Friday, June 05, 2015


Took Sharon to the Dr. yesterday morning and they immediately had her admitted to the hospital.  She has a bad infection and they can't figure out where its coming from.  Hope to find out more today.

UPDATE - Sunday

Good news, doc says Sharon can come home today.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

EPA About to Make Air Travel More Expensive

The Obama administration is set to announce that it will require new rules to cut emissions from airplanes, expanding a quest to tackle climate change that has included a string of significant regulations on cars, trucks and power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to report as early as Friday its conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes endanger human health because they significantly contribute to global warming, although people familiar with the agency’s plans said the announcement could slip into next week. That announcement, known in legal parlance as an endangerment finding, will prompt a requirement under the Clean Air Act for the agency to issue new regulations to reduce airplane emissions. The agency is expected to limit the rule to commercial aircraft, leaving out small craft and military planes...more

Second Yellowstone visitor injured in bison encounter

The sheer size and wildness of Yellowstone National Park's signature bison provide a magnificent subject for camera-toting tourists. But officials caution visitors not to come within 25 yards of the animals, noting that they are unpredictable and able to sprint three times faster than people can run. A 62-year-old Australian man who ventured to within 3 to 5 feet of one bison was injured Tuesday when the animal charged and tossed him into the air several times, park officials said. He was released from a hospital later in the evening. This is the second such incident within weeks. A 16-year-old Taiwanese exchange student was gored by a bison on May 15 while posing for a photo. Both encounters occurred in the popular Old Faithful portion of Yellowstone...more

Eel-like fish drop from the air in Fairbanks

Adult Arctic lampreys have fallen from the sky four times this week in Fairbanks, including at the Value Village parking lot, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That's unusual for a fish that's seldom seen in the water up here. The Arctic lamprey is a roughly foot-long eel-like fish with a no jaw and a nightmarish looking set of teeth. Gulls are probably to blame for picking up and dropping the lampreys, according to the post...more

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

At least 75 researchers study methane leaks in Four Corners

From the air, the rocky, sprawling San Juan Basin comes into focus like a scene in a classic Western. As a team of researchers board an aircraft on an April day to examine what’s below, a mysterious concentration of methane continues to spew around dramatic alpine peaks, desert canyons and ancient cliff dwellings. It is this methane seepage that has researchers both excited and worried ever since it was detected after a NASA report last year. The so-called “hot spot” in the Four Corners is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas in the nation, in which methane can be seen leaking in real-time through thermal observations. With the Fruitland Formation of the San Juan Basin being the second largest gas-producing basin in the United States – covering portions of northern New Mexico and Southwest Colorado – the region provides a unique opportunity for researchers. “We’ve changed the composition of the atmosphere mainly by putting in carbon dioxide and methane, and that has changed the heat,” said Russ Schnell, deputy director of the Boulder-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Monitoring Division. “By changing the physics of the atmosphere, we’ve changed the thickness of the warm blanket that surrounds the Earth, and we’ve added a huge number more of down feathers to this blanket.” Schnell coordinated a team of at least 75 researchers who descended on the Four Corners for a month to determine what is causing the mysterious concentration of methane. The work has significant national and global implications, because findings could guide policymakers and the oil and gas industry in how they go about regulating and reacting to the venting of concerning gases, specifically methane...more

Podesta and Heinrich were the key players on NM national monument

In an excellent new article on the High Country News website titled John Podesta: Legacy maker, Elizabeth Shogren, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, deftly lays out the behind-the-scenes environmental influence of Mr. Podesta:

As the 66-year-old Podesta embarks on yet another adventure — this time 
as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager for the 2016 election — he can list some remarkable achievements: He directly had a hand in six of 16 national monuments Obama
 has created or expanded so far by executive order, including New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Colorado’s Browns Canyon, Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains, and the country’s largest marine reserve, the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument; and steered a landmark climate deal with China to control greenhouse gas, as well as the first proposal to regulate climate emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants. Add in his record under Bill Clinton — the sweeping 2001 “Roadless Rule” protecting 58 million acres administered by the U.S. Forest Service, and the 19 national monuments and conservation areas, many in the West, that Clinton declared in his second term in office — and Podesta can claim a green legacy that even Teddy Roosevelt would be proud of.  “Nobody in the 21st century in U.S. government has had the influence that he has had on public lands and climate change,” says Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University professor of history.  Podesta rarely gets public credit, but those who do — from the presidents he has served to Cabinet members and agency heads — are quick to acknowledge his contributions. Says Bruce Babbitt, Clinton’s Interior secretary, “The hidden hand of John Podesta is involved in every environmental advancement accomplished in the Clinton and Obama administrations.”

The article should be of interest to anyone interested in how environmental policy is actually made, but will be especially interesting to those involved in the wilderness/monument proposals for southern NM:

...In early 2014, when a group of Western senators, frustrated by the lack of progress in preserving public lands, invited Podesta to Capitol Hill, he first asked if they had public support for their proposal. New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich cited a broad coalition of local residents, who had spent decades trying to get Congress to protect a rough-and-tumble chunk of mountains, canyons and grasslands outside Las Cruces as a wilderness area. Would the president consider creating a national monument there now?  Some Cabinet members hesitated, unwilling to promote new monuments that were guaranteed to anger the powerful Republicans who controlled the federal budget. “The secretaries knew they were in for it with their congressional overseers,” says Podesta, “and I think they weren’t certain about whether the president would back them up. I tried to reassure them that indeed he would.” Within a few months, President Obama had designated the half-million-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Sen. Heinrich gives Podesta credit for getting “the wheels turning within the White House” to make it happen. “He personally gets these issues and he understands the West and he understands the importance of lands issues,” Heinrich says. Podesta also understands how public lands can be leveraged to benefit his boss and political party.

No mention of outside environmental groups, no mention of Senator Udall.  Just as I predicted, Heinrich, who sits on the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources and Podesta, from his White House perch, got the deal done.  Recall too that it was Heinrich who negotiated the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness in northern NM and the transfer of Valles Caldera to the Park Service as part of the NDAA bill last year.

Udall may have the name, but Heinrich is the player on these issues.

Looking towards the future, Heinrich is going nowhere except up in seniority and influence and Podesta will be Hillary's campaign manager.  And that portends...

Senator: Use RICO Laws to Prosecute Global Warming Skeptics

That's right -- a sitting U.S. Senator is suggesting RICO laws should be applied to global warming skeptics.Top men like Sheldon Whitehouse can make sure we don't hear anything that we don't need to hear about scientific research and legally punish anyone who publicly disagrees. Otherwise, the natives get restless and start opposing whatever economic restrictions seem necessary to save us from ourselves. And as we all know, everything about the global warming debate is guided by altruism. No one's looking to get rich by artificially inflating the cost of fossil fuels and benefiting from green energy subsidies, right?  Of course, this isn't the first time someone has suggested prison for global warming deniers. Gawker's Adam Weinstein did that last year, because "First Amendment rights have never been absolute. You still can't yell 'fire' in a crowded theater. You shouldn't be able to yell 'balderdash' at 10,883 scientific journal articles a year, all saying the same thing: This is a problem, and we should take some preparations for when it becomes a bigger problem." Then Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. also joined the chorus last year. After saying he wants to jail climate deniers, he moderated his position by saying he merely wants to legally go after corporations and think tanks who disagree with climate science, noting that "Koch Industries and ExxonMobil have particularly distinguished themselves as candidates for corporate death." This is pretty rich coming from someone who's still insists vaccines cause autism, all scientific evidence to the contrary. And if we really want to compound the irony here, do note this headline at Think Progress last month: "Robert Kennedy Jr. Blasts Vaccine Science, Compares It To Tobacco Companies Denying Cancer Link." No doubt RICO charges are in order for vaccine makers. But those two men are effectively cranks. In February, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., attempted a McCarthyite witch hunt against climate scientists he found disagreeable. And Sheldon Whitehouse is a sitting U.S. Senator. He's now publicly encouraging legal persecution of people who conduct scientific research and/or those that have opinions about it he disagrees with.

Another global warming catastrophe: the Sahara Desert is getting greener


A few thousand years ago, a mighty river flowed through the Sahara across what is today Sudan. The Wadi Howar—now just a dried-out riverbed for most of the year—sustained not just fish, crocodiles, and hippopotamuses, but also agriculture and human settlement. As late as 1,000 B.C., a powerful fortress stood on its shores. But then the Sahara dried out, turning from a green savannah into an inhospitable desert. The culprit: climate change. According to desert geologist Stefan Kröpelin, who has studied geological data for the eastern Sahara going back 6,000 years, the desert spread as temperatures dropped. Global cooling meant that the air had less capacity to hold moisture from the oceans, leading to fewer rains and more arid climes.

Now, that same process is happening in reverse. As temperatures rise, the Sahara and other dry areas are greening on the edges. “I’ve been studying the Sahara for 30 years and can definitely say that it’s getting greener,” says Kröpelin, who specializes in desert archaeology and climate history at the University of Cologne. Where there used to be nothing but desert, he says, there is now not just grass but shrubs and acacia trees--and he has the photos from 30 years of extensive field study to prove it. “The nomads are taking their camels to graze in areas where they’ve never been able to graze before.” Satellite data showing more green on the southern edge of the Sahara also bear him out. "There are always winners and losers if weather patterns change," he says. “But as a general rule, warmer temperatures inevitably mean that the air picks up more moisture from the oceans, which will lead to more rainfall. If you look at the geological records in the Sahara, there have been repeated periods where the Sahara was greener when temperatures were warmer than today.”

Kröpelin’s geological data seem to question the popular notion that climate change will bring negative, if not outright apocalyptic effects: A dying Amazon, failing rains, drought, and desertification. The latest IPCC report predicts a decline in rainfall across large swaths of Africa of 20 percent or more, leading to deadly famines like the one raging in Somalia now. Millions of “climate refugees” might one day roam the earth.

Kröpelin is not the only scientist chipping away at these scenarios. An increasingly rich trove of data suggest that in large parts of the world, the more likely outcome is that warmer temperatures lead to more rainfall, richer plant growth, and the re-greening of areas that have been inhospitable for many centuries.
Farming is expanding again in frosty Greenland, which got its name because farming was possible when the Vikings first settled there during the “Medieval Warm Period,” a previous phase of global warming. In the Alps, the tree line--meaning the altitude above which trees no longer grow because of the cold and wind--has been steadily rising, with forests growing thicker, according to researchers at the Swiss Institute for Forest, Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos. In arid Namibia, stuck between the Namib and the Kalahari Deserts, farmers say the last decade has seen increased rainfall, higher grass, and more of the wildlife that feeds on it.

In the latest issue of Nature, a U.S. Department of Agriculture study discovered that the higher temperatures and CO2 levels forecast by the IPCC boost the growth of prairie grass, a surprising find that suggests a greener, more fertile future for the world’s semi-arid grasslands, which cover one-third of the global land mass.

Widely reported scenarios that higher temperatures will dry out the Amazon rain forest also seem to be contradicted by evidence assembled by Smithsonian researcher Carlos Jamarillo. Jamarillo has studied the fossilized remains of ancient rainforests and concludes that warmer temperatures went hand-in-hand with greater plant growth and higher species diversity. It was the opposite of what the researchers expected.

Writing about this at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw speculates the Sahara Desert was caused by hydraulic fracturing in the Garden of Eden...hee, hee

Video - Cliven Bundy, 'If I was armed, they'd kill me'

There were no helicopters overhead, no gunmen in the hills, no scuffles or threats, just miles of quiet desert scrub dotted with the occasional cow. Cliven Bundy smiled. “Well, we definitely won.”
A year ago, his Nevada ranch crackled with tension as federal agents squared off against a so-called citizen militia, which rallied from across the US to defend Bundy, as members saw it, from government tyranny.  But this week, 14 months later, his 500-strong herd grazed as normal, as chickens clucked in the yard – and the feds were a memory. “From the moment that they left, we have felt freedom on this ranch,” said Bundy, 69, seated in his rambling wooden home, the porch draped in US flags. “We might be the freest place on earth.” He has not seen a single federal official or vehicle on his 600,000-acre property, which sprawls 80 miles north of Las Vegas, and feels no pressure to pay a cent of the $1.2m, he said. A banner on the highway proclaims “freedom” and “liberty”, followed by a sign indicating “Bundy melons”.  Wearing trademark jeans, boots, cowboy hat and bolo tie, the Mormon father of 14 was upbeat in an interview with the Guardian, speaking from the family home – which as a boy he helped his father build – and as he inspected cattle pens, trailed by his two dogs.  “I don’t think this is a battle that Cliven Bundy won. It’s a battle that the American people won. They’re just not going to put up with abuse by the federal government.”  Bundy said he was no outlaw, that he pays all taxes and state duties – but not federal fees for grazing, which he stopped paying after the BLM imposed restrictions as part of an effort to protect the endangered desert tortoise...more

Here is a video of The Guardians interview:

Editorial - Attack on ATV use continues

In November 2013, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball handed down a ruling with the potential to devastate regional tourism economies as well as the public’s ability to access federally administered land.

For the past two years, officials have been waiting to see what this ruling would ultimately mean.

Kimball’s ruling put a resource management plan designed for 2.1 million acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management’s Richfield office into question.

A memorandum decision and order issued by Kimball May 22 gives everyone a better indication of what his earlier ruling will ultimately mean.

Unsurprisingly, it will mean millions of dollars will have to be spent over the course of the next three years to study the effects of off-highway vehicle use on archaeological sites and other resources inside the BLM administered land.

Judge Kimball said in his ruling that just because the BLM is going to re-review these routes, doesn’t mean it will necessarily come to a different conclusion about whether they should remain open or not.

In all likelihood, some routes will be shut down, such as on the Henry Mountains, which the court implicitly ordered to be declared an area of critical environmental concern.

Once the court mandated three-year review period is over, the overall plan may or may not see significant change.
The only certainty is that no matter how much the plan changes due to this ruling, it will not be enough for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the plaintiffs of the original case.

SUWA’s suggestion to the court was to simply close all designated routes on the Richfield resource management plan while the review is conducted. While the court didn’t grant that request, it is very telling of SUWA’s ultimate goal.

SUWA will sue the BLM again and try to close down more trails. By using litigation, SUWA’s plans seem to be aimed at ultimately shutting down any use of public lands — off-highway vehicle use, mining, petroleum exploration or grazing.

Which BLM officials will sign final sage grouse documents?

The greater sage grouse planning strategy is such a massive undertaking for the Bureau of Land Management that officials are unsure who will sign the final environmental documents. “I don’t think that’s been determined yet,” said Mitch Snow, a spokesman for the BLM’s Washington, D.C., office. The agency has 60 days to figure it out. Although typically a final environmental impact statement, or EIS, would be signed by the state director, the agency is discussing whether to have the director of the BLM, the assistant secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell sign the documents. “Given the nationwide scope of the sage grouse plan, who that will be I don’t know,” said Al Nash, chief of communications for BLM’s Montana/Dakotas office in Billings. Last week, the BLM announced that it had completed environmental impact statements for areas in 10 western states, including Wyoming. Since they have been finalized, the only way to alter the documents now is for a group or individual to file a protest before June 29. The documents also must pass a governor’s consistency review. Each state has 60 days to conduct that assessment. “Then we can move forward and operate under the new plan,” Nash said...more

Its so massive they can't even figure out who should sign it (them)!

New lawsuit planned against seven-year-old Arctic drilling auction

A 2008 government sale of Arctic drilling leases to Shell and other companies is set to face fresh scrutiny in the federal courts, with a dozen environmental and Alaskan groups preparing to file a new challenge to the auction. At issue is Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s March decision to affirm the long-disputed Chukchi Sea lease sale, after federal regulators conducted a court-ordered reassessment of how much crude could be recovered from drilling rights that were on the auction block. The environmental groups planning to challenge Jewell’s move say the Interior Department paid short shrift to the potential damage that drilling activities under those auctioned leases could pose to Pacific walruses in the Hanna Shoal area of the Chukchi Sea. And, they argue that the decision to affirm the auction runs afoul of the Obama administration’s vow to combat climate change, because it would unleash new fossil fuels — including 4.3 billion barrels of oil estimated to be contained in the Chukchi Sea leases — and the greenhouse gases produced when they are burned...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1441

Some Roots Music as Uncle Dave Macon & His Fruit Jar Drinkers perform Hold That Wood-Pile Down.  Recorded in NY City on May 7, 1927 for Vocalion Records.  That's Sam & Kirk McGee backing him up in the studio.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Simpson's 'water war' is here

In October, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson warned that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy had “fired the first shot across the bow in what could potentially become a water war.” The war is here. The Idaho Republican was talking about a seemingly minute redefinition of the term “Waters of the United States” the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers had proposed earlier that year. The definition matters because it determines which waters are covered by the Clean Water Act, and which waters are either left to state regulators or left unregulated. The rule change has sparked a backlash from conservative lawmakers, while conservationists marshal behind what they see as a key protection for clean water. “I find it extremely disappointing, though not surprising, that the EPA has moved forward on this controversial rule in spite of widespread opposition from members of Congress, the states, and the American public,” Simpson said in a statement. “In Idaho, water is life, and I don’t intend to sit back and watch the EPA take control of state waters, leaving Idaho farmers, ranchers, and landowners at the mercy of federal regulations.” Some of the biggest controversy surrounds whether the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have the authority to regulate small streams that only flow for part of the year. The EPA says protecting those waters are key to ensuring people have clean water to drink. The EPA claims one in three Americans draws drinking water from a stream that would not be protected by the Clean Water Act if the proposed rule is blocked. But efforts to block the rule change are well underway. Even before the EPA had published its rule, the House passed a bill blocking its implementation. So far, that bill hasn’t made much progress in the Senate. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any such bills. But Simpson — who is chairman of the committee that sets the Army Corps of Engineers’ budget and sits on the committee that oversees the EPA’s budget — has considerable power over whether the proposed rule moves forward. In the past, spokeswoman Nikki Wallace said, Simpson has inserted language into agency budgets to block such rule changes. “I anticipate that he will continue down that path as a result of EPA’s most recent ruling,” she said...more

Filippinis asks for support in turning out cows

Ranchers who have been at the center of a contentious grazing dispute are hoping supporters will help turn out cattle 10 a.m. today on an allotment near Valmy, about 15 miles west of Battle Mountain. Eddyann Filippini said cowboys will initially turn out 90 head of cattle on the North Buffalo allotment. The Filippini ranch was one of several family-operated permit holders that grazed cattle on the Argenta allotment. Last year, the Bureau of Land Management told livestock operators that cattle would not be allowed on the mountain due to drought. That decision sparked protests, including an Elko-to-Carson City horse ride spearheaded by the late Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber. The BLM and ranchers then agreed to allow conditional grazing. After certain “drought triggers” were met, the agency closed nine of 20 areas in the allotment. Because of a lack of fencing, permittees worried that cows would wander into closed areas, however. n September, riders saddled up again for the Grass March/Cowboy Express, which carried petitions from California to the U.S. Congress. The dispute ended up before the Interior Board of Land Appeals, but all parties involved agreed to mediation, which began last week. A BLM spokesman said mediation is still ongoing...more

Squaring sage grouse with drilling poses feds' toughest test

JONAH GAS FIELD, Wyo. -- The sound of drill rigs and fracking trucks now rules the high desert here. Gone is the mating call of the greater sage grouse, a showy bird that once strutted among blue-green hills puffing its chest and sounding odd rhythmic pops, squeaks and whistles. A decade ago, the Bureau of Land Management approved a Canadian energy firm to drill up to 3,200 gas wells on this scenic patch of lands, with views of the snow-capped Wind River Range. But it was an unusually dense project that fragmented habitat for the several dozen male grouse that danced and sparred here. Today, government biologists report that there are just six male grouse left. The birds gather at a single breeding ground, known as a lek, but have abandoned three other sites here, a couple dozen miles south of Pinedale. The mottled, brown bird faces a panoply of threats across its 11-state range, including wildfire and invasive species in the Great Basin and sod busting in Montana as well as the encroachment of juniper trees, predatory ravens, disease and intensive grazing. But a top threat across much of the sage grouse's eastern range in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Montana is energy development -- namely oil and gas. Alleviating those threats will be key if the Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to avoid listing the bird. The science is clear: Sage grouse don't like the sights and sounds of drill rigs, tanks and truck traffic...more

Gohmert to BLM: ‘Keep Up The Arrogance’ - We’ll Cut Your Budget

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told two federal land officials, “I come bearing good news. I think if your employees keep up the arrogance, keep denying access to the land then very soon we’ll be able to dramatically cut your employees back and start turning those powers over to the states.” Gohmert’s comments came during a Joint Legislative Hearing "To protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes” in late May.

See a video of his comments here.

More diverse gene pool key to wolves

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shot the last captive-born Mexican gray wolf in the wild for “escalating nuisance behavior” after it came too close to Catron County neighborhoods. It was a fairly routine kill, but the take of Mexican gray wolf No. 1130 marked a shift in the program to recuperate the endangered species: Today all 110 wolves roaming the wild of eastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico were born in the wild. On the surface, that sounds like a milestone. Just crossing the 100 mark for wild wolves sounds significant, especially for a program that began with just seven known wolves left in the species. The authors of the original 1982 Mexican gray wolf recovery plan – which badly needs an update – set 100 as a goal but could hardly imagine ever reaching such numbers. Shouldn’t wolf advocates be celebrating, then? Shouldn’t ranchers, many of whom oppose the reintroduction of a top predator, be able to say enough is enough? New Mexico Game Commissioner Ralph Ramos posed a question to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service at a recent commission meeting in Farmington. With more than 100 wolves successfully reproducing and surviving in the wild, he asked, “Why don’t we support their natural breeding? Why do we want to keep adding more?” Here’s why: Because the Mexican gray wolf population isn’t nearly as strong as its numbers suggest. Maggie Dwire, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s assistant wolf recovery coordinator, said most of the animals in the wild are related to one another – too closely related to ensure the survival of the species, the goal of the reintroduction program...more

Interior Department Approves First Solar Energy Zone Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 2, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution and create clean energy jobs, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the approval of the first three solar energy projects to benefit from the streamlined permitting process of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Western Solar Plan. When built, the three solar energy projects on public lands in Clark County, Nevada, will generate up to 440 megawatts of energy – enough electricity to power roughly 132,000 homes – and are expected to create up to 1,900 construction jobs. The Western Solar Plan allows for a more efficient and predictable permitting process by focusing development in solar energy zones with the highest resource potential and lowest conflicts. The expedited reviews of these three projects were completed in less than 10 months, or less than half the amount of time it took under the previous project-by-project system. These reviews also include consideration of the first regional mitigation strategy for solar energy zone projects...more

Steve Kay - Drumbeat to reduce antibiotics in the meat industry will only get louder

...While I don’t regard science as infallible, I have never doubted the rigor with which it is applied. However, the largely false claim that human resistance to antibiotics is due to antibiotic use in the livestock industry illustrates how you can repeat the facts over and over, and people will still ignore them. The key fact is that the vast majority of antibiotics used by animals are not used by humans. Tetracyclines and ionophores account for 72% of animal use, but only 4% (tetracyclines only) of human use. Here’s another thing: To my knowledge, there are no scientific data that link antibiotics used in meat production to antibiotic resistance in humans. Many consumers, though, don’t care about the facts. They want any kind of antibiotic out of their food. The result so far has been enormous pressure on the chicken industry, with consumer groups persuading chains like McDonald’s and Chipotle to get rid of antibiotics. The poultry giants have responded. Tyson Foods says it is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler-chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. Given that Tyson is the largest fed-beef processor as well, its move has implications for the U.S. beef industry. Public pressure over antibiotic use continues to mount, and the calls for red meat to act will get even louder. Tyson has anticipated this. It is forming working groups with independent producers and others in its beef, pork and turkey supply chains to discuss ways to reduce the use of human antibiotics on cattle, hog and turkey farms. These groups will begin meeting this summer...more

Kit Carson: History and the Myth

by Marshall Trimble

In October 1849, a trader named James White, his wife Ann and their infant daughter were traveling on the Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico when they were attacked by a band of Apache. James was killed while Ann and the child were taken captive. Major William Grier and a company of Dragoons went in pursuit of the raiders. Their scout was Kit Carson whose sensational, bigger-than-life adventures were being chronicled in popular dime novels of the day.

On the twelfth day out they spotted a large camp and attacked. As the warriors were fleeing, one fired an arrow into the breast of Mrs. White. Her child was never found.

Mrs. White had been dead only a few minutes and her body was still warm.  Among her possessions was a copy of the popular dime novel Kit Carson: Prince of the Gold Hunters, a story about Carson saving a beautiful woman from death at the hands of a band of Indians.  Carson couldn't read nor write and when the story was read to him, he muttered "Throw it in the fire!"

He was deeply shaken by the fact that this woman probably died hoping the famous scout would come to her rescue. Life doesn’t always imitate art. Unlike in the dime novels, he got there too late. It was said the incident haunted Carson for the rest of his life.

Johnny Gimble & Junior Daughtery

 J.R. Absher also sent along this video of Sally Gooden, with Junior doing the fiddling.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1440

This is Gimble's live version of La Zinda Waltz, available on his 1976 album Johnny Gimble's Texas Dance Party

Drumbeat to reduce antibiotics in the meat industry will only get louder

...While I don’t regard science as infallible, I have never doubted the rigor with which it is applied. However, the largely false claim that human resistance to antibiotics is due to antibiotic use in the livestock industry illustrates how you can repeat the facts over and over, and people will still ignore them. The key fact is that the vast majority of antibiotics used by animals are not used by humans. Tetracyclines and ionophores account for 72% of animal use, but only 4% (tetracyclines only) of human use. Here’s another thing: To my knowledge, there are no scientific data that link antibiotics used in meat production to antibiotic resistance in humans. Many consumers, though, don’t care about the facts. They want any kind of antibiotic out of their food. The result so far has been enormous pressure on the chicken industry, with consumer groups persuading chains like McDonald’s and Chipotle to get rid of antibiotics. The poultry giants have responded. Tyson Foods says it is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler-chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. Given that Tyson is the largest fed-beef processor as well, its move has implications for the U.S. beef industry. Public pressure over antibiotic use continues to mount, and the calls for red meat to act will get even louder. Tyson has anticipated this. It is forming working groups with independent producers and others in its beef, pork and turkey supply chains to discuss ways to reduce the use of human antibiotics on cattle, hog and turkey farms. These groups will begin meeting this summer...more

Monday, June 01, 2015

GOP attack on water rule part of wider bid to 'rein in' EPA

The Obama administration says a new federal rule regulating small streams and wetlands will protect the drinking water of more than 117 million people in the country. Not so, insist Republicans. They say the rule is a massive government overreach that could even subject puddles and ditches to regulation. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is promising to "rein in" the government through legislation or other means. It's a threat with a familiar ring. What else are Capito and other Republicans pledging to try to block? — the administration's plan to curb carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. — its proposal for stricter limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness — a separate rule setting the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity. The rules are among a host of regulations that majority Republicans have targeted for repeal or delay as they confront President Barack Obama on a second-term priority: his environmental legacy, especially his efforts to reduce the pollution linked to global warming...more

Conservation group uses litigation to influence environmental enforcement

WildEarth Guardians, an environmental advocacy group known for aggressive litigation, is making waves in the sagebrush sea. Through a series of federal lawsuits, Guardians is reshaping the way the federal government enforces environmental laws. The most recent example is a claim brought against the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, Enforcement and Reclamation regarding the approval of plans to mine federal coal at two locations in Northwest Colorado. On May 8, a federal judge ruled against the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, stating that the environmental analyses for operations at Colowyo and Trapper mines did not meet standards established in the National Environmental Policy Act. The ruling ordered the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement to complete a new analysis for Colowyo within 120 days and issue a recommendation to Jewell concerning continuation of mining. As a part of his opinion, federal Judge R. Brooke Jackson set precedent by stating that the effects of coal combustion must be considered in environmental analyses for proposed coal mining operations. Although NEPA states that direct and indirect impacts on the environment must be considered before development on federal land, coal combustion has historically been absent from the equation. WildEarth Guardians is also a main character in the story of the greater sage grouse. In 2011, Guardians filed a claim in federal court asking the court to order the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a decision on the status of 251 potentially endangered species, including the greater sage grouse. Guardians received a favorable settlement and Fish and Wildlife agreed to evaluate 200 out of the 251 species by Sept. 30 of this year. WildEarth Guardians’ persistent litigation has not gone without notice. Americans for Prosperity Foundation funded a study to analyze the impacts of Guardians’ litigation on local communities. It was released in March 2012. The study was designed and preformed by Ryan Yonk, Ph.D., Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at Southern Utah University and Randy Simmons, Ph.D., Department of Economics and Finance at Utah State University. “What our study found was a negative impact on household income (in) places where WildEarth Guardians are active,” Yonk said. Yonk said household income is $2,500 less in areas where WildEarth Guardians conduct “litigation for the wild.” “This approach is successful in meeting their own goals, but it comes a cost to local communities,” he said...more

The 2012 study is here.

Bacon and Eggs Won’t Kill You (but the USDA might)


Most of us “know” that eating too much saturated fat (which includes red meat, dairy products, and eggs) raises our cholesterol levels and puts us at risk for heart disease. While we’re at it, we should greatly cut down on the salt too. These lessons are reinforced in our health classes and what the media has been telling us for decades. After all, this is the consensus reflected in the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and backed up by allegedly solid, objective science from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As extra reassurance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will use its regulatory authority to crack down on trans fats, the worst villain of them all.

Despite the appearance of a seemingly united front in the war on obesity, sharp dissent over sound nutrition policy is silently bubbling beneath the surface. It may be a sign of the times that fundamental challenges have come to the forefront and are becoming increasingly accepted. Growing numbers of scientists are expressing public skepticism toward the federal government’s official low-salt guidelines. Back in February of this year, the government’s top nutrition panel withdrew its nearly forty-year-old warning on restricting cholesterol intake and grudgingly concluded that “available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and [blood] cholesterol.”

The Health Consensus Unravels
In one of the Wall Street Journal’s top-shared op-eds of 2014, investigative journalist Nina Teicholz threw down the gauntlet on the mainstream diet guidelines on fat:
“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease” — or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.
The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.
Teicholz elaborates upon her thesis in her eye-opening, best-selling book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. With over 100 pages of footnotes and an extensive bibliography, it is clear that Teicholz has done her homework. In her nine-year investigation, she extensively reviewed the scientific literature and interviewed many of the key personalities in government, private industry, and advocacy groups who played influential roles in crafting official nutrition policy. While many people might be tempted to blame “the nefarious interests of Big Food,” Teicholz came to discover that the “source of the our misguided diet advice ... seems to have been driven by experts at some of our most trusted institutions working towards what they believed to be the public good.”

'Five Freedoms' - Farm animal treatment guidelines

By Seymour Klierly
Before the Memorial Day weekend, Wal-Mart announced new farm animal treatment guidelines for its suppliers. Wal-Mart asked suppliers to make sure that food animals have sufficient space, mentioning concerns over gestation crates for pregnant sows, battery cages for hens and veal crates for calves. In addition, Wal-Mart expressed support for the “Five Freedoms” of animal care—touchy, feely aspirations that are also adopted by animal rights groups (most of which are considered enemies of animal agriculture). They include: freedom from hunger and thirst; fear and distress; discomfort; pain or disease; and freedom to express normal behavior. Talk about playing on people’s emotions here. Can’t you just hear the sad music in the background?

Again, farmers and ranchers not only talk this talk, but they also walk this walk.
Hailed as “improved standards” in many news stories, the announcement was of course boasted by the Humane Society of the United States, arguably the biggest (size and dollar-wise) enemy of animal agriculture.

But another unsuspecting group came out praising the announcement—the National Pork Producers Council (the lobbying organization for pork producers). Targeted and picked on for years by HSUS, I was a little surprised to see this support. I see where they’re coming from: Pork producers already take care of animals humanely. But this is a departure from their normal reaction to decisions influenced by HSUS.

HSUS has claimed victory for every food company or restaurant the deep-pocketed organization bullied into eliminating the use of gestation crates (which are deemed humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association) for the protection of pregnant sows. A couple years ago, it seemed there was a daily announcement.

It was like dominos. And, speaking of Domino’s, the pizza chain was the only major food or restaurant chain that didn’t cave to animal rights extremists.

This didn’t happen in Washington, so why am I rambling on about it? Well, this brings me back to just a few short years ago when HSUS made a strong, but failed, attempt at federal legislation to mandate the minimum size of cages for egg-laying hens to be housed. This legislation was the first of its kind to dictate on-farm production practices.

Though this legislation was backed by a large group of egg farmers (many believe HSUS strong-armed egg producers into it), a lot of other animal agriculture groups fought hard against the rule, fearing it was a slippery slope to other sectors of animal agriculture. If HSUS can bully egg producers into it, they can likely do it to other animal agriculture industries.

On the bright side, the legislation flopped, and I think it’s safe to say that sort of on-farm federal legislation has been put to bed (for now, at least). Fingers crossed.

Wildlife groups take aim at lethal control of predators

Federal trapper Chris Brennan is the go-to guy in Mendocino County when sheep or cattle are being threatened by predators, which, it is generally acknowledged, don’t stand much of a chance when he is on the case. He is an excellent tracker, an expert with snares and other traps and a pretty good shot. He has the added benefit, say wildlife advocates and quite a few neighbors, of being a merciless killer. Brennan, a 55-year-old trapper for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, has killed coyotes, mountain lions, bears, skunks, raccoons, bobcats and, by his own estimate, 400 dogs. “He represents a kind of mind-set, a culture,” said Camilla Fox, the executive director of Project Coyote, a wildlife advocacy organization that is calling for government support and training in nonlethal methods and techniques for controlling natural predators, and for widespread adoption of programs like one that has succeeded in Marin County for 15 years. Brennan and his fellow trappers are the target of a nationwide campaign by Project Coyote and other wildlife conservation organizations to stop what they characterize as indiscriminate killing of wildlife by a rogue agency that still lives by the outdated slogan “the only good predator is a dead predator.”...more

Editorial - Repeal 'Country of Origin Labeling' Law

The World Trade Organization on May 18 denounced a U.S. law requiring labels on meat products to specify where the animal was raised and slaughtered. The law, the WTO said, discriminates against Canadian and Mexican suppliers.

The ruling on America's country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, law, first enacted in 2002, set off alarm in some quarters. Foes of U.S. free-trade pacts smelled doom, arguing both the food supply and consumer choice were at risk. Yet the decision also prompted an immediate push for repeal from Congress, an effort led in part by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.

Rooney, in a statement that likely summed up the sentiment of the House Agriculture Committee, which passed a COOL repeal with overwhelming bipartisan support Wednesday, said the mandate violated U.S. trade agreements — and if not ditched, it could ignite a "trade war" as Canada and Mexico would slap higher tariffs on U.S. products. "This bill is critical to avoiding a trade war that could devastate U.S. farmers and ranchers, hamper economic growth and damage agriculture and manufacturing industries across the country," Rooney said.

Some critics of the House measure argued that we should be concerned that an international body, unaccountable to U.S. lawmakers or taxpayers, can readily force a change in our policies.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief economist reported that since COOL regulations were updated in 2009, compliance has cost U.S. producers, packers and retailers — of meats as well as fruits, vegetables and nuts — $2.6 billion, half of which was related to beef sales.

The industry, of course, does not want a mandate that drives up its costs and regulatory burden. But that's not why COOL should be repealed. As outlined in the USDA chief economist's report from last month, public health was not a factor for implementing COOL — advertising was and it didn't work.

"COOL is a retail labeling program and as such does not provide a basis for addressing food safety," the agency noted. "Existing research has not revealed that consumer demand for country of origin information is sufficient to lead to measurable increases in demand for labeled beef and pork in the marketplace. However, including COOL requirements causes the industry to incur costs." The report added, "Any increases in costs translate into losses for both consumers and producers relative to the situation without such requirements."  link

Texas looks like Wild West as flooding forces a cattle drive

This small town looked like the Wild West on Sunday as people lined the highway to witness something not seen in these parts since the 1800s: a cattle drive, complete with cowboys, cattle dogs and Longhorns. The cattle drive past Jack in the Box, Little Caesars and Family Dollar was a desperate effort to rescue more than 600 head of cattle trapped when floodwaters from the Trinity River inundated their pasture last week, turning it into an island. “What we're trying to do this morning is to herd the cattle over to Highway 90” and through town to temporary pasture on land volunteered by the railroads, Liberty County Sheriff’s Capt. Ken DeFoor said. But that was no easy task. Cows are moved through Dayton, Texas, on Sunday. They had been trapped by rising waters. (Michael Minasi / Conroe Courier) “Those cattle have a mind of their own. When you’re taking them off of something that’s considered high ground and put them into water that’s up to their neck, it takes a little time. They have different opinions on what they want to do,” DeFoor said. May has been the wettest month on record in Texas. The Houston area was drenched with more than a foot of rain over Memorial Day weekend, then with at least another 3 inches late Saturday. The storms, which extended into Oklahoma, killed at least 36 people in both states and left about a dozen still missing Sunday. Homeowners, drivers and livestock were stranded statewide. A lot was at stake for the Liberty Bell Ranch's million-dollar herd, which includes Longhorns, heifers and about 250 calves, some of which had to be rescued by boat Sunday. As the cattle moved slowly through the water and up the highway, the crowd grew and a parade atmosphere reigned in Dayton, a town of 7,300 about 40 miles east of Houston. Parents camped out with children and babies on tailgates in the Brookshire Brothers grocery store parking lot. People sold watermelons and ice cream. Some brought soft drinks from the nearby Sonic. A few stood atop their trucks for a better view as car radios blasted news of the approaching herd...more

Roaming Elk at Point Reyes Bedevil Ranchers in California

Tule elk, an indigenous California breed rescued from the brink of extinction 140 years ago, graze on one side of a wire fence, while dairy cows feed on the other side here at Point Reyes National Seashore, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. The wild elk and the domesticated cattle appear to share the breathtaking oceanfront bluff harmoniously. But a survey by the National Park Service revealed that 250 of the elk living in a penned-off reserve — nearly half the herd that was re-established in Point Reyes in 1978 — had died between December 2012 and December 2014, most likely from drought-related starvation and thirst. The elk live in a 2,600-acre enclosure at the northern tip of the peninsula. During the same period, two free-roaming elk herds on the south end of the peninsula, outside the reserve, grew in number from 160 to 212. Ranchers complain that these elk trample their fences, feed on drought-limited forage and drink precious water meant for milk cows. “There are ranchers who are literally on the brink of losing their operations because of the lack of forage and the damage from the elk,” said Jeffrey Creque, who farmed at Point Reyes for 25 years and now works on agricultural ecology projects. The die-off in the elk refuge and the flourishing of the free-roaming flocks have rekindled a dispute over management of these majestic creatures found only in California, where they were half a million strong before the Gold Rush. “How can the National Park Service trap and contain animals and not have them get water?” asked Gary Giacomini, a former Marin County supervisor who worked to protect Point Reyes from development. “It strikes me as absolutely preposterous, if not criminal, that the park service would let half the elk herd die by depriving them of water. Imagine if the ranchers did that to their cows — they’d all be indicted.” In defense of the park service, David Press, a wildlife ecologist with the agency, said the plan for managing the elk preserve “wasn’t written in light of the worst drought in records.” The problem of the tule elk — named after the sedgelike vegetation they favor and pronounced “too-ly” — pits conservationists, who want wild animals to roam the national seashore freely, against ranchers, who want to confine the elk behind fences...more

Absher - Junior Daugherty & Johnny Gimble (video)

J.R. Absher, fellow blogger and fan of swing & fiddle music, sent along some videos to Junior Daugherty and Johnny Gimble playing together.  From a tv show, here they are with Faded Love.  I'm not allowed to embed this, but here is the link.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1439

Its Swingin' Monday and here's one of my favorites where Johnny Gimble sings and fiddles:  Hey, Mr. Cowboy.  The tune is on his 1979 album My Kinda Music

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Golf is not my game

by Julie Carter

There are a few sports I’ve not ever learned much about nor have I spent a lot of time honing my writing or photography skills involving them.

Usually it is simply a geographical issue or a difference in social circles. Car racing, shuffleboard, chess, martial arts to name a few. However, golf is another and not because there aren’t golfers and golf courses around.

One time when I worked for a small newspaper, I had to fill in for the sports editor and shoot photos of a golf tournament.  With a willing nature, I stepped up for a quick lesson and thought perhaps it would add to my sports photography resume that covered basketball, football, volleyball, track, roping, rodeo and even a few stick horse events.

The sports guy gave me a crash course in the nuances of photographing golf and truly, it was almost a literal crash as he herded our golf cart down the path like a NASCAR driver. He rattled off the particulars at warp speed, quite confident I was going to remember it all as well as recall how to find 4-5 particular local golfers in a “pasture” stocked with 75 guys in kakis and polo shirts.

He pointed at the green spots between little hills, peering right, left and back to find a certain golfer. All this while waving a little golf course map in my face assuring me it was not a hard assignment.

I was holding on to the cart, my camera and my concern for my safety as trees flashed by, we met other carts and the rapid U-turns indicated we were headed the wrong direction. Not that I’d have known. I assure you I was in a foreign land.

If you are a golfer, you love the sport. If you are not a golfer, you yawn. But if you do, do it very quietly. Even TV golf teaches you part of the protocol is to be very quiet, as indicated by the wimpy little “golf clap” that is allowed eventually.

I’m a rowdy sport kind of girl. I like sports where, as a spectator, you can cheer, yell and holler a little to release some exuberance for what is happening on the field, track, floor or arena. If I spent very much time on the golf greens, I’d undoubtedly be asked to leave.

Bogeys, birdies, putts, tees, par, chip shots, in the rough, on the green, fairway –all a foreign language to me. I was just happy I only had to photograph it, not write it. I did, however, have some concern I’d end up on the news end of a camera while being escorted from the course for forgetting I wasn’t supposed to cheer.

There are some similarities to this sport and my cowboy world of roping and rodeo. Both use handicaps to give the less skilled competitors a better chance. It brings in more entry fees for the really good guys to win a bigger pot. It just isn’t polite to call it what it really is –“Sucker, come donate your money.”

Both have tours, pro’s and am’s, champions and hot shots with big egos. Even the name of one of the tournaments that annually came to town, the Tight Lies Tour, could just as easily been the name of a team-roping event.

I know where to stand, sit or hide when I’m taking pictures at a rodeo, roping or on the ranch. It is basic instinct for me to not get hurt by the livestock, the action of the event or an irritated competitor.

I’ve never been whipped with a rope and so far, I can also say the same about a golf club.
Julie, who now enjoys the pace of stick horse rodeos, can be reached for comment at


Fresh air and sunshine
Revealed to the world
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Hands down, a mule is preferred to any New Mexico canary.
            That matter of burros and mules was settled long ago. The first mule of my memory was stationary. Boppy hauled him home from somewhere and there he remained for some brief period of time. Fairly quickly, my grandfather found out he was a good ornament, book stop, or baby sitter. He saddled him and left him in the flat in front of the tractor shed for me to climb on, under, and over. He stood like a statue, unmoving, and resolute in his mulish mindset.
            I think he was a bay, but he could have been mouse colored as well. He must have been fairly small because I could climb on him by myself. I now wonder what saddle was used.
The first burro was another matter. He appears in my memory at the mouth of the Mangus at Aunt Mary and Uncle Hap’s. He was a sorry sucker and only got sorrier. He was a gray, evil thing that had no steering. The watershed experience with him was on the east side of the house at the clothesline, or, more accurately, under the clothesline. He had homed in on it from up near the fence line water storage and never deviated. In a straight line as if it was plotted on navigational beacons, he came. Never wavering and locked in compound he plodded toward that destructive child shedding device. His every intent was not just to get rid of me, but to murder me in the process.
            Trying everything, I ran out of time, space, and ideas all at the same time. The first wire hooked my left ear as I canted right and backward in attempted avoidance … “OW!”
            The second wire nearly took my nose off in a straight pull that drug me out of the saddle seat, and up and back over the cantle. “Hey, WAIT!”
            The fourth and fifth wires were not even in play as the third wire was taken fully under my chin. Choking, scraping, and stretching my neck to ugly proportions it gagged me until my still stirruped feet met resistance and finally broke free. Suspended horizontally and momentarily in space, the plummet to earth was inevitable. The number three wire completed that son of Satan’s intention of extricating me forcefully from his back. Into the goat heads I flopped as a cloud of dust rose around me.
            When enough air was exchanged, the stars cleared, and I discovered I was still among the living, the utterance was … “AUNT MARY!”
            The externalities
            My departed friend, Brown Smith, he of a long line of Brown Smiths of Brazos River fame was the first to describe the more practical uses of the clotheslines of his youth. His claim was his dad deducted early on he wasn’t the brightest apple in the sunlight plus he was “bad to run off”. In order to avoid lost time searches for him, he was fashioned with a harness and clipped to a clothesline wire with a chain lead attached to a snap. There he was left to play cowboys and Indians, eat dirt, and wander endlessly back and forth the length of the wire.
            That arrangement was finally concluded when he advanced to more mobility and was snapped similarly to a railroad tie cut in half. Turned loose, Brown was able to discover the world in a broadening arc around the ranch headquarters. The tie also left drag marks sufficiently so he could be trailed easily if they needed to capture him for supper or family visits.
            Joe’s brother-in-law, Harlie, was fitted similarly with a dog collar and set of doors in the fresh air on more than a few occasions as well. His mother, sole proprietress of a restaurant, motel, and store about an hour west of some of the best remaining pie selections extant in the arid West, had to revert to the same clothesline containment procedures. She would check on him occasionally, and, there he’d be, sitting watching the traffic going by when he ran out of other things to occupy himself in the endless forays back and forth under 45 feet of clothesline. Folks would honk and wave.
            Fighting wasps was another point of clothesline adventure for many of us who subscribed to such opportunities. Invariably, open ends of the pipe used to hold the lines would become the nesting preference for wasps. Our mothers would scream for elimination of the swarms and we’d rise to the task. Those attacks would become fully orchestrated campaigns. We’d call for reinforcements. Time was spent placing convenient as well as strategically located ammunition stockpiles. It was then time to step off. To get things stirred up, we’d open up with BB guns. We’d then progress to mud clods hurled at the exposed ends and wind up sending a runner up there to make the final plug(s). Seldom were we stung having become such competent wasp fighters from years of experience. It was all just part of living in the West.
            And, of course, there was the actual and original use of the structures … drying clothes.
            The core issue
            Remember the word dingy?
Hanging clothes was much akin to fighting wasps. Skills and astute observations were perfected only by experience over long periods of time. That applied to the actual practice of hanging fresh wash as much as it applied to the judgment of the outcome. Our mothers, and, perhaps more so, our grandmothers were relentless critics of every clothesline in the county. So and so would always show here true colors by the appearance of her weekly wash. Somebody else demonstrated “pure ‘D’ old laziness” in her laundering skills, and heaven help the lady who might reveal evidence of forbidden guests. In fact, few secrets could be kept by such intelligence gathering.
As a result, procedures were perfected that put the best blush on the laundering process.
The older campaigners would likely set the shields early. The big stuff went on the outside wires the world would see. It was there sheets, towels, and pillow cases went to block off direct line of sight to the more private stuff. In fact, very few of us can probably remember hanging clothes. Taking them down was another matter, but setting them out was the domain of the matron in charge and we can now look back and maybe discern the issues involved.
Wash day was traditionally Monday. That put much of our generation in school and out of the way to allow concentration of the task. It also allowed the stewardess of the clothesline full control of the sights and soundness doctrine of the process. Secret additives particularly for whiteness could be parlayed without divulging the recipe. Placement onto the clothesline could also be done with the least public observation.
Protocol was strict. Whites were hung with whites. Darks were hung with darks. The white unmentionables were buried in the middle with line of sight shields obstructing critical reviews. The proper way to hang socks was by the toes not the tops. Levi’s were hung by the cuffs not the waistbands. Never were shirts allowed to be hung by the shoulders. They were to be hung by the tails. Most importantly it didn’t matter if it was hot or cold, wash day was maintained with enforced discipline.
Taking down the clothes was our assignment. When we arrived home on washday, it was also the day butter was usually churned. We didn’t have a milk cow after we moved to the outskirts of town, but our neighbors, George and Dolly Brown, did, and we bought milk from them. After it was cooled and the cream separated, the latter would be skimmed off into the churn. When we arrived home, one of us would be tasked to turn the crank on the churn until butter made. Somebody else would be sent to ‘gather the clothes’. There was an old wicker basket and we’d go get the wash. We had a cloth pen holder and we’d push it along with us putting pens in it as we unpenned the clothes and dropped them into the basket. Clothes would be off the line within 30 minutes of our arrival home from school. They would be hung or folded immediately thereafter and put away.
At places like Minnie Rice’s, the sheets and handkerchiefs were not folded. They were put aside and ironed. My mother, a subsequent generation matron of the clothesline, looked at that Herculean task as archaic and out of date. Minnie looked at it as the finishing touches of original domestic stewardship.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “If there is a single smell of the past that I miss the most … it is the smell (and feel) of fresh, clean sun dried sheets from the clothesline.”

Group says New Mexico’s national parks need $102M in maintenance

National parks and monuments like Carlsbad Caverns, Chaco Canyon, White Sands and Bandelier attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to New Mexico each year. Those numbers are expected to increase next year when the National Park Service begins what is expected to be a huge public relations push for its centennial celebration. But national parks and monuments across the country, including in New Mexico, have maintenance and repair projects that remain on the drawing boards due to chronic underfunding in a broken federal budget system, park supporters say. “Our national parks are more than just our nation’s crown jewels. Parks like Carlsbad Caverns are major economic drivers in their communities,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall told The New Mexican recently through a spokeswoman. “We owe it to all Americans to solve the maintenance backlog so that visitors can continue to enjoy our natural wonders.” John Garder, director of budget and appropriations for the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a recent interview that the maintenance backlog has yet to have a visible effect on the number of visitors to New Mexico parks. “Many of the things needed are not really visible to visitors,” he said. But he warned, “If this continues, you can expect to see a decline in visitors, which will affect local economies.” The national maintenance backlog, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, entails projects totaling more than $11.5 billion. And here in New Mexico, there is $102 million worth of maintenance that needs to be done. According to the Washington, D.C.-based association, Carlsbad Caverns in Southern New Mexico has more than $31 million in deferred maintenance needs. The parks and monuments generate almost $89 million annually in visitor spending for the state and support 1,400 jobs, the National Parks Conservation Association says. Both Udall and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., blamed the sequester — across-the-board cuts that chopped $1.5 trillion out of the federal budget over 10 years beginning in 2013 — for the maintenance backlog at the national parks...more

Both Udall and Lujan "blamed the sequester", which began in 2013, for the backlog.  That's weird, because the same organization, NPCA issued a report in 2004 saying the backlog was $6.8 billion back then.  The truth is, that backlog has been there, and been growing, for years.  Yet, Udall-Heinrich-Lujan keep adding additional units to the system (2 monuments + 1 park preserve totaling over 800,000 acres in NM in the last two years) when they know what currently exists can't be maintained.  If they can't get funding for the Carlsbad Caverns do they really think these new areas will be appropriately funded and managed?

Picking up a gun is no way to address grievances in this country

By Lauren Howells

The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition, concerned with the increasing use of violence as a tool to affect public policy, announced its launch on May 19. The organization's launch comes on the heels of the standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., between cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government over unpaid grazing fees, which escalated to an armed confrontation. The dispute came to an inconclusive end after the government backed down to avoid bloodshed.

The coalition advocates three principles: First, the Second Amendment does not provide any individual the right to shoot government officials upon personally concluding that the government is behaving in a "tyrannical" manner. Second, there is no legitimate role for violence in American democracy. Third, the rule of law must be enforced to avoid setting a dangerous precedent that threatens American freedoms.

One year after the Bundy stand-off, we again find ourselves amidst a conflict where some Americans opt for metal barrels and silver bullets as the mechanism for objection to governmental policies.

Last month, a group of armed constitutional activists swarmed to the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon to guard property against a stop-work order from the Bureau of Land Management. The dispute escalated when the mine's co-owners asked for assistance from a local chapter of the Oath Keepers, an insurrectionist group that encourages law enforcement and military service members to disobey orders they deem "unconstitutional." The Oath Keepers' presence at the mine has steadily expanded over the past month as more anti-government extremists flock to the site from all over the country. Most concerning is that no one seems to be paying attention.

All the concern is expressed about private citizens taking up arms. No concern is expressed about the number of federal agents and their weapons.

New Mexico search, seizure laws don't apply at border

New Mexico's highest court ruled Thursday that the state's protections against search and seizure do not apply at international border checkpoints. The five-member panel made the distinction in overturning a previous ruling made by an appeals court in a 2012 drug smuggling case. In the opinion, Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote the state law does not mean greater protections against searches at an international border checkpoint. If anything, "all motorists stopped at international fixed checkpoints are known to be international travelers who are not entitled to the heightened privacy expectations enjoyed by domestic travelers," the opinion stated...more

On the Trail of a Creole Music Pioneer, Still Alive in Song

PINEVILLE, La. — Somewhere among the thousands beneath a grassy hill here lies the body of Amédé Ardoin. He was singular in life: one of the greatest accordion players ever to come out of south Louisiana. A Creole prodigy who traveled the countryside playing his bluesy two-steps and waltzes, he changed Cajun music and laid down the roots for zydeco. At his death at the age of 44 in 1942, he was Case No. 13387 in the state psychiatric hospital, destined for an anonymous burial. Years of attempts to recover the body of Amédé, as he is widely known, have come to nothing. As with Mozart’s grave, Amédé’s is known only by its general vicinity: the area where the blacks were buried. But a desire for some sort of physical commemoration of his life, beyond a few documents and a blurry photograph, has not gone away. “I started thinking of possible symbolic ways of bringing Amédé home, placing a kind of image of him in the culture, something physical,” said Darrell Bourque, a former state poet laureate, who has been trying to raise funds to have a statue erected, most likely in Eunice, La., where Amédé spent much of his life. Mr. Bourque described Amédé as bringing the white Cajun and black Creole traditions together in a society that policed racial boundaries so rigidly that it ultimately brought about his death. His music, Mr. Bourque said, represented “a little pocket of possibility that didn’t get replicated in the larger culture.” It was only after he began looking for Amédé that Mr. Bourque came to learn how complicated those boundaries could be for whites and blacks at that time — and how deeply connected he was to the people who crossed them. Amédé was born in 1898 in the countryside between Eunice and Basile. A small man, not much for field work, he made his living with his accordion. He played and sang on porches and at dance halls, for Creole and Cajun audiences alike, sometimes alone and sometimes — improbably for the era — with a Cajun fiddler named Dennis McGee. Goldman Thibodeaux, an 82-year-old musician who says he is the last living person to have heard Amédé perform live, remembers waiting as an 8-year-old under a china ball tree, watching him come up the road on horseback, his accordion hanging beside him in a flour sack. He was coming for a Sunday afternoon house party, Mr. Thibodeaux recalled, and for three hours he sat in a corner and played, making up songs on the spot. “Amédé,” Mr. Thibodeaux said, “he could put the words in a way, the girl knew he was talking about her, the man knew he was talking about him, but he wouldn’t name anybody’s name.” As Michael Tisserand recounts in his book “The Kingdom of Zydeco,” Amédé recorded 22 songs in New Orleans and San Antonio with McGee, some of which would become standards, and in 1934 he made a solo trip to New York and recorded a dozen more. At home he had become a sensation: Women wept, men danced, rivals became jealous, whites grew angry. But he toured far and wide, seemingly indifferent to his jeopardy. The widely accepted account of his death begins on a night when Amédé was playing at a white dance hall...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1438

Our gospel tune today is the 1959 recording of There's A Higher Power by the Louvin Brothers, Charlie & Ira.