Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gray Matters: Making Sense (Cents) Of WIPP Incident


There has been extensive media coverage of the February 2014 release of radioactive material at WIPP, which has resulted in the shutdown of the facility.

The purpose of this column is to examine the incident and point out that there has been a massive over-reaction to the release resulting in a tremendous waste of taxpayer's money.

In more common terms it is “making a mountain out of a mole hill” and “much ado about nothing”. The incident should have resulted in a shutdown of the facility of no more than a week or two and then business as usual at the facility.

We will examine in some detail the radiation doses received by the workers and why there was nothing in the operational plans to accommodate releases as a part of the ordinary operations.

The name WIPP stands for Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and is totally inappropriate for the facility since it is now a permanent disposal of defense related to nuclear waste.

The proper name should now be Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal Site or more simply Nuclear Waste Disposal Site (NWDS). It is neither a plant nor a pilot plant.

Obama praises Paris Agreement as strong first step in tackling climate change

The Paris Agreement will not solve climate change, even if all its goals are met, but it is a resounding first step, President Obama said in a speech to the nation Saturday. "We cannot be complacent because of today's agreement," he said. "The problem's not solved because of this accord. But, make no mistake, the Paris Agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis." The accord offers our "best chance to save the one planet we have," Obama said. Obama celebrated the unanimous passage of the Paris Agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties in the French capital that concluded Saturday afternoon. The agreement is the first global agreement on climate change in history. So far, 186 countries of the 196 that signed the accord have made commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. When taken together, those countries account for 95 percent of the globe's greenhouse gases. Parts of the agreement are legally binding, but the agreement will not be ratified by the Senate. According to senior White House officials, the portions of the deal that are legally binding can take effect under executive action. The most important parts of the agreement, funding for developing countries tackling climate change and greenhouse gas emission cuts, are not in the legally binding portion of the agreement. Obama said the American people could be proud of the deal, which includes much of the language and provisions the U.S. delegation sought. "We've transformed the United States into being the global leader on combating climate change," he said...more

Friday, December 11, 2015

Latest Draft Accord on Climate Talks Hints at More Than Political Gesture

Thursday night’s draft text of a new climate change accord skates on the edge of historical significance, and we won’t see the next version of it until Saturday.

The draft requires the following:
  • The countries would convene in 2019 to clearly demonstrate how they are faring in meeting those targets.
  • In 2020, countries would be required to meet and to submit new plans demonstrating how they’d ratchet up their emissions reductions plans by 2025.
  • They’d then have to reconvene every five years with fresh, tougher plans.
A Scheduling Victory for Some: The every-five-year schedule is a victory in the negotiations for the United States and for environmental advocates and vulnerable island countries like the Marshall Islands. Developing countries like India had been pushing to wait for the first meeting until 2030, and to require only 10-year commitments to ratcheting up...
The $100 Billion Option: The new draft also requires fairly robust actions on climate change finance. It would legally require developed countries to shell out money to help poor countries adapt to the “loss and damage” sustained by climate change, and help them transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. One option in the draft text would set $100 billion annually as a floor to be given from rich countries to poor countries to deal with climate change. 

Key to Success of Climate Pact Will Be Its Signals to Global Markets

As diplomats here work through the final points of a sweeping new climate change accord, experts said the ultimate measure of success of the agreement will be whether it sends a clear signal to global financial investors that they should move money away from fossil fuels and toward clean-energy sources such as wind and solar power. From Our Advertisers Without that signal, there is little chance that emissions will be reduced enough to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of global warming. The appeal to investors remained a question mark early Friday morning after Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister who is presiding over the United Nations conference on climate change, released a near-final draft text. It addressed many sticking points of the talks, and largely cleared the way for a final deal that accomplishes many of the goals that climate-policy advocates say are necessary to start reducing global emissions. But the draft dodges the issue of how countries would monitor, verify and report their levels of planet-warming pollution. The impact of the deal hangs on that one section, experts say, because without it, no one will be able to trust that governments are doing what they say they will do to cut emissions. Without that certainty, investors will be skittish about shifting to renewable energy...more

Global-warming claim: There'll be no air

The seas levels are rising, the plains will turn to deserts, polar icecaps will melt, snow will become an historic artifact, food production will collapse in the heat. What other dire prediction is coming from the global-warming supporters? How about one that the “depletion of atmospheric oxygen on global scale (which, if happens, obviously can kill most of life on Earth).” That comes from a new study titled, “Mathematical Modelling of Plankton – Oxygen Dynamics Under the Climate Change.” the study information is accessible online for a fee, and the abstract explains, “Ocean dynamics [are] known to have a strong effect on the global climate change and on the composition of the atmosphere. In particular, it is estimated that about 70 percent of the atmospheric oxygen is produced in the oceans due to the photosynthetic activity of phytoplankton. “However, the rate of oxygen production depends on water temperature and hence can be affected by the global warming. In this paper, we address this issue theoretically by considering a model of a coupled plankton-oxygen dynamics where the rate of oxygen production slowly changes with time to account for the ocean warming,” the report said...more

'Keep it in the ground' sparks legal debate over leasing

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

In the late 1920s, with the country awash in crude and prices plummeting, President Hoover ordered the Interior Department to cease all oil leasing.

The decision -- aimed at conserving the government's mineral bounty for boom times -- was legal, according to a 1931 Supreme Court ruling that found Interior is under no obligation to lease the federal estate.

That ruling resonates today as environmental groups and liberal politicians call on the Obama administration to again stop the sale of federally owned oil, gas and coal.

And this time, they want the ban to be permanent.

The Keep It in the Ground movement -- led by, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians -- has rekindled a vigorous legal debate over whether the government is obligated to sell publicly owned minerals whose burning could intensify global warming.

The question has split legal experts and vexed the Obama administration's top lawyers.

To be sure, Interior officials have made no indication that they are prepared to terminate the agency's nearly century-old leasing program. Secretary Sally Jewell has said fossil fuel leasing cannot be cut off overnight if people want to continue driving cars and living in comfortable homes.

The Bureau of Land Management sold more than 1,000 oil and gas leases last year covering more than 1 million acres, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is floating a controversial proposal to open the Atlantic Ocean to leasing and drilling for the first time in decades.

Yet President Obama has also acknowledged warnings by scientists that some fossil fuels -- roughly 80 percent of the world's coal -- must be kept in the ground to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Activists say Obama could burnish his climate legacy by ending, or at least greatly phasing out, the sale of new fossil fuel leases.

At the center of the debate is the Mineral Leasing Act, which Congress passed in 1920 to guide the orderly development of federally owned minerals. Climate activists say that despite many amendments, the law still offers clear authority for Interior to lease or not lease its minerals.

MLA says lands "known or believed to contain oil or gas deposits may be leased by the secretary."

"'May' means 'may,'" said John Leshy, who served as Interior's top attorney under the Clinton administration and now teaches at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. Lands are "available if the secretary makes them available."

The Supreme Court's ruling on the issue was unambiguous, Leshy said. Interior can ban fossil fuel leasing everywhere except for lands with unique statutes such as the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A).

"A blanket 'no' is politically risky because you invite congressional interference," he said. "But in terms of the legal authority, there's no question."

Deal to reform wildfire budget, hasten logging gains momentum

A pending deal to reform the nation's wildfire spending and expedite logging on national forests is picking up momentum as a potential tag-along to the 2016 omnibus spending package, according to multiple sources close to Capitol Hill. But a key unknown is whether negotiators can gain support from Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who have both historically opposed the wildfire budget reforms that are a key component of the emerging deal. Sources said both Republicans appear to have softened their opposition to allowing some wildfires to be fought using disaster funds, a move aimed at providing budget stability to the Forest Service and Interior Department that would possibly free up more funding for logging, restoration and recreation projects. And a top Agriculture Department official said he could support a deal that would include limited National Environmental Policy Act reforms to expedite logging -- a key demand of Republicans and a significant number of Western Democrats. One lobbyist close to the negotiations said a deal appeared to be within grasp and that progress has been made mitigating concerns from fiscally conservative House leaders...more

Gila Forest plan update may lead to grazing changes

The Gila National Forest updated the Silver City Audubon Society last week about the Forest Service’s ongoing work listing “species of conservation concern” as part of the Gila National Forest Plan process. By early next year, the Forest Service plans to complete the plan’s assessment phase. The ongoing process encompasses all aspects of forest operations and updates the plan for the first time since 1986. According to Gila National Forest Planner Matt Schultz, the planning is to be done according to the 2012 U.S. Planning Rule, which includes increased emphasis on collaboration and public input — leading to public meetings like the one held Friday night. Due to the Audubon Society’s focus on birds and other wildlife, forest wildlife biologist Rene Guaderrama took the lead, explaining exactly what “species of conservation concern” are — species of both flora and fauna that exist naturally on the Gila National Forest and may be facing some danger due to past forest policies. The list extends beyond, but includes, species listed as endangered or threatened. There is also room on it for any species with dwindled numbers that are found here. While the “species of conservation concern” list is only one aspect of this phase of the planning process, it could ultimately lead to significant policy change. Right now, for instance, the forest allows grazing by cattle populations even in areas where scarce plant life exists. According to Guaderrama, that could change if the forest decides it is necessary for the species’ survival. Another thing that could change drastically is an option for the creation or expansion of designated areas on the forest. Schultz provided a list of different types, which range from the much-talked-about wild and scenic river designation to several archaeological designations to wilderness areas. Schultz said there is no guarantee of these being applied, but “I would be very surprised if there are not areas that meet some of those criteria, at least.”...more

Red River lands bill passes House, 253-177

A piece of legislation that provides a resolution to the Red River land dispute between Texas landowners and the Bureau of Land Management passed in the U.S. House of Representatives mostly along party lines, 253-177. House Resolution 2130, authored by U.S. District 13 Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, lays out how the years-long quagmire regarding land along a 116-mile stretch from Doan's Crossing in Wilbarger County to the community of Stanfield in Clay County can be cleared up. Landowners claim they have deed and title to their land — some for generations — and the BLM claims it has always owned the land dating back to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Red River Private Property Protection Act, or House Resolution 2130, would provide "legal certainty to property owner" by having the entire 116-mile stretch of land in question along the river surveyed by a licensed Texas surveyor approved by the Texas General Land Office. The Commissioners of the Land Office in Oklahoma would also consult, and Native American tribes will also be part of the process. Property owners who have proper documentation and/or interest in the land will also have the right to appeal, or file for a modified Color-Of-Title Act request to buy back land believed to be theirs. For those who are able to prove ownership and have lived on their land 20 years or more, they will be eligible, at the discretion of the BLM, to buy back their land for $1.25 per acre...more

Forest Service drops plans to remove Salt River horses

After months of public pressure and political backlash, the Tonto National Forest will permanently drop all plans to round up and remove nearly 100 free-roaming horses near the Salt River. The announcement comes about four months after the Forest Service delayed its original plans in August. The roundups could have commenced Dec. 18, but the Forest Service will officially withdraw its impound notice on Friday, according to Tonto National Forest spokeswoman Carrie Templin. Templin said the Forest Service hopes withdrawing the notice will relieve fear so the agency can work with stakeholders on a long-term management plan...more

No sign of crashed plane after mysterious mountain fire

Federal investigators are trying to determine what caused a fire on Guadalupe Peak on Tuesday night that was originally believed to be caused by a crashed airplane. Search crews on the mountain did not find any wreckage Wednesday to indicate an aircraft had crashed, said Lynn Lunsford, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Local authorities had indicated to the FAA early on that a plane had crashed and reports by pilots surveying the peak indicated the same. Dispatchers received a report of an airplane that had crashed into the east side of Guadalupe Peak around 6 p.m. Tuesday, setting a half-mile stretch of wilderness on fire. Crews searching the area Wednesday morning were left puzzled after no debris was found. Elizabeth Jackson, public information officer with the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, said the fire has been contained. She confirmed that search crews have come up empty handed in the search for debris, survivors or victims of the supposed crash. Jackson said accelerant such as gasoline could have been a factor in the size of the fire on the peak, but said there is no way to confirm yet whether the fire was natural, deliberately set or the result of an accident. Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo have both said they had no maneuvers or operations in the area which could have caused the fire or a possible crash...more

Cartels Fighting For Canadian Gold Mine in Mexico

Former Sinaloa Cartel gangsters in the Mexican village of Carrizalillo are killing one another in a series of savage slayings over control of illegal “taxation” revenues from a Canadian mining company. The same gangsters in the series of back and forth murders were also involved in the now-infamous disappearance of 43 Mexican students last year. Carrizalillo is a village in the troubled Pacific state of Guerrero. Goldcorp (the mining firm) pays $3 million a year to lease the land which their mine sits on, which they say is in accordance with international regulations set by the Conflict-Free Gold Standard of the World Gold Council. Gang members of “Los Rojos” (The Reds) and Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) are vying for political and economic control of Carrizalillo through extortion and racketeering. The two gangs have been successful in intimidating locals into making a variety of different payments that come out of the aforementioned #3 million a year paid by Goldcorp to operate in the village. Senior gang leaders of both Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos are wanted for heroin trafficking in the U.S. It was Guerreros Unidos thugs that are most suspected of having kidnapped and allegedly murdered the 43 students whose deaths last year sparked a media firestorm...more

Sherriff confirms NM rancher kidnapped, NM State Police investigating

From: Carol Capas
Sent: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 4:55:37 PM
Subject: New Mexico Kidnapping Report

Good Afternoon,

As some of you may be aware, there is a kidnapping report being investigated by the New Mexico State Police along with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The basis for this report is that a ranch hand from the Animas NM area was on his ranch yesterday when he observed a parked vehicle with two men inside. The ranch hand reported that he stopped to see what was going on when the men said their vehicle was broken down and they then forced him to drive them to Willcox Arizona in his vehicle

The ranch hand reported that he did drive the two to Willcox and they told him not to report anything because they would have someone watching him. The ranch hand did report this incident and the New Mexico State Police contacted the Sheriff's Office for cooperation and assistance to investigate this report. The NM State Police is the lead agency with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office providing assistance.

The NM State Police advised that US Border Patrol have two subjects in custody as a result of a short vehicle pursuit and leads that were developed at the scene of the reported kidnapping. It is unknown what, if any, involvement these two subjects have in the reported kidnapping, however, both subjects are being interviewed in relation to this incident.

The Sheriff's Office is working diligently to bring this case to closure for the peace of mind and well being of our ranchers and our citizens. We encourage anyone with information on suspicious activity to call us immediately and we will continue working in close cooperation with you all.

Stay safe out there!

Carol A. Capas
Cochise County Sheriff's Office
Public Information Officer

Also in the media here.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1538

We'll close out the week at Ranch Radio with Jim Reeves and his 1955 recording of Yonder Comes A Sucker

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Utah to pursue lawsuit to seize control of federal lands

The federal government controls two-thirds of the land in Utah and the state says it's prepared fight to get it back. A Republican-dominated commission of Utah legislators voted Wednesday to move forward with a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government's control of federal lands — the latest salvo in a long-running feud. The commission made the decision after a consulting team it hired said its research concluded the Constitution does not give the U.S. government power to control federal lands within state borders. The team of hired lawyers recommended the commission urge the governor and attorney general to take on the lawsuit, even while warning it could cost up to $14 million, take years to play out in the courts and saying it would be far from a sure victory. "It's a solid argument but the court has never thought about it before," said Ronald Rotunda, a constitutional law expert part of the team of lawyers. "That's what makes it a very dramatic case." The only votes against moving forward came from two Democrats, who objected to the costs and questioned the objectively of the consulting team. The decision marks the latest indication that Utah's conservative leadership remains committed to moving forward with what many consider a longshot attempt to assert state powers...more

Jewell: No 'criminal activity' in mine spill

Republicans alleged a “whitewash” of a Colorado mining accident that unleashed 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater and requested a nonpartisan investigation after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday she’d seen no evidence of criminal negligence in the case. The spill was triggered by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew doing excavation work in August at the inactive Gold King mine near Silverton, Colorado. It fouled rivers in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico with contaminants including arsenic and lead, temporarily shutting down drinking water supplies and raising concerns about long-term impacts to agriculture. Immediately after Wednesday’s hearing, Committee Chairman Rob Bishop asked Congress’s non-partisan Government Accountability Office to investigate the Interior Department’s evaluation of what happened. The Utah Republican accused Jewell and other agency officials of stonewalling his repeated efforts to obtain documents relevant to the spill. Bishop also questioned why the authors of the Interior evaluation included an agency official, civil engineer Michael Gobla, who discussed cleanup work at Gold King with EPA prior to the spill. Gobla also worked with the EPA during its response to the accident. “How can you claim this report was even remotely independent?” Bishop asked...more

Spotted Owls Still Losing Ground In Northwest Forests

Northern spotted owl numbers are declining across the Northwest, and the primary reason is the spread of the barred owl, according to a new analysis published Wednesday. Federal scientists have been keeping tabs on spotted owls for more than 20 years now. “We have a lot of data that suggests that they’re in real trouble,” said study co-author Eric Forsman, a retired U.S. Forest Service biologist. The research looked at the decline of the threatened owls through three lenses: climate change, habitat and barred owls. The impact of climate is inconclusive. Habitat loss proved to be less of a factor than in the past, because there’s been no significant declines in the past 20 years. “Habitat is very important. We all know that,” Forsman said. “But when barred owls show up it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference how much habitat you have. They’re still causing the population to decline.” Washington has seen the sharpest decline in spotted owls – between a 55 percent and 77 percent loss. Forsman said the barred owl invasion happened north to south, meaning that they expanded in that state first. But now, Oregon and California are beginning to catch up...more

Please recall the job loss and economic devastation suffered by the rural communities in the Pacific northwest, all to protect the spotted owl.  Now comes another owl and it was all for naught.  If folks say the ESA is working, remind them of the following:

Between 1988 and 1998, the number of lumber and plywood mills in Oregon declined by nearly half, from 252 to 127. Twenty mills closed in Douglas County alone, according to timber consultant Paul Ehinger of Eugene. Some 2,800 jobs in the wood-products industry in Douglas County vanished within two years of the owl being listed.

More than half of the 60,000 Oregon workers who held jobs in the wood-products industry at the beginning of the 1990s no longer had them by 1998, according to a report published in the Journal of Forestry in 2003.

By the end of the decade, nearly half of those who left the timber industry disappeared from state employment records. The missing workers were likely either retired, unemployed or living in another state.

Jim Geisinger, the (Douglas Timber Operators) executive director from 1976 to 1981 and now the executive vice president of Associated Oregon Loggers, said that in the early ’80s, the Umpqua National Forest sold 360 million board feet a year.

“Today, Umpqua National Forest is selling only about 10 percent of that,” he said.


Repeal of country-of-origin meat labels may be tucked in U.S. budget bill

California ranchers hope a massive spending bill can be used to end a country-of-origin labeling law that could otherwise cost them serious money. Facing possible tariffs from Canada and Mexico, the ranchers and their Capitol Hill allies are scrambling to include a repeal of the labeling law in the so-called “omnibus” appropriations package needed to fund the federal government after Friday.
“This is a big problem needing fixing quickly,” said prominent San Joaquin Valley rancher John Harris. “The House has already passed a legislative fix. The Senate needs to get something done.” A World Trade Organization panel ruled May 18 that U.S. country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork, known as COOL, violate U.S. international trade obligations. Labeling meat products as foreign provides “less favorable treatment to imported Canadian cattle and hogs than to like domestic products,” the appellate panel concluded...more            

Read more here:

Dear Chipotle: Would you like some crow with that karma?

By Angela Bowman

Consumers are literally sick of hypocritical restaurant giant Chipotle – and so are America’s farmers and ranchers.

Earlier this week, at least 120 Boston College students contracted norovirus after eating at a nearby Chipotle restaurant – the incident marks the restaurant’s fourth foodborne illness outbreak this year.
So, to put this into perspective, in 2015:
  • Chipotle has sickened more than 300 people;
  • GMOs, on the other hand, have sickened 0 people.
So much for “Food with Integrity,” Chipotle’s main slogan plastered across their billboards, website and social media accounts.

To make matters even worse for Chipotle, according to Fortune magazine, the hypocritical food titan blames the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and media, especially concerning their E. coli nightmare.


“Because the media likes to write sensational headlines, we can probably see when somebody sneezes that they’re going to say, ‘Ah, it’s E. Coli from Chipotle’ for a little bit of time,” Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung told reporters an investor conference this week.
The blame is falling on deaf ears though. A poll by YouGov Brand Index, which interviews 4,500 people daily, showed Chipotle's brand perception index plummeting from a 6.5 on Oct. 31 to -15.7 on Nov. 15.

Chipotle has warned its same-store sales could fall this quarter for the first time in company history – all because of the outbreaks. The company is anticipating a decline between 8 percent and 11 percent. Analysts expect these same-store sales to slump through at least June 2016.

Read, “Chipotle's nightmare is just beginning”

For America’s farmers and ranchers, however, the response is poetic justice after years of attacks from Chipotle. From its 2013 “Scarecrow” advertisement to the four-part 2014 “Farmed and Dangerous” satire, Chipotle made it loud and clear it doesn’t stand with most of America's farmers and ranchers.


North Dakota officials, ranchers want meat labeling changed

As part of a final push to resist the imposition of retaliatory tariffs by Canada and Mexico, on June 22, 2015, the United States exercised its right under the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding to have an arbitrator determine the value of retaliatory measures Canada and Mexico could take against the U.S. The decision issued on December 7, 2015, marks the end of this WTO dispute, leaving Canada with some clear options to consider in connection with taking retaliatory measures in order to put pressure on the withdraw the COOL measures. About 250 USA companies and trade associations have sent a letter to every member of the U.S.Senate, urging them to do away with country-of-origin labelling on Canadian and Mexican beef and pork. "Mandatory COOL is one of the most costly and cumbersome rules ever imposed on the agricultural sector and the WTO announcement sets in motion Canada's and Mexico's ability to impose tariffs, a move they will likely complete before Christmas", says Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). Canada is working on duties on a range of imported US-made food products following authorisation from the WTO it can collect C$1.05bn (US$772m) annually in compensation for illegal United States country-of-origin labels. "NCC supports legislative action that will bring US laws and regulations pertaining to meat and poultry into full compliance with our global trade obligations". The ruling not only applies to livestock produced in the USA, but to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts. It ruled Monday that Canada could impose $780 million in retaliatory tariffs and Mexico could impose $228 million. But, Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs, emphasizes that both Canada and Mexico said since the outset that beef would be among the products. All eyes now turn to Washington to see if the U.S. Congress will pass legislation repealing COOL...more

USDA's use of Ag Census under microscope

The Census of Agriculture, which is conducted every five years, is used by economists, state, local, and federal policy-makers, financial analysts and farmers. However, in January 2015, the Agriculture Committee received correspondence from farmers and ranchers concerned that the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service improperly used the Census of Agriculture authority to conduct a mandatory survey entitled Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land. The TOTAL survey inquired about all aspects of an operator's personal financial portfolio as well as all aspects of farm related income and expenses. The TOTAL survey is a combination of what was previously the Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey, which was traditionally conducted as a follow-on Census of Agriculture survey, and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey, which has been prior to this year conducted by the Economic Research Service as a voluntary, academic survey. Members of the committee primarily expressed concerns regarding the compulsory aspect of the expanded TOTAL survey. "The most recent version of the TOTAL survey is extremely time-consuming, burdensome, and over broad in nature, and I'm concerned about the potentially negative effects this mandatory survey will have on farmers' willingness to participate in the Census of Agriculture," said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., subcommittee chairman...more

NM Missile launch expected to light up sky across Southwest

An early morning missile test in New Mexico could light up the sky for hundreds of miles, and authorities are ready for the flood of phone calls and emails that are likely to follow. The unarmed Juno target missile will be launched between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. MST from an old military depot in western New Mexico. The destination is White Sands Missile Range, some 215 miles away. In 2012, a similar launch created a buzz when reports flooded in about a colorful contrail that was visible from southern Colorado west to Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Las Vegas. This time, officials shared information about the launch in advance with communities as far away as Palm Springs, California. Radio stations in Arizona also were broadcasting stories about what people could expect to see in the pre-dawn sky. How spectacular the show will be depends on the conditions at the time of the launch. For example, the rising sun has to illuminate the twisting cloud-like formation in just the right way. The amount of crystallized water vapor in the atmosphere can affect color. The contrail could last up to 45 minutes, but officials say that also depends on atmospheric conditions. On its way to White Sands, the missile will drop a booster into a safety zone on private and national forest land north of Datil, New Mexico. Roadblocks have been set up in the area. White Sands officials said the airspace over Fort Wingate, the site of the launch, and the drop zone for the booster will be restricted for several hours Thursday. The airspace over White Sands is already a restricted zone...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1537

You find things in these vintage country songs that they don't write about clothes lines.  Here is Dirty Linen by Eddie Hazelwood, which is on the Cactus Records CD Intro Hillbilly

Dolly Parton: ‘Career of Many Colors’

There is only one Dolly Parton — a multitalented, multifaceted powerhouse of song and stardom. But Miss Parton is more than just a singer/songwriter/actress/writer/producer/businesswoman, she is an international entertainment icon. Not bad for a girl from the Smokey Mountains. Starting off as a 12-year-old singer, she went from local TV to the Grand Ole Orpy, eventually recording more than 40 albums and penning arguably the most well-known song in history, “I Will Always Love You.” Miss Parton has also starred in “9 Top 5,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Steel Magnolias.” She even has her own theme park, Dollywood. For her latest project, Miss Parton has transformed her song “Coat of Many Colors” into a feature film — which she also executive-produced. The song and the movie tell the tale of Miss Parton’s humble and poor Tennessee beginnings and how the real gifts in life come from the heart, not a store. At the red carpet premiere, Miss Parton and sister Stella Parton, child actress Alyvia Alyn Lind (who plays young Dolly) and actor Ricky Schroder (who plays Dolly’s dad in the film) discussed “Coat of Many Colors.”  Question: Why did you decide to produce a movie based on your early life? Dolly Parton: I always thought that “Coat of Many Colors” would make a beautiful film. I had been offered a lot of times to have it put on film. It just seemed to be the time to do it. I just think there are a lot of family things missing from television. I just wanted to do something faith-based for families, something they could enjoy together. So I think it’s time. Q: How did you feel about the the finished film? DP: It’s very touching, very emotional. I get so emotional I can’t hardly watch it. Getting a chance to see Momma and Daddy and my younger brothers and sister like it was when we were little. It was very overwhelming to Stella and me. We spent all day crying...more

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Closure of Sierrita mine near Tucson confirmed

Hurt by falling oil prices, Freeport-McMoRan said Wednesday that it won't pay an annual dividend this year and will make more spending cuts. It will also shut down a copper mine in Arizona, cutting about 450 jobs. Shares of Freeport-McMoRan jumped more than 8 percent in midday trading. To combat weaker demand for oil, the Phoenix-based company had announced plans to reduce spending earlier this year. It also said in October that it is considering selling its oil and gas business, or finding another alternative, so it could focus on its copper mining business. Freeport-McMoRan said it will close its Sierrita mine south of Tucson, and is considering selling minority interests in certain mining assets. The company said that ending its 20 cent per share yearly dividend will save it about $240 million a year...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1536

Whoa!  I need some fiddle music to perk me up.  And Enloe Lyman's Melinda gets the job done.  The tune is on his 1973 album Fiddle Tunes I Recall.

World's first IVF puppies born to surrogate mother dog

The world's first IVF puppies have been born after years of attempts, say scientists in the US. The in-vitro fertilisation advance paves the way for conserving endangered breeds and could help in the fight against human and animal diseases, say researchers at Cornell University. The seven beagle and cross-bred beagle-cocker spaniel puppies were born to a surrogate mother. They were all from the same litter but have three sets of parents. Frozen embryos were implanted in a female dog using techniques similar to those used in human fertility clinics. Problems with freezing embryos have caused difficulties in the past, but the group say they have perfected the technique. Lead researcher Dr Alex Travis, from Cornell's college of veterinary medicine, said: "We have seven normal happy healthy puppies." He added: "Since the mid-1970s, people have been trying to do this in a dog and have been unsuccessful. "Now we can use this technique to conserve the genetics of endangered species."...more

Violence Rages in Mexico at Texas Border as Gulf Cartel Leader Escapes

REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — Mexican authorities continue to track down the leadership of the Gulf Cartel, however, the attempts to capture them have resulted in almost daily shootouts and blockades in this border city. One of the most dramatic shootouts took place Monday afternoon when a convoy of Mexican soldiers came under fire by cartel gunmen, the Tamaulipas government announced through a prepared statement. Tamaulipas law enforcement sources confirmed to Breitbart Texas that the shootout was the result of military forces clashing with the personal guard of the Gulf Cartel’s Juan Manuel “Comandante Toro” Loisa Salinas. That particular shootout lasted for more than 20 minutes. The fighting was so intense that the City of Reynosa and the State of Tamaulipas were forced to acknowledge the violence and issue out alerts on social media warning residents to avoid the area. In a similar fashion, organized crime members activated a series of contingency protocols where gunmen set out to create chaos and slow down military forces. The chaos was created by hijacking buses and tractor trailers in order to park them across main avenues as to stop the flow of traffic and keep law enforcement away...more

As migrant children surge at border, federal officials plan for more shelters

Federal officials plan to open new shelters in Texas and California this month, adding at least 1,400 beds, after a surge in unaccompanied migrant children crossing the Southwest border this fall. Last month, more than 5,600 unaccompanied youths were caught at the southern border, mostly from Central America, more than double the number apprehended last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protections figures. The surge is likely prompted by smugglers taking new routes to the border, economic hardship and the unchecked violence in places such as El Salvador. Since Oct. 1, there have been 10,588 youths caught at the border, more than double the number in the same period last year. The increase comes at a normally slow time of year for migrants, and the spike worries officials who struggled to cope last year with a total surge of more than 68,000 children that overwhelmed border shelters and holding areas, especially in Texas. By law, Border Patrol must turn over unaccompanied youths to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. From there they are sent to shelters until they can be placed with relatives or sponsors. In addition to the new shelters, which would include 400 beds in California and 1,000 in Texas, the secretary of Health and Human Services has asked the Pentagon to line up 5,000 more beds for the young people. During last year’s surge, the military opened emergency shelters to house the migrants at bases in Oxnard, Calif.; San Antonio and Fort Sill, Okla...more

Surge of Children on Border; Hundreds Coming to North Texas

DALLAS (WFAA) — The U.S. Health and Human Services Commission will bus more than 1,000 undocumented immigrants to facilities in Ellis and Rockwall counties as soon as Thursday, WFAA has learned. The children were captured in the Rio Grande Valley trying to enter the U.S. illegally. WFAA has learned that the children bound for Ellis County will be housed at a church camp between Waxahachie and Maypearl. Officials in Ellis County said they just learned about the federal plan this morning. “My concern is, I don’t believe that’s a secure facility," said Ellis County Commissioner Paul Perry. "It’s designed for hospitality." There's one adult for every eight children, sources said. The border between Mexico and Texas is seeing another surge of children traveling alone, despite federal efforts to stop them from leaving their homes in Central America. Many are fleeing violence and drug cartels in their home countries and trying to reunite with family members already in the U.S...more

Former Bundy Bodyguard Arrested on Firearms Charge

A man who allegedly made threats about “lynching” a California judge and once served as a bodyguard for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was arrested by an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. The arrest Sunday near Seattle of Schuyler Pyatte Barbeau on a federal firearms felony charge is causing a stir on Facebook among so-called Patriot and militia groups and members. One antigovernment activist published a “Call to Action." Following Barbeau’s arrest, federal agents reportedly searched an animal-rescue ranch near Springdale, in eastern Washington, where he had been living. Militia postings on Facebook claimed that federal agents were searching for explosives but found none. The FBI will not confirm nor comment on the search at a ranch owned by Allen Aenk, who has made Facebook postings indicating he is a leader of “Sheepdog” militia. Aenk reportedly was traveling with Barbeau when agents stopped the pair while they were driving near Auburn, south of Seattle. Aenk was detained briefly, but was released and hasn’t been charged...more

AZ Dept of Education Calls for the Transfer of Public Lands to States

On Dec. 7, 2015, the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction and several state legislators gathered at Wesley Bolin Plaza to request the transfer of federal lands to the State of Arizona for long term education funding.

“Regaining land that is rightfully ours would create a larger state land trust,” said Superintendent Douglas. “When the land is returned to our state, Arizonians can determine how to more effectively leverage the land’s value and better fund education.”

Many people do not realize that our public education system derives its funding from the school trust lands in each state. The more public land a state owns, the higher the education revenue.

"The federal government currently owns nearly half of land in Arizona and loses 27 cents for every dollar they spend on land management, a loss to the taxpayers of approximately $2 billion per year. States, on the other hand, generate on average $14.51 for every dollar they spend on managing public lands. “There is absolutely no reason to waste all of this land when it could provide critical revenues for Arizona education,” Douglas said. “When it comes to today’s western states, the federal government has refused to honor the same promise made and kept with all other states east of Colorado,” said Rep. Mark Finchem, R-11.

“Our state has a proven track record of maximizing the land we do control, so it makes no sense to allow mismanagement of these resources.”

(read original press release HERE)

Does your Department of Education support the Transfer of Public Lands? Do they understand the ramifications of not supporting it? Do they realize the tremendous resource that proper management of our public lands could be for your children? If not...who do you suppose should tell them?

Source:  American Lands Council

2 get life terms in border agent’s 2010 death

Two men were convicted Thursday of murder in the killing of a Border Patrol agent whose death brought to light the bungled federal gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious. The federal court jury in Tucson took only 3ƒ hours to find Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza and Ivan Soto-Barraza guilty of all counts in the killing of Brian Terry, 40. They face life in prison and will be sentenced in December. The 2010 killing exposed the Fast and Furious operation in which agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed criminals to buy guns with the intention of tracking the weapons. But the agency lost most of the guns, including two that were found at the scene of Terry’s death. The operation set off a political firestorm, led to congressional investigations and became a major distraction for President Obama in his first term. The judge in the murder case restricted any mention of Fast and Furious. This was the first trial for any defendants in the case. Two suspects have already pleaded guilty, and two others remain fugitives. The victim’s sister, Michelle Terry-Balogh, broke down in tears as she read a statement outside court thanking the jury for its decision. She and other relatives live in Michigan and traveled to Tucson to attend the weeklong trial. “The verdict delivered by the jury today is testimony of the vicious and violent assault that took place upon Brian and his fellow Border Patrol agents,” Terry-Balogh said...more

Rancher kidnapped??

Anybody else hearing rumors concerning an individual and his truck being kidnapped by drug smugglers and then taken to Wilcox where they were eventually released?

Rural counties lose battle to block federal sage grouse regs

A federal judge Tuesday denied a preliminary injunction seeking to block federal land use regulations intended to protect sage grouse.  U.S. District Judge Miranda Du, in a 16-page order, said the plaintiffs failed to show the likelihood of irreparable harm if the rules imposed in September take effect. The lawsuit, filed initially by Elko and Eureka counties and two mining companies, argued the rules would cause tens of millions of dollars in economic losses. It was filed the day after the Department of Interior announced sage grouse would not be listed under the Endangered Species Act, but critics argued that the amended land use regulations adopted instead were just as onerous to rural economies. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and seven other counties later joined the suit, but were not allowed to argue on the motion for a preliminary injunction. The case is expected to go to trial next year. Du's ruling was not unexpected. During a two-day hearing last month, she warned the counties they had a high hurdle to clear to block the new regulations. She reiterated that in her ruling. "Because plaintiffs fail to meet their burden of demonstrating a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of the requested preliminary injunction the court denies plaintiffs' motion," Du's order said. The suit alleges "serious concerns about plan amendments' repercussions on travel in rural Nevada, as well as grazing, mining, and local land use planning," Du wrote. But she added "much of the alleged harms seem to be driven by confusion and uncertainties over … implementation." Du noted the Bureau of Land Management amendments on grazing indicate grazing "will continue in a manner consistent with the objective of conserving" greater sage grouse and improve efforts to reduce the risk of wildland fires, which threaten critical sage grouse habitat...more

Sandoval gets results on sage grouse — without lawsuits

By Steve Sebelius

Friday was a good day for Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

During a meeting of the Western Governors' Association in Las Vegas, Sandoval met on the sidelines with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. The subject: A list of concerns over efforts to protect the sage grouse, a chicken-size, ground-dwelling bird with habitat across the West.

Long story short: By the end of the day, Sandoval had resolved or received commitments to resolve every single issue on his list. The governor looked on as Jewell outlined the agreement to assembled reporters, and not a discouraging word was heard.

"We will be reasonable, flexible and work with the states," Jewell promised, adding later, "We're continuing to execute on our plans, we're continuing to be open to work with all governors from all states."

"We know this is the right thing," she summed.

First, a disagreement over which maps to use in sage grouse planning was resolved, and the Interior Department will use new maps that will, for example, allow Washoe County to proceed with a school project and a veterans cemetery under the normal development process.

Second, the Interior Department will immediately allow a pilot project recognizing Nevada's conservation credit system, which provides some flexibility in dealing with protecting sage grouse habitat.

Third, Jewell agreed to work with the state on existing mineral rights. And fourth, she agreed to resolve by early next year a dispute over the construction of a replacement water tank in the town of Baker, Nev. The town needs the tank for drinking water and fire protection.


The column continues:

Contrast the Sandoval Approach with the alternative pursued by Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who joined a lawsuit filed by several Nevada counties to attack some of the policies put in place...

Where Sandoval calmly but firmly pressed Nevada's case in a face-to-face meeting with Jewell, Laxalt went to court. While the governor tried to understand and appreciate the entire dimension of the problem and its complex solution, Laxalt insisted the situation required litigation.

What a set up.  Notice the lawsuit is an "attack" rather than a defense.

Sandoval "calmly" pressed his case.  So that makes the Laxalt/counties approach the opposite? In other words "turbulent", "angry" or "agitated"?  Nice try Sebelius, but I don't buy it.  Defending your property or other rights in court doesn't divorce one from civility.

Then comes the old reliable "complex" obfuscation.  Sandoval appreciates the "entire dimension" of a "complex" issue, inferring that Laxalt  by comparison is narrow-minded and simply doesn't understand the totality of the problem/solution.  What bunk.  Interior either has the authority to issue these decisions and they did so in a legally correct fashion, or they went beyond their authority or their procedure was legally deficient.  What's so complex about that?

 And while Sandoval got quick and immediate results, Laxalt's approach will take much longer to resolve, with much less certain results.

 Sandoval got a meeting and words.  It will be "much longer" before we know the results, so until there is implementation on the ground, these words are as uncertain as any lawsuit.

Criticize Laxalt if you wish, but don't push these straw men on us to make your case.  

Personally, I thank Laxalt for attempting to defend our rights NOW, rather than AFTER they've been abridged.

Truth be told, Sandoval benefited from Laxalt's actions.  Interior was much more willing to meet and compromise when facing a potential court appearance.  Sandoval and Sebelius should be "calmly" thanking Laxalt for his lawsuit and recognize his contribution to their sought after administrative remedies.

Congressional committee says Colorado mine spill probe glossed over government negligence

A U.S. Interior Department investigation glossed over the federal government's negligence in a massive toxic wastewater spill from an inactive gold mine that fouled rivers in three states, Republicans in Congress said as they pushed for a more detailed explanation of the accident. An Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew triggered the 3-million-gallon spill on Aug. 5 during cleanup work near Silverton, Colorado. It sent a torrent of rust-colored water filled with poisonous arsenic, lead and other contaminants rushing downstream through communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The Interior Department's subsequent investigation — conducted at the EPA's request — faulted EPA officials for not taking steps that could have prevented the accident. But House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop told The Associated Press that the Interior investigation was too limited and failed to answer whether any criminal conduct occurred. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was scheduled to testify on the matter before Bishop's committee on Wednesday. Federal officials have yet to release documents related to the investigation that The AP has sought through public records requests. That includes criticisms over the scope of the probe from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers geotechnical engineer who peer-reviewed the agency's work...more

Companies asking Oklahoma judge to toss earthquake lawsuit

Two energy companies are asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit by an Oklahoma woman who claims she was injured in an earthquake caused by the injection of wastewater deep into the ground — a method used for decades by the industry to dispose of the chemical-laced byproduct of oil and gas production. The lawsuit by Prague resident Sandra Ladra alleges the companies are liable because they operated the wastewater disposal wells that triggered the largest earthquake in state history, a 5.6-magnitude temblor that hit in 2011. Ladra, who claims the quake crumbled her two-story fireplace and caused rocks to fall on her legs and gash her knee, is among others who have similar lawsuits pending across the country...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1535

By request, yesterday we had two country classics.  You have a classic when a tune lasts through time, is recorded by many other artists and makes a hit in different eras.  Here are hit versions, almost 30 years later of In The Jailhouse Now and Wildwood Flower.  The Webb Pierce version of this Jimmie Rodgers classic was recorded in 1954 and the Carter Sisters with Mother Maybelle is from 1952.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Farewell to the man who invented 'climate change’

A very odd thing happened last weekend. The death was announced of the man who, in the past 40 years, has arguably been more influential on global politics than any other single individual. Yet the world scarcely noticed. Had it not been for this man, we would not last week have seen 150 heads of government joining 40,000 delegates in Paris for that mammoth climate conference: the 21st such get-together since, in 1992, he masterminded the Rio “Earth Summit”, the largest political gathering in history. Yet few people even know his name. Some years back, when I was researching for a book called The Real Global Warming Disaster, charting how the late-20th-century panic over climate change came about, few things surprised me more than to discover the absolutely central role played in the whole story by a Canadian socialist multimillionaire, Maurice Strong...more

UN Chief: Global Warming ‘Not Visible,’ But We Still Need Global Treaty

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted Monday that even if global warming can’t be seen or felt by humans, the world should still agree to an international treaty to cut carbon dioxide emissions. “We are living in a world of peril,” Ban tells Mashable, according to ThinkProgress. “This climate change, even if it is not visible, is the worst threat to human beings.”  Ban wants countries to limit CO2 emissions to stem projected global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, the level beyond which environmentalists say warming will be dangerous to civilization. Current CO2 reduction pledges from countries, however, aren’t even close to keeping global warming below 2 degrees based on some climate models — which have been consistently wrong about global warming. “This agreement should have a long term ambitious vision,” Ban says. “Unfortunately, our world has a fever. The prescription should have a 2°C limit.” Ban also wants rich countries to pledge $100 billion a year to poor countries to help them adapt to global warming and make sure countries can be held accountable for CO2 and funding pledges...more

Oh great. Obamacare for the environment.

Climate Change Brews Perfect Storm of Food Woes

Climate change is on track to cause a lot of problems for the world's farmers, and the worst hit will be those who are the least able to recover. Though rising global temperatures are expected to negatively affect agricultural production and food security in regions all over the world, poor farmers and those living in the tropics will be most affected. But if countries take steps to adapt to environmental changes, much of the food security risk could be offset, according to a new joint report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "Never before has agriculture faced challenges of this magnitude. We've all seen the statistics: nine billion people by 2050. Feeding these new citizens will require at least a 60 percent increase in agricultural productivity. We must do all of this in the face of climate change that is threatening the productivity and profitability of our farms, ranches and forests," wrote Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in a statement.  USDA released its latest report during Vilsack's visit to the Paris climate talks last week. He noted that the United States and the Department of Agriculture can lead by example by helping farmers and ranchers adapt to the effects of climate change. USDA released its latest report during Vilsack's visit to the Paris climate talks last week. He noted that the United States and the Department of Agriculture can lead by example by helping farmers and ranchers adapt to the effects of climate change. The consensus-based assessment pulls together research from 19 federal, academic, nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations, but stays away from offering policy recommendations. The researchers compared what would happen in either a low-emissions scenario where atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are around 421 parts per million by 2100, or a high-emissions scenario with atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 936 ppm by the end of the century. Under low emissions, temperatures would increase to 1 degree Celsius by 2050, then remain unchanged into the end of the century. With high emissions, temperatures would go up by 2 degrees by 2050 and 4 degrees by 2100. Changes in production capacity were among the most direct climate change impacts on food security globally...more

Obama energy chief lays out wish list for final Paris deal

Carbon reduction verification methods and a process for updating and renewing climate goals top the American wish list for a final deal before the Paris climate conference ends this week, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Monday. Speaking to reporters in Paris, Moniz said that the United States wants a final climate deal to include mechanisms to verify how well countries are progressing on their carbon emission goals, as well as a way to renew those commitments in the future. “We are looking for verifiable approaches for accounting for progress. We’ve been very clear that we would like to see a regular review period,” he said. He also promoted energy sector technological innovation as a key priority for a final deal, something he will focus on during his trip to Paris this week for the closing days of the climate conference. United Nations negotiators released a draft deal over the weekend for reducing worldwide carbon emissions. They hope to finalize a deal around the end of the conference on Dec. 11...more

Bureau of Land Management Will Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground — Until After the Paris Climate Talks

It’s hard to lead the charge against the global consumption of fossil fuels while making money off the sale of them. Perhaps in recognition of this conundrum, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which manages some 245 million acres of public land, has announced it will postpone an oil and gas lease auction scheduled for December 10 until March 17, 2016. The leases for sale include nine parcels of land in Arkansas and Michigan, totaling 587 acres, eligible for fossil fuel exploration. That means the federal government won’t be selling off land for oil or gas development just as the COP21 climate talks in Paris approach their dramatic conclusion. The planned sale had been drawing heat from climate activists, who are rallying behind the “keep it in the ground” philosophy that to prevent the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to leave most of fossil fuel reserves untapped...more 

County wants Governor to do more on sage grouse

ELKO – The County sent a letter to Gov. Brian Sandoval thanking him for his negotiations with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, but also said he wasn’t doing enough. Commissioner Demar Dahl wrote in the letter that Sandoval’s negotiations did not “solve critical harms that the (sage-grouse Land Use Plan Amendment) has created in Elko County and in other rural counties.” Dahl said the county is “Ground Zero for the harms associated with the LUPA in Nevada.” His main complaint was that the maps will be landscape scale and won’t show “critically important on-the-ground information about actual habitat conditions.” The County stated Sagebrush Focal Areas threaten the future to two “promising” mineral projects – Western Exploration’s Gravel Creek Project and Quantum Mineral’s Jarbidge Project. Both projects are possible gold deposits. “Your letter to Secretary Jewell does not appear to make any effort to save these important projects by eliminating active mining claims or to reduce the size of the SFA,” Dahl stated. The County stated it wished the governor had focused on solving “the most serious threat” to sage grouse habitat: wildfire. The County stated the agencies ignored “credible scientific data that managed grazing is the most cost effective way to reduce wildfire risks.” At the Nov. 17 federal court hearing, Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkleberger said the LUPA will reduce grazing, while the County said experts testified that grazing can reduce fuels and the threat of wildfire. The County will continue to pursue fighting the LUPA in court. “Elko County believes that negotiations you are pursuing with Secretary Jewell will not provide any meaningful relief to Elko County or the rest of Nevada from the onerous LUPA land use restrictions and prohibition and will do nothing to reduce the wildfire risks throughout northern Nevada,” Dahl wrote...more

Couple Recounts Terrifying Squirrel Attack

The last thing Richard Williams expected when he started doing chores in the garage of his Novato home the day after Thanksgiving was that he would soon be in a life-and-death battle with a crazed squirrel. The 87-year-old Williams said the squirrel that has been terrorizing the neighborhood slipped into the garage through an open door. “He charged me and jumped, and from then on, the battle started,” he told KPIX CBS 5. The squirrel turned Williams’ head, arm and legs bloody. It also smashed his glasses. “He was really vicious. He was clawing and scratching,” he said. “I was trying to get him off. Every time I’d get him off, he’d jump back up again.” His 83-year-old wife, Norma, heard his screams and raced to his aid. When she saw her bloodied husband, she picked up a broom and joined the battle. “I grabbed the broom, picked it up,” she said. “I guess I hit the squirrel with it.” Still the attack continued. “And then he jumped her,” Richard Williams said. “I was able to grab him by the tail, threw him on the garage floor and he seemed stunned.” The squirrel then raced off and a neighbor came to the couple’s aid, bringing them to a hospital for treatment of their wounds. Both were bandaged up and given dozens of shots including vaccines for rabies and tetanus...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1534

There's such a huge selection of music on YouTube that Ranch Radio tends to focus on the rare or hard to find tunes.  But last night we got a request for two classics - In The Jailhouse Now and Wildwood Flower.  Here are the original versions of these tunes by Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.  Both tunes were recorded in Camden on Feb. 15, 1928 and May 10, 1928, respectively.  This Special Edition goes out to Jim Holder.  The Westerner

Monday, December 07, 2015

Oklahoma City bombing secret: DNA extracted from unknown leg

The Oklahoma City Medical Examiner has partial DNA from an unmatched left leg collected from the ruins of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, reviving the possibility of a 169th unidentified victim from the 1995 terror attack as well as defense lawyers’ long-held belief that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols had an additional accomplice. An Oklahoma state forensics expert told The Washington Times the DNA tests were conducted by a private lab about two years after the attack, and no known person who was in the vicinity of the building the day of the bombing is presently unaccounted for. “The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has a copy of the results. However, the results are confidential pursuant to state law,” Oklahoma Chief Toxicologist Dr. Byron Curtis said. FBI officials said Monday they were unaware of the existence of the DNA findings on the left leg, known only as human specimen P-71, and plan to obtain the data from local authorities and the private lab to investigate its relevance to the case. The request could open the door for new DNA tests with today’s vastly improved techniques. The existence of extracted DNA from the John Doe leg opens the possibility that the DNA sample could be retested using today’s more sophisticated techniques to glean more evidence about its identity. While DNA science has vastly improved over the last two decades, the FBI lab would only retest the leg today if the agents responsible for the case made a new request, Ms. Todd explained...more

New Mexico dairy employee sentenced in animal cruelty case

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — A former employee at a New Mexico dairy has been sentenced to 364 days behind bars after pleading no contest to animal cruelty. Prosecutors say Jose Luis Zuniga-Lira was one of four Winchester Dairy workers charged in April after undercover video showed them whipping cows with chains and wire cables and kicking and punching the animals. Cases are pending for three other employees, who are facing a total of seven counts of animal cruelty. Zuniga-Lira entered his plea last Friday in Chaves County District Court. The dairy near Roswell ceased operations in September 2014 after an undercover investigation by Los Angeles-based Mercy For Animals. Winchester Dairy subsequently halted milking operations, stopped shipments to all vendors and dispersed thousands of cows to other dairies with strong track records in animal welfare.

US faces $1 billion in trade penalties for meat labels

The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that Canada and Mexico can slap more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation for meat labeling rules it says discriminated against Mexican and Canadian livestock. At issue were U.S. labels on packaged steaks and other cuts of meat that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.  The WTO has previously found that the so-called "country of origin" labeling law put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage. It ruled Monday that Canada could impose $780 million in retaliatory tariffs and Mexico could impose $228 million. "We are disappointed with this decision and its potential impact on trade among vital North American partners," said Tim Reif, general counsel for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Utah officials: Mexican wolf is ‘bullet’ that could destroy West

As federal wildlife officials begin another effort to revise a recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf after three failed attempts over the past two decades, Utah Wildlife Board Chairman John Bair says that no evidence will ever convince him that Mexican wolves should be allowed in Utah. "People want to use the wolf as the silver bullet to kill the culture of the West," said Bair, a gifted auctioneer and self-proclaimed "Mormon redneck" from Springville. "There is no need to have them here other than those political reasons." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists facilitating Mexican wolf recovery planning are scheduled to meet next week at the COD Ranch outside Tucson, Ariz., with state representatives and other stakeholders. Leaders in Utah, as well as Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, are attacking the credibility of FWS's science, alleging it is rigged to improperly include the Four Corners region in the recovery zone for this critically imperiled wolf subspecies. The states also object to the venue for next week's meeting because it is has hosted meetings of conservation groups. The Utah Wildlife Board on Wednesday piled on when it dispatched a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, arguing that directing wolf recovery toward Utah "is simply bad policy, bad science, bad for the Mexican wolf, and bad for the states strapped with the burden of hosting protected wolf populations." But a key scientist on the recovery team and Utah wildlife advocates say Utah is dead wrong. Officials are turning their back on the best wolf science and engaging in political interference to thwart an effective recovery of Mexican wolves, whose numbers in the wild have stagnated at around 100, said Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy...more

Salt Lake Tribune endorses bringing wolves into Utah

What is Utah's responsibility to save the Mexican gray wolf? 

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert joined governors from the other Four Corners states in pushing back against the federal government's latest effort to revise a recovery plan for the wolves, whose numbers in the wild are down to about 100 animals. 

In their letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last month, one key argument of the governors is that the subspecies of wolf never roamed as far north as Utah and Colorado before they were eradicated, so the states are not appropriate for taking them now. The Utah Wildlife Board has reiterated that in its own letter. 

The governors are arguing that the scientific deck is stacked against them in the recovery plan because it includes scientists who dispute the argument that Mexican wolves never made it here. It's likely wolves were in Utah at some point, but it's hard to know which sub-species. 

Further, when the intent is to save a species, the federal Endangered Species Act does not require that it can only be saved on land where it had historically roamed. If the science shows that land is suitable for a recovery effort, the feds can consider it for recovery. 

The effort is severely complicated by the fact that, historically, half or more of the Mexican gray wolves were in Mexico. As a result, the governors are pushing for a recovery effort that is more centered on Mexico. The effort should be international, but it's also a reality that Mexico does not have the laws or the political will to take wolf recovery as far as the United States can. 

What's more, with or without wolves, the habitat is not standing still, and that is due to climate change. The temperature-associated changes that have begun and will continue may indeed make the U.S. more of the wolves' future range, even if it wasn't their past range. In other words, the historical argument may be just that, history. 

Western governors meet, Jewell speaks

Governors from 19 Western states called Friday for expansion of a program that screens international travelers at airports abroad, in a bid to encourage tourism and stop terrorists before they arrive in the U.S. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock told the Western Governors' Association in Las Vegas that expanding a U.S. government pre-clearance program would serve two purposes. "First, it enhances national security by keeping potential terrorists from even arriving on U.S.," he said. "Second, it encourages tourists to travel to the U.S. by reducing the hassle and wait times at customs checkpoints" when they arrive. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell focused during a keynote speech on issues including drought, wildfires, species protection and abandoned mines. She urged states to continue working with federal officials to address them. Jewell said adopting rules this year to protect habitat for the greater sage grouse in 11 Western states, rather than declare the chicken-sized bird an endangered species, was one example of cooperation. The nation's top land manager acknowledged the breadth of the regulations created lots of work for lawyers. "But I will say that it's way better than a listing," she said. "It provides certainty to developers ... states ... and the conservation community as well." The budget-busting cost of fighting wildfires was another burning issue during the twice-yearly governors' meeting. Robert Bonnie, a U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary, said the cost of fighting wildfires has exploded from about 16 percent of the U.S. Forest Service budget in the mid-1990s to more than half the agency budget in recent drought-stricken years. Fires this year in Washington state and California were among the worst on record, and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter noted that the so-called Soda Fire in the southwest of his state burned nearly 450 square miles. States are calling for the federal government to classify severe wildfires as natural disasters for funding purposes. Bonnie said the problem is that the Forest Service spent $3 billion of its $5 billion budget fighting fires that charred nearly 10 million acres in 2015, leaving few resources for needed forest management, research and recreation programs...more

Why being a good neighbor is a good idea (Malpai Borderlands)

For paid subscribers to High Country News there is an interesting article on the Malpai Borderlands Group, neighboring and osotua, which is a system of sharing, mutual support and the pooling of risks. 

The article is Why being a good neighbor is a good idea and the following is an excerpt:

...This shift started two decades ago, when McDonald and many of his fellow ranchers realized they faced more than they could handle on their own: conflict with environmental groups and government agencies; a damaged ecosystem whose management was complicated by a patchwork of private, state and federal land; developers carving out 20-acre ranchettes and subdivisions. In 1994, they formed a land-management coalition called the Malpai Borderlands Group to preserve threatened open space and biological diversity across 800,000 acres. This, they hoped, would enable them to preserve their way of life — an aspiration summed up in the group’s guiding ethic: “The land comes first.”

It sounds idealistic, but it worked. The members have mediated land and water disputes between ranchers and facilitated conservation easements that kept large ranches from being broken up. They have worked with biologists to protect endangered species, including the New Mexico ridge-nosed rattlesnake and the Chiricahua leopard frog, and started a communal grass bank that allows ranchers facing drought to rotate their cattle onto unused land while their own pastures recover.

“You start with something you agree on instead of something you disagree on,” says McDonald, the group’s executive director. He received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1998 for his work, which he describes as seeking “the radical center.”

The next morning, McDonald heads 10 miles down the dirt road back toward town to the ranch of Warner Glenn, one of his nearest neighbors, for the Malpai group’s quarterly meeting. The ranch’s great room is decorated with cattle skulls, landscape paintings and photographs of mountain lions. About four-dozen mismatched chairs are crowded with an unlikely mix of ranchers, state and federal fish and game officers, Border Patrol agents, conservationists and biologists. For several hours, they update each other on projects and plans. The agenda might be mundane, but the diversity of stakeholders is remarkable. The personal relationships can be as important as anything accomplished at the meetings. Early on, attendees stuck with their own kind — ranchers, law enforcement, scientists clustering together. Now they fall into easy conversation with each other. Peter Warren, who works for The Nature Conservancy in Tucson, sums up the group’s appeal this way: “We deal with these problems better as a group than each of us can individually.”

The Malpai Borderlands Group has formalized a particular Western trait that has long defined daily life around here. “Neighboring,” some call it, a way of giving others their privacy while remaining available in case they need you. The notion captures a kind of frontier ideal, an acceptance of the individual’s autonomy and self-reliance, tempered by recognition of the precarious and occasionally dangerous nature of outdoor work and the environment. This basic cooperation has roots far deeper and wide-reaching than these particular ranchers and their ancestors; in fact, it fueled humanity’s early success and our continued prosperity as a species. And it’s a part of ourselves we would all do well to understand, and even cultivate, as we face an increasingly complicated future.

Sandoval: Jewell says OK to use Nevada's maps

Gov. Brian Sandoval said a few issues concerning the sage grouse land use plan have been resolved and he is committed to fixing others with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “There was an agreement by the Secretary to use our maps,” he said after speaking with Jewell at the Western Governors Association’s winter meeting Friday in Las Vegas. This assures the future of projects such as Washoe County’s Veterans Cemetery and prospective sites for new schools near Reno. Sandoval said his staff has seen the maps and the documents will be discussed publicly Dec. 10 during the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council meeting. Sandoval said Jewell acknowledged the importance of the state’s Conservation Credit System. The system would allow “stakeholders” to accrue mitigation credits on public lands through the system. “She is committed to working with a pilot project,” Sandoval said. “She’ll give Nevada the opportunity to show that it works.” Sandoval said a date for the pilot program has not been set. He said a lawsuit filed by several counties, including Elko, and mining companies and the state Attorney General doesn’t help the negotiations but won’t hinder his talks with Jewell. He said Jewell will clear up any inconsistencies in the agency. “The Secretary has committed to putting out an instructional memorandum … to eliminate the ‘he said, she said’ surrounding the impact of the listing decision and land use plan on stakeholders,” Sandoval said...more

Why are Western attorneys general going rogue?

by Elizabeth Shogren

When Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced in September that the greater sage grouse would not be listed as endangered, Nevada’s Brian Sandoval, a Republican, was one of four Western governors on the stage, applauding. 

States retained management of the bird in what Sandoval described as a “big win” resulting from intense negotiations. “It’s a lot easier to fight than it is to work together,” he said. Just a month later, though, Nevada’s attorney general, Republican Adam Laxalt, defied Sandoval, joining a lawsuit challenging federal plans to protect grouse habitat. A public row ensued, with the governor’s office declaring that Laxalt was acting on his own behalf, not the state’s. He fired back with a press release calling the governor “wrong.” 

Currently, two Western attorneys general are suing the federal government over high-profile environmental issues against their governors’ wishes. Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, is suing to block President Barack Obama’s signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, despite Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s explicit objections. 

Both attorneys general were elected a year ago with the support of a lot of outside money, signaling big donors’ appreciation for the importance of these offices, as states push back against the federal government. “There is a perception that the (Obama) administration is running roughshod over states’ interests,” says Idaho Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden, especially in Western states, where large portions of the land and resources are owned and managed by the federal government. 

The Democrats view things differently: “There are several attorneys general who seem to see themselves as partisan warriors,” says Matt Lee-Ashley, director of public lands at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “They are so determined to boost their political profile and grab headlines that they’re willing to undercut their own state’s leadership.” 

In Nevada and Colorado, the governors are challenging the legitimacy of the lawsuits and the authority of their attorneys general...more

Have we reached the time where defending the state and questioning federal authority is "going rogue"? 

The article, though, is a good summary of the issue, and raises some interesting questions.  For instance, what if the issue was reversed?  That would be where the governor asks the AG to sue and the AG refuses.  Let's take New Mexico, with a Republican governor and Democrat AG.  If Gov. Martinez wants the state to sue the feds on one of these issues, can she force the AG to do so? Both are constitutional officers, but who calls the shots?