Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy Birthday America!

Meet 7 of the Most Interesting Founding Fathers You’ve Never Heard Of

by Michael Sabo

When reading the Declaration of Independence over the holiday weekend, it’s easy to skip over the names of the signers and focus instead on the sweeping language of the second paragraph.

This overlooks the fact that the signers pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in order to found a country upon self-evident truths rooted in the nature of man.

A look at the historical record shows that the signers’ pledge was more than mere hyperbole.

Of the 56 men who signed the declaration, twelve fought in battles as members of state militias, five were captured and imprisoned during the Revolutionary War, 17 lost property as a result of British raids and five lost their fortunes in helping fund the Continental Army and state militias battle the British redcoats.

Though Americans are familiar with the famous signers such as Jefferson, Franklin and the Adams’, some of the lesser known have perhaps the most interesting stories to tell.

Thomas Heyward Jr. 

Thomas Heyward Jr. of the South Carolina delegation served in the state militia as a captain of artillery.

After signing the declaration and the Articles of Confederation in 1778, Heyward drew the further ire of the British when as a circuit court judge he presided over the trial of several loyalists who were all found guilty of treason.

They were then executed in full view of British troops.

Edward Rutledge

Heyward’s compatriot in the South Carolina delegation, Edward Rutledge, was the youngest signer at age 26.

After returning home from attending the Second Continental Congress in 1777, Rutledge joined the militia as captain of an artillery battalion.

Arthur Middleton

Arthur Middleton, the last of the South Carolina delegation who served in the militia, took up arms against the British alongside Heyward and Rutledge in the siege of Charleston in 1780.

Upon the surrender of Charleston, all three men were captured by the British and were sent to a prison in St. Augustine, Fla., that was reserved for persons the British thought were particularly dangerous.

They were held there for almost a year before being released in Philadelphia in July 1781.

On the way to the prisoner exchange, Heyward fell overboard and only survived by clinging to the ship’s rudder until he could be rescued.

While Heyward was imprisoned, his wife died at home, and his estate and property were heavily damaged at the hands of the British.

Though Arthur Middleton’s family and estate was left relatively untouched, his collection of rare paintings was destroyed during the British occupation of his home.

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Thomas Nelson, Jr., of the Commonwealth of Virginia was appointed to the position of brigadier general and commander-in-chief of the Virginia militia by Governor Patrick Henry in August 1777.
At that time it was thought that the British would be making a full-scale invasion of the commonwealth.

Nelson was able to muster only a few hundred men to defend Virginia, but the British instead decided to attack Philadelphia.

Nelson inherited a vast family fortune and used it liberally for the American cause.

He personally paid for the return journey home of 70 troops he had led to meet the British in Philadelphia during the summer of 1778.

In the spring of 1780, Nelson signed his name to a loan for 2 million dollars that was needed to buy provisions for a fleet of ships coming in from France.

As then-governor of Virginia (he succeeded Thomas Jefferson in office) in 1781, during the Battle of Yorktown he ordered American troops to fire upon his mansion, which had been commandeered by Gen. Cornwallis and his men.

Caesar Rodney

Caesar Rodney of the Delaware delegation served in that state’s militia and attained the rank of brigadier general.

He was with his men in the field during the brutal winter of 1776, helped quash an uprising in Delaware and aided George Washington’s defense of Philadelphia against the British.

Joseph Hewes

With his fortunes built on trade, Joseph Hewes of North Carolina was a vigorous proponent of the decision of the First Continental Congress to cut off all imports and exports with the British.

This of course had the effect of drying up his wealth. Interestingly, Hewes also renounced his Quaker religion in order to support the war.

Robert Morris

Lastly, Robert Morris, a delegate from Pennsylvania, personally financed George Washington’s ambush of the Hessians at Trenton the day after Christmas in 1776.

He also helped insure Washington’s victory at Yorktown by using his own credit to obtain the supplies necessary to defeat the British (he spent more than one million dollars of his own money to accomplish this).

In present day, it is easy to read the signers’ pledge with a certain sense of historical inevitability. But the signers were under no supposition that history chooses winners and losers.

They knew instead that human action and choice define history. Principles are not self-enforcing; they require defenders today just as they did in 1776.

Friday, July 03, 2015

3 men pushing car filled with explosives detained at Mexican border city

Police in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez say they have detained three men who were pushing a car laden with explosives. The explosives included two tubes of ANFO, or ammonium nitrate-fuel oil, a potent explosive often used in industry. Officials say the explosives would have caused damage in a 40-yard (meter) radius had they detonated. The Chihuahua state prosecutors' office said Tuesday that police also found three batteries, two bottles of fuel and electrical wire in the car. It said the men who were pushing the car also had marijuana and guns...more

Get Ready to Weather the Price of El Niño

The return of the so-called El Niño weather phenomenon this summer is forcing agricultural commodity players, from wheat farmers in Australia to traders in high rise office blocks in Singapore, to prepare for low crop yields and heightened price volatility. Government forecasters in the U.S., Australia and Japan have each in recent weeks confirmed El Niño is back for the first time since the 2009 -10 farming season, thanks to a 4% temperature rise in sub surface sea temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Prices of wheat, corn and soybeans have spiked in the last two weeks following a long period of relative stability, in part thanks to fears El Niño will cause excessive dryness in important crop-growing regions. Yields for Australian wheat—which comprise 14% of the world’s exports -- could fall by as much as 50% according to analysts at National Australia Bank. El Niño occurs when winds in the equatorial Pacific slow down or reverse direction. That warms water over a vast area, which in turn can upend weather patterns around the world—it typically reduces rainfall in Australia and across parts of south east and southern Asia...more (subscription)

Record-Breaking Solar Flight Lands in Hawaii Demonstrating Potential of Carbon-Free Travel

It’s official. Solar Impulse has landed in Hawaii breaking the world records for the longest distance and duration for solar aviation, and the world record for the longest solo flight ever. “On June 28, Si2 took off at 18:03 UTC from Nagoya, with André Borschberg at the controls, for a historic flight over the Pacific ocean to Hawaii. By remaining airborne for five consecutive days and nights, producing its own power with solar energy, Solar Impulse 2 has proven that Bertrand Piccard’s vision of reaching unlimited endurance without fuel was not a crazy dream,” according to a Solar Impulse press statement...more  Watch live here:

This is great news.  Now Leonard DiCaprio, Barbara Streisand, Al Gore and the rest can fly to all those damn UN meetings without destroying mother earth.  We'll be watching...

Runyon and Shelley headed to rodeo in Oklahoma

Derek Runyon
Silver City's Derek Runyon and Cliff's Holt Shelley are going to participate in the International Youth Finals Rodeo July 5-10 in Shawnee, Okla. This is the 23rd annual event and it's one of the richest youth rodeo's in the world with more than $200,000 in prize money and championship saddles and buckles. Runyon will see action in calf roping and team roping, while Shelley will be Runyon's partner in the team roping competition. "I'm always excited to rodeo," Runyon said. Shelley has been Runyon's partner for quite some time and having the right frame of mind is something that he has been working on. "I've been practicing a lot and roping a lot of steers trying to get ready for this," Shelley said. "Getting mentally prepared is something I have also been doing and trying to get everything in order and be ready." This is Shelley's first trip to Oklahoma, and he's ready to get in the mix with the more than 1,000 cowboys that will be seeing action. Contestants at the IFYR will compete in 10 events that will run simultaneously in three arenas throughout the week. Events include barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and bareback riding. There are two long go-rounds and a short go-round. All contestants will compete in the long go rounds, with only the top 15 competing in the short go round. Last year the IYFR had more than 1,000 contestants and represented 32 states as well as Brazil, Canada, and Australia...more

Cliven Bundy says Rand Paul promised to make Nevada a ‘sovereign state’ if he’s elected president

Scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy said he met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for nearly an hour this week and found he sees eye to eye with the GOP presidential candidate. Bundy, whose ongoing dispute over grazing rights on federally owned land sparked an armed militia standoff last year with the Bureau of Land Management, said Paul assured him he would grant the rancher’s demands and make Nevada a sovereign state if elected next year to the White House. “He said, ‘One of your biggest problems is getting Nevada to recognize its sovereignty and to stand up for its sovereignty,” Bundy told KNPR-FM. “He said he would turn over the jurisdiction authority and allow the state of Nevada to act like a sovereign state. He said it would be up to we the people to govern ourselves.” The rancher said Paul’s campaign staff escorted him to an impromptu meeting with the candidate after Bundy attended an event in Mesquite. A spokesman for the Paul campaign said he took part in no scheduled meetings during the appearance, and he said the candidate did not speak to anyone for as long as 45 minutes – as Bundy claimed. Paul said during the campaign event that he believed all land issues – including endangered species protections – should be handled by the states and not the federal government. Bundy said the candidate expressed an appreciation for the American Lands Council – a Koch brothers-funded group that is working to give states control over federally owned land through legislation and litigation. That’s the wrong approach, according to Bundy – who believes that states already own the land and hold sovereignty over its use...more

Groups File Suit to Protect Mexican Gray Wolves in New Mexico and Arizona

A coalition of local, regional and national conservation watchdog groups filed suit today to ensure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts policies that give endangered Mexican gray wolves a fair shot at recovery in their historic U.S. range. In January 2015, USFWS issued a final rule that refuses to consider the only wild population of Mexican wolves as “essential” to the species’ recovery, arbitrarily caps the population of Mexican gray wolves at a level far below what scientists consider necessary for recovery, prevents wolves from recolonizing native habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, and allows more killing of Mexican wolves by federal agents and private landowners. “Banishing Mexican wolves from their native habitats to appease political interests is the latest mistake in the Service’s long history of mismanagement of the species’ recovery,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “The only wild population of Mexican wolves is clearly essential to the species’ survival and recovery.” The final rule takes the unprecedented step of capping the Mexican wolf population at 300–325, and states that any excess wolves will be placed into captivity or killed. Capping the population is not based on the best available science and will not benefit the conservation and recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf. Indeed, the best science shows that at least 750 wolves spread across three populations is necessary for recovery...more

Editorial - Nevada should control its land and not settle for paltry alms

The silence is deafening.

Because so much of the West in general and Nevada in particular is controlled by the federal government and cannot be taxed, Congress four decades ago came up with a program called Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). Each year about this time the U.S. government writes checks to counties to compensation for lost tax revenue.

A year ago Nevada’s Democratic Sen. Harry Reid issued a press release bragging about all the money Nevada was getting, pointing out that “Nevada’s PILT payments rose roughly $2.1 million from $23.3 million to $25.4 million.”

“PILT funding has a remarkable impact for Nevada counties,” said Reid a year ago. “Over 85 percent of the land in Nevada is owned by the federal government, making it essential that Nevada receive its fair share. These funds support rural communities across Nevada in funding high-quality education, law enforcement, and healthcare systems. I have worked hard to make sure that these crucial programs are fully-funded, and I am grateful that Congress was able to extend these provisions this year. I will work to ensure PILT is again funded for this upcoming fiscal year.”

This year no press release. Perhaps that’s because the Nevada checks this year amount to only $23.26 million, less than two years ago. Nationally PILT payouts are off by $32 million, down to $405 million from $437 million a year ago.

In a press release Interior Secretary Sally Jewell proclaimed, “PILT payments are critical for maintaining essential public services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search and rescue operations.”

The very next paragraph of the press release, without a hint of awareness of its miserly scope, reports that the “Interior Department collects about $14 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on federal lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting,” and shares some royalties with the states.

So, the agency collects $14 billion from land that could well be held by the states, counties or private citizens and then magnanimously doles out less than 3 percent in PILT..

The state Legislature this year passed a bill urging Congress to turn over some of the federal land to the state.

A report from the Nevada Public Land Management Task Force noted that the BLM loses 91 cents an acre on land it controls, while the average income for the four states that have public trust land is $28.59 per acre.

Drought Pushes Nevada Ranchers to Take On Washington

BATTLE MOUNTAIN, Nev. — Around here they call it “going Bundy”: allowing cattle to graze illegally on federally owned land. For months, ranching families in this tiny community have itched to do it — both because of the relentless drought, which has left their own land dry and their animals hungry, and because of the anti-Washington streak that runs deep in this part of the rural West, where people fervently believe that the government owns too much land. Last month, the Filippini family finally did it: They released hundreds of cattle onto federal land here at the border of Lander and Humboldt Counties, an arid patch that straddles part of the old Pony Express cross-country mail route of 1860 and 1861. Drought has reduced the grass cover here to less than four inches of stubble in some creek beds, a level that leads to a ban on grazing. “We did the right thing as far as I’m concerned,” said Eddyann Filippini, 59, the ranch matriarch, whose Facebook portrait shows her on horseback by the Pacific Ocean, poised to ride to Washington to protest the government’s management of land in Battle Mountain. “If I end up in a federal prison, I hope it’s Martha Stewart’s,” she added. So far, that does not look likely. Since the drought began here in 2012, the ranching families of Battle Mountain, a community of 3,600 people in Nevada’s northern desert, have been locked in a battle with the bureau, the federal agency charged with caring for millions of acres of taxpayer-owned land. The agency looms large in the West, where the government owns and controls about half of the land, and its decisions about who can graze, drill or mine can make or break entire communities. In 2013, the agency began restricting cattle grazing on public lands, concerned that the ecosystem would not recover if animals ate their way through during a dry spell. Three families were ordered to halt grazing on various land allotments: the Tomeras, the Mariluches and the Filippinis. Several companies were also affected. Environmental groups, which have long called for the end of ranching on public lands, urged the agency to be as strict as possible. The issue here — drought — has caused longstanding tensions between Western ranchers and the federal government to escalate. The ranching families of Battle Mountain filed lawsuits to overturn the no-grazing edict. They pitched signs near the agency’s office urging drivers to “Honk to Impeach Furtado.” And last fall, eight of them mounted horses in Bodega Bay, Calif., just north of San Francisco, and rode 3,000 miles to Washington to deliver petitions to Congress calling for Mr. Furtado’s removal...more

Bundy blasts grazing compromise

Bunkerville, Nevada, rancher Cliven Bundy insists a settlement agreement between Northern Nevada ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management approved by an administrative law judge Wednesday will weaken his fight with the BLM and hurt other Western ranchers in similar positions. "They (the ranchers) are accepting that the federal government has unlimited power over their ranch," Bundy said. "The federal judge has no jurisdiction or authority over Nevada state land. The rancher should have protected his water, grazing and access rights to Nevada state land." Bundy, who was in a similar fight with BLM in Southern Nevada, said agreeing to compromise with the BLM was a sign of weakness in his fight for states' rights. Bundy doesn't dispute the need for good range management but said the settlement meant more than that. "I didn't hear anything in that about the rancher's rights," Bundy said. "Nothing about his water rights, his grazing rights, his access rights, his preemptive rights that were created through beneficial use. Nothing has been said about that." Administrative Law Judge James Hefferman approved the agreement in Reno between the BLM and Battle Mountain ranchers Dan and Eddyann Filippini allowing cattle to graze on the Argenta allotment that was previously closed by the BLM because of drought conditions, according to a BLM news release. The settlement announced Wednesday allows grazing on the Argenta allotment with specific conditions to prevent overgrazing on all public lands within the allotment. It was the result of 31/2 months of collaborative discussions between the BLM's Battle Mountain staff, the National Riparian Services Team, the Argenta permitees, Western Watersheds Project, John Carpenter and Nevada Lands Action Association and Public Lands Council, the BLM news release states. Key elements of the agreement include a 3-year trial period focused on adaptive management to respond to site-specific conditions; development of a stockmanship plan focused on the use of riding and supplement use to meet riparian (stream side) and upland use levels; increased attention to monitoring before, during and after seasons of use, and a commitment by BLM to complete the permit renewal process within three years based on information gained from the adaptive management trial period, the BLM said...more

Tesla, Nissan Take Financial Hits as States Remove EV Subsidies

It’s been six years since electric vehicle manufacturers enjoyed their windfall from U.S. taxpayers via the stimulus, but the thirst for subsidies, and pain from financial losses, have not waned. The pursuit of government goodies continues apace for Tesla Motors, even more vigorously after the Los Angeles Times reported last month that CEO Elon Musk depends on more than $4.9 billion in corporate welfare for his companies, which also include SolarCity and SpaceX. Tesla’s quest may more accurately be portrayed as preservation of the golden goose that is California’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credit scheme. The Golden State requires the six largest auto manufacturers to produce a certain percentage of vehicles that are “green” – in other words, electric – or to purchase zero-emission “credits” from companies that do, such as Tesla. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Tesla is the largest seller of ZEV credits, raking in $152 million from those sales last year (and many more prior). But the parameters of the policy are about to change...more

Pojoaque Valley residents sue feds in road dispute with pueblo

A dispute over who owns roads used to access private property adjacent to San Ildefonso Pueblo came to a head this week when a group of Pojoaque Valley residents filed a federal lawsuit to force a resolution. The group, called Northern New Mexicans Protecting Land, Water and Rights, filed the lawsuit against U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and two officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, alleging the U.S. government has “illegally clouded title” to the county roads. The suit stems from a letter federal agencies sent to Santa Fe County in December 2013. Raymond Fry, superintendent of the Northern Pueblos Agency for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, wrote in the letter that six county roads trespass on San Ildefonso tribal lands. Fry is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. “No easement or rights-of-way exist for County Road 84 and the side roads on tribal trust land of the Pueblo of San Ildefonso,” Fry wrote. He encouraged the county to quickly enter into negotiations with the pueblo and “establish legal bases for the county’s continued use of pueblo land.” The pueblo has been pursuing payments for a range of rights of way, including roads across land that tribal members say is rightfully theirs. San Ildefonso Pueblo officials also have said they repeatedly notified Santa Fe County of their grievances regarding road easements, starting in at least 1999. A. Blair Dunn, one of the attorneys representing Northern New Mexicans Protecting Land, Water and Rights in its lawsuit against the government, said the effects on property owners were widespread throughout the valley after the letter. “When somebody can’t access their property, and they can’t borrow money against their property, it basically zeroes out their property value,” Dunn said. “We believe the action by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was improper.”...more

APHIS to allow fresh beef importation from Argentina, Brazil

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced June 29 it is amending its regulations to allow the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from two regions in South America under specific conditions that mitigate the risk of foot-and-mouth disease, the first step in a process for these regions to gain access to the U.S. market for beef. The two regions are: from northern Argentina, a region located north of an area previously recognized by APHIS as free of foot and mouth disease known as the Patagonia region; and from certain states in Brazil: Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonia, Sao Paulo, Sergipe and Tocantis. APHIS risk assessments indicate that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef can be safely imported, provided certain conditions are met to ensure beef exported to the United States will not harbor the FMD virus. The assessments also concluded that Argentina and Brazil are able to comply with U.S. import certification requirements. Fresh beef from both of these regions will follow the same import conditions imposed on fresh beef and ovine meat from Uruguay that we have been safely importing for many years...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1447

Here's another I want in the YouTube format:  John Dilleshaw -  Streak O' Lean Streak O' Fat.  That is seven time Georgia fiddle champion A.A. Gray on the fiddle.  The tune was recorded in March of 1930 and is on the Document Records CD John Dilleshaw (1929-1930).  For a complete bio on Dilleshaw see

Two Journalists Killed in Mexico, Blast Rocks Human Rights Commission

A journalist was shot dead as he left his radio station in southern Mexico on Thursday while a second reporter was murdered in an eastern state, officials said. printPrint Filadelfo Sanchez Sarmiento was heading out following his morning radio show at the La Favorita 103.3 FM station when two men gunned him down in Miahuatlan, southern Oaxaca State, prosecutors said. Authorities launched an operation to catch the two suspects, AFP reported. "Mexican authorities must thoroughly investigate this killing and establish a motive -- including any possible connection to journalism -- and bring those responsible to justice," said Carlos Lauria, senior Americas program director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "This crime must not become one of the dozens of unsolved journalist murders in Mexico, which has one of the worst impunity rates in the world," Lauria said. He was the third journalist to be killed in Oaxaca since April. Separately, a blogger was murdered in the eastern state of Veracruz, but there were no details about how he died. The State Commission for the Protection and Attention of Journalists, a government body, said the death of Juan Mendoza Delgado, who was found dead on Wednesday, was declared a "homicide." Mendoza Delgado was director of a website called "Writing the Truth" and a former crime reporter at a local newspaper. He is the 13th journalist to be killed in Veracruz since 2010. Mexico has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists amid a relentless drug war that has killed tens of thousands of people since 2006. More than 80 media workers have been killed and another 17 reported missing in the past decade, according to Reporters Without Borders. Meanwhile, an explosion rocked the headquarters of Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, the organization said Thursday, though no injuries were immediately reported...more

128 Unaccompanied Alien Children Caught at Mexican Border Per Day in May

Data obtained by from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) shows about 128 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) were apprehended at the Southwest U.S. border every day during the month of May. In total, 3,965 children were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally during that month alone. According to the data, May was the month with the most UAC apprehensions since the start of Fiscal Year 2015 on Oct. 1. The monthly totals of apprehended UACs have been steadily increasing since January, when 2,119 children were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border. Since then, another 2,388 children were apprehended in February, 3,131 were apprehended in March, and 3,275 were apprehended in April...more

Thursday, July 02, 2015

U.S. oil rig count jumps up by a dozen, after 29 consecutive weeks of declines

The amount of U.S. rigs drilling for oil increased for the first time this year after 29 consecutive weeks of declines. The number of actively drilling oil rigs jumped by 12 this week after several weeks of small decreases, which had indicated the streak of rigs being taken offline was nearing its end. The overall rig count, however, only grew by three rigs, because nine rigs drilling mostly for gas were taken out of service, according to data from oil services provider Baker Hughes. That is a switch from last week when three oil rigs were lost, but the gas-focused rigs increased by five. There were no major shifts in certain parts of the country. The rig count increased by three in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale and grew by just one in the Permian Basin, according to the Baker Hughes count. The first increase in oil rigs this year comes in the same week that oil prices took their biggest single-day dip in two months on Wednesday, in response to increased U.S. inventories and another production hike from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries...more

Court Revives Challenge To Ban On Gun Sales To Americans Visiting From Abroad

A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a lawsuit backed by gun rights activists challenging a U.S. government policy that prevents American citizens who live abroad from buying guns when they visit the United States. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, by a 2-1 vote, threw out a federal district judge’s ruling that had rejected the challenge. The appeals court ordered that the case now go to trial. At issue are provisions of U.S. law that prevent gun sales to people who do not live in the state where the sale takes place, as is the case with people who reside in another country. The law does allow dealers to lend or rent firearms to people who wish to use them for sporting purposes like hunting. The lead plaintiff in the case, Stephen Dearth, an American citizen who lives in Canada, says the restriction infringes on his right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment because it means he cannot buy or rent a gun for self-defense purposes when visiting the United States. Dearth is backed by the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights group...more

Interior Secretary opposes name of Washington team, refuses lease renewal for Redskins

The National Park Service won’t grant the District of Columbia a new lease for the site of the Washington NFL team’s old stadium in part because Interior Secretary Sally Jewell opposes the team’s nickname. Jewell reiterated that position during a meeting with Mayor Muriel Bowser, an Interior Department spokeswoman said. Bowser’s administration has been in preliminary talks with the team about moving back to Washington and building a new stadium. The team plays its home games at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., but the team’s lease there expires in 2026. The team previously played at RFK Stadium in Washington. The stadium sits on land owned by the National Park Service that is leased to the city...more

I hope you noticed that little part that says RFK stadium sits on land owned by the National Park Service.  I recently wrote briefly about the Asset Management Program to study federal lands for potential disposal.  The program was run out of the White House and I staffed it for Secretary Watt.  So it was in 1982 that I discovered the NPS owned those lands...I couldn't believe it.  The Park Service owns the land where the Washington Redskins played?  Turns out it had been that way since 1961.  

I figured that property would bring a pretty penny if put up for sale.  But word leaked to the Hill about what that crazy DuBois was considering and Congress hurriedly  passed legislation for a long term lease.  I was told by many they'd never seen a bill pass so fast.

Rand Paul jabs BLM in Nevada, prefers state or private ownership

Rand Paul argued Monday that public lands run by the federal government should be handed over to state or local control, making a crowd-pleasing rally cry in Nevada where 67% of the state is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. "I'd either sell or turn over all the land management to the states," Paul, a Republican presidential candidate and senator from Kentucky, said, landing him big applause at a campaign event. "I don't think the federal government needs to be involved." Paul said Washington has become a "bully" that often goes too far in the regulation of both public and private land. "You run into problems now with the federal government being, you know, this bully — this big huge government bully," he continued. "You would have less of that if you had more local ownership of the land. State ownership would be better, but even better would be private ownership." Paul, in his speech Monday in Mesquite, railed against government regulations of private property as well and listed anecdotal stories of what he considered extensive federal overreach. The senator urged the audience to fight back — but made sure to note that it should be done legally. "It is time that we stand up -- in a legal fashion — but stand up and let's say 'enough is enough' and let's elect people who will get the government off our back," he said...more

New fence in National Monument aims to reduce conflict

They say that good fences make good neighbors. That was the idea behind two new fences recently built in the Missouri Breaks Monument, more specifically at the Little Sandy campground at river mile 47. The new enclosures — one five acres, the other three acres — were built mainly to reduce conflict between river floaters and cattle on the Wild and Scenic Missouri River. Little Sandy is a popular campsite for floaters who get a late start launching their canoes at Coal Banks Landing. The previous fence, which stretched out into the river, wasn’t fully cow-proof in low water. Floaters were irked by cows, but grazing is enshrined in the Proclamation that created the Monument. This is where the Friends of the Missouri Breaks — the non-profit that supports the Monument —and the Bureau of Land Management came to the rescue. BLM provided logistics and materials, the Friends aided in project planning and hired young crews with the Montana Conservation Corps to do the work. “These exclosures are a good solution for Little Sandy,” says Friends Executive Director Beth Kampschror. “We love projects that mean there’s one less reason for river floaters in the Monument and ranchers who make a living here to be at odds.”  Source

If I was "irked" by something on federal lands, would the feds fence them out for me?  Take wolves for instance...

Ranchers reject federal bureaucrats' unsubstantiated answer to managing sage grouse

The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service recently finalized their Environmental Impacts Statements for resources management and land use plans, claiming a need for more restrictive management for sage grouse on federal lands. The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association filed formal protests recently after reviewing the plans, which impede on conservation efforts and range management practices already in place. “Ranchers and those closest to the land are far better equipped to manage resources than bureaucrats in Washington D.C.,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president and Idaho rancher. “These plans disregard all the hard work, money and resources that states already have in place to preserve wildlife habitat and sage grouse in particular. One-size-fits-all requirements on how multiple uses, including livestock grazing, will be managed on public lands is not the answer to conserving sage grouse.” In early 2014, the organizations filed detailed comments addressing concerns with the draft EISs. With little to no improvement in the final documents, the ranching industry has filed protests in nine states across the West. According to the EISs, expanded grazing regulation is necessary, yet neither the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service nor the BLM have found evidence livestock grazing and current range management pose a threat to sage grouse habitat or populations. In fact, there are numerous studies showing the positive impact grazing has on sage grouse habitat. Robbie LeValley, chairman of NCBA’s Federal lands Committee, said the plans are yet another attempt by the administration to remove productive uses from the land in an effort to appease short-sighted environmental groups pushing a radical agenda. “Imposing regulatory change on the grazing livestock industry without any factual basis is arbitrary and capricious,” said LeValley, who ranches in western Colorado. “Ranchers with public land grazing rights work daily to minimize the major threats to sage grouse, removing fine-fuels and providing vast tracts of open space. Wildfire and development are the primary threats to the sage grouse and their habitat, yet this administration is systematically wiping out multiple-use and ranching through regulatory overreach. It’s clear that these plans are more about managing away from productive uses, rather than actually protecting the bird.”...more

Drilling Opponents Want BLM To Consider Cumulative Effects in San Juan Basin

There used to be big talk about a big boom coming to the San Juan Basin. Industry thought they’d sink 20,000 new oil wells. Companies wanted to take advantage of oil deposits squeezed into tiny fissures in tight shale deep underground. That was a few years ago. Today, the estimate is for fewer than 2000 new oil wells. About 100 wells have already been drilled, and the federal government’s given a green light to about 150 more. That’s not even close to what industry predicted, but critics say the new development’s still a big deal. “It has a dramatic impact on the landscape,” says Kyle Tisdel, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, “and it has a really dramatic impact on the people that live there, and where this development is taking place in their backyards—sometimes literally.” Tisdel represents conservation and Indigenous groups who say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hasn’t studied the new technologies being used on the oil shale wells. These new technologies include multi-stage hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling. That is, drilling underground in different directions from one well, rather than drilling straight down, like with conventional wells. The groups are also challenging the BLM’s practice of approving one well at a time, rather than considering the cumulative effect even a couple hundred new wells could have on the landscape and nearby communities...more

Gray Wolves Lose Another Fight in Washington

by Taylor Hill

To the dismay of wildlife advocates who hoped it might mark a new era of compromise between conservation groups and cattle ranchers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has denied a petition to grant fewer protections to the gray wolf in the United States.

Confused about why 22 environmental groups would want to reduce federal protections for one of America’s most iconic species? Don’t feel bad—when it comes to managing wolves, complexity is par for the course. When it comes to gray wolves in America—confusion.

The petition to move wolves from the “endangered” list to the “threatened” list was supposed to be a compromise. Written by the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other conservation groups, the petition was an attempt to bring back federal oversight for the entire gray wolf population across the contiguous U.S. while lessening restrictions so as to allow ranchers to protect their livestock against “trouble” wolves.

In a short statement, the Fish and Wildlife Service said the groups’ petition “does not present substantial information indicating that reclassification may be warranted.” A USFWS representative was not immediately available for comment.

The move would have brought back protections to wolf-unfriendly states such as Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, which have succeeded in removing protections for the species, allowing ranchers and hunters to kill wolves.

In states where wolves continue to receive the full protections of endangered status under the Endangered Species Act, the change to a threatened listing would allow individual states more leeway to control nuisance wolves and handle wolf-livestock conflicts while retaining federal oversight of the species.

Yes, they really just had our best interest at heart!

Local ranchers’ ditch water is cut off

Seven ranching families in the beautiful South Cow Creek Valley east of Millville were among those recently notified by the State Water Resources Control Board that they were to immediately stop diverting water from the creek into the Abbott Ditch, which provides irrigation water for their fields and drinking water for their livestock. The Abbott Ditch owners have pre-1914 water rights, which up until now, have protected them from state-ordered water use curtailments, but the letter from the Control Board said, “due to the ongoing drought conditions, there is insufficient water in the system to service their claims of right.” Rancher Sandee Monroe of the Farrell Ranch said she had anticipated that the creek would go dry soon, but had not anticipated that the state would totally curtail their diversion. “The creek is just a trickle now, but it was enough to water our livestock. Now we can’t even divert that much. We’ll have to figure out how to water our cattle and horses.” She also explained that in other parts of the state many ranchers ordered to curtail their surface water pumping could just dig wells, but those in the South Cow Creek Valley could not because of the underground saltwater layer in the Millville Area...more

Western heritage thrives on El Paso County longhorn ranch

Stan Searle has a dramatic way of reminding people of the Western heritage in these parts. He and local cowboys at noon Thursday will herd about 40 head of wicked-looking Texas longhorn cattle down Tejon Street. Some weigh more than 1,000 pounds and have horns that stretch 6 feet or more from one tip to the other. "We're showing people that their hamburgers don't start out in the back room at Safeway," says Searle, only half-jokingly. The longhorn drive promotes the Ride for the Brand Championship Rodeo, whose contestants work on area ranches, not the professional rodeo circuit. Not many folks know that Colorado has more than 2.6 million head of cattle, and the business is one of the largest sectors of the economy valued at more than $2.8 billion, according to the state Department of Agriculture. Longhorns are the legendary icon of Western life. But they are not a huge part of those numbers and were once nearly extinct because consumers at the time wanted fattier, marbled meat. There are about 500,000 longhorns registered nationally with the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association, including 12,000 in Colorado. There are estimated to be about 700,000 in the country...more

City ready for UFO invasion

Organizers of this weekend’s UFO Festival, Roswell Cosmicon and Roswell International Sci-Fi Film Festival say thousands of visitors are descending upon the Alien City for the holiday weekend, boosting tourism and economic activity in Roswell. With the state experiencing a record-breaking number of tourists last year, local organizers of this weekend’s events are also hoping for a record-setting number of visitors to the Alien City. The annual UFO Festival is Thursday through Sunday in downtown Roswell, encompassing three blocks between Third and Sixth streets along Main Street. The Roswell Cosmicon is Thursday through Saturday at the Roswell Mall, while the Roswell International Sci-Fi Film Festival is Thursday through Saturday at the Galaxy 8 theater at the mall...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1446

Another pre-YouTube RRSOD that I want to share in this format is:  Buster Martin's Bronco Busters - Herbie's Steel Guitar Polka.  The tune is on the CD Texas Dance Hall Music/Wanderers Swing on the Krazy Kat lable and was recorded in Houston in 1950.  That is Herb Remington on the steel guitar.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Research project to use drone to inspect New Mexico dam

Federal water managers plan to use a drone to inspect Elephant Butte Dam. The Bureau of Reclamation has selected New Mexico State University to lead a research project on the feasibility of using unmanned aircraft systems to inspect dams. The project marks a first for the agency and researchers will be looking at whether light detection, infrared and high-definition video can be used as tools for infrastructure inspection. New Mexico State has been awarded $35,000 to help with the project. Researchers will be looking for cracks in the concrete, spalls and other subsurface defects on the dam. They'll also be looking for any erosion or other changes to the dam and spillway. The flight will take place in the next couple of months.  AP

Court Rules Grazing Harms Endangered Species in Arizona's Fossil Creek

A federal court has ruled that cattle grazing in the Fossil Creek watershed of central Arizona harms critical habitat of threatened frogs, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The ruling resulted from a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2010.
“Fossil Creek is one of the Southwest’s most biologically precious river reaches,” said Jay Lininger, a senior scientist with the Center. “The ruling is a victory for this beautiful creek, native wildlife and public investments made to recover them.”

Grazing in stream corridors harms critical habitat of threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs by impeding their movement among breeding sites, according to the court’s opinion released late Friday. Livestock “spend a disproportionate amount of their time in riparian zones,” and grazing can eliminate vegetation cover as well as spread disease, according to the ruling.

“The ruling is significant because it will help protect the last known population of Chiricahua leopard frogs on the Red Rock Ranger District,” said Todd Tucci, a senior attorney at Advocates for the West who argued the case on behalf of the Center.

“Fossil Creek and its native wildlife need better protection from heavily subsidized cattle grazing that clearly damages this special place,” said Lininger. “We’re glad the court is demanding a course correction.”

Download a copy of the ruling.

BLM director burned by Burning Man in his own state

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he spoke with Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze Monday about the BLM's original request for more than $1 million encampment at the colossal Burning Man artsy wing-ding in the Black Rock Desert later this year. Heller said the BLM requests – that included flush toilets, washers and dryers -- plus 24/7 access to soft ice cream "was a bit over the top." He said Kornze feels the same way, predicting the request will be scaled down. "I think it was a bit over the top," Heller said about the BLM's original request. "And I believe that Director Kornze believes the same thing – that it was a little bit over the top." Heller was speaking publicly about the BLM's proposed luxuries for the first time Monday. "They are going to augment it and come back to our delegation and let us know what it is," Heller said about the BLM's request. "Then we'll see where we go from there." KORNZE, AN ELKO COUNTY native, was a senior policy adviser for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., before joining the BLM. Kornze took control of the BLM last April, just days before Cliven Bundy's standoff with the BLM first became a nation news story. Now his agency is in another pickle in Nevada, again looking bad in his home state. Nevada's 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, has expressed ethical concerns about the BLM's requests. There seems to be a concern from Nevada's federal delegation not to harm the Burning Man event. In about a quarter of a century, it has evolved into a cash cow for Northern Nevada, with estimates of its economic impact starting at $44 million annually...more

When is somebody at Interior going to rein in the LEOs?  It was their "planning" that led to the many fiascos in the Bundy situation, and I'm sure they are the primary mover behind this ridiculous request.

These cats were managed by line personnel until 2001 when the Office of Law Enforcement & Security was created with them reporting directly to the Secretary (thank you George W. Bush).  There may have been problems associated with line management, but nothing like this.

Notice some of this was for a VIP Compound.  This is so typical of federal law enforcement.  Bring in media, Congressional staff or anyone else who can influence their budget.  Then feed'em "soft ice cream" and bullshit while the LEOs march around in their government costumes and lobby, all at the taxpayers' expense.

This also another example of where the Forest Service makes a mistake and the BLM is bound and determined to be a copy cat.  Their LEOs were envious of the Forest Service LEOs who had their own "office" and were independent of line management.  No one was buying the BLM proposal until guess what - 911 happened.  One month later the LEOs got their wish.

Please take a look at FLPMA to see Congressional intent when originally authorizing this stuff.  Section 303 states:

The Secretary may authorize Federal personnel or appropriate local officials to carry out his law enforcement responsibilities with respect to the public lands and their resources...

 In connection with the administration and regulation of the use and occupancy of the public  lands, the Secretary is authorized to cooperate with the regulatory and law enforcement officials of any State or political subdivision thereof in the enforcement of the laws or ordinances of such State or subdivision. Such cooperation may include reimbursement to a State or its subdivision for expenditures incurred by it in connection with activities which assist in the administration and regulation of use and occupancy of the public lands. 

So local law enforcement can contract to administer both federal and state law on public lands. I wonder what percent of the total law enforcement budget is spent this way? 

Neil Kornze wasn't "burned by Burning Man".  He's been burned by Interior's LEOs...twice.

USFWS initiates status review for 4 species in AZ, NM, TX & OK

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces it is initiating status reviews for the Arizona toad, Cascade Caverns salamander, Rio Grande cooter (a turtle) and Alligator snapping turtle in response to a July 2012 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. Today’s decision is commonly referred to as a 90-day finding.

In the case of the Arizona toad, Cascade Caverns salamander, Rio Grande cooter and Alligator snapping turtle the Service has determined the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that these species may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement begins a 60-day information collection period which closes on August 31, 2015.

The findings do not mean that the Service has decided to grant federal protections to these species. Rather, the findings trigger a more thorough review of all the biological information available for the species. To ensure the status reviews are comprehensive, the Service is looking for information from the public. The Service is seeking information about the species’ biology, range, and population trends, including habitat requirements; genetics and taxonomy; historical and current range including distribution patters; historical and current population levels; current and projected trends; and past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its habitat, or both.

Information on the distribution of the four Southwest species undergoing a status review is below:
• Alligator snapping turtle – 15 states, including Texas and Oklahoma - FWS–R4–ES–2015–0038
• Arizona toad – Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah - FWS–R2–ES–2015–0040
• Cascade Caverns salamander – Texas - FWS–R2–ES–2015–0045
• Rio Grande cooter – New Mexico, Texas and Mexico - FWS–R2–ES–2015–0061

Storm topples 50 year old Carlsbad pine

Broken branches littered the streets of Carlsbad on Tuesday morning, a testament to the brief but ferocious storm that hit shortly after 6 p.m. Monday. Many residents, such as Edmundo Orozco and Judy Moore of the 300 block of West Orchard, spent their morning piling the tree branches to be taken away for disposal. "The wind was really bad, but there wasn't much hail," Moore said, adding that the wind was bad enough to blow the chairs off the porch. Carlsbad resident Leslie Heinsch, 61, would have been happy if some blown-away patio furniture was her only worry Tuesday morning. At about 6:30 p.m. Monday, her 50-foot-tall, 50-year old pine tree blew over, falling directly in the front of her house and garage in the 1300 block of Delta Street. "I think it was a microburst because of the way that it has been uprooted," Heinsch said. "It looks like something just hit it and pulled everything up." Heinsch was in the back of the house at the time, and said she didn't realize anything was wrong until she looked at her outdoor security camera system. "I thought, 'I think I have a problem,' " Heinsch said. "Then my phone started ringing."...more

Ex-Mexican cartel leader gets 30 years prison in US

A former leader of Mexico's notorious Gulf drug cartel has been sentenced to 30 years in a U.S. prison and fined $100 million. Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez was sentenced Tuesday by a judge in Beaumont, Texas, on drug and money laundering convictions. Saenz-Tamez is a 23-year-old resident of the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas (tahm-uh-LEE'-puhs). He was arrested in October during a shopping trip to Texas. Saenz-Tamez pleaded guilty in January to distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine; conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors say Saenz-Tamez was responsible for shipping at least half a ton of cocaine and 90 tons of marijuana into the U.S. Investigators believe the drug cartel laundered $100 million.  AP

Marijuana Legalization: Bad For The Cartels, Better For All

Marijuana legalization has already led to many benefits in the United States, ranging from increased tax revenues to decreased cannabis use by minors. Marijuana legalization is also putting a dent into what the Department of Justice calls the “greatest organized crime threat to the United States,” the Mexican drug cartels. And that’s a good thing.

A bit of history on the Mexican drug cartels is in order. Time Magazine reports that, months after coming into office, Richard Nixon ordered the U.S.-Mexican border shut down to cut off the flow of Mexican marijuana coming into the U.S. But since this complete shutdown of border commerce debilitated Mexico’s economy, it was clear this action was also intended to force Mexico to comply with newly established U.S. drug policies, including more policing for marijuana at the border. This increased policing ultimately led to Mexican cartels’ controlling the land routes into the U.S.

Later in his presidency, in 1971, Nixon declared the U.S. war on drugs. In the 1980s, the Colombian cocaine cartels started using already developed Mexican drug routes to ensure their cocaine made it to U.S. consumers, and this in turn strengthened and emboldened Mexican drug trafficking. Ronald Reagan further involved the U.S. in Mexican drug affairs via the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which mandated that countries that did not adhere to U.S. drug policies would not receive U.S. financial aid.

This constant and intense U.S. pressure on Mexico culminated in what is now being called the “Mexican War on Drugs,” which has been raging in Mexico since 2006. Yet the U.S. remains the number one consumer of Mexican cartel-controlled illegal drugs and approximately 70,000 people have lost their lives at the hands of the cartels. On March 25, 2009, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accurately stated that, our “insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade” and “the United States bears shared responsibility for the drug-fueled violence sweeping Mexico.”

So, what does legalization of cannabis in the United States have to do with helping Mexico eliminate its cartels? The more cannabis Americans buy from state-licensed operations, the less cannabis they buy from the drug cartels. This will have positive long-term effects for pretty much everyone except the cartels themselves.

...According to Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope, “approximately 30 percent of cartels’ drug export revenues come from marijuana.” Though on one level marijuana legalization has little effect on the cartels’ ability to smuggle hard drugs like heroin into the United States, just reducing the cartels’ marijuana sales will reduce their power, influence, and wealth and should correspondingly reduce their ability to move heroin and other hard drugs across borders. Standing alone, any reduction in the drug cartels’ power and presence in Mexico and in Colombia would be a great achievement.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1445

Here's another pre-YouTube RRSOD,  Arthur 'Guitar Boogie' Smith - Who Shot Willie.  The tune is on his One Good Boogie Deserves Another CD on the Jasmine Label.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What If the Oceans Were National Parks?

Next year will mark the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service. In the 100 years since it was established, the national parks have become one of America’s most popular federal programs. Now, marine scientists and conservationists want to do for the oceans what the National Park Service did for the land. When the National Park Service was proposed, “it was a really crazy notion,” said Jane Lubchenco, prominent marine scientist and former administrator of NOAA, to an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “It was so far from people’s thinking that wilderness was important to protect in and of itself.” Parks and other wilderness now define the American landscape, Lubchenco said. Today, she said, we think about the oceans the way we thought about wilderness 100 years ago, when few Americans had ever visited Yosemite or Yellowstone. “Fourteen percent of land—all around the world, all countries—is set aside in some kind of protected status,” Lubchenco said. The equivalent for oceans? 3.4 percent, according to the World Database on Protected Areas. And of that, Lubchenco pointed out, only one percent is fully closed off from extractive activities such as fishing...more

Robert Redford sees 'last chance' to fix climate

Robert Redford told the United Nations on Monday that negotiations on a global deal to tackle climate change could be the world's "last chance" to save the planet. "This December, the world must unite behind a common goal," said the American actor and producer. "Because look, this is it. This is our only planet, our only life source. "This may be our last chance." World governments will try to forge a new global accord to address climate change at a UN climate conference in Paris in December, with both developed and developing countries committing to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The landmark agreement would limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (two degrees Celsius) from pre-industrial revolution levels as of 2020. "We are all responsible for this crisis," Redford told the gathering. "Your mission is as simple as it is daunting: save the world before it's too late." "Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we're going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations." Redford told the gathering that he was an "actor by trade" but an "activist by nature" and that his convictions on the need for action to save the environment had grown over the past 40 years...more

Historic Induction of Western Writers Hall of Fame

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Western Writers of America held a historic induction of the first class of living authors to the Western Writers Hall of Fame at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock during WWA’s annual convention. Last year, the board of directors that oversees the Western Writers Hall of Fame voted to induct the 2015 Owen Wister Award recipient, Win Blevins, into the Hall of Fame, which is housed at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. The Wister and its previous incarnation, the Saddleman Award, honor lifetime achievement for writing about the West. Previously, writers had to be dead at least 10 years to be eligible for induction. Among this year’s other Hall of Fame inductees are Judy Alter, Matt Braun, James A. Crutchfield, David Dary, Max Evans, Andrew J. Fenady, John Jakes, Leon C. Metz, N. Scott Momaday, Robert M. Utley, Dale L. Walker, Richard S. Wheeler and Jeanne Williams, all previously recognized by WWA with either a Saddleman Award or a Wister...more

Judge orders Brady Center to pay legal fees of ammo company after nuisance suit

A federal judge has ordered the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence pay the legal fees of an online ammunition dealer it sued for the Aurora movie theater shooting. The order, which was issued last week, comes after Judge Richard P. Matsch dismissed the gun control group’s suit that sought to hold Lucky Gunner legally responsible for the 2012 shooting. The Brady Center had argued in their suit that the way Lucky Gunner sells ammunition is “unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance.” “A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” Brady Center’s Legal Action Project Director Jonathan Lowy said at the time. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes.” Judge Matsch disagreed with the Brady Center’s argument. He said the suit was filed for propaganda purposes. “It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order,” he said in his order...more

LA weighs rules to lock up handguns, police union wants exemptions

Los Angeles city council members are debating controversial new gun law changes aimed at locking up handguns when they're not in use.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposal would require city residents to either lock up handguns not being used or apply trigger locks to them. The proposal was authored by Councilman Paul Krekorian and is meant to protect children from gun accidents. But the plan has faced resistance from the local police officers union – the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The proposed rules exempted active duty and reserve officers, but the union wants retired officers and their families also included. They reportedly wrote a letter to lawmakers arguing that all officers need quick access for self-protection. The letter cited ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner's massacre of other officers three years ago. Union director Pete Repovich reportedly said it was vital for current and retired officers alike to be exempted to “protect themselves and society.”...more

Did green madness help create the Greek debt crisis?


...How much of Greece’s current economic problems were caused by the made Hellenic dash into renewable energy? The answer, unsurprisingly, is most likely quite a lot.

Greece, like many small European economies, has placed a substantial focus on green energy, seeing it as a quick leg up into the big league – an easy way to attract generous funding from rich green neighbours like Germany. On paper it must have seemed a fantastic opportunity – build green energy infrastructure, using a mixture of easy finance and generous grants from Germany and other rich green neighbours, then sit back and profit from selling carbon credits, on the pan-European, or even a global carbon market.

The promised European carbon market never really manifested, thanks mostly to an embarrassing oversupply of carbon credits – a surplus which was created through a combination of domestic overissuing of carbon credits, and through clever gaming of the defects in the Kyoto accord.

The consequences for Greece of this economic miscalculation have been nothing short of tragic. With money in short supply, Greece has been forced to retroactively roll back generous carbon credits, which has undoubtably bankrupted local investors, and which likely contributed to a sense that investing in Greece is unsafe.

Archaeologists call on feds to protect Chaco Canyon area

Tucked away among northwestern New Mexico's sandstone cliffs and buttes are the remnants of an ancient civilization whose monumental architecture and cultural influences have been a source of mystery for years. Scholars and curious visitors have spent more than a century trying to unravel those mysteries and more work needs to be done. That's why nearly 30 top archaeologists from universities and organizations around the nation called on the U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday to protect the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from oil and gas development. In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, they talked about the countless hours they've spent in the field, the dozens of books they've published about the Chaco society and their decades of collective experience studying its connection to modern Native American tribes in the Southwest. They call Chaco a distinct resource. "Many of the features associated with this landscape — the communications and road systems that once linked the canyon to great house sites located as far away as southeast Utah and which are still being identified to this day — have been damaged by the construction of oil and gas roads, pipelines and well pads," the archaeologists said. They're pushing for the agency to consider a master leasing plan that would take into account cultural resources beyond the boundaries of the national park. They're also looking for more coordination between federal land managers, tribes and archaeologists. Wally Drangmeister, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said the BLM's existing plan already takes into account cultural resources. He said there has been a push by environmentalists to tie Chaco to development in the Mancos shale more than 10 miles from the park. Environmentalists have been calling for protections for the greater Chaco area, and Drangmeister said that expansive definition could put the whole San Juan Basin off limits...more

Read more here:

Rand Paul meets with Cliven Bundy on Nevada campaign stop

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul met with southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy on Monday during a question-and-answer session in the town of Mesquite with about 50 supporters and activists interested in land rights. The meeting northeast of Las Vegas was part of a statewide tour with stops from Las Vegas to rural Elko. The Kentucky senator stopped at casino resorts and ballrooms Monday as part of his "Stand with Rand" tour, looking to win over small-government Republicans he believes are key to a successful result in Nevada's February presidential caucus. In Mesquite, Paul fielded questions on public land control — a contentious topic in a state where more than 80 percent of the land is owned by the federal government. In an interview with The Associated Press, Paul said he'd favor transferring federally owned land back to state control. "I think almost all land use issues and animal issues, endangered species issues, ought to be handled at the state level," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think that the government shouldn't interfere with state decisions, so if a state decides to have medical marijuana or something like that, it should be respected as a state decision." Paul's meeting with Bundy recalled one of the more dramatic conflicts over land rights in recent years. Bundy told the AP: "In general, I think we're in tune with each other." He added: "I don't think we need to ask Washington, D.C. for this land. It's our land."...more

Let’s Fix Our National Parks, Not Add More

IN Yosemite National Park, officials need roughly $19 million to upgrade an aging sewer system to prevent spills like the one that leaked thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the Merced River 15 years ago. In Grand Canyon National Park, more than $100 million is needed to repair the water system and $44 million to fix the trail network for the park’s four million visitors a year.

Throughout the national park system, an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance is eroding the visitor experience and threatening the very resources that the National Park Service was created to protect. Earlier this year, the park service announced that the cost of deferred maintenance had reached $11.5 billion.
Included in the backlog: $5.6 billion for park roads, $1.8 billion for buildings, nearly $473 million for trails, $255 million for wastewater systems and $62 million for campgrounds.

Unfortunately, the park service is not alone. At last estimate, the maintenance backlog for its parent agency, the Interior Department, which also includes the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, was put at between $13.2 billion and $19.3 billion.

Despite this, in December President Obama effectively spread the maintenance budget even thinner by adding seven new parks totaling approximately 120,000 acres to the park system. The administration also supports reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which devotes up to $900 million annually from offshore oil and gas leases to federal land acquisitions and state recreational grants — but nothing explicitly for the maintenance of our federal lands.

Adding more land to the federal estate is irresponsible when the government is failing to maintain the parks, forests and grazing lands it currently owns. Rather than using the conservation fund to acquire more land, Congress should use the money to help address the deferred maintenance backlog.
True conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have, not insatiably acquiring more and hoping it manages itself.


New data released on violent threats to federal employees

...Earlier this month, six anonymous gunshots were fired on public land near the camp of three Bureau of Land Management contract researchers from the Reno-based nonprofit Great Basin Institute who were monitoring water in the Gold Butte area, near the Bundy Ranch. The BLM has said it would take extra precautions in the area as a result. Environmental groups that are concerned about the impact of grazing say that by allowing ranchers like Bundy to let livestock graze illegally in sensitive habitat encourages others to do the same, to the detriment of ecosystems. At least three green organizations, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Oregon Wild, have now partnered with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others to create the Ballots not Bullets Coalition. The Coalition launched in May, around the time that the conservative militia-type organization Oath Keepers and others, including two Bundy family representatives, gathered in southern Oregon to support gold miners in a dispute with the BLM.  There’s a long history of violence toward federal public lands officers, as was evident in the results of last year’s High Country News investigation on the topic. And since 1995, the nonprofit watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has compiled annual reports of such cases that involve BLM officials. Last week, they released their 2014 report, which included 15 incidents involving BLM officers. Despite the Bundy fracas, it was the lowest number since 1996...more

BLM to take 'fresh look' at Burning Man housing request

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials are reviewing the agency's recent requests to Burning Man after a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation last week revealed a more than $1 million proposal for BLM facilities and services at this year's event in the Black Rock Desert. The proposals included flush toilets, washers and dryers and 24-hour access to ice cream for high-level BLM personnel, according to documents obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal. BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis issued the following statement Monday: "I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event. Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety." Federal BLM officials stated that the Nevada office would be doing most of the review. The review does not mean that the documents will be revised. "At this point, it's taking a step back, taking a fresh look at what our needs are. It's making sure that whatever we do is being seen as cost-efficient," said Craig Leff, spokesman for the federal BLM offices in Washington, D.C. "Where that leads us will be determined."...more

Feds: Please stop flying drones over active wildfires

The people charged with protecting millions of acres of public land from wildfires have a request to drone pilots: Stop getting in our way. On Monday the U.S. Forest Service along with other land management agencies sent a notice asking the general public to kindly avoid flying over active fires. According to the notice on June 25 drones interrupted air tanker operations over the Sterling fire in San Bernardino National Forest. Here's more from the Forest Service:
"Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as airtankers and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes, typically just a couple of hundred feet above the ground, the same as UAS flown by members of the public do, creating the potential for a mid-air collision that could seriously injure or kill aerial and/or ground firefighters. In addition, a UAS flown by a member of the public that loses its communication link could fall from the sky, causing serious injuries or deaths of firefighters on the ground."...more