Friday, January 10, 2014

President Obama orders sweeping energy review

President Obama on Thursday ordered a sweeping review of energy strategy that will involve departments and agencies across the federal government. Obama announced the review as part of his climate agenda, and as promised in his Georgetown speech last year, the Quadrennial Energy Review will focus on the nation's infrastructure. As crude oil domestic production reaches a near 20-year high, and the natural-gas industry continues to boom, the U.S. must address its aging infrastructure, the White House said in a statement on Thursday. In November, the administration took credit for the crude oil milestone, touting its fuel economy efforts among others as drivers. "All this change test an aging infrastructure that must keep pace both with the transformations in energy supply, climate change and security," the White House said. The formal announcement comes at a time when tensions have flared up over whether the U.S. should transport crude oil via railcar or pipeline, and whether the nation's electric grid is ready for the onslaught from renewable energy sources...more

Wildlife Officials Take On Drone Hunting Controversy

The growing debate over drones used for hunting has wildlife officials tackling the debate. Some hunters are using the unmanned flying devices to track their prey. That practice is causing controversy among hunters and those who oversee big game management. Drones are one of the fastest growing tech products on the market. The technology offers a significant advantage for hunters. Drones allow hunters to get up close to their target without having to spend hours and miles tracking them. “We think it gives the hunter an unfair advantage,” said Backcountry Hunters & Anglers spokesman Tim Brass. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has proposed new bans on drones to game managers across the West. “As the technology progresses you’re ow able to locate animals without having to walk and work for them. That effort and skill makes hunting what it is,” said Brass. Drones in hunting is an issue that’s being tackled across the U.S. In Massachusetts PETA activists use drones to record videos of hunters in the field saying they’re trying to keep hunters honest. Colorado law calls that surveillance harassment. Wildlife officials do worry about the use of drones because it could change the nature of the chase. “Our goal is to make sure that the harvest of animals is done in an ethical fashion. That we’re not seeing people get out there and do things that are crossing the line,” said Colorado Parks & Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton. Drones are everywhere. In December 2013, announced a controversial plan to have drones deliver packages door to door. Drones are even used to track the viability of wildlife. Game managers believe the ban is needed now as drones become more prevalent in everyday life...more

UNESCO Says U.S. Funding Freeze Won’t Hurt ‘World Heritage’ Applications, But Some Lawmakers Worry

The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO says that the fact the United States is in arrears with its contributions – the result of a funding cutoff in response to its admission of “Palestine” – will have no bearing on pending applications to have several historical sites in the U.S. declared World Heritage sites next year. That confirmation, in an email from Paris early Friday in response to queries, effectively undercuts the arguments being made by some lawmakers who are pushing for an omnibus spending bill being negotiated ahead of a Jan. 15 deadline to include funding for UNESCO’s World Heritage program. Although the U.S. cannot restore funding to UNESCO itself without Congress providing a waiver to the law mandating the cutoff, these lawmakers want a contribution made specifically to its World Heritage program. Their argument: Failure to do so may harm the applications for a number of sites, including Franciscan frontier missions in Texas and Louisiana’s Poverty Point, to be added to the World Heritage list...more

Poll: Household Gun Ownership on Rise in U.S.

The slow drop-off of households owning guns has ended, rebounding in a new poll to 39 percent, up five points from the latest survey. A new Economist/YouGov poll said that nearly 4 in 10 American households have guns, with 56 percent claiming not to have one. That is a sizable uptick from the four-decade drop in household ownership charted by the authoritative General Social Survey. It pegged household gun ownership at 50 percent in the 1970s, 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s, and down to 35 percent in the 2000s. The latest 2012 statistics put the share of households with guns at 34 percent. The next General Social Survey is set for release this year. It is funded by the government through the National Science Foundation. Considered more reliable than phone surveys, gun advocates say that surveys like those conducted by Economist/YouGov are more timely and are capturing the shift in the nation's view of personal weapons...more

Pork producers call for more humane treatment

The yearslong call by animal rights groups to improve conditions on American hog farms advanced considerably this week when two of the country's biggest meat companies urged producers to change how pregnant sows are housed, and one announced it wanted to stop the practice of killing sick or injured animals by "manual blunt force." Tyson Foods sent new animal welfare guidelines to its 3,000 independent hog suppliers on Wednesday — roughly six weeks after gruesome video from an Oklahoma farm showed some animals being struck with bowling balls and others being slammed onto a concrete floor. And Smithfield Foods announced Tuesday it would ask growers to move pregnant sows from gestation crates to group housing by 2022. The change in corporate policy comes after decades of lobbying and protests from animal rights groups and a trend that saw more food retailers and restaurant chains moving away from suppliers who implemented the controversial hog-raising practices on farms. The planned overhaul was lauded by several animal rights groups, some who had campaigned against gestation crates, which they deemed institutionalized animal abuse and considered it an outdated and unnecessary practice. "Gestation crates" are cramped, often-foul stalls that barely allow a sow to take a step forward or backward and have been used for decades. Tyson also said it would require by the end of the year farmers who manage company-owned sows to end the longstanding industry practice of blunt-force euthanasia in favor of alternative methods in line with American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines...more

World Food Prices Dropped Last Year

World food prices fell by 1.6% in 2013, down 8.8% from their all-time peak in 2011, driven by falling international prices for grains, sugar and palm oil, according to the United Nations’s Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization Thursday. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s monthly index measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities and is the global leading economic indicator for food prices. While the most recent food price spike in 2011 was triggered by a lack of cereal supply, the recent fall in food prices is mainly due to higher expected supplies of corn and wheat this year. The sharp increase in 2013 cereal production is due to a rebound in the U.S. corn crop and record wheat harvests in countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Favorable weather in several leading producer nations such as the U.S. has boosted hopes of significant increases in corn output and led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to forecast a record U.S. corn crop for this agricultural season. Global cereal stocks are thus anticipated to increase 13% in 2013 to 564 million metric tons, according to U.N. data. Still, an uptick in both dairy and meat prices late last year limited the slide, warns the U.N. Both dairy and meat prices hit record highs because of drought in the world’s top milk exporter New Zealand and strong demand for meat from Asia. “Demand for milk powder, especially from China, remains strong and processors in the southern-hemisphere are focusing on this product rather than on butter and cheese,” the U.N. said. China and Japan’s demand for meat also helped prices climb 1.1% in 2013. “Demand from China and Japan has resulted in beef prices showing consistent growth since the middle of the year,” said the U.N...more

Secretary Jewell Targets Nature Deficit Disorder

by Jason Mark

...The environmental movement faces a serious challenge. More people are more disconnected from natural systems than at any other time in the history of humanity. The reasons and evidence for this are so obvious that they hardly bear repeating. In short, most of us live in vast urban areas where the rhythms and patterns of wild nature are almost totally obscured. Nor do we have much interaction with what I would call “pastoral nature,” meaning agricultural landscapes. I think it’s fair to say that most Americans couldn’t tell a spruce from a hemlock, or an adolescent cabbage from an adolescent beet. In our post-industrial world, such knowledge is superfluous. If all of your basic needs are met through the modern magic of fossil fuels and industrial farming, then it’s easy to ignore nonhuman nature, to forget that it even exists.
There’s a name for this: Nature Deficit Disorder. According to journalist Richard Louv, this “disorder” is increasingly common among young children today, who have few, if any, opportunities for unsupervised play time in natural settings. Those kids will therefore have less of an appreciation for nature, whether of the wild or pastoral variety. Such ecological illiteracy isn’t limited to Americans. According to a study conducted last year, a quarter of Japanese university students do not know which direction the sun sets. (Spoiler: The answer is west.)

Society’s disconnection from the living system is a major hurdle for environmental advocacy. If you’ve never enjoyed the sublime experience of being in the wilderness and feeling immersed in the more-than-human, then you’ll have little interest in fighting for the conservation of wild lands. If you don’t know that your food comes from the living wilderness of the soil, you’ll have less of an appreciation for how our civilization depends on natural systems. Modern people’s alienation from nature poses a threat to the entire environmental agenda, from creating sustainable economies to protecting wildlife and wild places.

I know that Jewell gets all of this. When she was the CEO of outfitter REI, Jewell was a key player in the Children and Nature Network, a group founded by Louv with the aim of getting more kids into the outdoors. During a speech at the National Press Club last October outlining her agenda, Jewell closed with an impassioned call for “engaging the next generation in understanding and stewarding our public lands.” As she told the press club audience, “What happens when a generation who has little connection to our nation’s public lands is suddenly in charge of taking care of them?”

The challenge of the task is further complicated by optics. Tens of millions of Americans engage in outdoor nature activities annually. There are an estimated 47 million anglers in the US and about 42 million mountain bikers. Some 34 million hit the hiking trails every year. But, like it or not, activities such as hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, and fishing have a reputation for being something just for older white guys. (If you doubt this, check out a recent post by Brentin Mock over at Grist.) According to the most recent survey from the Outdoor Industry Association, youth participation in outdoor activities dropped between 2006 and 2009.

Jewell’s Twenty-first Century Conservation Corps aims to reverse that trend.

BLM hopes to buy private parcels in Agua Fria monument

With thousands of acres of private parcels inside the Agua Fria National Monument, U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials are excited about finalizing an effort to buy two 40-acre parcels that were on the market for possible development. The BLM is now preparing to analyze potential impacts of the Cross Y Ranch purchase, and is seeking public comments by Friday. The ranch includes four parcels. BLM officials would like to purchase more of the ranch in the future, except for 97 acres that contain buildings. Remaining parcels are 621 acres and 1,278 acres in size. "It's a really scenic and beautiful area," Monument Manager Amanda James said. She recently visited the two 40-acre parcels on Black Mesa that feature part of the historic sheep driveway that runs from the Valley of the Sun to cooler northern summer grazing lands. The ranch parcels also include substantial water rights, nearly one mile of the Agua Fria River, more than two miles of Squaw Creek, wildlife migratory corridors, one of the densest stands of saguaro cacti in the country, and cultural resources such as pueblo ruins and petroglyphs. Some of the parcels are surrounded by the monument, while others sit along the southern edge...more

NFR not likely to ride into sunrise

Call it rank speculation from the edge of the arena, but it’s hard to believe the PRCA won’t make a counteroffer that enables the National Finals Rodeo to remain in Las Vegas. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is due to deliver its counteroffer to Las Vegas Events on Jan. 14. The rodeo organization has been very publicly wooed by business interests in Orlando, Fla. While we’re on the subject, it’s also hard to imagine throngs of rodeo fans, most of them from west of the Mississippi, making the sojourn all the way to Orlando to take part in the NFR party atmosphere. One Las Vegas rodeo insider estimates that 80 percent of contestants and visitors during the NFR live in the West. Although it gets little press during the organized chaos of rodeo week, Las Vegas attracts many thousands of rodeo fans who stay several days but only have tickets for one night of the event. They watch the action on closed-circuit or catch the highlights between trips to the dance hall, Cowboy Christmas or casino floor. With this week’s announcement that several top performers intend to break away from the PRCA and rope their own organization, it might sound like an ideal time for a local group to invite them to base their operations in Las Vegas. Don’t expect it to happen. Although one of the PRCA defectors is Trevor Brazile, who holds ultimate rock star status in the sport as an 11-time all-around champion, it remains uncertain whether a fledgling organization can draw enough top qualifiers to make it viable on a national tour level. PRCA events are ubiquitous throughout the West. Those top rodeo stars might have overplayed their hand with the PRCA. The rodeo organization might have done the same thing with Las Vegas, which spent several years marketing the event before it became the big winner everyone knows today...more

Talk of rift with PRCA makes waves in town

It’s a bit of a family feud. This week’s revelation of a rift between the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and its rank and file is causing a buzz as the 35th annual Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals gets underway. The news, first reported in Montana by longtime respected rodeo writer Joe Kusek of the Billings Gazette, is that cowboys and barrel racers are threatening to break away from the PRCA unless they’re given more of a voice in policy-making decisions. “It’s not going to affect the Circuit Finals,” said veteran National Finals Rodeo bareback star Jessy Davis, who will be competing here this weekend. “It’ll be in Great Falls the next 20 years I hope. That’s where it should be. It’s not going to affect rodeo in Montana.” Cut Bank’s Dustin Bird is another NFR cowboy who will be displaying his considerable talent this weekend at Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena. “Everybody’s having a little feud with the PRCA right now,” Bird said. “They might be trying to start something like the (Professional Bull Riders). Have like 24 events and the finals in Las Vegas.” Famed cowboy Trevor Brazile and other high-profile rodeo athletes announced their displeasure with the PRCA in a recent Facebook post. Bird summed up the argument presented by Brazile and others this way: “The cowboys don’t have much say about what goes on, and the PRCA won’t give it to them,” said Bird. “So they decided to go their own way...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1183

To close out Country Classics Week on Ranch Radio we head to the 70s and here's Charley Pride's 1970 recording of Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Cowboys, cowgirls clarify possibility of new organization

The story continues to take more twists. Just days after the Facebook page, "Support Rodeo Contestants" released a statement from a select group of cowboys and cowgirls regarding the possibility of disbanding from the PRCA, a new statement has been released.

In the statement, the organizers clarified how they have reached this point:

"Our original plan was not to form a new organization. We put everything we had into working over the Christmas break to try and create some meaningful change within the PRCA structure that would have given the top contestants a direct voice on the PRCA board. We want to be more involved with the direction of our sport.
This new effort resulted only after our proposal to the PRCA Board was rejected. As a result we are still in the early stages of formation."

The statement also explains that these talks will have no effect on the 2014 rodeo season, but the effort would begin in 2015.

Here is the full statement as released by the Support Rodeo Contestants Facebook page.

    On behalf of the cowboys and cowgirls who issued yesterday's statement, we want to thank everyone for their support. We understand that everyone would like further answers and details. We ask for your patience as we continue to move forward during this exciting time.
    We also would like everyone to understand that our original plan was not to form a new organization. We put everything we had into working over the Christmas break to try and create some meaningful change within the PRCA structure that would have given the top contestants a direct voice on the PRCA board. We want to be more involved with the direction of our sport.
    This new effort resulted only after our proposal to the PRCA Board was rejected. As a result we are still in the early stages of formation. Our purpose is to create a model that is better for the fans, committees and top contestants in the sport, but that also has a fair process for people to work their way to the top. Our group is committed to protecting the integrity of the sport of professional rodeo and the meaning of a gold buckle by making sure there is one, true championship.
    Some people have expressed an opinion that the current National Finals Rodeo is "just a rodeo" and "it doesn't really matter which cowboys you put out there." We believe people that express that opinion do not understand the loyalty of true rodeo fans. We know that true rodeo fans respect the talent and drive it takes to make it to the top of this great sport. We ask you to step up, as we have, and let your voice be heard. It did not work when the NFL tried to have games with replacement players and while we respect every contestant who rodeos, we believe that fans deserve the right to see the very best cowboys and cowgirls compete for a true championship. We are equally committed to making sure that rodeo remains a true sport with a level playing field that allows advancement through the ranks.
    Know that we are taking this effort seriously and have involved smart professionals with a strong background in both rodeo and professional sports. You would not see the names quoted in the release supporting this effort if we did not believe it was being done in a thoughtful and first-class way.
    Also, we want to make clear that this is an effort that begins with the 2015 season. No one is talking about any disruption to the 2014 season. For that reason, we ask you to understand that rather than throw out details and get bogged down in an open debate on everything wrong with the sport of professional rodeo, we are working systematically to build a system that advances the sport and we look forward to working with everyone who wants to see the sport move to the next level.
    Thank you again for your support, trust and patience and please join us in letting everyone know that the cowboys and cowgirls do matter.

The Organizing Top Cowboys and Cowgirls

MTN Sports

American Eagle Outfitters Gives $1 Million To Interior's Civilian Conservation Corps

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a $1 million public-private partnership with American Eagle Outfitters Inc. on Wednesday aimed at training and providing jobs on public lands to young people and veterans. It is the first funding commitment for American Eagle and also the first pledge toward Jewell’s target of raising $20 million from private partners by 2017 to support the Obama administrations’ “21st Century Conservation Service Corps.” Jewell, formerly president and chief executive officer of outdoor retail chain REI, used the backdrop of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington to pay homage to the Civilian Conservation Corps that President Roosevelt created over 80 years ago. She said, “What we’re doing today embodies the spirit of President Roosevelt’s CCC — coming together to put young people and veterans to work on our public lands, which will instill a lifelong conservation ethic that not only benefits them, but our public lands and our country.”...more

 80 years and still running and don't forget Congress keeps funding it each year.  This is also an example of "crony capitalism" between the outfitters industry and big government.  One of the beneficiaries of this program is the Student Conservation Association whose participants are "age 15 to young adults" and "high school and college students, or recent graduates interested in green careers" and whose mission is "to build the next generation of conservation leaders."  They buy clothing and equipment, they vote and you are helping to pay for it.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell keynote speaker at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be the keynote speaker at an industry breakfast at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. Jewell, the 51st Interior secretary and only the second woman to hold the post, will meet with industry leaders during the Outdoor Industry Association’s annual breakfast. Her keynote address is scheduled for 7 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Salt Lake Marriott across the street from the Salt Palace. “We look forward to Secretary Jewell’s keynote presentation as she outlines the Administration’s ambitious initiative to engage and employ youth on public lands, improve access and increase participation in outdoor recreation as part of the administration’s conservation agenda,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, OIA’s president and CEO. Steve Rendle, president, VF Outdoor and the Action Sports Coalition, a co-sponsor of the event, said Jewell is a well-regarded leader in the outdoor industry. “We’re excited to host her at the OIA industry breakfast to hear and discuss ideas for greater public engagement with the outdoors and our partnership with policymakers,” Rendle said...more

BLM priorities lack respect for private property

By Frank Priestley

In its selection process of a route for a massive power transmission line across southern Idaho, the Bureau of Land Management listed eight criteria used in the decision making process.

“Route on public land where practical” came in seventh.

The purpose of the Gateway West Transmission Project, proposed by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power, is to route energy generated in Wyoming to population centers on the West Coast. Any benefits to Idaho residents are negligible. In fact, it’s not even on Idaho Power’s list of needed improvements over the next 10 years. However, it will place major constraints on some of the most productive farmland in the state where it crosses Power and Cassia counties. In those two counties, 75 percent of the route will be on private property.

On one hand, it’s astonishing that the right to own private property, one of the most basic freedoms outlined by our nation’s forefathers, slips to seventh place on a list like this. On the other hand, when analyzing the six criteria deemed more important than private property rights, it’s shocking how insignificant individual liberty has become in the view of our federal government.

There are literally hundreds of quotes made by our forefathers about private property rights and their connection to our basic freedoms. James Madison said, “Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected.” President Calvin Coolidge said, “Ultimately property rights and personal rights are the same thing.” Northern Nevada rancher, the late Wayne Hage, summed it up as well as anyone when he said, “If you don’t have the right to own and control property then you are property.”

So without further ado, here’s what it’s come down to, folks. Following are the six criteria established by the BLM as more important than your right to own property:

• Avoid BLM-identified preliminary priority sage-grouse habitat and Wyoming core habitat areas.
• Avoid designated areas such as national monuments, wilderness study areas, national landscape conservation system areas and state and local parks.
• Avoid visual resource management Class II areas.
• Follow existing corridors or linear structures.
• Avoid sensitive species habitat, including bald eagle nests and big game winter range.
• Avoid cultural and natural resource areas.

 Priestley, who's President of the Idaho Farm Bureau, has this to say about Wilderness Study Areas:

Wilderness study areas are more important than private property. This is possibly the biggest kick in the guts on the list. It takes an act of Congress to establish a wilderness area, and judging by recent memory, we all know Congress doesn’t act on much of anything. In light of that fact, our federal land management agencies have the power to establish a wilderness study area — a de facto wilderness area — on their own. We would be surprised if the BLM could find one acre south of the Snake River in Idaho that meets the true definition of a wilderness area — “untrammeled by man.” Yet, here we have another instance of federal agencies running our state. 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1182

Ranch Radio continues with Country Classics and today we move to the 60s.  Here's the #1 song from 1961:  Leroy Van Dyke - Walk On By

Radio Interview - Is The NFR Leaving Las Vegas

Here's an interesting interview from back in December which gives more background on this story.

KNPR 98.7-Nevada Public Radio interviews Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Alan Snel on December 18, 2013

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

PRCA responds, says it has issues with cowboys’ requests

These have been busy days for the nine-member governing board of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the organization that sanctions the popular National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Not only is the PRCA board mulling whether to keep the NFR in Las Vegas or move it to Central Florida after this year, now the board is coping with an insurrection from big-name cowboy contestants who say they are defecting because the board rejected their request for more of a say on PRCA matters. On Tuesday night, the PRCA presented its side of the story. The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based association explained in the statement that 11 cowboy contestants asked the PRCA board last Saturday to add and amend 18 bylaws, including adding contestant board seats and addressing eligibility rules for the NFR. But the PRCA board members had some issues with the cowboys’ requests, the PRCA statement said. The board members expressed concerns about voting on all 18 bylaw changes without vetting the requests, according to the PRCA statement. The board members requested more time to research the cowboys’ proposal. But, according to the PRCA statement, the group of top contestants denied the request for more time to research the proposal. “In the interest of serving all 6,000-plus PRCA members and the entire sport of professional rodeo, the PRCA Board requested additional time to research and carefully consider all requests from the contestant group, but the 11 contestants denied that request,” the statement said. The contestants who came armed with the proposed changes saw it differently. The cowboys — led by rodeo star Trevor Brazile, the 11-time world all-around champion — said the PRCA board rejected their changes.  And in response, the contestants signed a statement posted Monday on Facebook saying they are creating a new rodeo cowboy organization. If the top cowboys leave the PRCA, it’s unclear how the rodeo association would continue running the NFR without the premier performers. But the PRCA board is forging ahead. It will decide whether it will keep the NFR in Las Vegas after 29 years, or move it to Osceola County outside Orlando starting in 2015. Las Vegas Events, the nonprofit organization that partners with the PRCA on the 10-day rodeo event in Las Vegas every December, gave PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman until Jan. 14 to submit a counteroffer. The PRCA board, on Dec. 15, rejected a LVE offer and voted to continue negotiating with the counteroffer...more

Montana Pro Rodeo reacts to possibility of a disbanded PRCA

It's Circuit Finals time in Montana, bringing some of the top local names in rodeo to Great Falls. But, it's the big news comes from a national stage as cowboys and cowgirls look to disband from the PRCA and create their own organization. Cowboys and cowgirls say the new organization would strengthen rodeo, while continuing to deliver the highest quality performances to the fans. But if a new organization is created, would that have an impact on the Montana Circuit? "No it would not," said MPRC president Jim Croft. "We're a circuit system, a national circuit system. We have our own championships down in Oklahoma City. It would not affect the Montana Circuit. "There's a lot of hoofla out there and only time will tell, but I think it will all settle back where it belongs." If the big guns of professional rodeo - think Trevor Brazile and Sherry Cervi - get their way and a new organization is founded, what happens if Montana's cowboys hop on board? Would they still be allowed to compete in their local circuit? "Everything is up in the air so much, it would kind of depend on what they did and if they did it," explained Croft. "I think if is the big question, I don't see it happening. But if they did it would be the rules they set, what the qualifications are and whether they could put a tight enough threshold on them. I don't think it will happen." In fairness, rumors of a new organization have surfaced in the past, but never took form. But now, cowboys and cowgirls are taking action. In fact, there are far more athletes supporting this change than the 21 bull riders who created the PBR - one of the most entertaining sports in North and South America. But Croft, much like the PRCA board, doesn't see this organization duplicating that success. "The PBR has done outstanding and a great job, bull riding is a great event to sell, but rodeo is rodeo," Croft said. "You need all the events and the fans aren't coming here to just watch one event. They're very educated, I just don't see it happening." Now these comments are, of course, just Croft's opinions. He cannot speak on behalf of the PRCA, but did tell me he doesn't see this new organization being formed. Right now, it's just wait and see. We will keep you updated as new reports begin to surface. Source

Could PRCA be in trouble?

That explosion you heard on Monday? That was a nuclear bomb being dropped on the office of the Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association in Colorado Springs, Colo. Already reeling from the backlash from possibly moving the National Finals Rodeo from Las Vegas to central Florida, the PRCA is facing potentially a bigger problem. No big-name contestants for the NFR, wherever it may land for 2015. Wanting more of a say in the sport’s future, some of rodeo’s biggest stars announced on a Facebook site called “Support Rodeo Contestants,” that they were creating another organization. The supporters included world champions from every event, including members of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. According to the post, some of rodeo’s top contestants wanted some changes to the PRCA structure in exchange for the commitment of the cowboys to provide greater support to PRCA-sanctioned rodeos. This has become a big issue as events like RodeoHouston and Calgary Stampede are high-paying stand-alone rodeos and are not governed by PRCA rules. Other rodeos are looking to follow. “We went to the PRCA with a proposal supported by the top cowboys that would have strengthened the PRCA,” said 19-time world champion Trevor Brazile on the Facebook post. “Unfortunately, our proposal was not accepted. “We appreciate what the PRCA has done for the sport in the past, but at this point we feel the time has come for the top contestants to be more directly involved with the future of our sport.” Then the greatest cowboy of his generation dropped the big one. “We are forming a new organization to work together with committees and sponsors to make sure that the sport of professional rodeo continues to deliver the highest quality product to our great fans,” said Brazile. Rodeo fans have heard this talk before. Just a few years ago, there were rumors of a new organization that would revolutionize sport. It never materialized. This idea, however, has some traction. Because not only does the list of other contestants supporting this move read like a “Who’s who,” of professional rodeo but it has the support of those who can help make it a reality. Las Vegas officials want a rodeo finals in December. If it continues to be the NFR, great. But if not the NFR, Las Vegas will still have an event showcasing the top cowboys and cowgirls. Watch for the non-sanctioned rodeos to band together and create a finals from its top competitors list. And you can bet a potential television deal is already being discussed. This past December, RFD-TV offered the PRCA $1 million for the television rights to its premier event. The PRCA declined, opting to pay CBS Sports Network to broadcast the NFR...more

Prominent cowboys say they are defecting from PRCA

Professional rodeo’s most prominent cowboys say they are defecting from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to form their own organization, but they are coy about their views on the future of the National Finals Rodeo or any other major rodeo event in Las Vegas. The biggest names in rodeo led by 11-time world all-around champion Trevor Brazile — the LeBron James of the rodeo world — signed a statement posted on Facebook this week saying it’s time for the sport’s top contestants to be directly involved in the sport’s future. One of the organizers, steer wrestler K.C. Jones, on Tuesday confirmed the efforts to leave the PRCA and start a different rodeo cowboy organization. “It’s an exciting time for professional rodeo,” Jones told the Review-Journal. He noted cowboys are already talking with rodeo committees and venues about events outside of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based PRCA, the sport’s governing body. Charly Crawford, a seven-time qualifier in the NFR’s team roping category, said the motivation behind the efforts is that the sport’s top cowboys want a bigger voice in the PRCA’s decision-making process. Crawford said the NFR draws the top 120 cowboys, but their voices are not heard at the PRCA board meetings. Overall, there were 5,071 PRCA contestant card holders in 2013. Crawford also said a concern is big rodeos such as Calgary and Houston are breaking away from PRCA’s governance. And with the PRCA flirting with moving the NFR — the sport’s Super Bowl — to Osceola County in Central Florida starting in 2015, Las Vegas might be another city that starts its own major rodeo event outside of the PRCA banner. “It started a trend now. It’s a big concern for us,” Crawford said of rodeo cities starting non-PRCA sanctioned events. Crawford said talk of the sport’s biggest stars participating in an independent Las Vegas rodeo if the PRCA moves the NFR to Osceola County has surfaced. “We’d like to talk to Las Vegas,” Crawford said of the top cowboys...more

Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson - Boldly Going Where No Greens Have Gone Before

By And

If all goes according to plan, Hollywood icon Leonardo DiCaprio will blast into space aboard the maiden voyage of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceship sometime this year, opening up a new era of civilian space travel. This development might only be remarkable as the fulfillment of a dream long predicted by futurists and technophiles, were it not for the fact that Messrs. Branson and DiCaprio are prominent environmentalist celebrities who have warned of a coming ecological catastrophe if we fail to address our carbon problem.

Mr. Branson's commitment to fighting climate change is praiseworthy: Over the years, he has consistently advocated for a broad mix of clean energy sources, including nuclear. He is founder and chief benefactor of the Carbon War Room, an outfit that has long advocated for carbon pricing and energy efficiency measures to help alleviate global warming. Mr. DiCaprio is on the board of trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council and has decried overconsumption. "We are the number one leading consumers, the biggest producers of waste around the world," the actor said in 2008.

Private space travel doesn't seem to mesh with living green, and Mr. Branson surely anticipated that his project would raise environmentalists' eyebrows. Perhaps that's why he announced this past May: "We have reduced the [carbon emission] cost of somebody going into space from something like two weeks of New York's electricity supply to less than the cost of an economy round-trip from Singapore to London."

That would be a remarkable achievement in energy efficiency if it were true. Alas, it is not. According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's environmental assessment of the launch and re-entry of Virgin Galactic's spacecraft, one launch-land cycle emits about 30 tons of carbon dioxide, or about five tons per passenger. That is about five times the carbon footprint of a flight from Singapore to London. 

When you include the energy of the entire Virgin Galactic operation, which includes support aircraft, it is seven times more than the flight from Singapore to London. As such, a single trip on Virgin Galactic will require twice as much energy as the average American consumes each year. (These numbers were confirmed by a representative for Virgin Galactic.)

The Virgin Galactic story is familiar: Environmental celebrities and other elites often have a very hard time walking their talk. The bigger story is what Virgin Galactic tells us about the likely trajectory of future energy consumption.

Kennecott landslide so big it triggered earthquakes

Accelerating to speeds of up to 100 mph, April’s massive landslide in Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon mine actually triggered earthquakes, the first time that is known to have occurred. A study by University of Utah scientists, published Monday on the cover of the Geological Society of America’s magazine, GSA Today, said 16 small earthquakes were set off by the earth movement, which was mobilized by two rock slides 90 minutes apart.  "We don’t know of any case until now where landslides have been shown to trigger earthquakes," said Jeff Moore, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the U. "It’s quite commonly the reverse."  Moore teamed with author Kris Pankow, associate director of the university’s seismograph stations, who noted that numerous ground-movement sensors around the mine provided scientists with an immense amount of data about the April 10 landslide. "This is really a geotechnical monitoring success story," Pankow said...more

Rewrite of species-protection law seen in move to take wolves off the U.S. list

From the journal "Conservation Letters" comes a compelling academic critique of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's evolving enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, through some key rewriting of policy that might appeal to satirists like George Orwell or Joseph Heller. The paper, published last week in the journal's "Policy Perspectives" section, is focused largely on the service's announcement that it will remove gray wolves from federal protection throughout the lower 48 states, following earlier "de-listings" in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, Wyoming and Idaho (as well as states of the northern Rocky Mountains and a scattering of others with few if any wolves). But the authors — including Sherry Enzler of the University of Minnesota and John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University, who directs the wolf-moose population study on Isle Royale — argue that the service's reasoning in support of its decision on gray wolves changes its application of the landmark wildlife law in two ways that effectively repeal it: First, by redefining the Endangered Species Act's notion of natural range from the territory a species historically inhabited to the territory it currently occupies. Second, by deciding that human activity — especially intolerant activity — in portions of a species' range can justify reclassification of those areas under the ESA as habitat no longer suitable for threatened animals and plants...more