Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wyoming welder faces $75,000 a day in EPA fines for building pond on his property

All Andy Johnson wanted to do was build a stock pond on his sprawling eight-acre Wyoming farm. He and his wife Katie spent hours constructing it, filling it with crystal-clear water, and bringing in brook and brown trout, ducks and geese. It was a place where his horses could drink and graze, and a private playground for his three children. But instead of enjoying the fruits of his labor, the Wyoming welder says he was harangued by the federal government, stuck in what he calls a petty power play by the Environmental Protection Agency. He claims the agency is now threatening him with civil and criminal penalties – including the threat of a $75,000-a-day fine. “I have not paid them a dime nor will I,” a defiant Johnson told “I will go bankrupt if I have to fighting it. My wife and I built [the pond] together. We put our blood, sweat and tears into it. It was our dream.” But Johnson may be in for a rude awakening. The government says he violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Further, the EPA claims that material from his pond is being discharged into other waterways. Johnson says he built a stock pond -- a man-made pond meant to attract wildlife -- which is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations. The property owner says he followed the state rules for a stock pond when he built it in 2012 and has an April 4-dated letter from the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office to prove it. “Said permit is in good standing and is entitled to be exercised exactly as permitted,” the state agency letter to Johnson said. But the EPA isn’t backing down and argues they have final say over the issue. They also say Johnson needs to restore the land or face the fines...more

DEA, U.S Attorneys Secretly Met with Drug Cartels in Mexico to Obtain Info on Rivals

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents and U.S Attorneys held secret meetings with drug trafficking organizations, especially the Sinaloa cartel, on Mexican soil, revealed Mexico-based newspaper El Universal. The DEA and the U.S. Attorney's office are both components of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  Official and court documents from the U.S and Mexican governments were cited as the source in the Jan. 6 news report. Court documents show that the U.S. government knew and authorized those meetings, which resulted in drug seizures, arrests, and an increase in drug cartel violence in Mexico. The paper published excerpts from U.S. court documents to support their claims. Breitbart News confirmed the validity of the court papers. El Universal alleges that the DEA operations were carried out without the knowledge of the Mexican government. The paper reported that it obtained the court and official documents in the course of a year. During that time, it also conducted interviews with “more than a hundred” active and retired officials from both countries. The paper also interviewed inmates, their family, and experts.  In an effort to obtain information on their rivals, DEA agents and U.S. attorneys met with leaders of Mexican drug trafficking organizations, especially the notoriously violent Sinaloa cartel. That is the same trafficking organization that received the bulk of the firearms intentionally dispensed to drug cartels in Mexico under ATF’s 2009 “Fast and Furious" operation according to a congressional investigation. ATF is a DOJ component as well. In December 2011, reported that the gun-walking operation was linked to a drug-trafficking immunity deal between the U.S. government and the Sinaloa cartel by a defendant who was awaiting trial in a Chicago federal court at the time. That same defendant is mentioned in the U.S. court papers published by the Mexican newspaper showing that DEA held secret meetings with drug cartel members. The same defendant is also the focus of a news report by The Narcosphere alleging that the Sinaloa cartel is protected by the U.S. government.  The defendant's court pleadings stated: The United States government considered the arrangements with the Sinaloa Cartel an acceptable price to pay, because the principal objective was the destruction and dismantling of rival cartels by using the assistance of the Sinaloa Cartel without regard for the fact that tons of illicit drugs continued to be smuggled into Chicago and other parts of the United States and consumption continued virtually unabated...El Universal mentions that the meetings between U.S. officials and drug cartel members in Mexico took place during the Mexican presidencies of Vicente Fox (2000-2006) and Felipe Calderón (2006-2012).  However, the relationship between the DEA and cartel members documented by El Universal intensified in 2009, according to a chronological list of events published along with the report. That year is mentioned more than any other in the news report...more

Federal Dietary Guideline Committee Focused on ‘Population Behavior Change’, 'Lifestyle Interventions'

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on Friday emphasized the need for the group to institute “population behavior change” in order to engineer healthier Americans. DGAC Chair Barbara Millen said the upcoming report would serve as the “foundation for public policy and food nutrition, physical activity, and health-related areas.” The group will release new recommendations for federal food policy in the 2015 report. Millen said the “potential is vast” for their recommendations, which deal with everything from “sustainability” in the food supply to “carbon footprints,” food deserts, alcohol consumption, and obesity “interventions.” “We have an overweight and obesity epidemic,” she said. As a result of this “epidemic,” the committee is focusing on ways to change Americans’ eating habits. Nelson emphasized that current European research has strongly encouraged “more of a plant-based diet” to address ecological sustainability, but said it is “not strictly a vegetarian diet.”...more

Hunter bags enormous 500-lb wild hog

It's not everyday that you shoot a 500-pound beast. Hunters in Bertie County, N.C., knew about the massive wild hog roaming around their woods when it was captured on trail cameras several years ago. But Jett Webb finally managed to capture the animal near land leased by the White Oak Ranch Hunting Club. "It was very surreal,” Webb recently told WNCN. “It was a shock. It was very humbling to say the least, when you walk up on a beast that big and you say, 'Oh my gosh. I had no idea that there could be something that big running around the woods of Eastern North Carolina.'" Webb said his catch will feed his family for a whole year. "We’re not going to waste anything,” he added. Webb said he was "taken aback" when news of his catch made national headlines. "I'm just kind of taken back by it just being a country boy from ENC trying to put a little meat in his freezer."  UPI

Friday, March 14, 2014

PEER spokesman calls for the dismissal of Forest Service LEI Director Ferrell

I've previously covered this issue here, here and here.

This is from an article by Andrew Oxford in Thursday's Taos News where Jeff Ruch of PEER calls for the dismissal of David Ferrell:

...Lucero’s communiqué was directly contradicted in a March 4 email from the agency’s deputy director of law enforcement and investigations. The message from Tracy Perry called on patrol commanders to ensure “no quotas are being developed” that would require officers to issue certain numbers of violation notices or other citations. Ruch described the email as “a classic cover-your-ass maneuver,” noting Perry’s communiqué was sent to Forest Service law enforcement officers mere days after the agency began to receive criticism for its saturation patrol in Taos Ski Valley. “He’s maintaining there aren’t quotas and to ignore the ones that exist,” Ruch told The Taos News, arguing Perry’s email demonstrated “the garbled message” that informs the work of Forest Service officers. The agency’s law enforcement personnel have lamented the pressure to meet quotas for citations and violation notices in surveys undertaken by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Ruch said. A Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, the organization is completing its annual survey of Forest Service staff and expect to find pressure mounting on the agency’s officers, he added.  “They need to change the leadership of that program,” Ruch told The Taos News, calling for the Forest Service to dismiss law enforcement and investigations director David Ferrell.

And here is the "cover-your-ass" email:

Tuesday, 3/4.


We have discussed this before but to ensure that there is no confusion, as our individual Patrol
Captains are working with their LEOs to implement FY 14 Performance Plans/Measures, please
ensure that no quotas are being developed with regard to the minimum number of VNs, WNs and IRs that an LEO must issue. We want the performance measures to be meaningful, but they
should not include quotas for the number of VNs, WNs or IRs written (or “expectations” that can
be construed as quotas). Please discuss this with your Commanders and ensure that they are reviewing the performance plans as appropriate so that this does not occur. In addition, we should all be consistent in our messaging that quotas regarding the number of VNs, WNs and IRs issued are not appropriate. Thanks. TP

Tracy S. Perry
Deputy Director
Law Enforcement and Investigations

PEER's materials on this issue are here.  In spite of the Aban Lucero's email which says, “Understand, Director Ferrell has clearly indicated his expectations of LEOs issuing a minimum of 100 VNs per year...", the Forest Service is denying they have quotas.  U.S. Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers released this statement Wednesday:

"The U.S. Forest Service is committed to quality police work on the lands we are charged with protecting, including fostering a relationship of trust with the communities we serve. In the spirit of that mission, the Forest Service does not require any citation quotas, and the agency has not issued formal or informal guidance to that effect. We are reviewing recent events in Taos and the coordination with both Taos Ski Valley and local authorities to assure that the Forest Service always handles these types of situations in the best way possible. Once the after action review of the operation there is completed, we will begin to implement recommendations. We take our mission to protect and serve very seriously, and view this as an opportunity to improve the way we partner with the communities where we live and work."

It appears to me the Forest Service does or did have quotas as part of their performance review.  It also appears to me their LEOs and the LEI division is the only part of the federal agency that's not into collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.  And they are the ones who need to practice it the most.  

Update:  The Albuq. Journal has an editorial posted online today, where they refer to "The Great Taos Dope Raid"  and write "the Saturday crowd was viewed as one big quota filling opportunity."

In drought-stricken California, court rules smelt fish get water

A California appeals court sided with environmentalists over growers on Thursday and upheld federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect Delta smelt, in a battle over how the state will cope with its worst drought in a century. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court should not have overturned recommendations that the state reduce exports of water from north to south California. The plan leaves more water in the Sacramento Delta for the finger-sized fish that have been blamed for exacerbating the effects of drought for humans. Reaction from both sides was swift in the national political issue. In a blog post, Damien Schiff, an attorney for growers, said the ruling "bodes ill for farmers, farm laborers and millions of other Californians dependent on a reliable water supply." Kate Poole, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said growers' hopes of taking more water out of the Delta wouldn't solve California's problems. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, which represented wildlife regulators, said it was pleased with the ruling...more

Obama asks lawmakers to 'do even more' on conservation

President Obama on Thursday urged Congress to "do even more" on conservation projects after signing legislation protecting a 35-mile stretch of Lake Michigan's coastline. "There are currently dozens of conservation proposals before Congress — many supported by Democrats and Republicans — that would protect important lands across the country and help grow our economy," Obama said in a statement. The Sleeping Bear Dunes conservation law was the first public lands designation by Congress in more than five years — the longest lawmakers had gone without making a wilderness designation in nearly 50 years. While urging lawmakers to take up additional conservation measures, Obama pledged to "continue to do my part to protect our federal lands for future generations to enjoy." But the president's efforts are expected to accelerate this year, with the return of counselor John Podesta, who served as chief of staff to former President Clinton, to the White House...more

White House threatens to veto water bill

A dispute between Colorado ski areas and the Forest Service has caught the attention of the White House, which threatens to veto a water rights bill that U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, plans to present on the House floor Thursday. “This is important to the West. We hope the president won’t politicize this, because this isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue,” Tipton said in a phone interview. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, is a co-sponsor of Tipton’s bill, and a few other Western Democrats also support it. The Forest Service has sought greater control of ski water rights since the 1980s. A federal judge in Denver overturned a previous agency policy that required ski areas to assign their water rights to the government in return for lease extensions. The agency plans to release a new policy for public review soon. But lawmakers aren’t waiting, because they see a broader threat to federal control of Colorado’s water. “Basically, it comes down to, does Colorado decide its water rights system, or does the federal government?” Roberts said at a meeting of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Kristin Moseley, a lawyer for Vail Resorts and several mountain water districts, said ski water rights might originate on public land, but they were developed by private companies at considerable expense. She compared the Forest Service’s claiming of water rights to confiscating ski lifts and hotels belonging to resorts. “It’s not their water. It was private water all the time,” Moseley said....more

Climate-based wolverine listing delayed by scientific disputes

With thick fur and snowshoe-like feet, wolverines are well-adapted to live in snow caves and run straight up mountains. Their high elevation lifestyles have helped them stay out of harm’s way in recent decades, and stage a slow comeback from the rampant carnivore persecution of the early 1900s. Though elusive and tenacious, they won’t be insulated from human impacts forever. They face a precarious future as climate change eats away at the snowpack they need. That’s why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to add them to the endangered species list, even as a handful of wide-ranging wolverines are venturing into states where they haven’t been seen for generations. The agency was slated to make a listing decision earlier this month as part of a legal settlement with environmental groups. But reputable wolverine biologists have criticized the scientific underpinnings of the agency’s proposed listing decision, especially the parts related to snowpack. Now, the FWS is delaying the decision for another six months so they can reconvene with scientists about wolverine habitat and climate impacts to it. If wolverines are listed, they will join polar bears in having the dubious distinction of receiving federal protection in the name of climate change. Even if that can’t do much to curb climate impacts, it would renew discussions about federal and state wildlife managers reintroducing experimental populations of wolverines in higher elevation refuges like Colorado, to help maximize their survival prospects in the U.S. A listing will also send a strong message about the fragile future of mountain snowpack that so many people depend on for water. But the prospect of a decision based on climate models, rather than more traditional, tangible, threats is already attracting attention...more

When poisoning is the solution to a cutthroat problem

One of the more spectacular success stories of the Endangered Species Act is playing out in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness of the Toiyabe-Humboldt National Forest, high in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Heroic and persevering managers of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service have prevailed in their 10-year legal battle to save America’s rarest trout — the federally threatened Paiute cutthroat. Its entire natural habitat consists of 9 miles of Silver King Creek. Cutthroat trout subspecies of the Interior West are being hybridized off the planet by rainbow trout from the Pacific Northwest, dumped into their habitat during the age of ecological illiteracy, which ended circa 1970. In most cases, the only hope for the natives is rotenone, a short-lived, easily neutralized, organic poison rendered from tropical plants. But a war on rotenone has been declared by chemophobic environmentalists, who refuse to learn about it, and by anglers who don’t care what’s on the other end of the rod so long as it’s bent. Although rotenone is essential to management as defined by the Wilderness Act, the group Wilderness Watch, for example, asserts that “poison has no place in wilderness.”...more

Forest Service sponsors weekly "Fireside Lecture"

On Friday, March 14, the weekly Fireside Lecture will feature Dr. Cathy Connor, professor of geology at the University of Alaska Southeast Natural Science Department. The lecture will focus on the ancient trees discovered recently that melted out of the ice as the Mendenhall Glacier receded. Fireside Lectures are sponsored by the USDA Forest Service at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The presentations are free and occur at 6:30 p.m. Fridays with a repeat at 8 p.m...more

Not to be outdone by BLM's Artists-in-residence program, the Forest Service has their Fireside Lecture.  I wonder if they have a quota on the number of lectures?

NM, Colo. sign on to Rio Grande cutthroat trout conservation agreement

An updated conservation agreement and strategy plan to protect the Rio Grande cutthroat trout was recently signed by the states of Colorado and New Mexico, three Native American tribes and several federal agencies. The agencies started working on range-wide protection plans for the species in 2003. This is a continuation of the initial agreement, but also assures that the agencies will work cooperatively to maintain the viability of this special species of trout. The agreement provides overall guidance to each agency and sets a conservation strategy that will be used in Colorado and New Mexico where significant populations of the fish exist. “This is a voluntary agreement, but all the parties are dedicated to working on important Rio Grande cutthroat trout issues,” said John Alves, southwest region senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The agencies that signed the agreement are: CPW, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the BLM, the National Park Service, the Jicarilla-Apache Nation, the Mescalero-Apache Nation, and the Taos Pueblo tribe. The effort is also being supported by Colorado Trout Unlimited and the New Mexico Council of Trout Unlimited. As stated in the agreement, the goal of the new 10-year plan is to “assure long-term viability of Rio Grande cutthroat trout throughout its historic range by minimizing or removing threats to the species and promoting conservation.” The trout has been a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act since 2008. A decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on whether the species will be listed is scheduled for September. The Rio Grande cutthroat is classified as a species of “greatest conservation need” by New Mexico, and as a “species of special concern” in Colorado...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1225

Wrapping up 1974 Week on Ranch Radio is Johnny Rodriquez with the no. 19 song that year, That's The Way Love Goes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Read The Westerner today and you'll see that...

The NSA is using Facebook to hack into our computers...

The CIA is hacking into Congressional computers...

The Dept. of Transportation is hacking into our mouths...and

Incontrovertible evidence that Sally Jewell is a duck whisperer

The Environmentalist Eugenics of the Left - Sally Jewell, The Duck Whisperer?


    Pick up a copy of Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget and there among the TSA fee hikes, Medicare payment cuts and the $400 million for the Department of Homeland Security to fight global warming is a curious little item.
    On Page 930 of the budget that never ends is $575 million for “family planning/reproductive health” worldwide especially in “areas where population growth threatens biodiversity or endangered species.”
The idea that the way to protect insects, fish and animals is by preventing human beings from having children is part of an approach known as Population, Health and Environment (PHE) which integrates population control into environmentalist initiatives.
    PHE dates back to the 1980s and is practiced by mainstream organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund. The Smithsonian’s Woodrow Wilson Center, which is funded partly by the US government, aggressively champions PHE eugenics and USAID funds PHE programs and distributes PHE training manuals derived in part from Wilson Center materials.
    PHE had been baked into congressional bills such as the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2013 co-sponsored by Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and Sheila Jackson-Lee which urged meeting United Nations Millennium Development Goals by using birth control as, among other things, a means of “ensuring environmental sustainability.”
    Obama’s budget is more open about its PHE eugenics agenda. While PHE backers usually claim that they want to reduce population to prevent famine and promote gender equality, the budget explicitly states that its goal is to reduce human population growth for the sake of the animals, without any of the usual misleading language about feminism and clean water.
    The budget is a blunt assertion of post-human values by an administration that has become notorious for its fanatical environmentalism, sacrificing people on the altar of Green ideology.
    When Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited Alaska, she told the residents of an Eskimo village where nineteen people had died due to the difficulty of evacuating patients during medical emergencies that, “I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals.”
    Jewell rejected the road that they needed to save lives because it would inconvenience the local waterfowl. When it came to choosing between the people and the ducks, Jewell chose the ducks.
    Ducks don’t talk, but environmentalists do, and they had vocally opposed helping the people of King Cove. Jewell had received the Rachel Carson Award, named after an environmentalist hero whose fearmongering killed millions. Compared to the Carson malaria graveyards of Africa, nineteen dead Eskimos slide off the post-human conscience of a fanatical environmentalist like water off a duck’s back.
    USAID, which played a key role in the war on DDT, has openly embraced PHE. The arguments against DDT often focused not on saving lives, but on taking them. PHE prevents children from being born, but environmentalists don’t stop with the unborn. Malaria was an even more effective tool for reducing populations.
    Environmentalist population reduction activists originally cloaked their real agenda in claims about worldwide famine. Paul Erlich, author of “The Population Bomb,” had predicted mass starvation by the 1970s and the end of England by 2000. Today Global Warming activists set empty dates for the destruction of mankind that they themselves don’t believe in.
    The post-human left seeks to maintain a state of perpetual crisis so that governments and corporations will be more inclined to accept even the most horrifying solutions to avoid the end of mankind. What it does not tell them is that its goal is the end of mankind.
    In February, Population Action International and the Sierra Club sponsored a congressional briefing on PHE post-2015. Population Action International was originally founded as the Population Crisis Committee in the sixties. Its preceding organizations included the Hugh Moore Fund for International Peace which claimed that population control was necessary to defeat Communism.
    Like the Communists, the post-human activists were adept at disguising their agenda in the concerns of the moment, shifting from national security, feminism, the coming Ice Age, mass starvation and now Global Warming.
    Environmentalists are even attempting to shoehorn the War on Terror into their agenda as the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program attempts to tie every terrorist conflict zone to global warming.
    Environmentalist fearmongering has never been about saving people. Its activists, like Sally Jewell, are too busy playing duck whisperer to care about people.

Sally Jewell may be a "duck whisperer", but I don't believe she'd be welcome on Duck Dynasty.

U.S. Forest Service studies Peru

Peru’s tropical forests hold large amounts of carbon — but in such peatlands as this one, twice as much carbon could be stored in the flooded soil as in the trees above, Bhomia said. Because Peru has no comprehensive studies of its wetlands, however, no one knows how extensive the peatlands are or how much carbon they store, according to CIFOR scientist Kristell Hergoualc’h. As a result, when a swamp is drained for logging, agriculture or development, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted — calculated based on the trees that are cut — could be underestimated, because it does not include the emissions from peat. This may affect both the greenhouse gas emission reports that Peru must file with international agencies as well as the compensation it could receive for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) implementation, Hergoualc’h said. The work she is doing with Bhomia and other researchers as part of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP) — a collaboration involving CIFOR, the U.S. Forest Service and the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, or IIAP) — aims to fill this information gap.

Hatch, Lee call on federal government to repay cost of opening Utah parks during shutdown

Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee are asking the federal government to reimburse Utah for paying to reopen national parks during last year's partial government shutdown. The National Park Access Act, introduced Tuesday, asks the federal government to reimburse six states — Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota and Tennessee — that fronted the cost of reopening national parks last year. Republicans Hatch and Lee are co-sponsoring the bill with Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Hatch said the bill gives the congressional approval the U.S. Department of the Interior needs to repay costs associated with operating the parks during the shutdown...more

Chronic-wasting study bodes ill for elk herds

Chronic wasting disease is notorious for leaving no survivors. Depending on which member of the deer family it infects and kills by turning victims’ brains into sponge-like mush, CWD has been called “mad deer disease” or “mad elk disease.” Mercilessly lethal, CWD is not only incurable, but the associated rogue proteins, called prions, that cause mortality leach into soils and persist as a disease menace long after dead animals have decomposed on the ground. Specialists in epizootic diseases say that if an outbreak of CWD occurred in areas where mass numbers of wildlife congregate, the resulting “ecological disaster” would be difficult to contain and clean up. In 2007, then-Wyoming Game and Fish Department Veterinarian Terry Kreeger made a pronouncement about CWD to the Casper-Star Tribune that caused professional colleagues who make their living thinking about wildlife health issues to gasp. “Right now,” Kreeger said, “there’s no evidence that a severe reduction of deer and elk will occur [if CWD reaches populations of those animals in Wyoming]. In fact there’s some evidence to show that it will not have any effect on populations, but we expect it does to some degree.” Kreeger, in essence, was trying to defend artificial feeding at the National Elk Refuge and 22 feedgrounds operated by the state of Wyoming. Last month, the findings of a new study — peer-reviewed by scientists and published in The Journal of Wildlife Management — cast serious doubts about Kreeger’s assertions. The study by lead author Ryan J. Monello, a researcher with the National Park Service, and five colleagues in ecology and veterinary medicine examines survival and population dynamics of free-ranging elk in Rocky Mountain National Park of northern Colorado. [Read pdf of study at]. Two hair-raising conclusions: Destroying animals didn’t stop disease progression. And once CWD arrives, mortality is likely to outpace reproduction, resulting in population declines...more

Lake trout cull could boost cutthroat, feed grizzlies

Grizzly and black bears that once feasted on cutthroat trout spawning in Yellowstone Lake tributaries will readily return to the food source if the species bounces back, a study predicts. The study, “Contrasting Past and Current Number of Bears Visiting Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Streams,” supports a multimillion-dollar effort to reduce invasive mackinaw in Yellowstone Lake. The paper was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management in February. “We suggest that the number of spawning trout per stream will have to reach approximately 400 fish per kilometer of stream before large numbers of grizzly and black bears once again specialize on this food,” Washington State University researcher and chief author Justin Teisberg wrote. “If the Yellowstone Lake cutthroat trout population can be recovered to such levels,” Teisberg wrote, “grizzly and black bears that still reside within the lake basin will readily find and use this high-quality food resource, potentially returning both species to higher use of backcountry habitat.” Teisberg, who conducted field work from 2007 to 2010, suggests that cutthroat numbers have a long way to go before the species is a dependable food source for bruins once again. A similar survey of spawning activity and grizzly bear use was conducted between 1997 and 2000, providing Teisberg with comparable data...more

Feds To End Controversial Secret Alcohol Testing At Roadblocks

After drawing considerable ire from the public over a program that tested drivers for drug and alcohol use — the latter secretly and without their consent — federal transportation officials today said they will no longer surreptitiously collect breath samples from drivers at roadblocks. The Associated Press reports that a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official said roadblock testers will now get motorists' permission before using a passive alcohol sensor, which previously gathered breath samples before drivers could consent to the study.  NHTSA has been conducting their National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers since the 1970s to monitor drug and alcohol use by drivers. But as Jalopnik and other outlets reported last month, federal contractors had lately taken to using passive sensors to secretly test drivers. After being forced into roadblock areas by police, many drivers complained they felt they had no choice but to take part in the study...more

Participation in the study is supposed to be voluntary, but the feds don't want to take "no" for an answer.  The AP article has this:

Officials have said that the passive alcohol sensor, which can collect breath samples several inches from a person's face, allowed researchers to maximize the amount of data they collect while helping them get impaired drivers off the road. A 2007 survey methodology said a particular brand was chosen because it was “less obvious and intimidating” than larger sensors and could be used before the motorist's “consent or refusal of the survey.” 

The feds don't want our "consent" to do anything, even a study.  The Constitution is such a bother.  My biggest fear?  That someday they'll make tobacco illegal and the feds will surreptitiously determine I've been dipping snuff.  That's when me and the Copenhagen Cops will go at it. 


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1224

Staying with 1974 Week here is the no. 13 song on the charts:  Bobby Bare - Marie Laveau

Accused of Spying on Congress, CIA Director Tap Dances

by Major Garett

    CIA Director John Brennan denied credible allegations of spying on Congress—a federal crime—leveled by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein with a classic Washington evasion.
    “We wouldn’t do that,” Brennan said during an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations. “That’s just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.”
    As might be said in a deposition, the witness was unresponsive. Brennan wasn’t under oath, and this isn’t a full-scale legal inquiry, at least not yet. As any cop or lawyer knows, when someone says they wouldn’t do something, that doesn’t prove they didn’t. And saying something is unreasonable doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
    Brennan also added this: “When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”
    Note the modifier “tremendous.” What constitutes tremendous in terms of spying or monitoring or hacking? That’s an eye-of-the-beholder dodge of the central question at hand: Did the CIA intentionally invade the work computers of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers and remove documents relevant to the panel’s ongoing oversight investigation?
    Put another way: Did the Obama administration, through zealous and possibly criminal tactics, seek to interfere with the oversight work of a bipartisan oversight committee chaired by Feinstein, a loyal California Democrat? Is Feinstein alone? Hardly. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid backs her “unequivocally.” So do rank-and-file Democrats.
    We are talking crimes and prerogatives here, people. And it’s Democrats, not Republicans, who allege that laws may have been violated and prerogatives bulldozed.
    Back to Brennan’s “tremendous” tap dance. Tremendous speaks to frequency, gaudiness, and audacity. The issue is ever. To paraphrase Jacqueline Susann, once is enough. Breaking the law is serious business. So is debasing the separation of powers and infecting executive branch and congressional relations with suspicion, doubt, and animosity when it comes to national security, intelligence-gathering, and oversight.
    The specific allegation, lodged deliberately and cogently by Feinstein, is that the CIA tried to interfere with the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into enhanced interrogation tactics (primarily waterboarding, but also other rough methods) during the Bush administration. The committee launched the investigation in 2009 after the CIA admitted, under duress, that videotapes of the interrogation techniques in question had been destroyed. The destruction of these tapes happened over the objections of the Bush White House counsel and the director of national intelligence. (See full timeline here.)

 Need some Lessons In Lying?  Read the first few paragraphs.  Also can't help but notice that when in comes to Feinstein and Reid, the NSA spying on you and me is ok, but the CIA spying on them is a no no.  The CIA, of course, is not supposed to spy domestically on anybody.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NSA pretended to be Facebook to infect millions of computers

by Andrew Couts  

As part of its efforts to install malware on “millions” of computers worldwide, the National Security Agency impersonated Facebook to trick targets into downloading malicious code.
    “In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive,” reports The Intercept in its latest expose based on top-secret documents obtained by Edward Snowden.
    “[The NSA] has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.”
    The Facebook trick was called QUANTUMHAND by the NSA, and was initially tested on “about a dozen targets” before being launched on a larger scale in 2010, the documents show.
    What began as a way to hit “hart-to-reach” targets – around 100 to 150 of them, as of 2004 – the NSA’s malware-spreading efforts have since proliferated to potentially millions of computers around the globe using an automated system known internally as TURBINE. Using TURBINE, documents reveal, gave members of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit the ability to tap into, or destroy, computers on a massive scale.
    Here’s how The Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald describe some of the various tailored malware the NSA deploys into targeted machines:
One implant, codenamed UNITEDRAKE, can be used with a variety of “plug-ins” that enable the agency to gain total control of an infected computer.
An implant plug-in named CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE, for example, is used to take over a targeted computer’s microphone and record conversations taking place near the device. Another, GUMFISH, can covertly take over a computer’s webcam and snap photographs. FOGGYBOTTOM records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords used to access websites and email accounts. GROK is used to log keystrokes. And SALVAGERABBIT exfiltrates data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer.
    The documents also indicate that some of these viruses disable targets’ ability to use encryption software to mask Internet activity or send emails privately. This and other malware efforts are part of what the NSA documents call its “Owning the Net” program.


Jaguars' protection does not extend into the Gila

Federal wildlife officials last week set aside nearly 1,200 square miles along the U.S.-Mexico border as habitat essential for the conservation of the jaguar, according to the Associated Press. That area includes neighboring Hidalgo County, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stopped short of designating the Gila National Forest as part of the endangered species' protected area, according to Pinos Altos-based Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. "While we're disappointed that the protection omits the best U.S. habitat for jaguars — the rugged Gila headwaters in New Mexico and the pine-clad Mogollon Rim in Arizona — this decision is a milestone that protects much of the borderlands that the first generation of returning jaguars is exploring and inhabiting," Robinson said through a news release. The critical habitat designation consists of six units, each containing one or more mountain ranges in which jaguars have been recorded in recent years or through which they are thought to have traveled. The designation includes the Baboquivari, Pajarito, Atascosa, Tumacacori, Patagonia, Santa Rita and Huachuca mountain ranges in Arizona; the Peloncillo Mountains that straddle the Arizona/New Mexico border; and the northern tip of the San Luis Mountains in New Mexico's bootheel region, according to a news release...more

Fortified By Global Warming, Crop Production Keeps Breaking Records

 by James Taylor

Bolstered by increasing soil moisture, longer growing seasons, warmer winters, and the fertilizing effects of more atmospheric carbon dioxide, crop production continues its long and impressive run of ever-increasing yields as global temperatures warm.

The unrelenting increase in global crop production is especially noteworthy given the Internet’s fear-mongering flavor of the week. An article sensationally titled, “Fortified by Global Warming, Deadly Fungus Poisons Crops, Causes Cancer,” has people without access to scientific data believing global warming is harming crop production. The “poison corn” article follows fresh on the heels of another Internet fear-mongering story last month. Claiming global warming is decimating wheat crops, Newsweek reported, “If humans want to keep eating pasta, we will have to take much more aggressive action against global warming.”

So if you happen to be doing an Internet search regarding global warming, you are likely to come under the impression that the latest and greatest crop data show global warming is decimating corn and wheat crops. And, given the fear-mongering Internet stories at this time last year about global warming destroying rice crops, that leaves us little to eat except liver, gruel, and whatever else global warming alarmists believe are the most unpalatable foods for human consumption.

Unfortunately for fear-mongers, I happened to be researching global crop production this week and found some politically inconvenient crop data. Notice, mind you, that none of the articles claiming global warming is causing a crop crisis ever talk about such apparently irrelevant things as crop production trends in the real world.

Global production of corn, wheat and rice have all more than doubled since 1970 as global warming occurred. Corn production, the current flavor of the week for Internet fear-mongering, has more than tripled since 1970. So, too, has global vegetable production as a whole.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports similar good news in the United States. Corn, wheat and rice production are all experiencing long-term upward trends. Indeed, corn and rice production have more than tripled since 1970.

Importantly, higher crop production is resulting from higher yields per acre rather than merely an increase in land dedicated to crop production. According to the USDA, rice yields per acre are up 45 percent since 1970, wheat yields per acre are up 50 percent since 1970, and corn yields per acre have more than doubled since 1970.

In short, global warming is creating a timely one-two punch benefiting crop production. Global warming is (1) opening up more land for economically feasible crop production and (2) creating beneficial growing conditions that are increasing yields per acre on agricultural lands.

All the fear-mongering Internet myths in the world can’t change those facts.


Cartel connection? Senator presses agency on 'Mexican military' incursion into US

Individuals in Mexican military uniforms drew their guns on a U.S. border agent earlier this year after having crossed the southwestern border into Arizona, a U.S. senator claimed, raising concerns once again that Mexican officials are illegally crossing into the U.S. and, worse, potentially aiding the drug cartels. The incident described by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would appear to be one of dozens over the past decade where Mexican military and law enforcement officers have crossed into U.S. territory. Most are presumed to be accidental, but they also raise the possibility that Mexican military members -- or individuals posing as them -- are helping drug cartels. "This incident is of concern," Coburn wrote in a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection's former acting commissioner, asking whether CBP has concerns that Mexican military members are "providing security and/or intelligence to Drug Trafficking Organizations." In the January letter, obtained by Fox News, Coburn detailed a Jan. 26 incident along the normally quiet Sasabe outpost in Arizona. The encounter played out as follows, according to the letter: A Border Patrol agent went to the scene after two individuals were spotted crossing the U.S. border. The agent found them 50 yards north of the border and "positively identified two subjects looking like Mexican Military." They were wearing tan camouflage and traveling on foot. When the agent made contact, both the agent and the two individuals drew their weapons -- they were carrying "G3, 7.62 caliber battle rifles." When the U.S. agent identified himself, and the two individuals identified themselves as part of the Mexican military's 80th Battalion, the situation "apparently cooled off." The two explained to the U.S. agent that they were pursuing three subjects in the area. Yet the U.S. agent noticed that the names they gave "did not match the name-tapes on their military uniforms." The individuals returned to Mexico after more CBP personnel made their way to the scene. Coburn asked CBP a string of questions about the incident, including whether other U.S. agencies were informed and how often this kind of incursion happens. Past reports and testimony indicate this is far from the first time Mexican personnel have crossed the U.S. border without prior permission. The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch claimed in 2008 that it had obtained documents showing 29 incursions by Mexican agents and officials in fiscal 2006. The group also reported that Department of Homeland Security records showed more than 200 such incidents between 1996 and 2005. The Washington Times in 2008 reported on another incident where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was held at gunpoint by apparent members of the Mexican military after they crossed the U.S. border. As with the incident Coburn described, the soldiers returned to Mexico after other agents arrived...more 

But its safe on the border.  Don't believe me?  Tom Udall says it is.  Besides, the Mexican Military and the cartels would never set foot in a National Monument, now would they.  Guess we could call it the Mordida Mountain Monument.  If it happens we'll see an immediate increase in tourism, even more than the Green Chamber has projected.  All coming from the south.

National watchdog group questions Forest Service ticket quotas

A Washington, DC based watchdog group is blasting top management at the US Forest service for asking forest service law officers to fulfil a quota of 100 violation notices per year. According to a press release, a PEER spokesperson said: "In a November 6, 2013 email, Aban Lucero, the Patrol Commander for the Southwest Region of the Forest Service, reiterated to his patrol captains that LEI&I Director David Ferrell is serious about law enforcement officers issuing a target number of violation notices (VNs are citations for minor offenses, such as traffic and camping violations): "Understand, Director Ferrell has clearly indicated his expectations of LEOs issuing a minimum of 100 VNs per year, and as you can see we have approximately 70% of LEOs…who fall below that number. For FY 14, I expect these numbers to increase substantially." After an Albuquerque newspaper broke the story, PEER officials said forest service officers got another memo from a different official telling them to ignore the directive. Jack Gregory, a retired US Forest Service Special Agent in charge of the Southern operation said, he had never experienced quotas during his tenure with the department, but he was aware of the concerns among his colleagues. "Nobody in the law enforcement sector likes it, it's ridiculous. Some of us who are now retired are shocked over this. This happens to be an issue with top leadership in Washington right now," said Gregory. Daniel Patterson, a regional director for PEER said the group was calling for the US forest service to clarify it's directives and to respect rangers on the ground. "They're getting these contradictory messages. We want you to write more tickets. We want you to stay in the office more, we don't want you out driving around, it costs money," said Patterson. He added, "It's a unique law enforcement position to protect public land, protect our nature and forests, we shouldn't be turning them into ticket dispensing machines to focus on minor city cop type crimes," said Patterson...more

A little more info than in yesterday's post...and damn, I have to agree with PEER.  Forest Service, how could you do this to me!

There's also this:

Officials with the Coronado National Forest and the Regional US Forest Service office in New Mexico said they were unable to answer our questions in regards to this quota, and directed us to contact their headquarters in Washington, DC.

Want to know why the Regional office wouldn't answer questions?  Because these LEOs don't report to the Regional Forester.  In 1993 they were stripped out from under the line officers and placed under Law Enforcement & Investigations in the D.C. office.  They are a completely independent organization, reporting only to the chief (and I recall one Congressional hearing where it was determined they seldom reported to the chief).  Its time to bring them back under the line managers and make them once again part of the Forest Service.

Here is the email referred to, clearly indicating they have a quota system in place.

From: Lucero, Aban -FS
Sent: Wednesday, November 06, 2013 9:56 AM
To: FS - -pdl r3 lei captains; Orona, Martin-FS; Dobson, Aaron W-FS
Cc:Poague, Robin-FS
Subject:FY 13 Officer Statistics
Good morning Captains, please see attached FY 13 Officer Statistics Report generatedthis morning. Please take a look at the numbers and share with your LEOs.You know better than I do if there is reason for concern. You know what LEOs were on details,light duty, had  recruits and so forth.Again, please address any issues yousee. Understand, Director Ferrell has clearly indicated his expectations of LEOs issuing a minimum of 100 VNs per year, and as you can see we have approximately 70% of LEOs(excluding BZ) who fall below that number. I know for FY 13 we hired new LEOs, had LEOs doing collateral duties as FTOs, LEOs on light duty and other circumstances. 

For FY 14, I expect these numbers to increase substantially......If anyone has any questions, please feel free to call me......Thank you......ABAN 
Aban Lucero
Regional Patrol Commander
Law Enforcement & Investigations
USFS Southwestern Region
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Office (505) 842

Governor Susana Martinez vetoes study of federal land transfer

Gov. Susana Martinez signed off on a $6.2 billion state budget Tuesday, but used her line-item veto power to delete salary increases for New Mexico judges, district attorneys and political appointees. In all, the Republican governor axed more than $27 million in spending proposed by the Legislature, but left intact salary increases for rank-and-file state workers and teachers of about 3 percent – their largest since 2008. State Police officers and new starting teachers are among those in line for even larger pay hikes, while higher education workers will get a 1.5 percent salary bump. In its final version, the budget for the coming fiscal year will increase state spending by about $252 million – or 4.3 percent – from this year’s level, with public education spending making up more than half of that amount. Other line-item vetoes included: $250,000 for a study on the feasibility of the state acquiring land under the ownership of the federal Bureau of Land Management...more

'Nobody's going to get the amount of water they are hoping for,' says secretary of the interior

President Barack Obama's lead adviser on water and wildlife toured the enormous south Delta export pumps Tuesday, examining the roaring, 22,500-horsepower pumps before cautioning that no one would receive all the water they need this year. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell told reporters that state and federal governments will have to be flexible to make the best use of a limited amount of water. "Mother Nature has created this drought," she said. "This drought is not created by the Bureau of Reclamation or the state of California. Working together, we can put as much flexibility in place as possible to satisfy as many users as possible, recognizing that nobody's going to get the amount of water they are hoping for." Events of the past week, however, show how difficult it might be to manage the state's vast water infrastructure in the coming months. Recent storms temporarily boosted the amount of water flowing through the Delta, west of Stockton. But by the middle of last week, San Joaquin Valley farmers had grown frustrated because most of that water was not being pumped their way. Instead, it was left in rivers flowing toward the ocean. "I ask you, is this the balance that you anticipated?" Dan Nelson, general manager of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, asked a state water official at a drought workshop in Merced last week. "Is this the balance you anticipated? I don't think so." By last weekend, exports from the state and federal pumps near Tracy had increased to more than 7,000 cubic feet per second combined. That's enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in 12 seconds. The farmers down south were getting more water. But now the additional pumping was beginning to harm fish. As the pumps cranked up, Delta streams began running backward toward the pumps at a higher rate. Endangered winter-run Chinook salmon were sucked into the pumps - a total of 121 juvenile salmon in the past week, according to government records. More than two dozen steelhead and a few splittail and longfin smelt also began to show up at the pumps. "It's crucial that pumping be restrained while baby salmon that have so far survived the drought pass through and around the Delta," said John McManus, director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association...more