Friday, November 21, 2014

Protest set against prosecutor, PETA in dog's death

A rally will take place Monday, Nov. 24, in Accomac to protest the death of an Accomack County family's pet at the hands of Norfolk, Virginia-based animal-rights activists. Hundreds are expected to show up in the sleepy county seat for a march beginning at 10 a.m. to protest the euthanization of Maya, a Chihuahua owned by Wilbur Cerate of Hopeton. The march will end in front of the Accomack County Commonwealth's Attorney Office, where protestors will ask Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Agar to reconsider his decision not to prosecute the case. "The ultimate goal is to take it to trial," said organizer Edward Armstrong, Cerate's friend. The saga began in October, when two workers from People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals came to the Hopeton mobile home park where Cerate lives and took the Chihuahua from a porch while the family was out, police records show. The dog, a gift for Cerate's 9-year-old daughter, was later euthanized. The area has had an ongoing problem with stray dogs. Cerate said PETA has been there several times before, picking up strays. "There are probably about five or six other families" that have had their dogs taken in similar incidents, Armstrong said, noting, "PETA admitted themselves they took a total of three dogs" that day from the mobile home park. But in Cerate's case, a security camera on the property captured the scene — it showed a PETA van in the yard, then a woman entering a porch and leaving with the dog, which Cerate admitted had no collar or tags. Cerate, upon returning home, found the dog missing. The security footage told the story. He called PETA; then, on Oct. 20, he called the police. The Accomack County Sheriff's Office on Nov. 4 obtained arrest warrants for PETA workers Victoria Jean Carey, 54, and Jennifer Lisa Woods, 52, both of Virginia Beach, Virginia. They were arrested the next day, charged with larceny of a dog and released on personal recognizance bond. One of the women visited Cerate a couple of days after Maya was taken and told him the Chihuahua had been destroyed. She apologized and handed him a fruit basket, he said. Maya's death has sparked outrage far beyond the Eastern Shore of Virginia, with the report making headlines in news outlets across the nation. But Commonwealth Attorney Gary Agar declined to prosecute the case, saying there wasn't criminal intent...more

Biofuels and the Do-Nothing EPA

Under the nation’s biofuels policy known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to set an amount of biofuels—ethanol, biodiesel, and low carbon advanced biofuels—which are to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. That amount is to be finalized by the EPA on November 30 of the previous year so as to give energy markets a clear signal of what to expect. Thus, EPA should have established the 2014 volumes by November 30, 2013. Instead, today, nine days short of a year late, EPA has announced that it “will not be finalizing 2014 applicable percentage standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program before the end of 2014.” It’s not surprising that EPA missed its deadline; it has not been on time since 2009. But this year’s lapse is truly mindboggling. Consider: EPA will set the standards that fuels companies must comply with after the compliance year is over. The best guess now is that the 2014 standards will be set in February 2015, which is also the date the EPA has targeted for proposing the 2015 standards, three months after the statutory deadline for those standards to be finalized. Earlier in the year, informed speculation was the Obama administration was delaying the announcement to be well-timed to help Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley in his campaign in Iowa. That was back in June when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy indicated that the volume standards would be issued “soon”—although they were already by then seven months late...more

EDITORIAL: Republicans uphold NSA snooping

Republicans in the Senate flunk a test to stand up against the NSA

Invoking the Constitution is the common rhetoric of many politicians who swore to follow and defend it, but a lot of them have obviously never read it, or if they have, didn’t understand it. The Founding Fathers wrote it in plain English, simple enough for even a lawyer to understand, but some politicians nevertheless have trouble with it.

Some are honest about their disagreement with the Founders. Some Democrats want to restrict First Amendment protections to their friends and supporters and would amend the Constitution if necessary to do it. Others argue that the document doesn’t really mean what it says, but what they believe it should say. The Supreme Court — all lawyers trained in the art of the loophole — has been guilty of this over the past six decades. Others simply ignore the Constitution. The current occupant of the White House falls into this category.

Just as dangerous are those who pick and choose parts of it to ignore or belittle. If the vote on Tuesday to end a filibuster to kill the USA Freedom Act is an indication, most Republicans in the Senate have fallen into this category.

A version of the bill, which attempts to circumscribe or impose limits on the National Security Agency’s ability to collect metadata on just about every telephone call and email, passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year. It was an attempt to pull such practices into compliance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

During the debate in the House the national security hawks argued that restrictions on surveillance practices would invite disaster because the program foils terrorist plots, and had foiled a few already. The NSA later conceded that what it had said was not necessarily so. Finally the Obama administration and the director of National Intelligence admitted that the House provisions would not interfere with the ability of NSA to track down terrorists. Now come revelations that many analysts within the NSA questioned the effectiveness of the program, and had feared for a long time that if what the agency was really up to became public knowledge, there would be a furious backlash.

Governments have always used “national security” to justify assaults on the liberties of its citizens. Our own government has tried to frighten everyone to obtain power and authority it didn’t need, but power and authority to make its job easier. The “lone wolf” terrorist can be a genuine threat, but skeptics and critics of the USA Freedom Act have cited this ghostly wolf to justify a program that was neither designed nor seems especially useful in locating the wolf. The program was meant to enable the agency to track terrorists through their contacts with other terrorists or terrorist organizations here or abroad by “connecting the dots.” The “lone wolf” by definition isn’t part of a terrorist network, and is unlikely to be discovered by monitoring everybody’s telephone calls and email exchanges.

Colorado Roan Plateau drilling battle leads to legal compromise

The decade-long battle over drilling on western Colorado's Roan Plateau — a lofty oasis rich in wildlife and natural gas — eased on Friday with federal and state officials announcing a legal settlement. Nearly all of the Bureau of Land Management leases that allow Bill Barrett Corp. to drill on top of the plateau will be canceled, and $47.6 million will be paid back to the company. Drilling would be allowed on ecologically sensitive areas below the rim and around the base of the Roan. Gov. John Hickenlooper, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and BLM chief Neil Kornze announced the settlement Friday afternoon in the Colorado capitol. Oil and gas industry and conservation groups also attended. Jewell said the settlement was "a commonsense resolution to a very contentious issue." The agreement cancels 17 of 19 leases on top of the Roan that were issued in 2008. The other two leases on atop the Roan and 12 leases at the base will remain...more

Fifth Grader Suspended For Making Gun With Fingers

Another little boy has gotten in trouble at school for having something that primitively, comically represents a gun but isn’t actually anything like a real gun. This time, the student is Nickolas Taylor, a fifth grader at Stacy Middle School in the distant Boston suburb of Milford. The 10-year-old boy’s crime was to make the universal sign for a gun with his thumb and forefinger and point at two girls in the cafeteria lunch line last Friday, local NBC affiliate WHDH reports. Taylor said he wasn’t pointing his make-believe gun at the girls or anyone else, but just generally pretending to “shoot” with his forefinger and thumb. Despite the fact that nothing real happened, assistant principal Noah Collins wrote the boy up, labeling his actions as “a threat.” Collins then suspended the kid for two days...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1331

Billy Lee Riley was a rockabilly star and here he is with (You'll Have To) Come And Get It

LANL chief denies lab hid facts from WIPP

=The head of Los Alamos National Laboratory issued a memo to employees Monday condemning a story published Sunday in The New Mexican that exposed missteps at the lab that had played a part in a WIPP radiation leak. The story also addressed efforts to downplay the dangers of LANL transuranic waste that had been sent to the nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad. The newspaper’s investigation, which took six months and included interviews and a review of thousands of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, found that LANL documents provided to Waste Isolation Pilot Plant officials and regulators about the waste drum’s contents failed to mention several components: organic kitty litter, the unusually high acidity of the waste and a pH neutralizer. Now, those components are being eyed as possible factors in the chemical reaction that caused a LANL drum to burst, leading to the radiation leak. On Feb. 14, when the drum ruptured inside the underground storage facility, more than 20 workers were exposed to radiation. The plant has not reopened since, stranding thousands of barrels of waste from Cold War-era nuclear weapons production at national labs throughout the country. Fully reopening WIPP is expected to take up to five years and cost at least $550 million, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “Over the weekend, many of you may have read a story in the Santa Fe New Mexican suggesting that Los Alamos National Laboratory was hiding scientific theories about the accident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant,” lab Director Charles McMillan wrote in his memo sent to LANL employees just before 5 p.m. Monday. “I want to assure you that nothing is further from the truth.” According to McMillan’s statement, obtained by The New Mexican, he took aim at a portion of the newspaper report about the lab’s delay in sharing a memo with WIPP personnel that likened the contents of the burst waste drum to explosives. The story reported that a May memo by LANL chemist Steve Clemmons asserted he had determined the waste in the drum that ruptured held the same components as three patented explosives. “The Lab was very open with the Department of Energy and the Carlsbad Field Office about hypotheses under evaluation, with daily discussions on all efforts to discover the cause of the breach and to ensure the safety and security of the remaining drums,” McMillan wrote in the memo to lab workers Monday. But emails that were the basis for the news report contradict McMillan’s memo. Those messages, colored at times by outrage from WIPP officials about what they weren’t told by LANL, show that despite daily briefings between WIPP and Los Alamos personnel about the ongoing investigations into the leak, a week passed before WIPP officials learned of Clemmons’ findings about the potentially explosive mixture in the waste...more

Attorney: Immigrant Transfers Out of Artesia Detention Center To Begin Immediately

An attorney representing immigrant women and children detained in New Mexico says her clients will be transferred to a facility in Texas starting today. The news came a day after the federal government announced the New Mexico facility will close by the end of December. Christina Brown got a phone call Thursday night, just as President Obama was beginning his nationwide address on immigration. Brown heads a group volunteer attorneys who represent immigrants held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. She said the call was from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, alerting her that 24 of her clients would be moved to a facility in Texas Friday morning..more

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Possible wolf sighting north of Ruidoso

Nathan Thomas was walking with his wife on Box Canyon Circle in Ranches of Sonterra subdivision north of Ruidoso when they witnessed two wolves attack and drag a mature doe into the Bonito River. In an email to another resident of the community, Thomas, president of the Ranches home owners association, wrote that the incident occurred not at night, but at 9:45 a.m. Saturday. He estimated the mule deer weighed about 150 pounds. "We were able to save the deer by getting the wolves to release her throat and flee after a 20-second vicious attack," Thomas wrote. "Thank goodness I didn't shoot the wolves, because later when I got on the Internet, I discovered these animals were Mexican gray wolves, an endangered species protected by both federal and New Mexico law." He described the canines as looking similar to a 50-pound German shepherd with burnt orange/red fur mixed into their lower torsos and tails. "I'm writing, because if these animals are roaming ROS in the daytime, they could have just as easily grabbed one of our small dogs or a neighbor's much larger dog," Thomas wrote. "I don't know if they'd attack a human. Perhaps you might want to alert ROS residents of this incident. I'm not naive enough to think there aren't predators in this part of New Mexico, but seeing two wolves appear out of nowhere and grab a huge deer right off the pavement in broad daylight was a sobering reminder to be ever vigilant when walking, jogging or bicycle riding."...more

Germany gives up on emissions target - Japan emits more CO2 than ever

Germany’s Vice Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has indicated that the country will abandon its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020, from a 1990 base level. According to the Environment Ministry, Germany would have to find a way of cutting emissions by between 62 and 100 million tonnes of CO2 every year for the next sixteen years in order to reach the target. Shutting down coal power stations would only contribute 40 million tonnes to that target. “It’s clear that the [2020 CO2] target is no longer viable,” Gabriel said, adding: “We cannot exit from coal power overnight.” Earlier this year Gabriel told Spiegel: “It is an illusion to believe that Germany could simultaneously move away from both nuclear and coal energy”...Japan’s carbon dioxide emissions were the worst on record in the last fiscal year, forced up by the nation’s reliance on natural gas and coal to generate electricity. In the year ended in March, Japan emitted 1.224 billion metric tons of CO2, up 1.4% from the previous year and up 16% from 1990, the base year for emission cuts previously targeted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday...more

Lawsuit by Nebraska Landowners May Decide Keystone Pipeline’s Fate

For all the angst and anger over the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington, the project’s fate may lie here in Nebraska, where disgruntled landowners are challenging a state law that officials used to approve the pipeline’s path through their property. After the U.S. Senate rejected a measure to approve the project Tuesday, Republicans who will control the chamber in January said it would be one of the first items on their agenda next year. A more immediate hurdle, though, is the Nebraska suit, which encompasses much of the legal and emotional core of the battle over Keystone. “I worry that members don’t know there is a pending lawsuit that could take this whole thing back to square one in Nebraska,” said Heather Zichal, an energy consultant who was a top energy and climate adviser in the White House until about a year ago. The Nebraska Supreme Court is expected to rule in the coming weeks on the case. If the court upholds the law, the Obama administration would have a clear path to decide on the project, which has been under federal review for more than six years. Another potential ruling could require the company building the pipeline, Calgary-based TransCanada , to submit its proposed route through a new review process set by a 2011 state law, delaying the project up to a year. In a third, less likely outcome, the court could cast the project into an indefinite legal limbo by compelling the Nebraska legislature to revisit a couple of laws it has passed since 2011 in response to the growing scrutiny of the pipeline in the Cornhusker State...more (subscription)

Senate Dems Push $2 Trillion Carbon Tax Bill After Voting Down Keystone XL

Fresh off their legislative victory against the Keystone XL pipeline, Democratic senators are pushing a bill that would tax carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels that would rise every year. Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii first introduced the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act Tuesday. The bill would slap a $42 per ton fee on carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 that would gradually rise 2 percent each year. Democrats argue it would raise $2 trillion, which could be used for things like paying down the national debt or funding green energy production. The tax would be levied on fossil fuels produced domestically or imported in the U.S. and cover large emitting facilities, possibly power plants or refineries...more

Roan Plateau: Officials to announce 'major development' in drilling dispute

The years-long legal conflict over oil and gas drilling on the Roan Plateau may be ending.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — along with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, other government officials, and representatives from environmental groups and the energy industry — are set to make an announcement at 1 p.m. MST Friday regarding what's being called "a major development" regarding the Western Slope landmark. Also on hand Friday for the announcement will be U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and Neil Kornze, the director of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which in 2008 auctioned off thousands of acres of mineral rights leases allowing drilling on the federally managed areas of the plateau and around its base...more

Bison-Herding Copters Don't Bug Bears, 9th Says

State and federal wildlife officials properly allow helicopters to "haze" wild bison back into Yellowstone National Park in the spring, the 9th Circuit ruled, finding little proof that the operation harms grizzly bears. Yellowstone's bison are allowed to range outside the park's boundaries in the winter, but must be herded back in mid-May to prevent the spread of brucellosis to local cattle herds. The Montana Department of Livestock employs cowboys on horseback and off-highway vehicles, as well as in helicopters, to convince the wild bison to move out of Montana and back into the park. Fearing that the helicopters were harming endangered Yellowstone grizzly bears, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies challenged the Interagency Bison Management Plan that authorized the herding technique...more

Los Alamos National Laboratory kitty litter "bomb" led to nuclear leak at WIPP

A Department of Energy nuclear lab used the wrong kind of kitty litter in its haste to dispose of hazardous waste last year, leading to a radiation leak that sickened at least 20 workers and caused a shutdown of a federal disposal plant to the tune of $500 million. The report from the Santa Fe New Mexican characterizes the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and its private operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC, as being so careless with the hazardous material that they inadvertently created what one chemist called a potential bomb. The LANL is a federal laboratory that works on nuclear technology and other national security projects. According to the newspaper, the LANL took shortcuts when prepping a highly acidic batch of nuclear waste for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground disposal plant for nuclear waste that is also in New Mexico. The lab was working vigorously to meet a June 30, 2014 deadline for disposal of Cold War-era waste that would help Los Alamos National Security LLC secure a renewed contract with the Energy Department. In its haste, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the lab used a “wheat-based kitty litter rather than clay-based kitty litter” to absorb some of the material. This mistake turned the waste into a mixture that was “akin to plastic explosives,” the paper reported. The mistake was small, but costly. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that in February 2014, once the drum containing waste had reached the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, it cracked open. At least 20 workers at the plant were injured by low levels of the radiation and the plant was shut down...more

Shutting off NSA's water gains support in Utah Legislature

A Utah legislative committee on Wednesday asked a lawmaker to refine a bill that seeks to — eventually — shut off water to the National Security Agency’s data center in Bluffdale. Committee members expressed some concerns with the bill but no outright opposition. They asked the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, to better define who would be impacted by the bill. The members also asked questions on whether Utah taxpayers are supporting the NSA. "I just don’t want to subsidize what they’re doing on the back of our citizens," said Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville. The committee heard a report on how Bluffdale issued $3.5 million in bonds to pay for water lines leading to the Utah Data Center. Bluffdale agreed to sell the NSA water at a rate below the city guidelines in order to secure the contract. The bill considered Wednesday is similar to one Roberts sponsored in the general session earlier this year. It would prohibit a municipality from providing "material support or assistance in any form to any federal data collection and surveillance agency." Roberts’ bill would grandfather in Bluffdale’s financial agreements with the Utah Data Center, but when those agreements expire, his bill would prohibit further cooperation with the NSA. It also would prohibit any other cities or water districts from signing new agreements with the NSA. Water is a major ingredient at the data center. It’s projected to use more than 1 million gallons a day to cool its computers when the Utah Data Center is fully operational. Roberts on Wednesday told the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee that the NSA came to Utah with promises it was acting within the Constitution. "We all know and are aware that has been violated," Roberts said...more 

Well why not?  If the feds can shut off the water to Tombstone, Arizona they deserve a little taste of their own medicine.  See here and here.

Enviros Jump Government Over Canada Lynx

Despite eight years of prodding, the federal government refuses to protect the threatened Canada lynx, environmental groups claim in two federal lawsuits. America's wild snow cat was listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000. The essence of the fight lies in the millions of acres of boreal and subalpine forests in Canada and the United States. Environmentalists claim Fish and Wildlife has failed, after several tries, to designate enough acreage in the northern states as critical lynx habitat. Environmental groups sued in 2010, and filed two more lawsuits Monday after Fish and Wildlife's latest habitat designation. WildEarth Guardians, Conservation Northwest, Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands sued Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe, under the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. The groups claim that Fish and Wildlife's 2014 revised designation excludes important areas critical to the lynx. The designation includes areas in the Northern Rockies and North Cascades in Montana, Wyoming and Washington, but excludes habitat in the southern Rocky Mountain range, where Fish and Wildlife claims reintroduction of the lynx is not necessary. It excludes other areas in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon where the lynx has traditionally thrived. The environmentalists say the exclusions were made "without any analysis." "The best available science reveals many of these areas were occupied by lynx at the time of listing, remain currently occupied by lynx and contain the habitat elements essential to the species' conservation in the contiguous United States," according to the WildEarth complaint...more

Lakota song celebrating defeat of pipeline leads to arrest in Senate - video

Greg Grey Cloud came to Washington for meetings Sunday with South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson and other lawmakers. He never planned on being arrested in the U.S. Capitol two days later. But Grey Cloud, a South Dakota resident and a member of the Crow Creek Tribe located 2-1/2 hours northwest of Sioux Falls, was taken into custody Tuesday night after he started singing a song he said was meant to honor those lawmakers who voted against the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate narrowly defeated legislation that would have approved construction of the pipeline – part of which would cross South Dakota. Grey Cloud was one of five people arrested, but the only one from a Native American tribe...more

Here's the video of the event:


Keystone Foes Use Narrow Win in U.S. Senate to Prepare for 2015

Environmental foes of the Keystone XL pipeline are using their narrow victory in the U.S. Senate this week to raise funds for the next showdown on the project. “Make an emergency gift to the Sierra Club right now,” Sierra Club head Michael Brune said in a pitch after the Senate fell one vote short of the 60 needed to pass a bill backing the pipeline. “We’ve worked so hard to stop the pipeline for a long time now. But we have to keep fighting.” The League of Conservation Voters, which lobbies for environmental causes, sent out emergency alerts to its 40,000 members nationwide, urging them to contact their senator to offer thanks, or criticism, for their vote. “We expect to see even more attacks on the environment when the new Congress comes into session in January,” according to the LCV e-mail. “Our democracy works when lawmakers know that we’re paying attention.”Since TransCanada Corp. (TRP), a Calgary-based pipeline maker, applied to build Keystone in September 2008, it has become a proxy in broader political debates over jobs, U.S. energy security and climate change. Keystone XL would have the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day, linking Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast...more

NM Commission rules on wolf reintroduction

The New Mexico Game Commission ruled at its monthly meeting last week that it will no longer automatically issue permits to allow private landowners to hold carnivores in captivity for the purpose of reintroducing them into the wild. The commission will have to give its approval on each request. In this case, Mexican gray wolves. According to Lance Cherry, assistant Chief of Information for the Game Commission, the new ruling allows for more transparency in the permitting process. “It will probably go into effect around mid-December,” he said. “For the time being, any permits won’t be impacted by this rule.” But any future renewal of permits will go through the Game Commission instead of going straight to the director for approval. “Prior to the change that they made, the permit requests were reviewed internally,” Cherry said. “Now there will be a public comment attached to them.” Ranchers in Socorro and Catron counties are happy about the ruling. “It’s a positive thing for New Mexico agricultural producers,” said rancher Anita Hand of Datil. The Hand Ranch lies between the San Mateo Mountains and Datil Mountains. “I appreciate the layer of protection,” she said. “There’s a process you have to go through, so when carnivores are released a neighbor can be notified, and they’re not just randomly released.” Hand said wolf tracks have been seen in and around the area, enough, she said, to warrant a wolf-proof enclosure for the protection of children waiting for the school bus. “They’re raised in captivity. They’ve been around human interaction,” she said. “They have humans feeding them and vaccinating them and taking care of them. They’re not scared of humans.” Caren Cowan, executive director of New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, said, “We’re very pleased the state is trying to stand up for our rights and for New Mexico.” “As you probably know we have long opposed the Mexican wolf program, and we fail to see how the federal government has the right to turn loose predators on us with no compensation,” Cowan said. “The new ruling says, that as a private landowner, you can’t import a large carnivore, be it a wolf or anything else into the state and release it on your private property,” she said. “The genesis of this is that the drafted Environmental Impact Statement that was released last summer contains a provision that private property owners can cooperate with the Mexican wolf program and release wolves on private property. And as you and I know, once you release an animal like that on private property there’s no guarantee it’s going to stay there. We hope this addresses that situation.”...more

American Farm Bureau Federation Announces Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Rises, Still Under $50

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 29th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.04. The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.65 this year. That’s roughly $1.35 per pound, a decrease of less than 1 cent per pound, or a total of 11 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2013. “Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store,” AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. Some grocers may use turkeys as “loss leaders,” a common strategy deployed to entice shoppers to come through the doors and buy other popular Thanksgiving foods. The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers. Foods showing the largest increases this year were sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix. Sweet potatoes came in at $3.56 for three pounds. A half pint of whipping cream was $2.00; one gallon of whole milk, $3.76; and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.12. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery ($.82) and one pound of green peas ($1.55) also increased in price. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) rose to $3.48. The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1330

Jerry Clark requested some Wanda Jackson rockabilly and so we've had a Rockabilly Week on Ranch Radio.  Most have been mainstream stuff, but I know J.R. Absher likes the rare ones.  So here's Ken Patrick performing Night Train.

Free ‘Obama Phones’ A Little Too Easy To Get

They’re lined up outside welfare offices, on street corners and in supermarkets: people hawking free cellphones for those in need. CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein says it’s called the California Lifeline Program, but it’s more commonly known by another name. “Is that what they call the ‘Obama phones?’ ” asked one customer. The program exploded under President Barack Obama: 14 million American have the free phones, costing $2.2 billion in subsidies nationwide in 2013. And it’s all paid for by taxpayers. There’s a Lifeline surcharge on everyone’s cellphone bill, and just in California the numbers have tripled: 30,000 new subscribers in August, 90,000 just last month. Officially, you need proof of government assistance or low income in order to qualify for the program. But our undercover producer hit the streets telling people she didn’t have anything — no Medi-Cal or EBT card — and found plenty of salespeople, many of whom work on commission, willing to offer advice on how to bend the rules. One salesman for Budget Mobile stationed outside a South L.A. welfare office was one of those people. “Do you have any friends or family that might have EBT or some sort of social service?” he asked our producer. “What you could do is ask your friend to sign up for a free phone and when it comes in, they can let you have it.” Outside one welfare office on Grand Avenue, two salespeople for Assurance Wireless said our producer could use someone else’s card, which is against the rules. But it was outside another welfare office on 108th and Central that Erica, also with Assurance Wireless, went the furthest. “You don’t need an ID or a Social Security number, none of that,” she said. “I would make up the Social, the last four, I would make up those four numbers for you. “If you have a friend or something that already has their EBT, I’ll take a picture of their card so that you can get the phone,” Erica offered. “But would it be in my name?” our producer asked. “Yeah, I can put it in your name,” Erica replied...more

Run down and get your free Obamaphone.  Then call the White House, EPA, USFWS, your Congressman, etc. and tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

University’s new ‘vaqueros’ mascot decried as ‘racist, gender biased’

The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley hasn’t even opened yet and already its mascot has been decried as racist and gender biased. Some students, scholars and others associated with the newly forming University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley are demanding University President Guy Bailey step down after he helped pave the way for its mascot to be “Vaqueros.” Vaquero is masculine in Spanish, and it was criticized not only for gender bias, but critics also said “a Vaquero and the eventual cartoon depiction of one will be drastically culturally insensitive and ripen with Hispanic stereotypes.” But Bailey recommended the “Vaqueros” mascot, and the University of Texas System Board of Regents officially and unanimously approved “Vaqueros” as the athletic nickname for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley earlier this month. The university is coming together through the merger of two older campuses in the region and is slated to open next fall. “The vaqueros were the horsemen and cattle herders who laid the foundation for the North American cowboy and cowboy culture,” Bailey has stated. “There is no more iconic figure in American lore than the cowboy and that iconic figure was born in the Rio Grande Valley.”...more

The opponents of "Vaqueros" have initiated a petition.  Below see the University's response and a note from an editor at The College Fix:

University officials also released a statement last week that clarified the meaning of “Vaqueros,” and defended the decision. “The vaquero and vaquera represent the tenacity, perseverance, intelligence and ambition of all who settled the Old West,” its officials said in a Nov. 14 statement. “Both men and women played an equal role in the proud pioneering history of Texas and the nicknames vaqueros and vaqueras for men’s and women’s teams honor that revolutionary spirit.”

A note from Assistant Editor Dave Huber: As a Spanish teacher I must note that the claim of gender bias regarding the term “vaqueros” is silly on its face as, in the Spanish language, the masculine plural of a noun can encompass both genders. In other words, “vaqueros” can translate to “cowboys and cowgirls,” or, to be PC, “cowpeople.”

Government attorneys want Sierra Pacific lawyers off Moonlight wildfire case

In the years-long legal brawl over the 2007 Moonlight wildfire that torched Plumas and Lassen counties, government attorneys have asked a Sacramento federal judge to kick the lawyers defending Sierra Pacific Industries off the case for alleged unlawful and unethical tactics. Lawyers who handled the recent declaration of a former assistant U.S. attorney who once represented the government in its civil lawsuit against Sierra Pacific are guilty of “egregious professional misconduct,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner and his staff allege in a motion filed Monday. In his declaration, the former assistant U.S. attorney, E. Robert Wright, described what he perceived as questionable inner workings of the U.S Attorney’s civil division and how he bucked a practice of withholding evidence that the law required be turned over to the opposition. Wright, now retired, said he suspected he was removed as the government’s lead counsel in the suit against Sierra Pacific because of his insistence on honesty. The Moonlight fire started on Sept. 3, 2007, on private property in Plumas County and spread into neighboring Lassen County. It turned 65,000 acres, including 46,000 acres of national forestland, into a moonscape, and burned for more than two weeks before it could be suppressed. The government’s suit, which was settled more than two years ago, sought compensation for fire-related damages from timber giant Sierra Pacific and, to a much lesser extent, other defendants. The government’s motion this week to banish Sierra Pacific lawyers from the suit claims that Wright’s declaration is “replete with protected work-product, privileged attorney-client communications, and client confidences and secrets.” Every lawyer involved in the document’s creation and public disclosure knew it represented a blatant violation of the State Bar’s rules of professional conduct, including Wright and defense lawyers who merely read it, the motion asserts...more 

I don't know the particulars on this case but checkout the following:

Hundreds of Justice Department Attorneys Violated Professional Rules, Laws, or Ethical Standards An internal affairs office at the Justice Department has found that, over the last decade, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work. The violations include instances in which attorneys who have a duty to uphold justice have, according to the internal affairs office, misled courts, withheld evidence that could have helped defendants, abused prosecutorial and investigative power, and violated constitutional rights. From fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2013, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) documented more than 650 infractions, according to a Project On Government Oversight review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and from OPR reports. In the majority of the matters—more than 400—OPR categorized the violations as being at the more severe end of the scale: recklessness or intentional misconduct, as distinct from error or poor judgment. The information the Justice Department has disclosed is only part of the story. No less significant is what as a matter of policy it keeps from the public. As a general practice, the Justice Department does not make public the names of attorneys who acted improperly or the defendants whose cases were affected. The result: the Department, its lawyers, and the internal watchdog office itself are insulated from meaningful public scrutiny and accountability.

And we should all remember the Senator Ted Stevens case:

Report blasts prosecutors in Ted Stevens case Federal prosecutors knowingly concealed exculpatory evidence and allowed false testimony to be presented at trial in their overzealous pursuit of criminal charges against the late Sen. Ted Stevens, a scathing new report by a special investigator finds. Stevens was charged in July 2008 and later convicted on seven counts of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper gifts. The longest serving Senate Republican in U.S. history, he lost his reelection that November, ending a legendary political career that had begun before Alaska was even a state. “The investigation and prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness,” Schuelke wrote in the summary of his report. It came after more than two years of review, including interviews of all the members of the elite DOJ team handling the case, all of whom worked for the Public Integrity Section.

Groups sue over predator derby

The fight over a predator-killing contest scheduled to take place around Salmon, Idaho, in January isn’t over yet. On Thursday, Nov. 13, the BLM approved a five-year permit to conduct a predator derby there each winter. Almost immediately, two coalitions of conservation groups each filed a lawsuit in federal court. The groups are asking that the BLM be ordered to carry out an environmental impact study of the potential effects of the proposed contest. In making its decision, the agency relied on a less extensive, 28-page environmental assessment. The assessment concluded that there would be no significant impact from the contest warranting an EIS. The suits seek a court order stopping the contest in the meantime. One suit was filed by Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Project Coyote in U.S. District Court in Boise. The other was filed by the Boulder-White Clouds Council, WildEarth Guardians and Cascadia Wildlands in U.S. District Court in Pocatello, Idaho. The first group of plaintiffs claims that the EA and related documents relied on “numerous factual and legal misstatements, omissions and unwarranted assumptions to downplay potentially significant adverse impacts to wildlife populations, recreational use, [wilderness study areas], and other environmental values.” The complaint states that a full EIS should be required partly due to the precedent being set by allowing the hunting contest on BLM land and to the conflict between its action and the federal wolf reintroduction program. The plaintiffs also question the BLM’s decision not to conduct an EIS in light of the fact that during two public comment periods, it received more than 100,000 comments, virtually all of which opposed the event. (The agency reported that almost all comments were copies of nine different form letters, though 491 of the 507 unique comments received during the final comment period expressed opposition.)...more

Lies of the Land

By Dave Skinner

...So, what about transferring federal lands to Montana? Greens, of course, are fine with the current dysfunction, as it empowers them, not average Montanans. The mere idea of the state of Montana controlling any current Forest Service lands has environmentalists in a tizzy, making all sorts of specious claims – such as:

Montana can’t afford the cost of wildfire fighting. Utter tommyrot, at least in the long term. Today’s high, landscape-scale fire risk (a result of paralytic federal policy) is certainly real, but can only change for the better with DNRC (and Montana’s Land Board – whom Montanans get to select) in charge. Anyone with eyes and a brain visiting state trust lands – I suggest Pig Farm/Kuhns and both Spencer units for your examination – has to realize that Montana DNRC does fantastic work in terms of habitat, safety and economic outcomes. Period. Even if Montana saw some big fires in the short run, rather than leave dead trees to rot, merchantable wood would be timely salvaged, with sale proceeds plowed back into rapid replanting of the next forest.

Ranchers would see their grazing fees increase. Pure cow flop. Private land grazing costs around $20-23 per AUM (animal unit, basically a cow/calf pair) in Montana according to USDA, with Montana’s state trust minimum being about $6.12/AUM, with a relatively few competitive leases bringing fees about 80 percent of the private rate. So the federal monthly grazing fee of $1.35/AUM (snarlingly protected by Western congresscritters) seems dirt cheap. But Greens won’t admit “cheap” federal fees come with a huge downside of risk. Litigation all across the West has given federal AUMs a bad habit of disappearing at the worst possible moment – becoming unavailable at any price, often permanently. Would savvy ranchers pay more for predictability? Gladly.

Recreation access would decrease. Absolute tommyrot. On federal ground, access for everything, except the most-politically-correct recreation, currently stinks. While state-land recreation access is not THAT much better today, it’s mostly worth the 10 bucks. Further, the Land Board could improve recreation access even more if Montanans encouraged them to.

Payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) would go away. Deflectionist sludge. First of all, PILT cash is chumpola changeola: $28 million statewide in 2014 on 30 million acres. The annual amount per acre of PILT? In Montana, it runs from 27 cents in Petroleum County to $2.53 per acre in Custer County. What’s the property tax on your acres of paradise, kids?

Avalanche of hostility over environmental analysis re-do

If you didn’t know any better, you might think you walked in on an angry game of dodgeball between Plumas National Forest officials and local residents last week in Quincy. However, it was really a townhall meeting in the Mineral Building on the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds stemming from a 2013 court settlement between the U.S. Forest Service and Snowlands Network, Winter Wildlands Alliance and the Center for Biological Diversity. A condition of that settlement requires the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region to re-do an environmental analysis of over-snow vehicle use under the National Environmental Policy Act. The study will result in the designation of National Forest System roads, trails and areas for over-snow vehicle use with minimal impact to natural resources. “The previous analysis we did was found to be inadequate,” said Bart Lander, a Forest Service environmental coordinator. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t do an adequate job the first time.” Five national forests are impacted by the agreement: Eldorado, Tahoe, Stanislaus, Lassen and Plumas. Area residents are concerned this may take its toll on winter recreation and industries including snowmobiling, downhill and cross-country skiing, trails, grooming, tourism and more. Before the $1 million “enterprise phase” of the second analysis gets underway, Forest Service officials told the standing-room-only crowd they needed public input. “The need is for you guys to better do your jobs,” countered area resident Gordon Hardgrave. “Why are we spending a bunch of money to re-do an analysis we’ve already done?” asked Kyle Felker, of Quincy. “Another nail in the coffin affecting our economic development,” added Portola Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Gault. As officials explained, apologized and pledged to do better, they were often booed, heckled, subjected to name-calling and made targets of offensive language. “This is probably the most contentious (project) I’ve worked on and I’ve been doing this for 12 years,” said Lander. “Most of my colleagues do five in a career; I’m doing five all at once. We can only do the best job we can.” Four of the five national forests have already hosted townhall meetings on the issue. Tahoe National Forest representatives say they will schedule similar meetings after the NEPA process begins next month.  Source

Fracking to be allowed in largest national forest on US east coast

Over the objection of environmental groups and Virginia’s governor, a federal management plan released on Tuesday will allow a form of natural gas drilling known as fracking to occur in parts of the largest national forest on the east coast. The US Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking in the 1.1m-acre George Washington National Forest, but energy companies cried foul after a draft of the plan was released in 2011. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest. “We think we’ve ended up in a much better place, which is we are allowing oil and gas drilling,” Robert Bonnie, the US Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. “From a policy perspective, the Forest Service allows fracking on forest lands throughout the country. We didn’t want to make a policy decision or change policy related to fracking. This decision is about where it’s appropriate to do oil and gas leasing.” Under the new plan, which is subject to appeal, drilling will only be permitted on 167,000 acres where there are existing private mineral rights and on about 10,000 acres that are already leased to oil and gas companies...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1329

On Rockabilly Week here's Ricky Nelson - Boppin' The Blues, from 1957.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ranchers get 1st Mexican wolf/livestock payments

The Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council has issued its first Payments for Wolf Presence to 26 Arizona and New Mexico livestock operators who qualified for the plan's first year. The Coexistence Council developed the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Plan that presents a new way of addressing wolf-livestock conflicts. Payments for presence of Mexican wolves address the negative financial impacts on livestock producers that accompany Mexican wolf recovery. The innovative Coexistence Plan was announced in March 2014. It is comprised of three core strategies: payments for wolf presence, funding for conflict avoidance measures and continued funding for depredation compensation. The Game and Fish Department appointed an 11-member volunteer council representing livestock producers, tribes, environmental groups and counties in Arizona and New Mexico.  AP

The official press release is here and has this additional information:

Seed funding for the Coexistence Plan comes from the Federal Livestock Demonstration Program, which in 2013 provided $20,000 for depredation compensation and $40,000 for preventative measures to Arizona Game and Fish Department, and $20,000 for depredation compensation and $50,000 for preventative measures to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. These grant funds are matched by in - kind contributions through the Mexican Wolf Fund and Defenders of Wildlife providing financial assistance to live stock producers to implement proactive measures to reduce conflicts between Mexican wolves and livestock. Both States have been awarded a combined $190,000 in demonstration program funds for 2014 .

NM Land Commissioner recount ensured

The race for state Land Commissioner had tightened to a 757-vote margin as of Monday, ensuring a recount and possibly another cross-check as well. Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn has remained ahead of Democratic incumbent Ray Powell as counties have turned in their final numbers to the secretary of state. Under state law, a difference of less than one-half of 1 percent of votes cast automatically triggers a recount. Dunn’s edge – 757 votes out of 499,515 cast – is well under that. A recount will be done after the State Canvassing Board meets Nov. 25...more

Wind firm sues to block release of bird-death data

A company that operates at least 13 wind-energy facilities across three states is suing in federal court to block the U.S. government from releasing information to The Associated Press about how many birds are found dead at its facilities. Pacificorp of Portland, Oregon, is seeking an injunction in U.S. District Court in Utah to prevent the Interior Department from releasing information it considers confidential. The Obama administration has said it planned to turn over the material to The Associated Press, which sought it from the Interior Department in March 2013 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. The government concluded that the industry's concerns were "insufficiently convincing" to keep the files secret. The information the AP sought was part of its larger investigation into bird and eagle deaths at wind farms and the administration's reluctance to prosecute the cases as it advocated the pollution-free energy source. The AP asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for data collected under federal permits given to companies to collect the carcasses of protected bird species, including eagles and migratory birds, found dead at their facilities. Using documents, emails and interviews with former wildlife officials, the AP in articles published last year documented more than four dozen eagle deaths in Wyoming since 2009, and dozens more in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. Corporate surveys submitted to the federal government and obtained by AP showed at least 20 eagles found dead in recent years on Pacificorp wind farms in Wyoming. The wind energy industry has said more birds are killed by poisoning and collisions with cars, buildings and electrical wires...more

White House taunts GOP on climate change: ‘I don’t believe they can stop us’

The White House forged ahead Monday with yet another piece of its climate change agenda and bragged that Republicans are powerless to stop it. A presidential task force unveiled a report on how communities across the country can prepare for the effects of global warming. In all, the recommendations on “climate preparedness and resilience” could cost the federal government more than $100 billion to protect drinking water supplies, shore up coastlines against rising sea levels and take other preventive measures. But legal analysts say the Republicans have little ammunition to fight back, short of shutting down the federal government to stop Environmental Protection Agency funding. White House officials, keenly aware of the executive power Mr. Obama holds on the issue of climate change, openly mocked incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues. “I believe the president will complete actions. It is a top priority of his and I don’t believe they can stop us,” White House counselor John Podesta told reporters on a conference call Monday...more

More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations

The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show. At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice. At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers, accountants drug dealers or yacht buyers and more, court records show. At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud, officials said. Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level. But outside public view, changes in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents. At convenience stores, for example, undercover agents, sometimes using actual minors as decoys, look for illegal alcohol and cigarette sales, records show. At the Education Department, undercover agents of the Office of Inspector General infiltrate federally funded education programs looking for financial fraud. Medicare investigators sometimes pose as patients to gather evidence against health care providers. Officers at the Small Business Administration, NASA and the Smithsonian do undercover work as well, records show...But current and former law enforcement officials said the number of federal agents doing such work appeared to total well into the thousands, with many agencies beefing up their ranks in recent years, or starting new undercover units. An intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, said the agency alone spent $100 million annually on its undercover operations. With large numbers of undercover agents at the F.B.I. and elsewhere, the costs could reach hundreds of millions of dollars a year. In a sampling of such workers, an analysis of publicly available résumés showed that since 2001 more than 1,100 current or former federal employees across 40 agencies listed undercover work inside the United States as part of their duties...more

Editorial-Rising Rail Oil Shipments Beg For Safer Keystone XL

New data show fast-rising rail shipments from North Dakota's Bakken shale formation and the need for a safer alternative to rail — like the Keystone XL pipeline.

In his post-election press conference, the president noted in justifying his continual kicking of the Keystone XL oil drum down the road that "while this debate about Canadian oil has been raging ... we've seen some of the biggest increases in American oil production and natural gas production in our history."

That increase is due in large part to oil recovered from the Bakken shale formation centered on North Dakota. So much oil has been found there that the Energy Information Administration notes a 13.4% jump in rail shipments of oil over last year, a trend likely to continue.

This is both good news and bad news, for increased rail shipments of oil raise the risk of catastrophic train derailments. A State Department analysis released in June found that rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline project would result in 2,947 injuries and 434 deaths as oil companies shipped their oil by means, including rail, that are demonstrably less safe.

As we've noted, Keystone would not only carry oil from Canada to U.S. refineries, but also link to the Bakken formation. Many rail shipments from the Bakken fields are being handled by BNSF Railway.
The danger of rail shipments from Bakken is heightened by the fact that Bakken crude is more flammable than other crude, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

"The no-action alternative of rail is a misguided plan," former PHMSA head Brigham McCown said in the Washington Free Beacon. "Pipelines have proved themselves to be safer, more environmentally friendly and more cost effective than the alternative."

Keystone left behind as Canadian crude pours into U.S.

Delays of the Keystone XL pipeline are providing little obstacle to Western Canadian oil producers getting their crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast, with shipments set to more than double next year. The volume of Canadian crude processed at Gulf Coast refineries could climb to more than 400,000 barrels a day in 2015 from 208,000 in August, according to Jackie Forrest, vice president of Calgary-based ARC Financial Corp. The increase comes as Enbridge Inc.'s Flanagan South and an expanded Seaway pipeline raise their capacity to ship oil by as much as 450,000 barrels a day. Canadian exports to the Gulf rose 83 percent in the past four years. The expansion shows Canadians are finding alternative entry points into the U.S. while the Keystone saga drags on. In the latest chapter, a Democratic senator and a Republican representative are seeking votes in their chambers to set the project in motion. The two are squaring off in a runoff election for a Senate seat from Louisiana, a state where support for the project is strong. "Keystone is kind of old news," Sandy Fielden, director of energy analytics at Austin, Texas-based consulting company RBN Energy, said Nov. 12 in an email. "Producers have moved on and are looking for new capacity from other pipelines." TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL, which would transport Alberta's heavy oil sands crude to refineries on the Gulf, has been held up for six years, awaiting Obama administration approval. Energy companies in Canada, including Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., produce crude from thick oil sands in remote areas of northern Alberta. The companies want pipelines and rail networks expanded so they can export more of their product, which has sold for an average $20-a-barrel discount to the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate over the past year. cComments Got something to say? Start the conversation and be the first to comment. Add a comment 0 Canada sent about 54,000 barrels a day to the Gulf of Mexico by rail in the first half of 2014, said Forrest at Arc Financial, which is a private equity management company that invests in energy companies...more

Study finds Americans using less water, but Idahoans use the most

Americans are using less water, though people in the Northwest individually use more than the national average and Idahoans use more than people in any other state. A study by local, state and federal officials tracking everything from collective sips at the public fountain to irrigating crops to water used to cool nuclear power plants has found that water usage has dropped to levels of at least 40 years ago. "This is the first time we've seen this large a decline nationally," said Molly Maupin, a Boise-based hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of "Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010." "The magnitude of the overall decline was a little surprising to us," she said. The 56-page report released earlier this month is a snapshot taken at five-year intervals with the most recently compiled information covering 2010. The report was somewhat delayed, Maupin noted, because of the government shutdown and sequestration. Officials found that in 2010 the U.S. used an average of 355 billion gallons of water per day. That's 13 percent less than 2005, and the lowest amount since before 1970. The five-year snapshots that started in 1950 track water removed from the system, meaning water that is used and then returned to the system can be counted again...more

Enviros sue to stop DC rail tunnel

A community-based planning and advocacy group says the federal government ignored alternatives to a major freight line renovation, instead greenlighting a project that will enlarge a rail tunnel that cuts through the heart of the District of Columbia. The Committee of 100 on the Federal City sued officials from the Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency along with D.C. officials over their approval of non-party CSX Transportation's plan to open up the rail tunnel that runs beneath Virginia Avenue in Southeast Washington to double-tracking. According to the complaint, the project to expand the tunnel - which runs just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol - was approved without examining alternative routes or a no-build option, in violation to the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. The group adds that the environmental impact statements on the project contain material misstatements about the alternatives, "including an exaggerated account of the degree to which the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, standing alone, impedes freight rail on the eastern seaboard, which resulted in an inadequate assessment of the 'no build' alternative."...more

Hey, all you commutin' commies and travelin' traitors in DC...WELCOME TO THE WEST.

Cloning a Long-extinct Woolly Mammoth Might Become Reality

Last year, in the snowy parts of Siberia, a beautifully preserved woolly mammoth carcass was found. Scientists were even able to collect blood samples from the specimen, making it possible to recreate the mammoth by using DNA found in the recovered blood cells. That’s the reason scientists now have high hopes that a clone of the mammoth could be a real possibility if they were to map its specific traits – like its tusks and hair – onto a live elephant genome. If this long-awaited dream came true, it’s up to the researchers at the South Korean biotech company SOOAM, who are now testing the carcass for a complete set of DNA. Only if the mammoth’s DNA turned out to be complete, could the scientists clone it...more

Hey Denny Gentry, I foresee a new team roping event.  Probably would have to rope off of a cross between Clydesdales and Percherons.  Could Priefert make a ropin' chute that big?  Who knows, they might buck too.  Talk about a return to the "wild and wooly" days, this would do it.

Grizzly bears switch to eating moths...Would Michelle O approve?

Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone eat as many as 266 different plant and animal species. Now, these bears have to make an extra effort for their food as their major sources of food, Yellowstone cutthroat trout and whitebark pine nuts, have disappeared. Lately, it has been observed that more number of endangered grizzly bears is found at the southeastern part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. A novel study has found that they are found frequenting in that area for the search of army cutworm moths. The study findings are important, as a decline has been witnessed in other food sources of these bears. Frank van Manen, of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in Bozeman, said that a rise has been seen in the use of the moth sites in the past three years. The study researchers have carried out 29 moth surveys inside the 9,210 square-mile area. After doing so, the researchers found the small bugs, which are rich in fat and protein. These bugs are favorite of these hungry bears. The researchers found as many as 470 grizzly bears roaming near the 29 moth sites and 220 were found at these sites this year alone. Out of them, 19 were females and their cubs. Since the 1980s, the researchers have officially recognized these sites and have been closely observing for moth areas within Yellowstone...more

Wonder how long until the moths are on the endangered list too.

Why the penguin is a thief and a sex pest!

By the time most people get to the end of the John Lewis Christmas ad about the little boy and Monty, his lovelorn penguin, they are wiping the tears from their eyes or launching into a ‘Bah, humbug!’ tirade about the commercialisation of Christmas. But not me. After a year of filming, 1,000 hours of footage and months of editing, I know Adelie penguins better than most and Monty, an Adelie created by computerised special effects, is astonishingly true to life. But though Adelies may be adorable, they are hardly the romantic gentlemen that John Lewis would have us believe. In fact, they are incorrigible philanderers. But while they have got most things right, the team behind the John Lewis ad made one mistake, or at least glossed over a distinctly unseasonal truth. As you listen to Tom Odell warbling his way through John Lennon’s Real Love and Monty stares balefully at one romantic couple after another, yearning for a girl of his own, you might imagine that Adelies were swan-like in their lifelong devotion to their mate. Far from it. They may be into sexual equality when it comes to dividing up domestic duties, sharing the feeding, nest-sitting and chick-raising between male and female, but they are surprisingly pragmatic when it comes to love, or rather, sex. In an environment as tough as the Antarctic, where the chances of a fully grown bird surviving from one year to the next are slim, it makes little sense to mate for life. Some penguins, such as Rockhoppers, practise monogamy, but for Adelies it’s a different mate every year. Each spring the male Adelie builds his pebbly nest — often stealing from his neighbour for raw materials — in the hope of attracting a female. But if he doesn’t, the mating instinct can prove overwhelming, a fact that led one of the first scientific papers on the species to be withheld from publication in the prudish early years of the last century. For if no willing female is to be found, frustrated male Adelie penguins will resort to chasing vigorously after other males and even, I’m afraid to say, attempting to mate with dead penguins. In these more enlightened times, not many would bat an eye over gay penguins. But necrophiliac penguins? Sorry, Monty, that’s not real love, but it is real penguin life. Just don’t tell John Lewis...more

Penguin perverts...soon to be declared a "distinct population".

Chicken-like bird threatens western state economies, as feds weigh new rules

A small, chicken-like bird is threatening economies across the American West as the feds weigh new regulations to protect it. Meet the sage grouse. The animal stands at the center of the latest battle pitting America's domestic energy industry against conservationists trying to protect a little-known species from harm. Like past clashes over the spotted owl or a desert-dwelling pronghorn, the results could be costly. The federal government already listed one variety of the bird, the Gunnison sage grouse, as threatened under the Endangered Species Act earlier this month, prompting Colorado to prepare a lawsuit over the decision. But that bird only thrives in western Colorado and eastern Utah. The feds continue to weigh a far more expansive listing of its cousin, the greater sage grouse. That bird lives in 11 western states, and an endangered species listing could have a much bigger economic impact. "There's extensive energy development, mining, recreation, ranching, farming," said Kathleen Sgamma, with the Western Energy Alliance. "And sage grouse restrictions that really aren't tailored to actual conditions on the ground could kill jobs and economic activities in rural communities across the West." In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first determined that an endangered species listing was warranted for the greater sage grouse. Budget problems forced the agency to put off a final decision until 2015. "In Wyoming, the sage grouse territory is about 80 percent of the state," said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, whose state is the biggest energy exporter in the country.  The governor argues that an endangered species would hurt the entire country. "We're not going to survive if we don't have energy and we don't have food and we don't have the ability for municipalities to grow and prosper."...more

Dept. of Interior Offers First Right-of-Way for Renewable Energy Transmission in Federal Waters

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank today announced that BOEM has offered a right-of-way (ROW) grant to Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System, LLC (Deepwater Wind) for the Block Island Transmission System (BITS). Deepwater Wind’s proposed project would entail the installation of a bi-directional submerged transmission cable between Block Island and the Rhode Island mainland. The transmission system would serve two purposes: 1) connect Deepwater Wind’s proposed 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm, located in Rhode Island state waters about 2.5 nautical miles southeast of Block Island, to the Rhode Island mainland; and 2) transmit power from the existing onshore transmission grid on the mainland to Block Island. The ROW corridor, which is about eight nautical miles long and 200 feet wide, comprises the portion of the transmission line that crosses federal waters...more

Idaho game commission prefers trapper training rather than restricting conibear traps

Rather than making new rules to restrict trapping in Idaho, state Fish and Game commissioners say they prefer to have trappers take safety classes to reduce the chance that dogs will be caught in deadly body-gripping traps. At a Thursday meeting in Post Falls, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission declined to move forward with proposals to restrict the use of “conibear” traps, which killed two dogs in North Idaho last winter. “I think this whole issue is emotional right now, and I hate to see rules and laws come out of emotion,” Commissioner Mark Doerr, of Kimberly, Idaho, said. After the two dogs were killed, state wildlife officials received complaints from bird and waterfowl hunters and other recreationists about safety in areas where their activities overlap with trapping...more

Enviros: too much vigor at Briger (turtles & snakes, do not partake)

An environmental group whose members blocked a construction entry to the Briger tract early this month say they will stage a bigger protest of the wooded property’s development, on Dec. 5. Everglades Earth First! opposes the development in progress at the 681-acre site, which straddles I-95 between Donald Ross and Hood roads. The group contends the site is home to gopher tortoises and an endangered snake species, the Easter Indigo and that the land should be left wild. County and city officials several years ago approved the tract as a future location for companies attracted by the nearby presence of the Scripps Research Institute, and for housing and other uses. Kolter Group has begun development of early phases of the overall plan for the land...more

Democrats Move Gun Confiscation Underground

Today, I’ll let you in on a clandestine but fast-moving effort on the part of Democrats to implement universal background checks under the cover of darkness. The danger of losing your 2nd Amendment rights has never been more palpable. On November 4, Washington State passed expanded background checks through a ballot initiative that garnered 60% of the vote. As USA Today puts it: “Largely overshadowed by the GOP’s capture of the Senate, the Washington vote is being touted by gun control advocates as a potential template for establishing universal background checks as a condition of all gun sales throughout the country.” While jubilant Republicans and independents celebrated midterm election results, Democrats quietly celebrated their own victory in controlling gun-owners. Gun grabbers tiptoed through the twilight while journalists covered hard stories like Chelsea Clinton’s new baby...more