Saturday, June 28, 2014

Body of missing firefighter found in California wilderness

A California firefighter who disappeared two weeks ago after chasing after his dog during a backpacking trip was found dead Friday, authorities said. The body of Mike Herdman, 36, was found in a rugged cliff area about three-quarters of a mile and 1,200 feet above the river bottom where he was last seen June 13, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said. A pilot who was dropping off ground searchers spotted the body, which through dental records officials identified to be Herdman. Herdman and a friend were on a four-day backpacking trip in the Los Padres National Forest river bottom when his dog, Duke, ran off. The firefighter chased after his pet barefoot and wearing only shorts and a T-shirt. The friend, identified as Taylor Byars, left a pack of supplies for Herdman and set off to find help. Firefighter Drew Pryor told that Herdman had backpacked the area several times and had a lot of experience with similar terrain, but it was Byars first time on a backpacking trip. Sgt. Eric Buchow said Byars was later found by two fisherman "disoriented, dehydrated, confused and he was lost," reported. Buchow said the fisherman helped Byars get to authorities to set off the large-scale search. Dean said search crews put in about 5,000 hours and scoured 50 square miles on foot, on horseback and by air — including the use of two drones. Dean said searchers focused on areas they thought Herdman could get to because they didn't think someone without shoes would scale a 1,200-foot mountainside. "Nobody could imagine that he was able to travel that far," the sheriff said....more

Friday, June 27, 2014

Meltdown: Border Patrol Agents Test Positive for Diseases Brought In by the Flood of Illegal Aliens

Mexico was once known for its tough handling of its southern border with Belize and Guatemala. Not anymore. At least 52,000 illegal aliens have managed to cross Mexico and reach the US border in the past few months. Many of them are kids. Some of them are hardcore criminals. With Hizballah known to be active in South America and Mexico, who knows who else may be using this moment to slip into the US?
Our broken visa system remains the easiest way for terrorists to get here and stay here. But a porous border doesn’t help security. The illegal aliens are bringing diseases. There is one known case of swine flu in San Antonio already, directly linked to the border surge. CBS buries a serious lead at the end of this story. According to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX): “I’ve talked to border patrol down in McAllen. They’ve seen TB; they’ve seen chicken pox; they’ve seen scabies. And according to Border Patrol, 4 or 5 of their agents have tested positive for those diseases.” What will that do to morale in the Border Patrol?...more

Headphones prevent hiker from hearing wolf attack his dog

While little Mosca the Jack Russell terrier was being noisily killed by wolves earlier this month in Chugach State Park just above Anchorage, the dog's owner was hiking along a trail to Wolverine Peak unaware of what was going on because he was wearing headphones. Hikers high on the 4,491-foot mountain clearly visible from Alaska's largest city said they heard a dog fight going on far below, but weren't sure what was happening. "We heard this dog barking,'' one of them said. "This dog was just like going crazy.'' They were baffled as to the reason for the noise until after they met Brandon Ward on the trail yelling "Mosca! Mosca! Mosca!'' He told the hikers he was looking for his lost white dog. The dog, Ward told them, had run away. "He didn't hear his dog run away,'' one of the hikers said. "He had headphones in. He didn't even hear his dog barking.'' Alaska wildlife biologists and others have been warning for years about the dangers of running in the wilds while listening to music on headphones. "Use your senses to stay aware. No headphones!" proclaims the municipality's official "Bear Aware" website. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game three years ago eliminated an entire pack at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson after those wolves developed a taste for dogs. The biologists were concerned the wolves might injure, possibly even kill, someone trying to defend a pet...more

Read more here:

VA hospitals fund solar panels while veterans wait for doctors

Veterans Administration hospitals have spent at least $420 million on solar panels and windmills while vets wait months — or even lay dying — to see a doctor. In total, VA hospitals reported 23 deaths due to 76 instances of delayed care, an April 2014 VA fact sheet said. Then on June 5, Acting Veteran Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson revealed that at least 18 Phoenix patients died while waiting for treatment on a secret list kept off the books. It is not clear if that number is in addition to the 23 deaths reported earlier. During the past month, the scandal has resulted in the resignations of both the VA secretary and the leaders of its health care component. According to a June 3 audit, 100,000 veterans had lengthy wait times for appointments. Of the nation’s 216 VA hospitals, 37 percent will require further investigation. A whistleblower revealed Tuesday that seven of the patients listed on the Phoenix VA hospitals waiting list are already dead. That same Phoenix facility spent $20 million to build the nation’s largest solar carport. Phase one of the project was completed in 2011. The hospital also had an $11.4 million shortfall that year, an Inspector General’s report stated...more

Mexican police helicopter crossed into Arizona, fired shots, say US officials

Tucson, Ariz. — Mexican law enforcement on Thursday crossed into Arizona by helicopter and fired two shots at U.S. border agents, a border patrol union leader says. A Mexican law enforcement chopper crossed about 100 yards north into the Arizona desert, the U.S. Border Patrol said in a statement. The helicopter then fired two shots on the Tohono O'Odham Indian Nation, which sits on the border. Border patrol union leaders say the Mexicans fired at agents but that none of them were hurt. However, Mexican authorities have denied shooting at agents and say they were under attack during a mission to find smugglers on the border. Tomás Zerón, the director of the Mexican attorney general's office investigative office, said that Mexican military and federal police who were conducting an operation on a ranch in Altar, Sonora, were shot at by criminals. Mexican authorities never fired any weapons and in fact never crossed into the U.S. side of the border, he said. Art del Cueto, president of the local border patrol union, said four agents were in a marked patrol vehicle when they were shot at. "They could say they didn't fire at the agents intentionally. But for them to say that they were no shots fired within the United States, toward the United States Border Patrol, is a lie. They got in contact with our managers and apologized for the incident," del Cueto said. The Mexican helicopter was 15 yards from the border agents when they were came under fire, Del Cueto said. He's also concerned that Tucson sector officials didn't notify the next shift of border agents that there had been a shooting, he said...more

On The Border - Texas Ranchers Under Attack

Proposal to downgrade the wood stork from "endangered" to "threatened" creates controversy

The iconic wood stork is making a comeback from the verge of extinction, a success story for a long-legged wading bird that breeds primarily in the western Everglades. But Audubon Florida leaders, while celebrating the comeback, say federal officials were much too quick to downgrade the wood stork from "endangered" to "threatened." Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made the announcement Thursday at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, a rookery in Georgia, saying the bird's recovery shows the value of the Endangered Species Act. When wood storks were listed as endangered in 1984, their population was dropping at a rate of 5 percent a year. Since then, the population has doubled, with nesting pairs ranging from 7,086 to 10,147. Audubon Florida immediately objected, saying the wood stork's habitat has actually decreased, especially in the western Everglades...more

Notice the enviros' concern is not about the number of wood storks, its about the habitat.  This is really about their ability to influence or control land use.  That's why they sue to get'em on the list and sue again to keep'em on.  "It's one step closer to de-listing it, which we think would be inappropriate" says the Audubon spokesman.

Interior seeks ban on 5 more species of giant snakes

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking more public comment on a proposal to add five types of giant snakes to an existing federal python ban. Officials have proposed adding boa constrictors, reticulated pythons and three species of anacondas to the ban that already prohibits anyone from importing Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas and northern and southern African pythons into the U.S. or transporting them across state lines. Comments may be submitted online through July 24. The North Carolina-based United States Association of Reptile Keepers has sued the federal government to overturn the ban, saying an initial proposal to ban all nine snake species cost its members tens of millions of dollars. Attorneys for the wildlife service and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.  AP

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Court asked to speed up Canada lynx recovery work

Wildlife advocates want a federal judge to order faster action on a recovery plan for imperiled Canada lynx, after wildlife officials said it could take until 2018 to finish the long-delayed work. The U.S. government declared the snow-loving big cats a threatened species across the Lower 48 states in 2000. But officials haven't come up with a mandated recovery plan, citing budget limitations and competing concerns from other troubled species. After a federal judge in Montana criticized the long delay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered to complete the work by early 2018. A coalition of wildlife advocacy groups says that's not soon enough. They're asking U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to order the work done by late 2016. Lynx dwell in the forest, where they're rarely seen, and there's no reliable estimate of their population. They range across parts of 14 states in the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and the Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon. Lynx are about the size of a bobcat, with large paws that help the predator stay on top of the deep snow typical through its range. Those paws also make it easier to capture its primary prey, snowshoe hares. Threats to its survival vary across its range and include timber harvesting, development and other factors. The government has designated large areas in the West as critical habitat for lynx in recent years. A pending proposal would expand that designation to about 28,000 square miles of public land, primarily in northern Montana and the region surrounding Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. But an attorney for the wildlife advocates said the designations amount to a "paper exercise" in the absence of a recovery plan's detailed road map for protecting lynx...more

Moo Rules - NM Dairy industry and environmental groups clash on groundwater protections

About 60 percent of New Mexico’s dairies are polluting groundwater, according to the state Environment Department’s Groundwater Quality Bureau. Since nearly all New Mexicans depend on groundwater for at least some part of their drinking water supply and water is a diminishing resource in the state, it seems logical that preventing further pollution by dairies should be a priority. That’s not what appears to be happening now. Although the state adopted new regulations for wastewater discharge for the dairy industry earlier this year, an environmental coalition says those regulations aren’t in play. Furthermore, the dairy industry is insisting on further revisions, which the coalition says will allow the industry to continue operating under outdated methods that threaten the state’s groundwater. “My primary concern is the preservation of water quality,” says Jon Block, a staff attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center who is providing legal counsel for the Citizen Coalition, a collection of environmental groups. On the other side of the debate is the Dairy Industry Group for a Clean Environment (DIGCE), an organization comprised of members from New Mexico’s dairies. In 2009, the group gave testimony to the Environment Department and Water Quality Control Commission in a series of meetings. The body adopted a set of pollution regulations for dairies. But, now, after five years of negotiations to create what has become known as the “Dairy Rule,” dairy industry representatives say they want to change the rules again. The biggest contention between the two groups is about the way pollution is detected and prevented...more

Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming

More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil. That is a picture of what may happen to the United States economy in a world of unchecked global warming, according to a major new report released Tuesday by a coalition of senior political and economic figures from the left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration. At a time when the issue of climate change has divided the American political landscape, pitting Republicans against Democrats and even fellow party members against one another, the unusual bipartisan alliance of political veterans said that the country — and business leaders in particular — must wake up to the enormous scale of the economic risk. “The big ice sheets are melting; something’s happening,” George P. Shultz, who was Treasury secretary under President Richard M. Nixon and secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. He noted that he had grown concerned enough about global warming to put solar panels on his own California roof and to buy an electric car. “I say we should take out an insurance policy.” The former Treasury secretaries — including Henry M. Paulson Jr., a Republican who served under President George W. Bush, and Robert E. Rubin, a Democrat in the Clinton administration — promised to help sound the alarm. All endorse putting a price on greenhouse gases, most likely by taxing emissions. The campaign behind the new report, calledRisky Business, is funded largely by three wealthy financiers who are strong advocates of action on global warming: Mr. Paulson, who with his wife, Wendy, has helped finance conservation efforts for decades; Thomas F. Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund executive and Democrat who is pushing to make global warming a central issue in political races around the country; and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, who now urges cities to confront the threat of climate change...more

Washington land grab targets the Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota

In the wake of a Bundy Ranch crisis sparked by a militarized federal land-grab effort in Nevada, it seems that the Department of Interior has set its sights on a new prize - this time targeting once protected Indian reservation land on Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

By Patrick Henningsen 

The Oglala Sioux and Lakota Sioux of the reservation have been told by the Federal Government that the National Parks Service will be taking land that comprises the South Unit of the Badlands National Park as a new ‘Tribal National Park’, only the wording in the bill clearly indicates that it will be a federally managed national park under the Department of Interior, giving mere lip service to its tribal title. The Congressional bill has already been written, and if passed through Congress, both tribal members and non tribal members will be stripped of their deeded land – at a price set by the federal government. If owners do not accept Washington’s offer (expected to be a meager one), the land can be acquired at no cost because the measure has waived all appraisal rights and stipulates that Washington can simply take Indian land by force under ‘eminent domain’.

Thousands of tribe members will be affected by the land-grab. Some residents will be forced to relocate, and many more others will lose their income from grazing allotments on the land – a result which will ultimately force any remaining independent cattle ranchers out of business. In addition to all this, Tribal members will lose their share of income from entrance fees collected at the adjacent North Gate of the Badlands National Park – a punitive measure which will further compound the existing economic depression on a reservation where the average annual income is around $8,000 per year.

Washington may be pining for yet another ‘Wounded Knee’, as many residents and tribal members are prepared to stand their ground in the face of a federal imperialist policy inside US borders - a trend which many Americans have experienced first-hand, particularly in western states like Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Tribal member and local cattle rancher Bud May believes the issue is not confined to Pine Ridge.
May states, “There is a feeling of common cause between attached parties on this issue – namely tribes and other reservations. The bottom line is we’ll all be under dictatorial control if something is not done quick”.

‘Cowboys and Indian’ in Common Cause

The federal land-grab crisis was elevated to national news in April when Nevada independent rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters stood toe to toe in an armed standoff with the the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over Bundy’s private property and land rights which trace back to 1870′s.
Lory Storm, a Nebraska radio host who has been following recent developments at Pine Ridge describes the synergy now happening between what were previously strange bedfellows. Storm explains,

“The difference between this situation and the Bundy Ranch conflict? It will be the first time in the history of our Country that the Cowboys and Indians pose a united front against a federal government that is used to winning battles by first dividing and then conquering.”

Already, many land owners are taking the position that they will not comply with the latest order from the government – leaving many to wonder whether this potential standoff will become the third ‘Wounded Knee’ incident involving a standoff between the Sioux Nation and the US Federal government.
June 25th is the anniversary of the infamous conflict...

Lawmakers Fight Forest Service Directive to Seize State Waters

Members warn new Directive will restrict Americans’ access to public lands and interfere with state and private water rights.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), Congressional Western Caucus co-chairs Stevan Pearce (R-NM) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) as well as House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and House Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA), joined 38 other lawmakers in sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that the U.S. Forest Service’s recently proposed Groundwater Resource Management Directive (Directive) will restrict access to public lands and interfere with state and private water rights. 

The Directive would initiate the Forest Service’s authority over state-managed groundwater resources claiming that surface water and groundwater is “hydraulically interconnected” and that the agency could object to state-regulated projects on “adjacent” land that purportedly harm groundwater.

In their letter, the lawmakers warn that this Directive, which was proposed without state or local input, will encourage litigation, restrict Americans’ access to our public lands and potentially interfere with adjacent state, local and private land and water rights.  

“Like other proposals stemming from this Administration, including the Forest Service Planning Rule, the Interim Directive on Ski Area Special Use Permits, the Blueways Secretarial Order and the proposed Clean Water Act Jurisdictional rule, this Directive seeks to further federalize water resources at the expense of state authority.  This sweeping proposal additionally seeks to impose water use restrictions and deny agricultural, recreational, and other economic activity in 155 National Forests and their adjacent state, local and private neighbors in 40 states.  The end result could be lost jobs and reduced recreational access to public lands, with little or no environmental benefit,” Caucus Members wrote.

In addition to Barrasso, Pearce, Lummis, Hastings and McClintock, the letter was signed by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), James Risch (R-ID), David Vitter (R-LA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Walter Jones (R-NC), Don Young (R-AK), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Paul Broun (R-GA), Jason Smith (R-MO), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Eric Crawford (R-AR), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Billy Long (R-MO) and Adrian Smith (R-NE).

The full text of the letter:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack


U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:


We are troubled by the U.S. Forest Service’s recently proposed Groundwater Resource Management Directive (Directive) to manage water resources purportedly impacting National Forest System (NFS) lands.

Like other proposals stemming from this Administration, including the Forest Service Planning Rule, the Interim Directive on Ski Area Special Use Permits, the Blueways Secretarial Order and the proposed Clean Water Act Jurisdictional rule, this Directive seeks to further federalize water resources at the expense of state authority.  This sweeping proposal additionally seeks to impose water use restrictions and deny agricultural, recreational, and other economic activity in 155 National Forests and their adjacent state, local and private neighbors in 40 states.  The end result could be lost jobs and reduced recreational access to public lands, with little or no environmental benefit.  

              The Directive specifically seeks to “[m]anage surface water and groundwater resources as hydraulically interconnected,”[1] laying the groundwork for unilateral, federally-imposed mandates on the exercise of state-endowed water rights.  The Directive further requires Forest Service cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency[2] and an evaluation of “applications for water rights on adjacent land that could adversely affect NFS groundwater resources and identify any potential injury to those resources.”[3]  In addition, the Directive appears to expand or modify permit requirements relating to climate change that could impact water users adjacent to NFS groundwater resources.[4]  These and other provisions would impose a chilling effect on existing and future water resource development and the uses dependent on that development not only within NFS lands but outside these lands. 


We are further concerned that this Directive will lead to regulations that undermine the Forest Service’s statutory multiple-use responsibilities for managing the nation’s national forests and grasslands.  The proposed Directive could also encourage litigation and impose de facto federal buffer zones on water users and job creators adjacent to NFS lands.  In addition, this action has been pursued without the initial and necessary input from impacted states, farmers, recreationists and ranchers and many others who would be directly impacted by this Directive.  

This proposal has reinforced our belief that the Forest Service is continuing its action to override state water laws.  We therefore urge you to withdraw this ill-timed and punitive Directive.

2 Id, p. 9.

3 Id, p. 17.


Scientists ask Obama to protect old growth forest

More than 75 U.S. and Canadian scientists have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for a policy to preserve what remains of America's old-growth forest. The scientists include two former chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service, Jack Ward Thomas and Mike Dombeck. They say less than 10 percent of the old-growth forest before European settlement is still intact Only fragments remain in the eastern United States and the largest trees in the Pacific Northwest were targeted more than a century ago. The largest extent of remaining old-growth forest is in southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest but faces the threat of logging, the scientists said. Owen Graham, director of the Alaska Forest Association, said the Forest Service has been carefully planning appropriate timber sales and should be left to do its job. "I presume those scientists' salaries don't rely on timber harvest or any other sort of resource development," he said...more

Downtown cattle drive re-enacts local history

Hundreds of cowboy movies always show that at the end of the trail, the herd of cattle is driven through town to the rail yards. It's a taste of real life Belle Fourche history for Roundup crowds again this year because, in the early days, that's exactly what would happen. Roundup crowds have a chance to see that re-creation of Belle Fourche history at 3 p.m. Thursday, July 3. It's the fifth annual Roundup Downtown Cattle Drive. A perfect example of the end of trail ride past cowtown businesses came in the 1972 John Wayne classic movie The Cowboys. That's the single Hollywood production that covers a cattle drive to Belle Fourche in the late 1800s. The movie may have been a little loose with times and places, but Belle Fourche was indeed America’s biggest livestock railhead. Ranchers from the early 1890s would gather a trail crew and supply a chuckwagon for cowboy meals as they prepared to drive thousands of cattle across the prairie to market. Today’s ranchers are more likely to use trucks to move smaller groups of cattle to market throughout the year instead of a single annual herd of thousands. But short-run drives remain common in 2013 as they were in 1891 or 1911. In the early decades of Belle Fourche through the 1930s, cattle trails remained a major way to bring livestock to market. Experienced professionals such as the famed “Boss Cowman” Ed Lemmon were hired to ensure good grass and water for drives to cattle buyers and stock pens at the edge of town...more

School Principals Use Police Against Parents with Gun Permits

Two principals in widely separated states tried to use police against parents with gun permits.   Both principals ended up on the losing side, when the parents refused to fold, and took them to court.  In the most recent case, the principal at Stratton Elementary School in Massachusetts contacted police after the father showed the principal his gun permit.   The father had come to talk to the principal about a drawing the son had made.  From

The principal said the boy had drawn a phallic symbol, but 40-year-old Robert Goodwin said his son had actually drawn a gun similar to one he’d seen in ‘Despicable Me.’

Goodwin then reportedly took out his gun permit and the principal notified police.
The police charge Goodwin with threatening the principal, suspended his gun permit, and confiscated a rifle from his home:
Officers later went to his home where they took away a hunting rifle; his gun license has also been suspended.
Under oath, the principal admitted that he did not feel threatened, and the charges were dropped.   There is no mention of whether the rifle was returned or the gun permit restored.
When questioned under oath, the principal told a clerk magistrate he did not feel threatened.
By itself, this is an interesting story:  A principal using the police to harass a gun owner.   It reminded me of another story out of Georgia that had a similar theme.  In it, the principal had contacted the police to ban the parent from school because she had a picture of her carry permit on her facebook page.   From

In what I’d call a severe case of overreacting, Army veteran Tanya Mount was banned from her disabled daughter’s elementary school after she posted a photo of her concealed weapons permit online.
The mother, who often volunteered at the school, said she was approached by a police officer near campus one day and warned that Principal Janina Dallas had filed a “no trespass order” against Mount.
Tanya Mount transferred her daughter to a different school.   The principal later claimed that the permit was not the reason for banning Ms. Mount from the school.   A settlement was reached in which the school paid $1,000 and legal fees, according to
 Tanya Mount said she'll receive $1,000 and an undisclosed amount for legal expenses.
Taken separately, these two cases might be dismissed as odd incidents.  Together they reinforce the idea of schools as intolerant, politically correct bastions of citizen disarmament orthodoxy.   How many of these cases exist, where the victim with the permit did not have the courage or wherewithal to fight the system in the courts?  How many of these cases never make the news, because most police have more sense?  I would appreciate any information about other cases.

 ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

Major Ruling Shields Privacy of Cellphones

WASHINGTON — In a sweeping victory for privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. While the decision will offer protection to the 12 million people arrested every year, many for minor crimes, its impact will most likely be much broader. The ruling almost certainly also applies to searches of tablet and laptop computers, and its reasoning may apply to searches of homes and businesses and of information held by third parties like phone companies. “This is a bold opinion,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “It is the first computer-search case, and it says we are in a new digital age. You can’t apply the old rules anymore.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, was keenly alert to the central role that cellphones play in contemporary life. They are, he said, “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” But he added that old principles required that their contents be protected from routine searches. One of the driving forces behind the American Revolution, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, was revulsion against “general warrants,” which “allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity.” “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand,” the chief justice also wrote, “does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought.” The government has been on a surprising losing streak in cases involving the use of new technologies by the police. In Wednesday’s case and in a 2012 decision concerning GPS devices, the Supreme Court’s precedents had supported the government. “But the government got zero votes in those two cases,” Professor Kerr said. The courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence. But Chief Justice Roberts said neither justification made much sense in the context of cellphones. While the police may examine a cellphone to see if it contains, say, a razor blade, he wrote, “once an officer has secured a phone and eliminated any potential physical threats, however, data on the phone can endanger no one.”...more

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

EPA Employees Told to Stop Pooping in the Hallway

Environmental Protection Agency workers have done some odd things recently. Contractors built secret man caves in an EPA warehouse, an employee pretended to work for the CIA to get unlimited vacations and one worker even spent most of his time on the clock looking at pornography. It appears, however, that a regional office has reached a new low: Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.  In the email, obtained by Government Executive, Deputy Regional Administrator Howard Cantor mentioned “several incidents” in the building, including clogging the toilets with paper towels and “an individual placing feces in the hallway” outside the restroom. Confounded by what to make of this occurrence, EPA management “consulted” with workplace violence “national expert” John Nicoletti, who said that hallway feces is in fact a health and safety risk. He added the behavior was “very dangerous” and the individuals responsible would “probably escalate” their actions...more

What's the big deal?  EPA has been "pooping" on us for years.

White House, Liberal Billionaire Launch Global Warming Scare Campaign

The White House and its environmentalist allies have begun another major push to warn the public of the dangers of global warming. A major report released by a group co-chaired by San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer highlighting the potential economic damages of global warming and a series of events planned by the White House will potentially help Democrats build support for President Obama’s climate agenda. On Tuesday, the group Risky Business put out a report attempting to quantify the economic damages from the impacts of global warming, including sea level rises, heat waves and lower crop yields. The day the report came out, Politico reported that the White House unveiled “a series of events this week to shine a spotlight on the economic consequences of climate change” which included a discussion with Steyer, whose group conducted the study. The White House’s planned events mark the “one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s high-profile climate change speech,” reports Politico. Not only is the White House planning on holding events, they will also be meeting with Steyer on Wednesday to discuss the economic impacts of global warming. Reuters reports that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House officials will meet with Steyer, former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and others involved in the Risky Business report. This meeting with Steyer comes after a meeting on Tuesday with White House officials and insurance industry representatives. The meeting included Obama advisers John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett who sat down with insurers and reinsurers to “discuss the economic consequences of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather and the insurance industry’s role in helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other impacts of climate change,” a White House official told Reuters. But that’s not all for the White House. President Obama will give a speech Wednesday night at a dinner hosted by the environmental group the League of Conservation Voters — the group that has spent millions backing pro-climate policy candidates...more

Obama administration hearings in Hawaii incite racial disputes

A proposal by the Obama administration to create a new relationship with ethnic Hawaiians backfired on the administration Monday as native Hawaiians rallied in force against the proposal to reestablish a “government-to-government relationship” between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community. The U.S. Department of Interior, here in Hawaii on the president’s behalf, is holding a series of “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making” hearings about the plan to “more effectively implement the special political and trust relationship that currently exists between the Federal government and the Native Hawaiian community.” The capitol auditorium was so packed Monday, organizers sent the overflowing crowd to other rooms in the capitol to view the hearing remotely. The vast majority of native Hawaiians who testified were indignant, and even outraged, that the federal government would try to insert itself or side with any native Hawaiian faction vying to take power away from other Hawaiians by officially organizing and negotiating. They scolded, shouted at, and questioned the motives of, Interior Department officials. University of Hawaii Hawaiian studies professor Jonathan Osorio said the Department of interior should not intervene and impose additional “aggression upon our nation.” While the debate is stirring up an already racially divided community, constitutional experts are arguing The White House and Department of Interior have no legal right to create such a relationship and has no business holding these hearings in the first place. Former Hawaii State Attorney General Michael Lilly said at a recent forum that unlike native Americans, native Hawaiians have no tribe, and therefore the United States cannot enter into a treaty relationship. “The current effort to recognize a separate ethnic tribe by the Department of the Interior is unconstitutional because, under the Constitution, it is the Congress that has the plenary power to recognize tribes and ratify treaties. That power does not reside in the Executive branch of the federal government or with the various states. So the current effort aimed at creating a tribe of Hawaiians has no legal basis,” Lilly said...more

Part of Colorado River declared National Water Trail

A stretch of the Colorado River through the nation’s driest state has been named a National Water Trail by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. The Black Canyon Water Trail, as it is now known, takes in a 30-mile stretch of the Colorado from the downstream side of Hoover Dam to the mouth of Eldorado Canyon, south of Boulder City. It is the first such designation of a boating trail in the Southwest and the first to traverse a desert. In announcing the designation Tuesday, Jewell said the scenic route through Black Canyon joins “a distinctive national network of exemplary water trails” that have won recognition since 2012 as part of a federal initiative to encourage tourism and stewardship. The stretch of river is already managed by the National Park Service as part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The designation comes with no additional money or restrictions on public access...more

Hunting on Public Lands at Risk Following Petition Attack on Traditional Ammo

You may have seen the news that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), along with other anti-hunting groups and individuals, filed a petition with the Interior Department demanding rules against hunting with traditional ammunition on public lands – one-fifth of the total land area in the U.S. We warned this was coming after their playbook was discovered. After all, this is the same HSUS that is run by Wayne Pacelle, who has made his goals known:  “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.” (The Kingman Daily Miner, 30 December 1991). “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” (Full Cry Magazine, 1 October 1990). The 50 page-petition is littered with junk science and fails to make the case that the use of traditional ammunition is a threat to wildlife populations or to humans that would warrant such a drastic action. Are we really to believe USUS finds hunting acceptable just so long as hunters use alternative ammunition?  Hunters, sportsmen and target shooters aren’t gullible.  We know better than to trust HSUS with setting hunting policy for the entire country. But we can’t assume the Obama Administration’s Interior Department is on our side. Call Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today at 202-208-3181 and tell her to reject this scientifically baseless petition from HSUS to ban traditional ammunition. Let the Department of the Interior know that requiring the use of alternative, non-lead ammunition, is nothing more than a back-door way to ban hunting by raising the price of participating in an American sporting tradition...more

New Mexico makes progress against feral pigs with $1M eradication program

State and federal wildlife managers in New Mexico are making progress in their fight against feral pigs. They say they have eliminated the majority of invasive porkers from 10 counties, and progress is being made in another seven counties where the pigs have taken up residency. Alan May, state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Service Division in Albuquerque, said federal hunters tracked down and eliminated about 700 pigs last year as part of a $1 million pilot project. Most of the work was done across New Mexico's eastern plains. Most of the pigs removed were female, which should put a dent in the population's ability to multiply. The results have been good despite some uncooperative private landowners hindering the effort, he said. "We will continue to work with those few folks to explain the importance of what we're trying to do so we can hopefully achieve statewide eradication someday," May said. Feral pigs have made themselves at home across more than three quarters of the U.S. and are responsible for an estimated $1.5 billion in damages each year. In one year alone, federal managers trapped and killed more than 32,000 pigs from 28 states and collected thousands of samples to check for the nearly three dozen diseases feral pigs are capable of carrying and passing on to humans, livestock and other wildlife. Ranchers and farmers have complained for years about the damage feral pigs can cause. But the loss of crops and the spread of noxious weeds by the pigs are proving to be more challenging in times of drought. Eradication efforts in the northeastern corner of the state will continue, but the new focus will include two counties in New Mexico's Bootheel region, officials said...more

Dire Drought Forecast For Wichita Falls Region

A North Texas city experiencing its worst drought on record may face a decade or longer of persistent hot, dry weather, state and federal climatologists warned at a public forum Tuesday. Wichita Falls, about 110 miles northwest of Fort Worth, will likely need to undertake costly programs to retrieve or treat water as its reservoirs fall to dangerous lows, the experts said. The forum, among a half dozen gatherings organized by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration across the U.S. Southern Plains, focused on preservation efforts, climate forecasts and financial assistance available to those whose businesses have suffered from a lack of water. Drinking water supplies for about 150,000 users around Wichita Falls have fallen precipitously from nearly 90 percent capacity before the drought began in late 2010 to less than a quarter of capacity, according to the Texas Water Development Board. The city has banned irrigation, attempted to increase rainfall with cloud seeding and is now awaiting approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which regulates public water sources, for a toilet-to-tap reuse program. Still, the city’s reservoirs are on a trajectory to run dry by August 2016...more

For Nevada ag producers, ‘it’s just getting worse and worse’

Dan Knisley stands at drought’s ground zero. In a field where wheat grew last year, there’s now little but stubble and dirt. There’s no water to allow planting and like many farmers in the Lovelock area — one of the places hit hardest by a drought now three years in duration — Knisley is forced to leave fields bare. “It is a grief to be a farmer without water and not be able to plant or harvest or be involved with what you like to do in life,” said Knisley, 50 and a third-generation Lovelock farmer and rancher. “When you watch the land die, that kind of stuff is no fun,” Knisley said. Agriculture, a mainstay Nevada industry deeply rooted in history, is feeling some of the biggest impacts from a drought many call historic in its intensity. It’s being felt at fields tilled by farmers like Knisley. It’s being felt on the open range, where cattle crunch across a dry landscape in search of limited forage and scarce drinking water. The country’s most arid state is no stranger to drought. Its farmers and ranchers are no strangers to dealing with it. Still, many agree this event stands out and stands out in a big way. “It’s the worst that I’ve seen, without a doubt,” said Jay Davison, a Fallon-based crops specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.  While spring rains helped improve a dismal scenario for cattle grazing on public land, the situation remains serious, and “conditions have stressed all resources on the public lands making grazing throughout most of Nevada unsustainable at permitted levels,” according to a May 16 statement issued by the Bureau of Land Management. “It’s just getting worse and worse. These are really dry conditions,” said Mark Coca, vegetation management specialist at Nevada BLM. BLM has asked some ranchers to voluntarily halt grazing in some hard-hit areas and more decisions affecting grazing on public land are likely later this summer, Coca said, adding that similar problems exist in other western states hit hard by drought. Water hauling has been authorized in some locations, he said...more

Court renews NSA phone program

The federal court overseeing the country’s spy agencies renewed an order Friday allowing the National Security Agency to collect phone records of people in the United States. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s renewal of the contested program, authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, comes as lawmakers continue to debate reform legislation. “Given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program,” the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a joint statement. The NSA’s bulk collection of phone "metadata," such as which numbers people dial and how long they talk, was one of the most controversial programs revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last summer. The program requires renewal by the secretive spy court every 90 days. Some privacy advocates have urged the Obama administration not to ask for reauthorization while Congress debates a measure to effectively end the program. The program is “not effective,” “unconstitutional” and “has been misused,” more than two-dozen groups wrote in a letter this week.  Administration officials have said that the program is necessary to track terrorists and foreign agents and have rejected calls to end or significantly reform the program without legislation from Congress...more

Sorry, but this news item just tickles the hell out of me

SEATTLE – A 70 year old woman is stopped by three young men with a gun right outside her Seattle home. They got her keys, but they didn’t get away with her car. That’s because when the would-be thieves got in Nancy Fredrickson’s car, they discovered it was a stick shift. None of them knew how to drive a manual, so they ended up ditching the car and running away. Nancy Fredrickson had just returned home yesterday afternoon, after buying some things at a garage sale. She was getting her purchases out of her trunk three young men approached her and told her they wanted her car keys. She says at first she thought it was a joke. “But he said again I want your car keys,” she says. “That’s when I saw the gun.” Fredrickson threw her keys on the ground. Even though she’s got a black belt in karate, she says she was trained on when to fight and when not to. As a 70 year old woman, she knew she didn’t stand a chance against a gun. “I’m glad I didn’t panic, I was proud of myself.” It was the thieves who panicked, when they got into the KIA and discovered it was a stick shift. “I could hear them trying. They put the keys in, they turned the lock, but they couldn’t figure out how to get it started.”...more

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CBD pushes plan to reintroduce grizzly bears in Southwest

The Center for Biological Diversity this week petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work to return grizzly bears to the Grand Canyon, the Gila/Mogollon complex and other areas of the Southwest. The petition cited 110,000 square miles of potential bear habitat - in Arizona, New Mexico, the Sierra Nevada in California and Utah's Uinta Mountains - that could allow the introduction of up to 4,000 grizzly bears in the West. "This animal is very much revered," said Noah Greenwald, the center's endangered species director. "They are an iconic symbol of wilderness and our past." At least one critic called the plan a waste of taxpayer dollars for a proposal that is "playing God." But Greenwald said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to revise its 1993 grizzly bear recovery plan, which he said is outdated.  Gavin Shire, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman, would only say that the agency has received the center's petition and is reviewing its content. Greenwald said he expects to hear back from the agency within six months, but said that the overall process of reintroducing bears would be an ongoing one that could take years...more

White House Plans Another Big Climate Push

One year after President Barack Obama rolled out his climate change action plan, the administration is putting fresh emphasis on its environmental agenda. The White House plans to host two roundtable discussions this week on the economic threats that climate change poses and the "opportunities to overcome those risks," a White House official said in an email Monday night, which emphasized the potential costs of not addressing planet-warming emissions. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House leaders also plan to meet with billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on Wednesday to discuss a report they will release this week titled, "Risky Business," which assess the economic costs of climate change. Steyer and Paulson are the co-chairs for the report. Steyer, a former hedge fund manager turned environmental activist, has pledged to spend $100 million backing political candidates who support action on climate change through his political group, NextGen Climate Action. He has focused much of his political work on opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration is considering for possible approval. Lew, White House advisers John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Kathryn Sullivan and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate on Tuesday will meet with insurance industry representatives on climate impacts. Obama himself will address the annual dinner of the League of Conservation Voters on Wednesday night. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell plan to speak earlier Wednesday at an event sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters. The group is the biggest electoral spender among environmental groups...more

The grand compromise: The search for a public lands resolution

Imagine Rob Bishop with his head under the hood of a car and a line of people behind him telling him the best way to fix it. That's the scenario for the Utah congressman, the "car" in this case the delicate issue of federal lands oversight in Utah, and few would dispute the current system is a junker, rife with lawsuits, stalemates and uncertainty. Bishop, a Republican, has spent the past 20 months as the fixer mechanic, brokering a public lands initiative process that attempts to meld a legislative solution to land use issues in seven Utah counties. "Everybody is going to get something, but not everything they demand," he said. "That is the beauty of doing it big." Bishop's bill will propose solutions for some 18 million acres in the extreme eastern part of Utah, with possible wilderness designations that number in the millions of acres. At the same time, it would carve out certainty for recreationers, the oil and gas industry, coal mining interests, potash extraction and more. This is no minor tune-up. Wednesday Bishop met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at her request. He said she wanted to know how his "grand bargain" legislative effort was coming along. "It was positive," he said. "She wanted a quick update of where we were in the process...We did go through in detail over the kind of things we would be putting on the table. She actually seemed very positive about it going forward."...more

EPA Wins One, Loses One in Supreme Court

The Supreme Court voted twice on Monday in the case UTILITY AIR REGULATORY GROUP v.ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, handing the EPA a victory in one vote but struck down the EPA in another. In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA could force major polluters, such as coal-fired plants and factories, to utilize new and improved technology to limit CO2 emissions. Scalia was joined by Justices Sotomyer, Kagan, Ginsberg, Breyer, Kennedy, and Roberts in that vote. Of this first decision, the EPA said, “Today, the Supreme Court largely upheld EPA’s approach to focusing Clean Air Act permits on only the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gases such as power plants, refineries, and other types of industrial facilities. The Supreme Court’s decision is a win for our efforts to reduce carbon pollution because it allows EPA, states and other permitting authorities to continue to require carbon pollution limits in permits for the largest pollution sources.” But, in a 5-4 vote, the court also said that could not extend that same requirement to millions of other facilities. Scalia said of that decision, “An agency has no power to ‘tailor’ legislation to bureaucratic policy goals by rewriting unambiguous statutory terms.” Scalia was joined in that decision by Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Of that decision, the National Federation of Independent Business said in a statement, “If this rule had been allowed to stand, small-business owners such as ranchers, farmers, manufacturers, restaurant owners and others would have seen more paperwork, more oversight and fines.”...more

Still waters: EPA extends comment period on ‘Waters of the U.S.’ proposal

After more than 70 agricultural stakeholder groups called for more time to comment on proposed changes to the Clean Water Act and an altered definition of “Waters of the United States,” the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have extended a public comment period. Farmers, ranchers and the public will now have until Oct. 20 to comment on the proposed rule and until July 7 to offer input on agricultural exemptions. According to the EPA, the proposal clarifies the types of waters that are and are not covered by the Clean Water Act, bringing certainty and predictability that had been put in limbo following Supreme Court decisions relating to the rules in 2001 and 2006. Groups who are wary of the proposal say its wording opens the door for the EPA to greatly expand its jurisdiction. The American Farm Bureau Federation has garnered attention with its national “Ditch the Rule” campaign. In a parody of “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,” the Clay family of Missouri, Farm Bureau members, recently made mainstream media belting out the lyrics, “There’s not water flowing, but the government doesn’t care,” while navigating a dry ditch on their farm by canoe. Federal Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman — who has been one of the proposal’s loudest opponents — in a news release called the proposal a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners. “Under EPA’s proposed rule, waters — even ditches — are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest ‘navigable’ waters,” Stallman said. “Indeed, so-called ‘waters’ are regulated even if they aren’t wet most of the time. EPA says its new rule will reduce uncertainty, and that much seems to be true: there isn’t much uncertainty if most every feature where water flows or stands after a rainfall is federally regulated.” Stallman said the EPA has misled the regulated community about the rule’s impacts on land use...more

Feds Research Breeding Sheep With Lower Methane-Emitting Flatulence

The U.S. government funded research into methane emissions from sheep digestive systems — flatulence and burps — to see why some sheep produce more of the greenhouse gas than others. Researchers with the Energy Department’s Joint Genome Institute wanted to find out exactly why animals of the same species produce different levels of methane. The ultimate hope of the the research is to find ways to breed livestock that  produce less methane when they pass gas. “The deep sequencing study contributes to this breeding program by defining the microbial contribution to the methane trait, which can be used in addition to methane measurements to assist in animal selection,” said senior scientist Graeme Attwood with AgResearch Limited, a senior author on the paper. JGI researchers looked at the methane emissions of 22 sheep that are part of a breeding program in New Zealand that aims to breed sheep that emit less methane. They found that sheep with low methane-emitting flatulence had elevated levels of Methanosphaera — a species of methanogen. Sheep with high methane-emitting flatulence had elevated levels of the methanogen Methanobrevibacter gottschalkii.  The publishing of the study comes as the Obama administration launches its plan to cut methane emission in its crusade against global warming. The largest man-made source of methane emissions comes from livestock, particularly cows and sheep. Republicans have warned that regulating methane from livestock could lead to de facto taxes on animal flatulence. The Obama administration wants to reduce methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020, which have lawmakers worried. “The agriculture community is committed to environmental stewardship, which is evidenced by the 11 percent reduction in agriculture-related methane emissions since 1990,” Republicans, led by South Dakota Sen. John Thune, wrote to the Obama administration. “It is our hope that the EPA, USDA, and DOE will work with Congress and the agriculture industry to outline voluntary measures that can be taken to reduce emissions without imposing heavy-handed regulations on farms across America.”...more

Under pressure, BLM OK’s roundup of 140 wild horses

Despite opposition from wild-horse groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced Monday a decision to gather and remove excess horses in the Bible Spring Complex of southwestern Utah.
The Cedar City Field Office of the BLM signed the decision authorizing the gathering of about 140 animals from the Blawn Wash Herd Management in July. That’s just the beginning of management tactics approved to reduce the number of wild horses, now estimated at 755, down to the number that the agency deems appropriate — about 100 horses. The "Bible Spring Complex Gather, Removal and Fertility Treatment Plan" calls for up to four round-ups over a six-to-10-year period. It also authorizes the use of fertility control. But Deniz Bolbol, communications director for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said the BLM shouldn’t be removing any horses...more

Ranchers drive cattle along I-84 Sunday - video

Here’s some proof Utah is still part of the Wild West: A herd of cows caused some delay on I-84 Sunday. A group of ranchers drove the cattle up the highway from Stoddard to Croydon to get the cows to their summer pasture. “Years ago this wasn’t such a big thing, everybody did it,” said rancher Tracy C. Woosley. “But now days very few people do it anymore. It’s more of a challenge. There’s more automobiles. There’s more people. People have become less patient.” The Pentz family drove cattle up Weber Canyon back when the highway was only a dirt road. The ranchers have an old stock trailing right going back four generations, which allows them to use the highway to move cattle. “Their family was here before the freeway, so they are grandfathered in,” family member Bell Navarro said. “So they have the rights to move their cattle up the freeway at any time.” The ranchers try to limit the amount of time they spend on the highway, by moving the cows early Sunday morning and taking frontage roads wherever they can.  Source

Testicle Festival is Saturday

Yep, they're back. Deep-fried testicles are served up for free at the 11th annual Testicle Festival Saturday at the Cowboy Bar and Supper Club in Fishtail. The late Al Walker, long-time coach and community leader, started the event 11 years ago. Walker invited ranchers from the surrounding area to bring in testicles after brandings. The testicles are kept frozen until the festival. Long-time rancher Jack Hash served as the head chef at the event for years, but he is now in a Columbus nursing home and volunteers will do the cooking this year. The testicles are deep-fried and served with potato salad and chips. The food is free...more

Artesia facility to hold up to 700 detainees

A New Mexico center where Border Patrol agents receive basic training will house as many as 700 of the people they are being taught to apprehend: immigrants who have crossed the U.S. border illegally. The Department of Homeland Security’s recent decision to turn part of the Artesia training facility into a detention center for migrant families – the latest move by the Obama administration to respond to a wave of Central American migrants crossing into the United States – is an effort to relieve the poor conditions in overcrowded holding stations in south Texas. The Artesia facility could begin functioning as a detention center with 700 beds within a week or 10 days, according to Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., who was briefed by Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Women with children would be held “four or five days,” Pearce said Monday, while the government prepares to deport them. The Artesia center will not be taking unaccompanied minors.  On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued an open letter in Spanish stressing the dangers of crossing the border and saying that children won’t get a free pass to stay if they cross the border illegally. Newspapers in Central America picked up a Spanish-language newswire story; one El Salvador news site ran Johnson’s comments alongside headlines of gang killings and economic woes. The letter explained that the U.S. Government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program does not apply to children currently crossing the border – only a child who was here prior to June 15, 2007. And that immigration reform legislation now before Congress would provide for an earned path to citizenship only for certain people who came into this country on or before Dec. 31, 2011. “So, let me be clear: There is no path to deferred action or citizenship, or one being contemplated by Congress, for a child who crosses our border illegally today,” the letter said. Pearce said he believes “the administration came out very strong that they are going to enforce the laws.”...more

Illegal Immigrants Hopping 'Death Train' to US, Hoping for Amnesty - video

Thousands of illegal immigrants are flooding the U.S.-Mexico border, and the problem isn't likely to get better anytime soon. In a mad dash to make it to the U.S., many of the Latino minors are hopping aboard a network of Mexican freight trains called "El Tren de la Muerte," or Death Train. The phenomenon may support claims that the Obama Administration's lax stance on immigration is encouraging thousands of children to put their lives at risk. Children who travel via Death Train must jump onto a moving freight car. Minors who cannot successfully pull themselves onto the traveling cars fall onto the tracks--many are left with extreme injuries.  Erica Dahl-Bredine, an El Salvador representative for Catholic Relief Services, told the Colorado Gazette that those who get injured on the train tracks often return home. She added, "The couplings between the cars are notoriously dangerous. I see children who have lost an arm and a leg or both legs." The Obama Administration's actions and rhetoric, which have caused Central Americans to believe they will receive amnesty if they come to the U.S., is likely the driving force behind the surge at the border.  "The U.S. is partly responsible for foreign nationals taking extreme measures that risk the lives of their children," Zack Taylor, Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart Texas. "Our government is encouraging foreign nationals to come into our country illegally and stay."...more