Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!!

Editorial - Brushing Back a Lawless EPA

President Obama continued to use executive agencies to exceed his constitutional power in 2015, none more so than the Environmental Protection Agency. The courts have pushed back on occasion, and now Congress is beginning to use its powers to do the same.

Though it didn’t get much media attention, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to put two bills blocking EPA rules on Mr. Obama’s desk the past two months. One would have nullified the EPA’s draconian new Clean Power Plan that will force lower emissions from existing power plants. A second measure is designed to block new coal-fired plants.

The Congressional Review Act allows a bill to pass without 60 votes in the Senate, and the GOP put together a bipartisan majority in both houses. Mr. Obama rejected both measures with rare pocket vetoes that let a President refuse to sign a bill when Congress is out of session, as it has been since Friday. 

The bills were still useful in showing Mr. Obama’s hand to voters in energy states and showing the courts that the legislative branch rejects Mr. Obama’s regulatory interpretation of Congressional statutes. This could help in particular the 27-state legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan.

Meanwhile, Congress is also using its power of the purse to complicate the EPA’s legal evasions. Conservatives are understandably frustrated that last week’s budget bill didn’t include policy riders to halt new climate and water regulations—though GOP disunity didn’t help. But Republicans did at least pinch the EPA’s budget.

 The EPA received $8.1 billion or $451 million less than Mr. Obama had demanded, and no increase from the year before. Congress has cut the EPA’s allowance by $2.1 billion, or 21%, since fiscal 2010. This has forced the EPA to cut more than 2,000 full-time employees over the same period, and its manpower is now at the lowest level since 1989.

For this year's budget it says, "and no increase from the year before."  That's not a budget cut.  Apparently you can abuse the public, violate federal law and defy Congress and that legislative body will send you the same amount of dinero you had the year before.  Further budget cuts would have been far more meaningful than those bills they knew would be vetoed.

Do You Realize Now What You Have Done? (Wolves & Elk)

By Rena Wetherelt

I was there as a witness in the famous Montana Hunting District (HD) 313 standing above Deckard Flats, the first weekend of hunting season 2015, imagining the largest migrating elk herd in North America funneling en masse from their summer home in Yellowstone National Park, north to the alpine meadows of southern Montana, the winter range of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd.

I saw the vacant animal trails furrowing down the ridge from the horizon worn from the elk streaming single file in jagged rows, shrouded in a cloud of steam and spreading out across Deckard Flats like ants from a hill. My friend, Robert T. Fanning, Founder of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, described how it was twenty years ago. Horsemen decked with orange riding in as the minute of pre-dawn came and the first shots of the season brought down the first bull elk of a hunting culture passed down since the earliest days of the western frontier. We were alone, except for a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP) Warden, there as a matter of bureaucratic habit to make sure no shots were fired before thirty minutes before sunrise-his presence unnecessary. There were no elk to harvest, no swarms of hunters to fire.

When MTFWP announced the closure of Deckard Flats to hunting a few days later, it was the most drastic bureaucratic admission yet of the failure of the experimental introduction a non-native species of wolf into the Northern Rocky Mountain ecosystem done by a public/private partnership twenty years ago. The recent question asked by Russian President Vladimir Putin crossed my mind. “Do you realize now what you have done?”

 The Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd numbered over 19,000 in 1995. 2990 Antlerless Permits were issued in HD 313 that year. The District was a General Tag area, home to moose, around 300 big horn sheep, abundant mule deer and antelope. People came from around the state to fill their freezer with wholesome, nutritious wild meat, crowding the roads and parking lots with horse trailers. Trophy hunters and adventurers from around the world converged on Gardiner and Jardine, Montana. Outfitters with pack mules and horses took paying visitors into the most beautiful backcountry, teeming with the wildlife nurtured there for more than a hundred years. The Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd was used to seed elk in areas all across the nation.

More Ranchers Sue Feds Over Spread Of 2013 Prescribed Burn

More northwestern South Dakota ranchers are suing the U.S. Forest Service for a 2013 prescribed burn that escaped its boundaries and scorched private land. A third lawsuit has been filed in federal court alleging that the U.S. Forest Service committed numerous errors in its preparation and execution of the fire. Two similar lawsuits were filed last week in federal court. The third lawsuit brings to 25 the number of ranchers seeking unspecified damages for the April 3, 2013 blaze. Crews intended to burn about one-third of a square mile of the Dakota Prairie National Grasslands. The burn spread across 17 square miles, including 11 square miles of privately owned land, and it took firefighters four days to contain it.  KDLT

Little Spider Leads to Big Legal Fight in Texas

Central Texas rancher John Yearwood filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government last week in what he described as an effort to keep control of his 35-acre property. Yearwood challenged the constitutionality of federal regulations concerning a tiny cave spider known as the Bone Cave Harvestman which only exists in Central Texas. The Bone Cave Harvestman is considered an endangered and threatened species under the 1973 United States Endangered Species Act. “This property has been in the Yearwood family since 1871,” Yearwood said, “and now we’re kind of in limbo about what we can do with the land, if anything at all.” Yearwood said he lets community organizations and church youth groups camp on his property and use his land for recreational purposes. However, now that the endangered spider was found residing on a portion of his 35-acre property, Yearwood could be prosecuted by the federal government if the endangered spider is disturbed...more

Study Claims Global Warming Is Killing All The Christmas Trees

A study out of the University of Delaware shows that Christmas trees will be an endangered species in the Southwest section of the U.S. within the next hundred years, but one noted climatologist says the study is unnecessarily hyperbolic. The study, published in the journal of Nature Climate Change, issues a dire warning to public policy makers and environmentalists: If global warming is not scaled back soon, then we should expect to see the death of 72 percent of needleleaf evergreens in the Southwest by 2050, with that number increasing to 100 percent by 2100...more

Florida drops plan to launch cattle grazing pilot program in state park

Florida's top environmental official, Jon Steverson, has been pushing all year to get the state parks to make more money by adding hunting, timber harvesting and cattle grazing. But now one of those appears to be off the list. Department of Environmental Protection officials wanted to run a pilot project with cattle grazing leases at Myakka River State Park near Sarasota to see how well it worked. The proposal generated intense local opposition. Now that pilot project is dead. "At this time, we do not intend to move forward with cattle grazing at Myakka River State Park," DEP spokeswoman Lauren Engel confirmed in an email to the Tampa Bay Times this week. DEP officials would not specify why they have ended the pilot project before it began, saying only that they had consulted with park staff, biologists, cattle ranchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before concluding that "cattle grazing was not the best resource-management tool for Myakka." Engel did say it's possible that the DEP could try cattle grazing at a different park, but at this point, no other parks have been picked as a replacement...more

Conservationists Seek Protection for Yellow-Legged Frogs

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a notice of intent for taking legal action against the US Fish and Wildlife Service due to delay in taking decision over protection of the foothill yellow-legged frog. The center had appealed to the federal government to include this species of frog in the Endangered Species Act. This species of 1.5 to 3 inch-frog dwells in streams, with less elevation, from the Willamette River basin in Oregon to the San Gabriel River in Los Angeles County. However, the frogs, which have lemon-yellow color under their legs, are becoming extinct from several regions of Oregon, Southern California, the southern Sierra Nevadas, the central California coast and the San Francisco Bay Area...more

Montana Governor Approves Bison Territory Expansion Outside Yellowstone Park

Montana Governor Steve Bullock has decided to allow Bison to live in and roam through parts of Montana outside of Yellowstone National Park — breaking a deadlock in an impasse that has lasted for decades. Bison may still be killed periodically when roaming outside Yellowstone in search of food, but the governor’s decision allows them to linger year-round on an area north and west of the park that is estimated to encompass about 400 square miles. Conservationists have been supporting the move for a long time, while on the other hand, ranchers remain deeply opposed. The ranchers near Yellowstone say they are concerned that diseased bison may infect their cattle. They’re also worried about the bison grazing too much and not leaving enough for their own livestock to graze. The democratic governor is expected to put pressure on the National Park Service to help lower the bison population from about 5,000 to a target of 3,500 animals...more

Book Review - The Life and Death of America's Sheriff

...Dempster’s impetus for writing the newest book came a few weeks after that Sept. 18, 2012 car accident that cost Dever his life. “I was contacted by a writer who requested an interview with me because he wanted to write a story about Sheriff Dever. I could tell from the type of questions he was asking that this person had no interest in representing the real man, but wanted a sensationalized version of his life.”  Troubled by his conversation with the writer, Dempster contacted Larry Dever’s wife, Nancy, and asked if he and Daniel could write a book about their friend’s life. “Nancy and the family gave us their blessing and provided us access to a bunch of photos and other items.” Nancy Dever recalls that conversation with Dempster, stating she did not want a stranger telling her husband’s story. “Bill (Daniel) and Larry (Dempster) had published the Miracle Valley books and the border book and I thought they were well done,” she said. “My Larry had been involved in all of them, and I knew how much time and effort Bill put into his research and in documenting everything… If someone was going to write a book about Larry’s life, I wanted it to be someone who knew and cared about him,” she said of Daniel and Dempster. “America’s Sheriff” looks at some highlights of Dever’s youth and his family, along with his accomplishments and challenges as Sheriff and finally, the intrigue and circumstances of his death. “We believe we have uncovered enough evidence through research and documentation to disprove some of the rumors circulating about Sheriff Dever’s death,” said Dempster. “The book has 400 footnotes and everything we say is backed by documentation.” For Daniel, writing “America’s Sheriff” involved a few unexpected twists and turns. “We started out expecting the book to be a biography of Sheriff Larry Dever,” he explained in a recent phone interview. “Instead, the focus became about how there was so much more to be told.” Daniel believes the book will leave the reader with a “different perspective of who Sheriff Dever was than would otherwise be available.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1543

We'll close out our Christmas music with another selection, Let It Snow, by the Original Texas Playboys

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Vilsack to Congress: Give Me More Money or I’ll Let the West Burn

By Randal O'Toole

Congress rejected the Forest Service plan to give the agency access to up to $2.9 billion a year to suppress wildfires. In response, Secretary of Agriculture threatened to let fires burn up the West unless Congress gives his department more money. In a letter to key members of Congress, Vilsack warned, “I will not authorize transfers from restoration and resilience funding” to suppress fires. If the Forest Service runs out of appropriated funds to fight fires, it will stop fighting them until Congress appropriates additional funds.

This is a stunning example of brinksmanship on the part of an agency once known for its easygoing nature. Since about 1990, Congress has given the Forest Service the average of its previous ten years of fire suppression funds. If the agency has to spend more than that amount during a severe fire year, Congress authorized it to borrow funds from its other programs, with the promise that Congress would reimburse those funds later. In other words, during severe fire years, some projects might be delayed for a year–hardly a crisis.

Yet Vilsack and the Forest Service are intent on turning it into a crisis. In a report prominently posted on the Forest Service’s web site, the agency whines about “the rising costs of wildfire operations”–that cost not being the dollar cost but the “effects on the Forest Service’s non-fire work.”
Numerous graphs in the report show declines in inflation-adjusted funding for various line items–but, deceptively, none of the graphs have the Y-axis set to zero, thus exaggerating those declines.

Moreover, many of those line items are ridiculous anyway: who cares of land-management planning budgets have declined? The Supreme Court decided in 1998 that land-management planning was a waste of time, so why are they still spending any money at all on it? In any case, most of the items tracked by the charts aren’t programs the Forest Service borrows against for fire, so creating the proposed $2.9 billion emergency fund would do nothing to stop the funding declines.

The question Vilsack should ask is not “Why won’t Congress give his agency a blank check?” but “Why does the Forest Service spend so much on fire anyway?” The answer to that question is complex but comes down to one simple thing: the Forest Service has no incentive to control costs as long as Congress keeps reimbursing them.

As wildfire historian Stephen Pyne wrote in 1995, Forest Service fire managers have long been known for “creative accounting,” transferring “as many costs as possible” to the emergency fire funds. One of these is the “presuppression fund” that becomes available when fire danger is high; the other is the suppression fund that becomes available when a fire isn’t controlled by the first responders. When either of these conditions takes place, Pyne notes, “everything imaginable is charged to fires.” This situation has only gotten worse in the last two decades.

So it’s not surprising that many Forest-Service-fed news articles have reported that 2015 was the costliest fire year ever, citing Forest Service costs of $1.7 billion. But none of the articles mention costs to the Department of the Interior, and while I can’t find that number anywhere, I suspect it was not a lot more than half a billion dollars, as the most it has ever spent in the past was around $470 million.

The reason why this is important is that most fires this year were on Interior lands, not national forests. The Forest Service and its parent, the Department of Agriculture point to the near-record number of acres burned in 2015, about 9.8 million. But less than 20 percent of those acres were on national forest lands, while 54 percent were on Interior lands.

Firefighting Costs Per Acre Burned

Forest Service Interior
2010 2,834 177
2011 818 200
2012 564 105
2013 983 252
2014 1,371 264
2015 922 ?
Average 916 171

As the table above shows, the Forest Service habitually spends more than five times as much as the Department of the Interior per acre burned on their respective lands. Unlike the Forest Service, Interior agencies have never had a blank check for suppressing fire, so they have had little incentive to wildly overspend.

Government’s Gold King Whitewash

  Paul Driessen

When a private citizen or company violates rules, misrepresents facts or pollutes a river, government penalties are swift and severe. It’s different when the government screws up.

...Ms. Jewell told Congress she was unaware of anyone being fired, fined or even demoted. In fact, federal investigations and reports didn’t hold anyone responsible for the disaster. (Maybe they even got bonuses.) Considering the spill’s severity, the gross incompetence of government officials, their advance knowledge of the dangers, and the way they downplayed and whitewashed their actions, this is intolerable.

...As I explained in a detailed analysis, experts had warned that contaminated water had probably backed up hundreds of feet upward into the mine, creating the risk of a sudden, powerful toxic flashflood. EPA, DRMS and ER’s prior experience with a nearby mine meant they personally knew the high risks in advance.

...On August 24, EPA issued a preliminary report that can only be called a Tom Sawyer whitewash, designed to absolve the perpetrators of any blame, liability, civil penalty or criminal prosecution.

...Their actions were grossly negligent. In fact, they are criminal offenses under the Clean Water Act and other laws that the government routinely uses to fine and jail private citizens and company employees, such as John Pozsgai, Bill Ellen, andemployees of Freedom Industries and the Pacific & Arctic Railway. None of these “convicted felons” intended to cause those accidents, and all were “absolutely, deeply sorry” for what happened. Why should the state and federal culprits be treated any differently, after causing far worse environmental damage?

...Before the blowout, the Gold King Mine was leaking 206 gallons of acidic, metals-laden but mostly clear water per minute in 2010, 140 gpm in 2011, 13 in August 2014 and 112 in September 2014, just before EPA first began working at the mine portal. On August 5, 2015, it flash-flooded more than 3,000,000 gallons of turmeric-orange, toxic-sludge-laden pollution.

The mine is now leaking 500-900 gallons per minute: 720,000 to 1,300,000 gallons per day – a huge increase in pollution into these important waterways. Until winter set in, most of it was apparently being treated before entering Cement Creek, the Animas River and downstream waters.

So we must ask, what was the emergency that “forced” the EPA and DRMS to return to Gold King, demand immediate access to the site – and proceed in such a hasty, negligent manner? Unfortunately, this incident and the whitewashing that followed is too typical of government agencies that have become increasingly dictatorial, unaccountable, and dismissive of other interests, outside expertise, and people’s needs for jobs, minerals, energy and quality living standards.

Obama the Unilateral Climate Warrior

By Benny Peiser

 Amid the media’s elation over the United Nations climate deal reached in Paris on Dec. 12, one significant outcome has been overlooked. The European Union failed to achieve its main objective, namely that the agreement adopt carbon-dioxide mitigation commitments that are “legally binding on all parties.”

While this may appear to be a major setback, it liberates Europe from the restrictions of the Kyoto Protocol—which runs out in 2020—and opens the way for more flexible and less damaging policies.
During the Paris negotiations, European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete warned that the EU “cannot make the mistake we made in Kyoto” where “all the big emitters were outside the legally binding agreement.” For Europe, the Kyoto Protocol has forced EU states to adopt unilateral, and disastrously costly, decarbonization policies. With their manufacturers rapidly losing ground to international competition, governments are increasingly concerned about the threat high energy prices pose to Europe’s industrial base.

...In the run-up to the Paris meeting, the EU warned the Obama administration that, in order to avoid another Kyoto-fiasco, any new accord would have to be based on legally binding pledges by all major economies to cut carbon emissions. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, clearly concerned about opposition to an international climate “treaty” in the U.S. Senate, ruled out Europe’s demand. In contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris accord is thus based on voluntary pledges of intentions determined and monitored by individual governments in line with their national interests.

Without legally binding decarbonization caps, there will be strong opposition within the EU to making its own conditional pledges legally binding. Poland and other poor states in Eastern and Central Europe are widely expected to rebel against accepting unilateral policies that have undermined Europe’s competitiveness. The governments of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania are opposed to adopting any new carbon targets under these circumstances. Even a number of West European states will be extremely reluctant to continue Kyoto-type unilateralism.

...The toothless nature of the Paris agreement finally allows EU member states to abandon unilateral decarbonization policies that have damaged Europe’s economies and its international competitiveness. Under such circumstances, the unconditional climate policies of President Obama would be left out in the cold. The U.S. administration has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 26%-28% by 2025, no matter what China, India and the rest of the world do in coming decades.
In contrast to Europe’s conditional pledge, Mr. Obama’s go-it-alone policy is unconditional. For the first time, it would appear that Europe’s climate policy is moving in a more rational and realistic direction than that of North America.

READ ENTIRE COLUMN (subscription)

‘Somebody Intervened in Washington’

Alec MacGillis 

From his seat in the small plane flying over the largest remaining swath of American wilderness, Bruce Babbitt thought he could envision the legacy of one of his proudest achievements as Interior Secretary in the Clinton administration.

Babbitt was returning in the summer of 2013 from four sunlit nights in Alaska's western Arctic, where at one point his camp was nearly overrun by a herd of caribou that split around the tents at the last minute. Now, below him, Babbitt saw an oil field — one carefully built and operated to avoid permanent roads and other scars on the vast expanse of tundra and lakes.

Under the deal he'd negotiated just before leaving Interior in 2000, that would be the only kind of drilling he thought would be allowed in the 23 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which, despite its name, is a pristine region home to one of the world's largest caribou herds and giant flocks of migratory birds. The compromise was fair and, he hoped, enduring — clear-eyed about the need for more domestic oil but resolute in defense of the wilderness.

The deal lasted barely 15 years.

In February, the Obama administration granted the ConocoPhillips oil company the right to drill in the reserve. The Greater Mooses Tooth project, as it is known, upended the protections that Babbitt had engineered, saving the oil company tens of millions and setting what conservationists see as a foreboding precedent.

How ConocoPhillips overcame years of resistance from courts, native Alaskans, environmental groups and several federal agencies is the story of how Washington really works. It is a story that surprised even a veteran of the political machine like Babbitt.

7 unbelievable ways the government wasted your money in 2015

Eric Pianin, The Fiscal Times

Congress’s approval last week of $1.15 trillion of new spending and $622 billion of special tax breaks before most lawmakers had a chance to examine the fine print is a reminder that even with plenty of committee oversight the budget is a vast, unfathomable playground for waste and inexplicable government programs.

Government waste, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and what’s one man’s vital government investment or research project is another man’s boondoggle or government rip-off. Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) burnished his reputation as a deficit hawk by publishing an annual “waste book” of the 100 most egregious government expenditures – a document that is now being emulated by his successor in the Senate, Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

The targets are limitless, as Flake documents in his new “Star Wars” inspired waste book, “The Farce Awakens.”

A $1 million project involving monkeys on a treadmill, another $1.2 million to assess the effects of microgravity on sheep, $110 million spent on constructing buildings left empty in Afghanistan, $300,000 for a cheese heritage center, $5 billion for unneeded data centers, and on and on.

“Despite the public ballyhooing over budget austerity, the government didn’t come up short on outlandish ways to waste money in 2015,” Flake wrote in his introduction. “Like the monkeys on the treadmill, Washington politicians also ran in place trading familiar arguments in the seemingly never ending match of budget brinksmanship. But the stare down over whether or not to increase spending didn’t last long.”

There is an embarrassment of riches to choose from in picking seven good examples of the most wasteful or ridiculous government spending in 2015, thanks to Flake, Lankford and Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense. And that means that any list will be highly subjective — and woefully incomplete. Still, some projects simply jump off the page and demand attention. Here are our choices:


140,000+ 4th Graders To Visit Public Lands Thanks To @GoParks' $1.1 Million Funding

More than 140,000 kids will have the opportunity to visit federal public lands and waters in the 2015-2016 school year, thanks to 186 grants from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. These grants, part of the Foundation's Open OutDoors for Kids program, support the White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park. "It is inspiring to see the National Park Foundation and many other partners step up to support our goal of getting fourth graders and their families into parks, public lands and waters that belong to all Americans," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "These generous grants will ensure children across the country have an opportunity to experience the great outdoors in their community while developing a lifelong connection to our nation's land, water and wildlife." The 186 grants announced today total $1.1 million and provide funding to remove barriers to accessing our nation's public lands and waters, with a special focus on underserved and urban communities. With cutbacks in school funding for field trips, this strategic funding will help provide comprehensive access to all federal sites, including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries and more...more

NASA wants to grow potatoes on Mars

A team of scientists are attempting to grow potatoes under Martian conditions as they look to prove that they can be grown in the most inhospitable conditions and ultimately save lives on Earth. Nasa and the International Potato Center (CIP) are taking the reins on the experiment, which will also be used as a stepping stone to learning how we can grow crops on the Red Planet itself.  The team, which is basing its experiment in Peru, is hoping to raise awareness of the resilience of potatoes, which will put pressure on authorities to fund further research and farming in devastated areas around the world. Joel Ranck, CIP Head of Communications, said: "How better to learn about climate change than by growing crops on a planet that died two billion years ago? We need people to understand that if we can grow potatoes in extreme conditions like those on Mars, we can save lives on Earth."...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1542

From their album A Western Swing Christmas here are the Original Texas Playboys with Cowboy Christmas Song.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Obama's Vendetta With Gun Makers Gets Personal: Smith & Wesson Shares Plunge After Call For SEC Investigation

by Tyler Durden

Last Friday, in the aftermath of the most recent mass shooting in San Bernardino and the latest attempt by Obama to impose further gun control measures, ostensibly by executive order, we pointed out the one thing, or rather person, who even the NYT begrudgingly admitted in an article on "What Drives Gun Sales" has been the primary driver of gun sales in the US: US president Barack Obama.

 The irony in all this, of course, was that just last Friday the stock price of Smith & Wesson hit an all time high on expectations gun sales are about to hit even greater all time highs in the coming weeks.

Alas, as it turns out, Obama is not a fan of efficient market irony and instead of letting the chips on gun control fall where they may especially if it means record stock prices for the shareholders of SWHC and RGR, the president - in pulling a page straight out of the "US Government vs Exxon" in which the company will soon be prosecuted over its Global Warming denials as reported previously - has decided to take his vendetta with US gun makers to the next level and as the NYT reported overnight, "the New York City public advocate on Monday asked federal regulators to investigate whether the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson had made adequate disclosures in its financial statements."

One would think that being in compliance with all existing SEC regulatory requirements would be sufficient, but when one is on Obama's black list there are additional requirements for "adequate disclosure" one must follow, especially the ones that one does not know about because they appear only after the fact.

InsideClimate News: Journalism or Green PR?

by Jillian Kay Melchior 

When InsideClimate News won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for national reporting, one of its writers told the New York Times she hoped that people who considered her publication advocacy journalism would take note of the award and “stop making that mistake.” 
InsideClimate News may be the most influential — and controversial — environmental publication you’ve never heard of. Despite its tiny staff, shoestring budget, and low name recognition, the nonprofit has won several prestigious awards for its content and forged major partnerships with, among others, the Associated Press, the Weather Channel, the Guardian, and Bloomberg.

But its critics claim that InsideClimate News is essentially a mouthpiece run by a public-relations consultancy that gets its funding almost exclusively from groups with an environmental agenda. A National Review examination of tax filings, corporate and trademark paperwork, and other public records involving the nonprofit and its partners has raised even more questions about InsideClimate News, its origins, and its funding.

A changing climate means a changing menu

By Michael Hoffmann

...But let's take a few steps back. Our meal came to us from around the world thanks to a complex and interconnected global food system. It involves picking, packing, cleaning, hauling and shipping saffron from Kashmir, India; rice from Vietnam; fruit from Chile; wheat from Kansas; and other ingredients from thousands of points around the globe.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s "Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System" report released during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference earlier this month points to a new reality. All of these dots and their connections in this global system are under an intensifying threat: Climate change is fundamentally altering our menu. "Big Food" is taking notice of these changes, and so should we.

Let's start with the cherries in my Manhattan. Cherry trees, like most fruit trees, require a winter dormancy period, but California's winters are warming and that critically important window of time will likely be much shorter in the coming years. Grapes are fussy about high temperatures, too, and shifts in where they can be grown are on the horizon.

Our oysters are threatened; according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation, oyster reefs are on the front lines for damage from global climate change. Warmer oceans will mean more algae, which can make it harder for oysters to reproduce. And a more acidic ocean will create a more challenging environment for young oysters to grow their shells.

Even the ingredients in our salad will be affected. It is predicted that, in 30 years, there will be a 40 percent decrease in avocados due to rising temperatures in California. New varieties of heat-tolerant lettuce will be needed. Some tomatoes grown in the northeastern U.S. already need to be grown under plastic, as cooler and wetter springs increase the odds of late blight, a devastating disease that can wipe out a crop in a few days. More frequent heavy rains can wash away crop nutrients and seed, and make work in the field impossible at times.

On to the main course: Off the coast of New England, lobster harvests have shifted northward due to changing ocean temperatures. According to Cornell University research, Gulf of Maine waters have warmed more rapidly during the past decade than 90 percent of the global ocean. Shrimp, a cold-water species, are in rapid decline in the region. Saffron, the world's most expensive spice, is in serious trouble because of increasing temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns where it is grown in Kashmir. And rising sea levels are creeping into coastal rice production areas in Vietnam, one of the largest exporters of rice in the world.

Feds: Fix Colorado River problems or we will

For the second time in a decade, the feds are warning that if water interests in Arizona, California and Nevada can’t find a fix for the Colorado River’s problems, the interior secretary will find it for them. Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor implied that was the department’s position in a talk Friday to hundreds of water officials, farmers and others gathered in Las Vegas for the 70th annual conference of the Colorado River Water Users Association. After his speech, Connor came right out and said it in response to a reporter’s questions. Connor talked of the need to prevent Lake Mead, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas, from falling to dangerously low levels — potentially low enough to force Draconian cutbacks in water deliveries to cities and Indian tribes in Arizona, as well as to farms. The solutions haven’t been easy to find, in large part because they would require water users, particularly cities and farms in Arizona and California, to accept smaller cuts in water deliveries soon to stave off more severe cutbacks later. The lake has dropped more than 120 feet since 2000. It’s expected to close 2015 at 1,082 feet elevation, 5 to 6 feet lower than a year ago. The first shortage in the river would be declared at 1,075 feet, but its effects would be far less drastic than shortages declared at lower lake levels that Conner raised concerns about...more

EPA Promotes Employee Who Released Chemicals In An Agency Building

The Environmental Protection Agency has promoted an employee responsible for releasing chemicals inside agency property in 2014, a mishap that may have “caused long-term health problems for affected employees,” according to a public employee advocacy group. The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is suing the EPA to get them to divulge information on exactly what types of chemicals were released by an agency employee last year — an employee who has since been promoted. “When it comes to safe handling of noxious chemicals, EPA is like the proverbial plumber with the leaky pipes,” Laura Dumais, a PEER attorney, said in a statement. “Promoting someone who caused an emergency to direct emergency response is indeed curious.”...more

Meat of the Matter: Not so COOL anymore

By Dan Murphy

The ill-advised, poorly written and wholly ineffective Country of Origin labeling law is finally getting a decent burial. Some folks are in mourning, but they should be celebrating.

Finally, the end is near.

After more than a dozen years of debate, controversy and disappointment for all parties involved, the ill-advised law with the incongruously inappropriate nickname appears to be on its way out.

Country of Origin Labeling, better known as COOL, has been tentatively repealed by a vote of Congress as part of the recently approved omnibus spending bill.

The meatpacking side of the industry was obviously pleased.

“We are enormously grateful that lawmakers have included language in the Omnibus bill to repeal mandatory country of origin labeling for certain meat products,” North American Meat Institute CEO Barry Carpenter said in a statement. “This congressional action is an important step in avoiding the financial harm so many industries will incur once Canada and Mexico initiate the tariffs sanctioned by the WTO’s ruling earlier this month. This trade dispute’s tentacles extend far beyond agriculture, and it’s time to put an end to this costly trade barrier.”

In perhaps the most important part of his statement — a sentence that could have covered everything that needed to be said — Carpenter emphasized that, “The marketplace, with consumers as the drivers, should determine what labeling is meaningful and should appear on meat products — not protectionists who fear free and unfettered trade.”

That’s the issue with COOL, the primary problem from which the legislation suffered from all along. If consumers don’t respond with their wallets to product labels that proclaim “Made in USA,” which is what the law’s proponents were counting on to make the measure meaningful, the net result is a classic case of fixing something that wasn’t broken.

Federal Judge Rejects Some Wolf Kills in Washington

A federal judge has rejected plans by a federal agency to assist in the killing of problem wolves in Washington state. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan of Tacoma, Washington, issued a summary judgment last Thursday against the low-profile agency, known as Wildlife Services. Bryan said the agency should have prepared a more in-depth environmental analysis of its agreement with the state of Washington to help kill problem wolves. Bryan ruled in favor of conservation groups that sued the agency, concluding that an environmental assessment prepared by the agency was flawed. Wildlife Services failed to create a full environmental impact statement about the proposal to reduce wolf conflicts in the state, Bryan ruled. Environmental groups cheered the ruling. “It is long past time that we base wildlife management decisions on the best available science, not on antiquated, anti-wolf rhetoric and myth,” said Bethany Cotton of WildEarth Guardians. Environmental groups contend the environmental assessment failed to address the full ecological impacts of killing wolves in Washington, including impacts on wolves in neighboring states and on other animals, such as grizzly bears and Canada lynx...more

Mongolian dog tradition revived to protect sheep

Through three decades of marriage, they have wandered together across the rolling hills of Mongolia's northern Tuv Province, accompanied by their herd of sheep and stalked by the wolves and snow leopards that threaten their livelihood. Five months ago, Chulunjav Bayarsaikhan and Tumurbaatar Davaasuren were joined by a new partner, Hasar, a shaggy, 11-month-old bankhar dog that a hundred years ago would have been a far more common sight outside the country's tent homes known as gers. "Now, nothing comes near our herd at night," Tumurbaatar said. "If anything does, she barks in an alarming way, so we come out before it can attack. She learned to patrol all night and is protecting them well." As years of overgrazing increasingly push Mongolian nomads into the territory of their oldest foes — snow leopards and wolves — a group of researchers and herders are trying to reinstate the bankhar, a close relative of the Tibetan mastiff, to its historic place beside their masters. The dog is native to Mongolia but nearly disappeared over the course of mass urbanization drives during the Soviet era. DNA analysis conducted by Cornell researchers and released this year points to Mongolia as the location where domesticated dogs first appeared some 15,000 years ago. That makes the bankhar even more of a Mongolian icon. For thousands of years, the giant dogs roamed the Mongolian steppes with their nomadic masters, so much a part of the landscape that they featured in Chinese Qing Dynasty paintings of Mongolia and the 13th century travelogues of Marco Polo. Now experts are hoping to revive that legacy.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1541

This Cajun instrumental version of Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Daigle & Elkins is available on the 1995 CD A Cajun Christmas: Seasonal Stomps From the Swamps

Monday, December 21, 2015

Republicans grope for way to kill Paris climate agreement

Republicans are running out of ways to undermine the Obama administration's commitments as part of the Paris climate agreement. GOP lawmakers acknowledge that they won't get a vote on the international accord, which they vehemently oppose. But Republicans and their allies are still pursuing channels in each branch of government, as they look to torpedo the agreement. Many hoped that the Green Climate Fund was their best chance to do just that. As negotiators were hashing out a final climate deal, Republicans vowed to block American contribution to the fund, an international pool of public and private money directed to help poorer nations prepare for climate change. But the omnibus spending deal passed this week allows Obama to find GCF funding elsewhere in the federal budget, effectively taking the matter out of Congress’ hands. “The prohibition about doing it was very outspoken,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a vocal Obama critic, told The Hill. “You heard me say that: ‘No you can’t do it.’ But then they say, ‘Well, we can do it within accounts.’ So, that’s where it is.” Even so, critics of the deal say there are ways to eventually disrupt his climate promises...more

Notice that R's "grope", as if they are trying to rape Mother Earth.  And R's don't oppose bad public policy, they try to "kill" agreements and "disrupt" Presidential promises.

Having said that, the R's had their chance to address this in the budget and failed to act, and instead played Santa Claus and gave Obama all kinds of gifts.

Do the R's really expect the public to believe the  President and his agencies can spend money on this fund and Congress has no control over that spending?  The agencies have no money to spend unless Congress appropriates that money to them.  If the agencies will pay for it by moving money around "within accounts", guess who gave them that authority?  Congress did.

This is another example of how Congress has delegated authority to the Executive branch and then sits back and hollers about how they use that authority.  The problem with the R's is they can't revoke that authority when the D's control the White House and they decline to revoke it when an R is in the White House.

The other problem here, of course, is the R's are scared to death of a budget confrontation with Obama.  They don't invoke their Constitutional authority to control spending because they are political weaklings, more interested in preserving perks, position and staying in office than doing what is right. 

Infamous Anti-gun Sheriff Shoots Himself in the Hand While Cleaning his Gun

Des Moines County Sheriff Mike Johnstone negligently discharged a round into his left hand, and was subsequently transported to the hospitals emergency room. His injury has been described by medical personnel as non-life threatening, but a hand surgeon was called in to assist.  According to the Iowa Firearms Coalition, Johnstone has advocated for more and more gun-free zones. But perhaps Johnstone is most well-known for his statement from 5 years ago. When Iowa’s concealed carry law went from “may issue” to “shall issue,” Johnstone campaigned diligently against the change. He predicted ‘Wild West shootouts,’ and called it “A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.” Well, here we are five years later, and Johnstone’s ‘Wild West shootouts’ never happened...more

New Jersey Boy Scout leader attacked by bear

A Boy Scout troop leader was mauled by a bear after he and three Scouts stumbled upon the animal in northern New Jersey on Sunday, the Rockaway Township Police Department said. The three Scouts accompanying him were unharmed, officials said. The Boy Scout leader, Christopher Petronino, took the three Scouts to a cave at Split Rock Reservoir in Morris County, which is about 25 miles west of New York City. The 50-year-old had known about the cave since the 1980s but had never witnessed a bear using it before, according to CNN affiliate WCBS. When Petronino entered the cave Sunday afternoon, a black bear reached for the Scout leader's foot, biting him on the leg, shoulder and arm, according to officials. Petronino then hit the bear with a rock hammer, curled up into the fetal position and shouted to the boys to call for help. Officials searched by ground and air after one of the Scouts called 911. Petronino and the boys were found several hours after rescue crews used the GPS coordinates of one of the Scout's cell phones, officials said in a news release. The Scout leader was bleeding from his head and other parts of his body. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where his injuries were deemed not life-threatening, and he has since been released...more

Congress shivers at $1 billion tariff threat, kills COOL

The battle over country-of-origin labeling (COOL) between the U.S. and its North American neighbors may finally be, well, cooling off. Thanks to its inclusion in the omnibus spending bill passed Friday, COOL has finally been repealed after years of controversy. Intended to provide more transparency to consumers about their food, COOL has been a sticking point with Canada and Mexico. Those two countries have asserted that the law violates their trade agreements with the U.S. and puts their products at an economic disadvantage. After the WTO recently ruled in Canada and Mexico’s favor on the labeling, the two countries threatened to slap as much as $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. products. “U.S. exporters can now breathe a sigh of relief,” said Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), who chairs the Senate Agriculture committee. “From the ranchers in Kansas to the jewelry makers on the East Coast, every state had something to lose from keeping mandatory COOL intact. Those worries can now be put to rest." In terms of meat labeling, USDA said it would take quick action in response to the law's repeal. “Effective immediately, USDA is not enforcing the COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground beef and pork outlined in the January 2009 and May 2013 final rules,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement Friday...more

Prairie Ramblers - Cowboy Santa Claus

It's Swingin' Monday and here are the Prairie Ramblers with Cowboy Santa Claus.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Is EPA Trying To Sabotage Its Gold King Mine Blowout Investigation?

Daily Caller News Foundation

Is EPA Trying To Sabotage Its Gold King Mine Blowout Investigation?

Lawmakers are concerned the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to derail an internal investigation into the agency’s handling of a massive mine wastewater spill in Colorado caused by federal workers just months ago.

Republican chairmen of two key House committees sent a letter to EPA highlighting their concerns agency officials are trying to undermine an investigation by the inspector general’s office in the wake of a recent agency document weaving a “new narrative” about the Gold King Mine blowout in August.

“[T]he Committee on Natural Resources is troubled by the EPA’s disclosure last week that it had recently interviewed two material witnesses to the EPA’s activities at Gold King Mine,” Republican Reps. Rob Bishop of Utah and Louie Gohmert of Texas wrote to the EPA’s inspector general.

“Specifically, the Committee is concerned that the EPA’s interview did not follow best investigative practices and may have interfered with the OIG’s ongoing investigation,” the lawmakers wrote to the agency.

...The Republicans argue EPA is trying to create a new narrative about the spill that the agency was actually going to open the mine on August 14 — nine days after the mine spill actually occurred. They say this “claim is demonstrably false and is one of multiple claims that diverge from the facts and conclusions presented in reports issued previously by EPA and the Interior Department.”


Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Workin’ for peanuts

 by Julie Carter

Cowboys are always a never-ending source of funny quips and one-liners delivered with a matter-of-fact tone that belies the actual humor within the words. 

Put a cowboy on an airplane headed to the bright lights of Las Vegas during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and his capacity for wit and humor pegs the needle on the laugh meter. The only thing funnier is an entire plane load full of them.

Obviously acquainted and buddies, the banter is passed back and forth amidst the stewardess' attempts to take drink orders and offer the usual Southwest Airlines snack. 

Lightheartedly, one cowboy suggested little juice boxes would be in order for the lot of them because they needed to stay sober for their arrival in Vegas. He had been assured they were to be met by the champion Australian beach volleyball team. He had plans for fun in the sand.

The discussion quickly moved to a recent trip to Vegas one of the lads had made to stand up in a wedding. It was for his good friend who had decided, on the spur of the moment and a night of drinking, to get married. The story teller said he got called in the middle of night, jumped on a plane and the wedding took place as soon as everybody could get there, at 8 a.m.

The cowboy next to him said, "If I ever get married again, it'll be in the Elvis Wedding Chapel using a bubble gum wrapper for a wedding ring. That's about as serious as I plan to be about it. I rode that horse already!"

With only an hour of open-bar time, the cowboys in rows 13 and 14 managed to get themselves dubbed the "two-fer boys," both for beer and peanuts.

As a parting gift, over the loud speaker, the stewardess recognized them for their good humor and fun. She also handed them a large bag of the peanut snack sacks as a reward for their "entertainment show."
Those cowboys gave new meaning to "working for peanuts."

On the shuttle bus to the hotel, a Texas cowboy, who showed some signs of aging wisdom, said he'd had to quit gambling. When one of the other passengers asked why, he replied, "They kept complaining about the spit cups I used when I chewed, and I damn sure wasn't going to give up chewing."

Eight-time PRCA world champion bull rider Donny Gay was working the NFR behind the ESPN microphone during the bull riding. When asked if he thought he could still ride a bull Donnie said, "Sometimes I think so. Then I look down and there are about 25 pounds of me that have never been on a bull."

The trade shows draw as many crowds as the casinos do. At a National Ropers Supply booth a cowboy was scrutinizing a belt loaded with shiny glitz. "That's too blingy for you," his wife said to him. He chuckled as he hung the belt back on the rack and said, "Yeah, that’s true. I'm too fat to be flashy."
Words to live by.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Hope of Christmas future

Rural Roots
Hope of Christmas future
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Breakfasts at Cliff played a huge role.
            There was never music playing or television blaring. It was just chatter centered on Nana’s kitchen. Her culinary skills were immense. She taught us anything store bought was suspect and the proof was what she set before us.
            Frank and I talked about that during our 5:15AM call Thanksgiving morning. From his rock house near the Point of Rocks on the old Santa Fe Trail, he told me he was going to have pear preserves on biscuits for breakfast. He suggested neither was as good as Nana’s, but he’d never tasted anything that was that good.
I suspect the source of the original pears came from her in-laws’, Lee and Mary Belle Rice’s, orchard, but later year supplies came from a wild tree that had rooted along the ditch bank. Canned annually, the preserves were a golden brown color and chewy. Layered on her hot buttered biscuits, the result was nothing short of sensational.
The discussion continued through a short list of “best” memories from her stove. Her mincemeat pies were out of this world. Too many people turn their noses up but have no idea what real mincemeat tastes like. In Nana’s case, it was the neck meat of a deer. She would boil and then mix it with her suet, citron, raisin, and whiskey secrets. The result was holiday pie and a Christmas mainstay along with her cream, pecan, and pumpkin counterparts. The mincemeat took center stage. A slice of longhorn cheese laid over a piece of that pie and warmed under the broiler would make a lunch for days.
Her rolls, taffy, plain cakes with chocolate icing, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken or chile rellenos may each be nominated as “best”, but her breakfasts were as good as any I’ve ever experienced anywhere. She was inventive which came from reliance on what was at hand. Even marginal cuts of beef in the days following a butchering were something to behold. Brains (and eggs), heart, liver (and onions), tongue, and sweetbreads were featured. Wrinkle your nose if you will, but, if you had the opportunity to eat those wonderful old recipes with unbiased grandparents, the gastronomic outcome was much different than your reaction. Modern opinions are too often simply wrong.
Hugely important issues were also at play. Grandparental love was the feature. Intergenerational knowledge was shared as were life’s lessons good, bad, or indifferent. The opportunity for independence from parental structure was offered. Ideas could be expressed without modification, and self confidence was encouraged. After all, we were the product of our grandparents and they wanted what was best. They recounted their lives. Even complications were simplified.
Whether it was food or stories, nothing was wasted. Holidays or not, morning discussions around that table and in that warm kitchen setting remain locked within me … every day of my life.
From out of the failed federal stimulus process, the acronym SIFI emerged. Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI) were those few major institutions that the government declared too big to fail. AIG, Prudential, and Metropolitan Life were three of the so called SIFIs. The suggestion was that if even one of those institutions failed, the entire economic system, the market, could collapse. Money was spread around like it grew on trees. Ostensibly, nothing was spared in their defense.
SIFI was a huge waste of national treasury.
What if the acronym had actually been conceived as Systemically Important Fundamental Institutions? That ‘Fundamental’ could be several things as long as it started with ‘Faith’ and ‘Family’. The point is it should have referenced our most basic foundations.  Where would we be today if that was the highest priority of our American system? We couldn’t be more imperiled if it was. Our country has lost all pretenses of protection for its most basic cornerstones, and … we are divided.
Hope for Christmas Future
 Striving to be objective has become a greater challenge. Our SIFI complex is under attack. It is made worse by assuming the highest leadership in our land is not loyal to the same underpinnings that make us better and offer hope in our daily lives. Condescension, confusion and instability simply don’t make us better.
I want more.
I want an America that suggests to us that we are children of a greater God not a lesser and our role in the future is just as important as it has always been. The lessons of my youth were tied inexorably to the preference of rural America. It was there that a guidepost of self reliance was cemented. It taught me the only way we could make ourselves better was to assume the role of agent for that task. In turn, the only way we could make our surroundings better was through the very self improvement that self reliance generated. I can’t make anything better if I can’t touch it. You can’t make anything better without being able to touch it, either. As such, we take huge risks in transferring our trust to others who have found they can distort and alter the pledges they have made to us without recourse.
But, Christmas looms, and it offers an opportunity of renewal. You don’t have to dispense with the toys and the hoopla of the ceremony that it has become, but put it into perspective. It is a most sacred day. Assume the role of teacher to your kids or grandkids and elevate it into its original importance. Savor the traditions that arrive variously but include the tastes, the smells and the sounds that make Christmas past worthy of best memories.
If there is a wish of highest importance I can offer my grandchildren, it started with the mix of words and inferences herein, but those were feeble attempts. It was best demonstrated in my grandparents’ actions to me. It started with unconditional love. Certainly there was a price, but I knew I could count on that one thing. Today, I equate it to their gift of reminder of our God’s unconditional love. It was the only worldly proxy that could be offered, and they succeeded in their committed task.
Similarly, the institution of parenting and grandparenting remains a most vital responsibility. Perhaps I’ll do it too often in misguided or overbearing emphasis of rural importance, but that is singular logic to me.
Merry Christmas, and … may the grace of our living God touch us all.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “In memory of our grandparents …”

Baxter Black - Thrifty

Sharon had hauled the old piano home in a stocktrailer. It came outta the Miner’s Club in Mountain City where, according to the bartender, it had set since the early thirties. It was in sad shape and one end of the ancient upright was full of holes. Bullet holes! Considering it had never been outta the bar, the piano player musta needed lessons!

Sharon gave the piano to me and I hauled it home where it sat in my garage for a year.

Brother Steve came to visit. He’s a talented musician with a craftman’s ability. He’s also one of the thriftiest humans this side of Ebenezer Scrooge! He asked me if he could try and get the old piano in workin’ order. “Of course!” I said, “I’ll pay for the parts...whatever it takes!” I blocked out 3 or 4 hundred in my mind, “Just save your receipts.”

I came home that afternoon and the garage floor looked like an orchestra had exploded! He had dismantled that piano down to wire! The harp lay naked on the concrete.

Over the next several days I watched the rebuilding take place. Steve would go out on parts runs and return with a replacement hammer, just the right set screw or a used, but serviceable piece of ivory. He took particular pleasure in makin’ a shrewd trade. “Whatever the costs,” I’d say, but he enjoyed finding a bargain.

One day he took me along on a parts run. We drove down the tracks, behind a big nursery, down a dusty road and pulled up to a dilapidated house with a few outbuildings. I was struck by the fact that nothing was painted. There was one unspectacular sign that read PIANOS-TUNED AND FIXED. We went inside and were greeted by the proprietor who obviously knew Steve. He was a sad lookin’ man. The house was full of pianos! Even two in the kitchen. There was an empty can of tomato soup on the sink. I wandered through the rooms amongst the piano landscape, leaving Steve and the owner to do business. From the looks of his home, he lived alone and probably not very high on the hog. Pianos in various stages of repair filled every available space.

I heard Steve and the man dickering in the kitchen.

Home Country

by Slim Randles

   Windy Wilson was cruising around the other day, in search of an audience, but the cold drove him indoors … at the elementary school cafeteria.

  “What’s that you say? Coldest you ever been? Well, kids, let me tell you somethin’ about cold!

  “When I was just a tad, we was comin’ off what they used to call an Ice Age, you know. Thassa fact. It was so cold back then we had to use special thermometers to see how cold it was. Mixed anti-freeze in with the mercury or it wouldn’t work. If you had a regular thermometer, had to bring it in the house to make it work.

  “Speakin’ of bringin’ things in the house … most mornin’s it was so cold we had to bring the milk cow in the house to milk her. If you tried it outside, them faucets would just break right off! Why, one time the train coming here from the east got so cold it plumb froze solid at sixty miles an hour. Yessir, just locked up, wheels and steam boiler and the whole caboodle. This happened about four miles east a-here, but them passengers was safe. You see, that train was going fast enough when it froze that it just slid the rest of the way into town and came to a dead stop right by the station house. Thassa fact.”

  Windy warmed to his cold subject.

  “’Course, by the time I come along, it was gettin’ harder to find them woolly mammoths, you know. Got too dang warm for their wooliness. Yessir, they all migrated to Kentucky and holed up in a big ol’ cave. Named it in their honor, a-course. Look it up on the map. Call it Mammoth Cave.

  “So it ain’t really whatcha call cold out here, but you kids should probably still dress warm … you know … ‘case the temperature drops.”

Brought to you by Windy’s Words of Wisdom, a regular feature on the podcast. Listen to him at

‘Real cowboy’ to receive lifetime achievement award

By Staci Matlock
New Mexico author Max Evans has won many Western literary awards.

On Saturday, he will be honored with a different kind of award, a belt buckle for lifetime achievement from the New Mexico Horse Council.

“Most of my so-called literature involves the horse in some way. Without horses, I wouldn’t be a writer,” said Evans, who lives in Albuquerque.

“It is really a thrill,” he said of the New Mexico Horse Council award.

Evans, 91, is “a real cowboy and a real horseman,” said Bonnie Bagley, a board member of the Horse Council who nominated him.

This is the first time the council’s 80 individual members and 40 represented groups have honored a Western author with the award, Bagley said. “Normally, it goes to horse trainers, 4-H folks or breeders,” she said.

This won’t be his first belt buckle. Evans won a couple in his years as a calf roper at New Mexico rodeos. “I got one in Taos decades ago,” he said. “We had a rodeo every weekend all summer long.”

Cowboying helped the young Evans pay the bills until his books started to get published. Ranchers liked him because he was a skilled “heeler,” the guy who finessed a rope around the back legs of a calf so it could be branded or tagged.

Evans said his last rodeo was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo in Española more than half a century ago. “I was 39. I came in 10th place, not much good,” he said.

By then he had already published a book of short stories called Southwest Wind and written The Rounders, one of the books that would make him known in the Western genre. The Rounders was published in 1960, followed by Hi-Lo Country in 1961. A film adaptation of Hi-Lo Country, starring Billy Crudup, Woody Harrelson, Sam Elliott, Penelope Cruz and Patricia Arquette, was filmed in New Mexico and released in 1998.

Max Evans is a wonderful writer, a great guy and a good friend. If you really want to find out about Max Evans and his adventure both horseback and a foot, and from Humble City, NM, to the halls of Hollywood, read Ol' Max Evans: The First Thousand Years written by the same Slim Randles featured in today's edition. 

Eddy Arnold - C H R I S T M A S

Appropriate for the season, our gospel tune today is C H R I S T M A S by Eddy Arnold.