tens of thousands of wild, unwanted and abandoned horses across the country. The move stops what would have been the resumption of horse slaughter for the first time in seven years in the U.S. Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., has been at the fore of the fight, pushing for more than a year for permission to convert its cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse. The Department of Agriculture in June gave the company the go-ahead to begin slaughtering horses. USDA officials said they were legally obligated to issue the permits, even though the Obama administration opposes horse slaughter and is seeking to reinstate a congressional ban that was lifted in 2011. Another permit was approved a few days later for Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa. Armijo also scheduled a hearing Monday's to determine how much money plaintiffs in the case would have to put up in advance to cover economic losses to the companies if they lose the lawsuit. Blair Dunn, who represents Valley Meat Co., said he will ask for $10 million to be set aside. Pat Rogers, an attorney for Responsible Transportation, said his clients borrowed $1.5 million to begin the operation, with another $1.4 million from investors. "It's a small company in a small town. That's going to have significant economic impact," Rogers said. Earlier in the day, he argued his clients started the company to fill a need. Currently, he said, old and unwanted horses have to be shipped thousands of miles in sometimes inhumane conditions to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. "The truth is, your honor, there is no old horses home," Rogers told the judge. "There is no Medicare for horses."...more

Commissioners question motives of legislative survey about federal land management

The format for questions from a state legislative committee on federal land management commissions is being called “prejudicial” by a Lewis and Clark County commissioner. State lawmakers who participated in the preparation of the survey and the Senate bill that called for it to be sent out disagreed with this assessment and said the county commissioners can answer the questions however they choose. The survey is being sent to counties with 15 percent or more of their land in federal ownership. Responses received by Aug. 23 will be forwarded to the Environmental Quality Council for its September meeting. Counties that don’t make this deadline have until Nov. 1 to complete the survey. Lewis and Clark County commissioners received copies of the survey on Thursday and were to complete their responses before the commission meets next week on Tuesday. Where there is disagreement in their responses, the various positions that the three commissioners take will all be represented, said Eric Bryson, the county’s chief administrative officer. Commissioner Andy Hunthausen said he was not sure of the motives of the survey. States such as Utah want to take back all Forest Service lands, Murray said, adding he thought the county commission agreed that this was not something it wanted to see happen.The first of the 21 survey questions asks, “Do current wildfire conditions on federal lands within your county pose a significant threat to: Public Health and Safety, Public Property, Private Property.” The survey then asks, “Do you believe fire hazard on federally managed lands should be reduced to protect public health and safety within your county? Yes, No, Unsure.” Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, the author of the Senate Joint Resolution 15 that seeks to identify risks and concerns associated with federal land management, said the commissioners can respond to the questions in any way that they want. “I think the goal is to look for the ways we can improve land management in areas where it’s needed,” she said. What the survey is about, Fielder continued, is to identify concerns and try to find solutions to those concerns. Wildfire conditions are the result of management over time and don’t fluctuate very much, she said. Fielder called the survey a look at long-term forest management issues...more

Wrangling over range rights lands rancher, government back at starting point

Like a merry-go-round it can’t get off, the Bureau of Land Management is back where it started 15 years ago, faced with forcibly rounding up Cliven Bundy’s herd of more than 500 cattle from public land at Gold Butte. U.S. District Judge Lloyd D. George recently ordered Bundy to remove his cattle from a large expanse of the Gold Butte range, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The area includes land around Bunkerville covered by a 1998 court order after biologists determined that grazing there damages habitat for federally protected desert tortoises. When Bundy didn’t comply with the 1998 order, the BLM had authority to seize the herd but did not act until April 2012, when a roundup was planned and then abruptly suspended. Bundy has said he would resist government efforts to remove his cattle from rangeland used by his family since 1877. It’s unclear what the BLM will do next. Officials at the BLM Southern Nevada District Office had no comment Thursday. A spokeswoman said District Manager Tim Smith was unavailable. George set an Aug. 23 deadline for compliance, ruling that “the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle for any future trespasses.” Bundy said he won’t budge but will appeal part of the ruling that deals with the Endangered Species Act. “I’m going to bring my battle right back to where we were in 1998,” Bundy, 67, said in a telephone interview Thursday. “I’m not moving my cattle off,” he said. “This is putting a lot of pressure on the county sheriff. Is he going to protect me or sit on the sidelines?” U.S. attorneys representing the BLM and the National Park Service filed a complaint in federal court against Bundy in May 2012, about a month after the BLM aborted the roundup. The complaint sought an injunction to force Bundy to remove his cattle. George granted it July 9...more

Healthy-forest bill makes it through House panel

A U.S. House committee advanced Rep. Scott Tipton’s bill to accelerate logging in national forests Wednesday, although Democrats on the panel said it will never become law. Tipton, R-Cortez, has pushed his healthy forests legislation for two years. It allows states and local governments to nominate areas for more logging, allowing for them to brush aside the Endangered Species Act, legal challenges and lengthy environmental reviews. The bill also sets mandates for the Forest Service to produce higher timber harvests and to share its revenues with rural school districts. Tipton said his bill will help prevent forest fires, bring back rural jobs and funnel more timber royalty money to schools. “We have fallen short of the benefits that can be provided to our classrooms, our communities and the ecosystem, and we should return to active forest management,” Tipton said. The House Committee on Natural Resources wrapped Tipton’s bill into another forest bill sponsored by committee chairman Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and passed it to the full House on a voice vote...more

Rancher seeks federal probe in Grand Canyon Skywalk road dispute

The rancher who charged tour buses to pass through his property on their way to the Grand Canyon Skywalk over Memorial Day weekend is asking for a congressional inquiry into why the Bureau of Land Management allowed a Native American tribe to build an emergency bypass around his ranch, causing what he contends is major environmental damage. Nigel Turner sent the letter Thursday to U.S. Rep. Ann Kirpatrick, D-Ariz., asking that she investigate the matter, insisting that dozens of old Joshua trees have been leveled, a great deal of erosion has upset the stability of the landscape, and several sacred Indian burial grounds have been unearthed during road construction. Also, an environmental impact assessment was never conducted in early June, when the work began, he said. Kirpatrick could not be reached for comment Thursday. The BLM rarely resorts to emergency measures but waived the environmental study in this case to protect the interest of the public and the thousands of tourists who were charged an unexpected fee, said Ruben Sanchez, a BLM field officer in Kingman, Ariz...more

Grandpa paints perfectly with pixels - video

Song Of The Day #1068

 Today's tune is Caribbean by Mitchell Torok, which in 1953 rose to #15 on the country charts.

http://youtu.be/zVLs3_JbnQE

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Court ruling mixed on Breaks plan

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed much of the management plan in place for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument but ordered additional study of historic sites. Conservation groups had charged the plan allowed too many roads and airstrips and didn’t protect the wild character of wilderness study areas in the monument. In a ruling Wednesday, a three-judge circuit court panel rejected those claims and held the BLM complied with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in coming up with the plan. On another claim, the judges sided with the conservation groups, ruling the agency violated the National Historic Preservation Act. As a result, the BLM will have to conduct an in-depth survey of roads, ways and airstrips to see whether they impact cultural and historic properties. A U.S. district judge in Great Falls had upheld the entire plan. President Bill Clinton created the 375,000-acre monument using the Antiquities Act in 2001, and the BLM went to work on a new resource management plan in 2002. The plan was approved in 2008. It closed 201 miles of roads and ways year-round, 111 miles seasonally and left 293 miles open year-round. It prohibited off-road vehicle use, closed four airstrips year-round and one seasonally, and left five open year-round...more

Border security: US rancher's warning on immigration reform - video

US Congress is debating an increase in border security as part of an overhaul of the country's immigration system. But local residents and long-time ranchers along the border worry that their already diminished rights might be under attack again. Since its peak in 2000, apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the Southern border have decreased 78% to 357,000 in 2012. Two thirds of this drop can be explained by a weak US economy, according to a report by the Council on Foreign Relations. The other third is due to enforcement increases. In 2012, the US government spent $18bn (£11bn) on border enforcement. The number of border patrol agents in the south more than doubled in the last decade to 18,000 from 8,000. Under the immigration reform bill passed by the US Senate last month, an additional 18,000 agents would be added in the next decade. The BBC talked to John Ladd, a fourth-generation rancher whose land borders Mexico, about the border agents who patrol his property.  Source

Want to know what's really happening on our border with Mexico?  Watch this BBC interview with rancher John Ladd.

Update: video on youtube no longer available, but you can see it here.

http://youtu.be/VA3tO_0xZtM

Climate Change ‘Deniers’ Not Welcome at Interior – Secy. Jewell

by Marlo Lewis

DOI Secretary Sally Jewell told employees today that combatting climate change is a “privilege” and “moral imperative,” adding: “I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior,” E&E News PM (subscription required) reports.

Such moralizing would be funny were it not for the chilling effect it is bound to have in an agency already mired in group think.

What does she mean by “denier” anyway? Is it literally someone who denies that greenhouse gas emissions have a greenhouse (warming) effect? Or is a “denier” merely someone who thinks climate change is not a ”crisis,” or who regards the usual panoply of climate policies — carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, other market-rigging interventions – as a ‘cure’ worse than the alleged disease?

In recent testimony before House Energy and Commerce, University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologist Roy Spencer unhesitatingly included himself among the alleged 97% of scientists who BELIEVE. He explained:
It should also be noted that the fact that I believe at least some of recent warming is human-caused places me in the 97% of researchers recently claimed to support the global warming consensus (actually, it’s 97% of the published papers, Cook et al., 2013). The 97% statement is therefore rather innocuous, since it probably includes all of the global warming “skeptics” I know of who are actively working in the field. Skeptics generally are skeptical of the view that recent warming is all human-caused, and/or that it is of a sufficient magnitude to warrant immediate action given the cost of energy policies to the poor. They do not claim humans have no impact on climate whatsoever.
Would Spencer, who challenges the climate sensitivity assumptions underpinning the global warming scare, be welcome at DOI? Not a chance on Jewell’s watch.

Missouri Rancher Discovers Three Mutilated Cows - video


Lyn Mitchell, a Missouri rancher living about 80 miles from Kansas City, has reported three cow deaths on her property. That wouldn't be unusual were it not for the state the carcasses were found in.
The most recent cow was discovered in the field, her tongue removed, her teats cut off, her heart removed and dangling outside of her body. When the rancher moved her, there was a strange, char-like pattern in the dead grass. What does all this mean? One theory: alien experimentation.
Here's more from Kay's report, emphasis ours:
The vet said that there was no blood on the ground, the cuts were precise, and that the heart and chest cavity had little blood in them, which was very unusual and unexplainable. He vet also said that he knew animals did not cause the wounds. He looked for bullet holes or other injuries to the cow but could find none, and he does not know the cause of death.
Mitchell says she's found two of her other bovines in similar states. One had her entire udder, anus and tongue removed. In 2011, she says, she found a heifer calf with her tongue, genitalia and jaw muscle removed.

Here is Mitchell being interviewed by reporter/investigator Margie Kay for the Mutual UFO Network.


http://youtu.be/-WSz2y4A0Ck

Navajo Nation supports NM horse slaughterhouse

The Navajo Nation is jumping into the emotional and divisive fray over a return to domestic horse slaughter, drafting a letter to federal officials in support of a New Mexico company's plan to begin exporting horse meat next week. The tribe's support for Valley Meat Co. comes one week after Robert Redford and former Gov. Bill Richardson joined the opposite side of the debate, saying, among other reasons, that they were "standing with Native American leaders" to protect cultural values. But Erny Zah, spokesman for Navajo President Ben Shelly, said Wednesday that the nation's largest Indian reservation can no longer support the estimated 75,000 feral horses that are drinking wells dry and causing ecological damage to the drought-stricken range. "It's a sensitive subject to begin with because horses are considered sacred animals, so you just can't go out and euthanize them," Zah said. "That would go too far against cultural conditions. At the same time we have a bunch of horses that no one is caring for, so it's a delicate balance." Because of the horse overpopulation, the tribe already is rounding up and selling wild horses, Zah said. Some of those, he said, end up being shipped to Mexico. Supporters of a return to domestic horse slaughter argue it is a more humane solution than shipping unhealthy and starving animals to facilities south of the border for slaughter under unregulated and often cruel circumstances. The National Congress of American Indians, representing tribes across the country, is also lobbying in support of Valley Meat Co., saying overgrazing by feral horses is causing serious environmental and ecological damage...more

Song Of The Day #1067

Ranch Radio had a request yesterday for a Haggard tune that was topical.  Well here's another tune that discusses many of the issues we face today, Grandpa Jones' 1952 recording of I'm No Communist.

http://youtu.be/EHdcKAheUDE

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Former NMSU President Gerald Thomas dies at 94

By Darrell J. Pehr

Longtime New Mexico State University President Gerald Thomas, who led the university from 1970-1984, died peacefully Wednesday morning at the age of 94.
From a building named in his honor at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to the many programs and scholarships he established, Thomas had a dramatic impact on the university both during his time as president and in the years that followed.
"Without contradiction, Gerald Thomas was the greatest president this university has ever had," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "He had an unassuming way of connecting with all constituents -- students, faculty, the public and our country. With his commitment to academics, research and outreach, he guided New Mexico State University through a time of tremendous growth in both enrollment and research funding. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved both his work and this university. He will be greatly missed."
When he arrived in 1970, the main campus enrollment was 8,155 students, but by his retirement, enrollment had grown to more than 12,500 students. An additional 3,000 students were enrolled at NMSU's four community college campuses. Sixty-eight percent of all the graduates from 1888 to 1984 earned degrees during his tenure.
Thomas was born on a ranch on Medicine Lodge Creek, Small, Idaho, on July 3, 1919, to Daniel Waylett and Mary Evans Thomas. Because the Small school offered only 11 grades, his mother took him with his brothers to California to finish school where Thomas graduated from John Muir Tech with a high school diploma and from Pasadena Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree. During summers, Thomas was employed by the Salmon and Targhee National Forests where he was working for the Forest Service when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a carrier-based Naval Torpedo pilot. During the war, Thomas flew a Grumman AvengerTBM from three aircraft carriers -- the USS Ranger, the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Essex. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of Operation and survived a splashdown in the South China Sea, which he chronicled in his book, "Torpedo Squadron Four, A Cockpit View of World War II." He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Thomas married Jean Ellis on June 2, 1945, and their passion and love for each other continued for the next 67 years. Their first two children were born while Thomas worked for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in Idaho. In 1950, they loaded up the family in a four-wheel trailer they made out of their old Model A Ford, and moved to College Station, Texas, where Thomas completed a Master's of Science and a Ph.D. in Range Science and was promoted to teaching and research positions. While in College Station, their third child was born.
In 1958, Thomas was named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Texas Tech University. Gerald and Jean were beloved members of the Lubbock community and raised their children there.
In August 1970, Thomas was named president of New Mexico State University, serving 14 years in that capacity. As integral members of the Las Cruces community, Gerald and Jean considered this move one of the best decisions of their lives, which Gerald chronicled in his book "A Winding Road to the Land of Enchantment."
Thomas is the author or co-author of numerous books and more than 200 other publications. In 1984, NMSU named a million-dollar chair in agriculture in his honor and in 1988 designated the Agriculture and Home Economics Building as "Gerald Thomas Hall." He also helped organize the building of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.
Throughout his career, Thomas maintained a special interest in world food problems, environmental issues, natural resource management and history. He has had numerous honors and served on many boards including the State Board of Education, the Research Advisory Committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development and other state and national committees.
A memorial service open to the public will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 200 Boutz Road, Las Cruces. Following the service, a reception will be held at the church.
Gifts can be made in his name to the New Mexico State University Foundation (contact Deborah Widger at 575-646-4034 or dwidger@nmsu.edu) or First Presbyterian Church.
To learn more about his WWII history, go to his website at http://airgroup4.com/

Source

Longtime New Mexico State University President Gerald Thomas, who led the university from 1970-1984, died peacefully this morning at the age of 94.

From a building named in his honor at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to the many programs and scholarships he established, Thomas had a dramatic impact on the university both during his time as president and in the years that followed.

"Without contradiction, Gerald Thomas was the greatest president this university has ever had," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "He had an unassuming way of connecting with all constituents – students, faculty, the public and our country. With his commitment to academics, research and outreach, he guided New Mexico State University through a time of tremendous growth in both enrollment and research funding. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved both his work and this university. He will be greatly missed."

When he arrived in 1970, the main campus enrollment was 8,155 students, but by his retirement, enrollment had grown to more than 12,500 students. An additional 3,000 students were enrolled at NMSU's four community college campuses.

Thomas was born on a ranch on Medicine Lodge Creek, Small, Idaho, on July 3, 1919, to Daniel Waylett and Mary Evans Thomas. Because the Small school offered only 11 grades, his mother took him with his brothers to California to finish school where Thomas graduated from John Muir Tech with a high school diploma and from Pasadena Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree. During summers, Thomas was employed by the Salmon and Targhee National Forests where he was working for the Forest Service when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a carrier-based Naval Torpedo pilot. During the war, Thomas flew a Grumman Avenger­TBM from three aircraft carriers – the USS Ranger, the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Essex. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of Operation and survived a splashdown in the South China Sea, which he chronicled in his book, "Torpedo Squadron Four, A Cockpit View of World War II." He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Thomas married Jean Ellis on June 2, 1945, and their passion and love for each other continued for the next 67 years. Their first two children were born while Thomas worked for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in Idaho. In 1950, they loaded up the family in a four-wheel trailer they made out of their old Model A Ford, and moved to College Station, Texas, where Thomas completed a Master's of Science and a Ph.D. in Range Science and was promoted to teaching and research positions. While in College Station, their third child was born.

In 1958, Thomas was named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Texas Tech University. Gerald and Jean were beloved members of the Lubbock community and raised their children there.

In August 1970, Thomas was named president of New Mexico State University, serving 14 years in that capacity. As integral members of the Las Cruces community, Gerald and Jean considered this move one of the best decisions of their lives, which Gerald chronicled in his book “A Winding Road to the Land of Enchantment.”

Thomas is the author or co-author of numerous books and more than 200 other publications. In 1984, NMSU named a million-dollar chair in agriculture in his honor and in 1988 designated the Agriculture and Home Economics Building as "Gerald Thomas Hall." He also helped organize the building of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.

Throughout his career, Thomas maintained a special interest in world food problems, environmental issues, natural resource management and history. He has had numerous honors and served on many boards including the State Board of Education, the Research Advisory Committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development and other state and national committees.

A memorial service open to the public will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 200 Boutz Road, Las Cruces. Following the service, a reception will be held at the church.

Gifts can be made in his name to the New Mexico State University Foundation (contact Deborah Widger at 575-646-4034 or dwidger@nmsu.edu) or First Presbyterian Church.

To learn more about his WWII history, go to his website at http://www.airgroup4.com/ . - See more at: http://newscenter.nmsu.edu/9616/nmsu-announces-passing-of-former-president-gerald-thomas#sthash.9ZndipkD.dpuf
Longtime New Mexico State University President Gerald Thomas, who led the university from 1970-1984, died peacefully this morning at the age of 94.

From a building named in his honor at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to the many programs and scholarships he established, Thomas had a dramatic impact on the university both during his time as president and in the years that followed.

"Without contradiction, Gerald Thomas was the greatest president this university has ever had," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "He had an unassuming way of connecting with all constituents – students, faculty, the public and our country. With his commitment to academics, research and outreach, he guided New Mexico State University through a time of tremendous growth in both enrollment and research funding. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved both his work and this university. He will be greatly missed."

When he arrived in 1970, the main campus enrollment was 8,155 students, but by his retirement, enrollment had grown to more than 12,500 students. An additional 3,000 students were enrolled at NMSU's four community college campuses.

Thomas was born on a ranch on Medicine Lodge Creek, Small, Idaho, on July 3, 1919, to Daniel Waylett and Mary Evans Thomas. Because the Small school offered only 11 grades, his mother took him with his brothers to California to finish school where Thomas graduated from John Muir Tech with a high school diploma and from Pasadena Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree. During summers, Thomas was employed by the Salmon and Targhee National Forests where he was working for the Forest Service when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a carrier-based Naval Torpedo pilot. During the war, Thomas flew a Grumman Avenger­TBM from three aircraft carriers – the USS Ranger, the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Essex. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of Operation and survived a splashdown in the South China Sea, which he chronicled in his book, "Torpedo Squadron Four, A Cockpit View of World War II." He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Thomas married Jean Ellis on June 2, 1945, and their passion and love for each other continued for the next 67 years. Their first two children were born while Thomas worked for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in Idaho. In 1950, they loaded up the family in a four-wheel trailer they made out of their old Model A Ford, and moved to College Station, Texas, where Thomas completed a Master's of Science and a Ph.D. in Range Science and was promoted to teaching and research positions. While in College Station, their third child was born.

In 1958, Thomas was named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Texas Tech University. Gerald and Jean were beloved members of the Lubbock community and raised their children there.

In August 1970, Thomas was named president of New Mexico State University, serving 14 years in that capacity. As integral members of the Las Cruces community, Gerald and Jean considered this move one of the best decisions of their lives, which Gerald chronicled in his book “A Winding Road to the Land of Enchantment.”

Thomas is the author or co-author of numerous books and more than 200 other publications. In 1984, NMSU named a million-dollar chair in agriculture in his honor and in 1988 designated the Agriculture and Home Economics Building as "Gerald Thomas Hall." He also helped organize the building of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.

Throughout his career, Thomas maintained a special interest in world food problems, environmental issues, natural resource management and history. He has had numerous honors and served on many boards including the State Board of Education, the Research Advisory Committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development and other state and national committees.

A memorial service open to the public will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 200 Boutz Road, Las Cruces. Following the service, a reception will be held at the church.

Gifts can be made in his name to the New Mexico State University Foundation (contact Deborah Widger at 575-646-4034 or dwidger@nmsu.edu) or First Presbyterian Church.

To learn more about his WWII history, go to his website at http://www.airgroup4.com/ . - See more at: http://newscenter.nmsu.edu/9616/nmsu-announces-passing-of-former-president-gerald-thomas#sthash.9ZndipkD.dpuf

Longtime New Mexico State University President Gerald Thomas, who led the university from 1970-1984, died peacefully this morning at the age of 94.

From a building named in his honor at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to the many programs and scholarships he established, Thomas had a dramatic impact on the university both during his time as president and in the years that followed.

"Without contradiction, Gerald Thomas was the greatest president this university has ever had," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "He had an unassuming way of connecting with all constituents – students, faculty, the public and our country. With his commitment to academics, research and outreach, he guided New Mexico State University through a time of tremendous growth in both enrollment and research funding. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved both his work and this university. He will be greatly missed."

When he arrived in 1970, the main campus enrollment was 8,155 students, but by his retirement, enrollment had grown to more than 12,500 students. An additional 3,000 students were enrolled at NMSU's four community college campuses.

Thomas was born on a ranch on Medicine Lodge Creek, Small, Idaho, on July 3, 1919, to Daniel Waylett and Mary Evans Thomas. Because the Small school offered only 11 grades, his mother took him with his brothers to California to finish school where Thomas graduated from John Muir Tech with a high school diploma and from Pasadena Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree. During summers, Thomas was employed by the Salmon and Targhee National Forests where he was working for the Forest Service when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a carrier-based Naval Torpedo pilot. During the war, Thomas flew a Grumman Avenger­TBM from three aircraft carriers – the USS Ranger, the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Essex. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of Operation and survived a splashdown in the South China Sea, which he chronicled in his book, "Torpedo Squadron Four, A Cockpit View of World War II." He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Thomas married Jean Ellis on June 2, 1945, and their passion and love for each other continued for the next 67 years. Their first two children were born while Thomas worked for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in Idaho. In 1950, they loaded up the family in a four-wheel trailer they made out of their old Model A Ford, and moved to College Station, Texas, where Thomas completed a Master's of Science and a Ph.D. in Range Science and was promoted to teaching and research positions. While in College Station, their third child was born.

In 1958, Thomas was named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Texas Tech University. Gerald and Jean were beloved members of the Lubbock community and raised their children there.

In August 1970, Thomas was named president of New Mexico State University, serving 14 years in that capacity. As integral members of the Las Cruces community, Gerald and Jean considered this move one of the best decisions of their lives, which Gerald chronicled in his book “A Winding Road to the Land of Enchantment.”

Thomas is the author or co-author of numerous books and more than 200 other publications. In 1984, NMSU named a million-dollar chair in agriculture in his honor and in 1988 designated the Agriculture and Home Economics Building as "Gerald Thomas Hall." He also helped organize the building of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.

Throughout his career, Thomas maintained a special interest in world food problems, environmental issues, natural resource management and history. He has had numerous honors and served on many boards including the State Board of Education, the Research Advisory Committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development and other state and national committees.

A memorial service open to the public will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 200 Boutz Road, Las Cruces. Following the service, a reception will be held at the church.

Gifts can be made in his name to the New Mexico State University Foundation (contact Deborah Widger at 575-646-4034 or dwidger@nmsu.edu) or First Presbyterian Church.

To learn more about his WWII history, go to his website at http://www.airgroup4.com/ . - See more at: http://newscenter.nmsu.edu/9616/nmsu-announces-passing-of-former-president-gerald-thomas#sthash.9ZndipkD.dpuf
Longtime New Mexico State University President Gerald Thomas, who led the university from 1970-1984, died peacefully this morning at the age of 94.

From a building named in his honor at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to the many programs and scholarships he established, Thomas had a dramatic impact on the university both during his time as president and in the years that followed.

"Without contradiction, Gerald Thomas was the greatest president this university has ever had," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "He had an unassuming way of connecting with all constituents – students, faculty, the public and our country. With his commitment to academics, research and outreach, he guided New Mexico State University through a time of tremendous growth in both enrollment and research funding. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved both his work and this university. He will be greatly missed."

When he arrived in 1970, the main campus enrollment was 8,155 students, but by his retirement, enrollment had grown to more than 12,500 students. An additional 3,000 students were enrolled at NMSU's four community college campuses.

Thomas was born on a ranch on Medicine Lodge Creek, Small, Idaho, on July 3, 1919, to Daniel Waylett and Mary Evans Thomas. Because the Small school offered only 11 grades, his mother took him with his brothers to California to finish school where Thomas graduated from John Muir Tech with a high school diploma and from Pasadena Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree. During summers, Thomas was employed by the Salmon and Targhee National Forests where he was working for the Forest Service when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a carrier-based Naval Torpedo pilot. During the war, Thomas flew a Grumman Avenger­TBM from three aircraft carriers – the USS Ranger, the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Essex. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of Operation and survived a splashdown in the South China Sea, which he chronicled in his book, "Torpedo Squadron Four, A Cockpit View of World War II." He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Thomas married Jean Ellis on June 2, 1945, and their passion and love for each other continued for the next 67 years. Their first two children were born while Thomas worked for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in Idaho. In 1950, they loaded up the family in a four-wheel trailer they made out of their old Model A Ford, and moved to College Station, Texas, where Thomas completed a Master's of Science and a Ph.D. in Range Science and was promoted to teaching and research positions. While in College Station, their third child was born.

In 1958, Thomas was named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Texas Tech University. Gerald and Jean were beloved members of the Lubbock community and raised their children there.

In August 1970, Thomas was named president of New Mexico State University, serving 14 years in that capacity. As integral members of the Las Cruces community, Gerald and Jean considered this move one of the best decisions of their lives, which Gerald chronicled in his book “A Winding Road to the Land of Enchantment.”

Thomas is the author or co-author of numerous books and more than 200 other publications. In 1984, NMSU named a million-dollar chair in agriculture in his honor and in 1988 designated the Agriculture and Home Economics Building as "Gerald Thomas Hall." He also helped organize the building of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.

Throughout his career, Thomas maintained a special interest in world food problems, environmental issues, natural resource management and history. He has had numerous honors and served on many boards including the State Board of Education, the Research Advisory Committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development and other state and national committees.

A memorial service open to the public will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 200 Boutz Road, Las Cruces. Following the service, a reception will be held at the church.

Gifts can be made in his name to the New Mexico State University Foundation (contact Deborah Widger at 575-646-4034 or dwidger@nmsu.edu) or First Presbyterian Church.

To learn more about his WWII history, go to his website at http://www.airgroup4.com/ . - See more at: http://newscenter.nmsu.edu/9616/nmsu-announces-passing-of-former-president-gerald-thomas#sthash.9ZndipkD.dpuf

Slaughterhouse fire may have been arson - video

A horse slaughterhouse in Roswell planning on opening Monday is now facing a new hurdle: A suspicious fire that started over the weekend. Investigators say from the looks of it, the fire may have been intentional. The owner has no doubt. Busted wires, piles of ash and a stench of gasoline are all still evident after a Saturday fire at Valley Meat Company. “Very clearly someone knew what they were up to and tried to set a fire to disable those and potentially destroy the plant,” said Valley Meat attorney Blair Dunn. Valley Meat owner Rick De Los Santos says he's used to people threatening him, but not to this extent. "People that will go light a fire at your facility or people that will go threaten your life or go threaten your kids life," is wrong, said Valley Meat owner Rick De Los Santos. Dunn says the fire targeted the plant's electrical refrigeration system. “It did do some damage to the those refrigeration units which are a life blood and a critical component for the operation of the plant," he said. Dunn says one unit provides electricity to the entire plant and without it, the horse slaughterhouse can't function. He says when investigators got to the plant, there was a strong smell of gasoline and a particular fire pattern that made them believe the flames were set intentionally...more

Here's the KRQE video report:


Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Is Upheld By Court

In a significant victory for law enforcement, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said that government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant. The closely watched case, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is the first ruling that squarely addresses the constitutionality of warrantless searches of historical location data stored by cellphone service providers. Ruling 2 to 1, the court said a warrantless search was “not per se unconstitutional” because location data was “clearly a business record” and therefore not protected by the Fourth Amendment. The ruling is likely to intensify legislative efforts, already bubbling in Congress and in the states, to consider measures to require warrants based on probable cause to obtain cellphone location data. The appeals court ruling sharply contrasts with a New Jersey State Supreme Court opinion in mid-July that said the police required a warrant to track a suspect’s whereabouts in real time. That decision relied on the New Jersey Constitution, whereas the ruling Tuesday in the Fifth Circuit was made on the basis of the federal Constitution. The Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on whether cellphone location data is protected by the Constitution. The case, which was initially brought in Texas, is not expected to go to the Supreme Court because it is “ex parte,” or filed by only one party — in this case, the government...more

Roswell - Mountain lion killed after charging at officers - video

The Roswell Police Department issued more information about the shooting of a mountain lion near Pecos Elementary School on Wednesday night. RPD dispatched an officer to the area of Southeast Main and Chisum Street on reports of a mountain lion walking near the school. The officer located the cat, but lost it when the feline jumped over a fence. Additional officers and a Chavez County Sheriff's deputy arrived at the scene and relocated the mountain lion. According to Roswell police, the animal took an aggressive stance and charged at law enforcement. That's when the large cat was shot and killed. New Mexico Game and Fish responded to recover the body. The mountain lion was not from the Spring River Park & Zoo, according to Roswell police.
Here's the KOB video report:

Forest Service sued over logging plan for Utah’s Dixie National Forest

Two conservation groups have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Utah to stop the U.S. Forest Service from permitting logging within 8,300 acres of the Dixie National Forest, including thousands of acres that are habitat for such sensitive species as three-toed woodpeckers. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council want a federal judge to stop the proposed Iron Springs Timber Sale on the Aquarius Plateau, which overlooks the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah, and require the Forest Service to do an Environmental Impact Statement. The project area provides habitat for such sensitive wildlife species as boreal toads, flammulated owls, three-toed woodpeckers, Northern flickers and Northern goshawks, according to the lawsuit. It also is habitat for the Mexican spotted owl and the Utah prairie dog, both listed under the Endangered Species Act. Other wildlife in the area include mule deer, elk and wild turkey. The U.S. Forest Service issued a decision on March 8, 2013, finding the "vegetation improvement and salvage project" would have no significant impacts. The decision also allows reconstruction and maintenance of 36 miles of road and construction of 9.6 miles of temporary roads to facilitate logging activities. According to the Forest Service, the project targets approximately 4,600 acres that are in need of thinning to aid growth and health and improve the mix of tree types; are populated by trees damaged by bark beetle infestations; or are areas in need of reforesting due to 1960s-era harvests. "While the proposed treatments are designed to improve forest health, there is a need to provide valuable commercial forest products to the public," the Forest Service also noted in a 2010 scoping notice for the project...more

How many damn toes is a woodpecker supposed to have?  Wikipedia says:

Woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks all possess zygodactyl feet. Zygodactyl feet consist of four toes, the first (hallux) and the fourth facing backward and the second and third facing forward. This foot arrangement is good for grasping the limbs and trunks of trees. Members of this family can walk vertically up a tree trunk, which is beneficial for activities such as foraging for food or nest excavation. 

So now you know why these critters are endangered.  They're missing a toe.  

Being the good investigative reporter, I have made a discovery that should shock the USFWS:  Woody Woodpecker only has two toes!  But sshh, don't tell the feds.  My grandchildren would hate me if they took Woody off the air.  



Study: As elk numbers decline, grizzlies get more berries

Grizzly bears are reaping the benefits of a better berry crop in Yellowstone National Park, thanks to the role wolves have played in reducing elk numbers, according to a new study by researchers. The study by William Ripple, a professor in the Oregon State University Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, and OSU professor emeritus Robert Beschta, adds to previous research the two have done following the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and their related impact on plant life as elk numbers have declined. Ripple said the study, although showing an increase in the use of berries by grizzlies, is not necessarily great news for the top predators in the high-mountain ecosystem. What the study does do is help scientists understand “how the animals interact with the plants and helps us try to discover linkages between the species,” he said in a telephone interview. To form their thesis, Ripple and Beschta analyzed grizzly bear scat gathered by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team taken in July and August for three years before and after wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995. From the samples, they found that berry usage by bears climbed on average from .3 percent in July before wolves were reintroduced to 5.9 percent after reintroduction. In August the use of berries climbed from 7.8 percent before wolf reintroduction to 14.6 percent afterward...more

Where is the HSUS when you need them? (Probably busy fund raising)  Making grizzlies eat grouse whortleberry instead of elk roast has got to be animal cruelty.

Leave the enviros in charge and someday the Mighty Grizzly will be called the Berry Bear.

Oh, just in case you were wondering where these professors were coming from, there's this:

The researchers also made a pitch to establish more room for bears outside Yellowstone, advocating for the reduction of livestock grazing in grizzly bear habitat adjacent to the national park, which would also decrease wolf-livestock conflicts.

They want to keep getting $$ to study wolf introduction, so to hell with everybody else.



Endangered Species, It''s What''s For Dinner - video

A group of Chinese tourists have enraged Chinese netizens by posting photos on Weibo of their trip to the Paracel Islands and their favorite activity-feasting on endangered giant clams. The Paracel Islands are at the center of a heated territorial dispute between China and Vietnam and China''s push for tourism there has done nothing to help cool the situation off. And now these Chinese tourist have been caught chowing down on endangered species, things are sizzling. Chinese tourists have gotten a reputation for bad behavior and this latest incident has done nothing to remedy that reputation. But it''s not just tourists, China''s black market is taking a toll on endangered animals because of the belief that many exotic animals, like elephant ivory or rhino horn can be used in traditional Chinese medicine to cure disease and help libido.  Source

Does a giant clam have toes? Here's the China Uncensored video report


http://youtu.be/hEu29Px9cqQ

Government, White Mountain Apaches sign ‘historic’ water-rights agreement

The federal government and White Mountain Apache tribe signed a “historic” water-rights agreement Tuesday that the two sides said will guarantee water for the tribe and benefit Phoenix water users as well. The deal ends decades of legal wrangling over rights to water from the Little Colorado and Gila rivers by allocating about 23,000 acre-feet of water from the Central Arizona Project to the tribe each year. It also includes $200 million for construction of a new water system for the tribe and an additional $78.5 million for fish production, lakes, irrigation and other water projects. By resolving questions over control of water in the Salt River basin, the deal will also ensure the tribe and residents of Phoenix have a water supply for the “next 100 years,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “This opens a new chapter in tribal water-rights,” Jewell said at a signing ceremony in Washington with officials from the tribe. White Mountain Apache Chairman Ronnie Lupe praised the work of those who helped bring about the deal...more

PBR 20/20: McBride sets $200,000 record

Few rides have been as dramatic in PBR history as the one Justin McBride made for $200,000 in Columbus, Ohio. Moments after the eventual two-time World Champion made the whistle for 93 points on Scene of the Crash in 2007, play-by-play broadcaster Craig Hummer said it had already been "a season of firsts and a season of milestones" for McBride as his best friends Ross Coleman and J.W. Hart, who customarily pulled his rope, were the first to greet him in the arena as confetti was strewn from above. McBride, who had already won a record eight Built Ford Tough Series events despite injuring his left shoulder at an event in Chihuahua, Mexico, capped off what many argue is the greatest regular season in the PBR's 20-year history with his ride on the Alpha Trade National Champion bounty bull. PBR fans will have an opportunity to watch the 2007 event from Columbus Wednesday night on RFD-TV with the continuation of the new series "PBR 20/20" at 8 p.m. ET...more

  • “PBR 20/20” continues on RFD-TV on Wednesday, July 31 at 8 p.m. ET. The 20-week series will feature 20 of the greatest PBR events as they were originally broadcast.
  • This week’s episode of “PBR 20/20” will feature the 2007 event in Columbus, Ohio, where Justin McBride rode Scene of the Crash for 93 points and a PBR-record $200,000.
  • McBride’s matchup with Scene of the Crash was the Alpha Trade National Champion bounty bull. Scene of the Crash was co-owned by Jerry Nelson, Tom Teague and comedian Ron White.
  • McBride’s payoff still stands as the richest bull ride in the PBR’s 20-year history.
  • “PBR 20/20” will be telecast every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET for the next 20 weeks. Fans are encouraged to tweet during the telecast – @PBR and @OfficialRFDTV – using the hash tag #PBR2020.


http://youtu.be/sR1ID-XdoI8

Song Of The Day #1066

Sharon in Oregon requested this song.  She thinks it fits in with our current situation.  Here's Merle Haggard and his 1981 recording of Are The Good Times Really Over.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

NPS's updated plan for Yosemite under fire

Far humbler corners of America have faced a similar dilemma: How much human activity should be allowed in a natural setting that is also promoted as a tourist destination? The National Park Service is proposing a significant makeover of Yosemite National Park that would change the way future generations of visitors experienced the park, especially the seven-mile-long Yosemite Valley at its heart. The Park Service’s plan would restore more than 200 acres of meadows, reorganize transportation and reduce traffic congestion. To shrink the human presence along the Merced River, park officials are also proposing closing nearby rental facilities for bicycling, horseback riding and rafting, and removing swimming pools, an ice rink and a stone bridge. As with most things related to one of the nation’s most beloved national parks, the plan has ignited fierce debate among environmentalists, campers, and officials in California and Washington. Representative Tom McClintock, a Republican whose district includes Yosemite, said at a recent House hearing that the idea of removing commercial facilities was meant to satisfy “the most radical and nihilistic fringe of the environmental left.” But some environmentalists said the plan did not go far enough in protecting Yosemite Valley and the Merced River, which flows through 81 miles of the park...more

 Kick the public outta there!  Who do they think owns these lands?  Certainly not the public...they are the enemy.

Yosemite National Park - 748,000 acres and they can't manage 4 million visitors.

Central Park, NYC - 850 acres and they manage 38 million visitors.

Draw you own conclusion.


Sierra Club sues feds over oil shale development

The federal government is being sued for opening up parts of the Rocky Mountains to oil shale development. The Sierra Club and six other conservation groups filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Denver. The groups say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management failed to consider how widespread development of public lands would harm rare desert plants and threatened species of wildlife. The lawsuit says the government program violates the Endangered Species Act. The federal government decided in November to open up parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for oil shale development for legitimate efforts to squeeze oil out of hard rock. Other groups joining the lawsuit are Grand Canyon Trust, Living Rivers, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Rocky Mountain Wild, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. AP

Stop the Keystone pipeline so oil from oil shale in Canada can't be imported, then use the ESA to stop oil shale development in the U.S.  There you have the enviro plan for our energy future.

Artificial nesting platform built for endangered birds

New floating platform
The Interior Least Tern, a federally listed endangered species, prefers to nest in barren or sparsely vegetated areas along lakes and river systems. Within the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge on the Texas side of Lake Texoma, local populations of least terns have nested on oil pads that extend out into the lake. This has created difficulties for the oil companies that control these pads and can cause problems for the birds as well. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and an oil company have worked together to construct artificial nesting platforms for the birds. This will provide them with the habitat that they need without inhibiting the work of the oil company. Unlike the land that it rests on, the minerals underneath Lake Texoma are privately held and extracted by various oil companies. Because of the proximity of the nests to the wells, these companies may be barred from entering some areas on the pads. This could render them unable to maintain the wells as long as the birds are present...more

Much of fresh produce in Utah's healthier school lunches gets dumped


Josiah and students nationwide are gearing up for year two of the school lunch overhaul required by the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010. They must now top their lunch trays with more fresh choices: students cannot clear the checkout line without taking a fruit or veggie cup. The law also trimmed down the portion sizes of meats and grains, shrinking burgers, hoagies and other popular choices. The changes cost Utah districts in two ways — first to buy the healthier fare and deal with more waste, then in lost customers as students opted to pack lunch or pick it up elsewhere. Buying more produce lowered bottom lines of school districts across Utah, said Luann Elliott, the state child nutrition programs director. But the hit is necessary, she said. "There has to be a place where kids learn what a healthy option looks like." The mandates are an important step toward good habits, nutrition professionals say, and it takes to transform attitudes from "yuck" to "yum." But in the first go-around, much of the fresh stuff went onto plates and into the garbage. Meanwhile, students nationwide complained of afternoon stomach grumbles, citing smaller burgers and halved buns, said Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA officials relented in January, temporarily lifting limits on grains and proteins. Students were once again allowed to take multiple rolls instead of just one, and cheeseburgers went back on some menus. It’s not yet official, but USDA officials now say the change will be permanent...more

I'll bet Michelle Obama hates this...but I love it.


Low-Level NSA Analysts Have ‘Powerful and Invasive’ Search Tool - video

Today on “This Week,” Glenn Greenwald – the reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs – claimed that those NSA programs allowed even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans. “The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years,” Greenwald told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.” Greenwald explained that while there are “legal constraints” on surveillance that require approval by the FISA court, these programs still allow analysts to search through data with little court approval or supervision. “There are legal constraints for how you can spy on Americans,” Greenwald said. “You can’t target them without going to the FISA court. But these systems allow analysts to listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents.” “And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he added...more

Here's the ABC News video report:


Reforms of Domestic Government Surveillance

In the National Security Agency (NSA) domestic snooping scandal, at least two major issues exist: 1) warrantless government “traffic” analysis of patterns of potentially all Americans’ phone calls, from which new technology allows authorities to assemble a fairy good picture of innocent peoples’ lives; and 2) the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court that has been a rubber stamp for government warrants to spy on American citizens and permanent residents. Many lawyers, and even former judges on the secret court, have come up with laudable, but insufficient, ways to fix the obviously broken system. However, simple solutions are best: Repeal Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which has allowed government collection and analysis of the phone records of ordinary Americans, and abolish the FISA Court entirely. Traffic analysis is a government search and thus falls under the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that any search warrant must be specific concerning the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized (the phone records of more than 300 million Americans hardly qualify) and must be generated by probable cause (all Americans are unlikely to be terrorists). The Constitution provides no exceptions for this fundamental right—which is vital to avoiding the creation of a surveillance or police state—including for “national security.” Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act does not use the probable cause standard. Thus, the government’s bulk traffic analysis of Americans phone records clearly violates the text of the Constitution. Also, at the nation’s founding, the term “probable cause” meant that a crime had been or would likely be committed. In contrast, the Foreign Intelligence Service Act, which set up the FISA Court, requires the government only to have probable cause that a surveillance target is a member of a foreign terrorist group or a foreign government or entity in order to intercept the phone and electronic communications of American citizens and permanent residents. The government doesn’t need to measure up to the higher constitutional standard that the target is suspected of having committed a crime...more

Song Of The Day #1065

George Morgan - A Shot In The Dark  (1954)

http://youtu.be/5502PeQGLpI

Monday, July 29, 2013

Interior chief slams ‘short-sighted’ GOP cuts

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell took a swipe at House Republicans on Monday for proposing cuts to her department that she said would impair federal services and kill jobs. “I keep hearing when I testify about how slow we are on permits,” Jewell said in a Monday media call. “This takes that out even further. It really shoots ourselves in the foot, and the taxpayer in the foot.” The House Environment and Interior spending bill would provide $24.3 billion in funding to 19 agencies, which is a cut of $5.5 billion. The $10.5 billion in proposed funding for Interior falls short of the $11.9 billion that the White House requested. Jewell said that funding level “threatens to undo our forward progress on everything.”...more

Bipartisan House Conservation Bill to Protect Millions of Acres

Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and a bipartisan group of 133 of their colleagues today introduced a bill to help landowners work with 1,700 land trusts nationwide to protect millions of acres critical for water, wildlife and working farms, ranches and forests. Both are members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. “H.R. 2807 makes conservation a real and affordable option for family farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to protect lands that are vitally important to their communities,” said Land Trust Alliance President Rand Wentworth, the head of a national conservation group representing 1,700 land trusts that have conserved 47 million acres. “We have such a diverse coalition of groups working together on this bill because saving land helps communities in so many ways. [To find out how many land trusts exist in each state and how many acres they conserve, visit: http://www.lta.org/census-datatables.] The bill has an extraordinarily varied list of supporters, including 64 organizations representing agriculture, wildlife conservation, forestry, hunting and fishing, and the environment. It also has generated a list of 135 cosponsors that spans the ideological spectrum, a rare event in what has been a very partisan session of Congress. A list of cosponsors is posted at:  http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.113hr2807 .  Since 2006, an enhanced income tax deduction has enabled family farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to get a significant tax benefit for voluntarily forgoing future development of their land, boosting conservation by one third, to more than one million acres a year. However, this enhanced tax incentive is due to expire at the end of this year. The introduction of the bill is particularly important given that a major rewrite of the tax code is expected from both the House and Senate tax committees this year. Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orin Hatch (R-Utah), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee have introduced a similar bill, S.526, in the Senate. Without the enhanced tax incentive, an agricultural landowner earning $50,000 a year who donated a conservation easement worth $1 million could take a total of only $90,000 in tax deductions. Under the enhanced incentive, that landowner can take up to $800,000 in tax deductions – still less than the full value of the donation, but a nearly nine-fold increase that would dramatically increase voluntary land conservation...more
Why bring in the feds and the IRS-tax policy at all?  If a landowner has property where the development rights are worth $1 million, the land trust can purchase those rights and hold the easement.  All negotiations are private and between the trust and the landowner, with no fed involvement.
But the land trusts want their mission subsidized, and the DC Deep Thinkers have established a national policy that:  Subsidizes ag production on the one hand and with the other subsidizes taking land out of production or limiting future production.

This is also billed as "voluntary land conservation."  Have they not heard of the death tax?  Many times an ag family is faced with this tax and have to sell all or part of their property to just pay this tax.  Rather than that they will opt for the conservation tax subsidy so the family can continue to ranch.  They are put in this box by federal tax policy, so I would hardly call this "voluntary". Those who want to see western ag traditions continue would serve us all better by amending the inheritance tax.
Besides, the IRS is going to be much too busy enforcing Obamacare.
Sadly, I note U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is one of the cosponsors, as he continues to promote everything in the environmental wish list.


Ferret's link to prairie dogs underlies opposition

A safe harbor agreement allowing landowners to benefit from fostering the black-footed ferret — claimed by some to be the most endangered mammal in North America — is a model of voluntary wildlife conservation that creates new revenue streams for ranchers, but it is also controversial. In what one Eastern Colorado farmer termed the "circle of life," black-footed ferrets rely on prairie dogs for their prey, and where there is ferret habitat, there will be prairie dogs — lots of prairie dogs. "I don't know of anybody in my area that's in favor of it," said Susan Leach of Arriba, who was attending the mid-summer meeting of the Colorado Farm Bureau. She just recently put away her crutches after stepping into a ground hole on her family's property and injuring her foot. "Prairie dogs will take over 40 acres of grass in nothing," she added. On a summer ranch tour hosted by the Colorado Independent Cattle Growers Association, Jay Jolly, who ranches in the Hugo area, made it clear how he felt about the ferret-harboring plan. "It's ridiculous," he said emphatically. "So much of this is stuff we have no choice about," he added later. "It's scary. It's like we don't actually own anything anymore." "It's just another nightmare for us," concurred Tom Hendrix, a rancher from Wray who recalled being contracted by the government to eradicate prairie dogs back in the early 1970s. In order to ensure survival of the black-footed ferret, "you can't do anything to those prairie dog towns," Hendrix said. "You can't disturb their habitat. And that means you can't control them. When they get old enough, the young ones have to go somewhere. Overnight, you'll have a new town." The CICA organization has official policy opposing the ferret proposal. Harry Thompson, who hosted the group's ranch tour northwest of Sterling, said he was shocked to learn from wildlife officials that 10,000 prairie dogs are required to support one pair of ferrets...more

  "It's scary. It's like we don't actually own anything anymore."

There lies the crux of most of our problems.  The government that was originally established to protect our property is now the biggest threat to property rights.