Saturday, March 26, 2016

SCOTUS Trashes Massachusetts Court Ruling On Stun Guns

by Matt Vespa 
Well, here’s an interesting angle in the Second Amendment rights fight this week; the Supreme Court reversed a decision (Jaime Caetano v. Massachusetts) made by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that related to the state’s ban on stun guns. The Bay State prohibits civilian ownership of such self-defense items, except for those who are in law enforcement. The case was brought before the Court after Jaime Caetano was arrested and convicted for possessing the stun gun after police found it in her purse, while looking into a local shoplifting incident outside a supermarket. For now, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which upheld Caetano’s conviction. It’s now relegated back to the local courts to be litigated again (via NBC News):
The U.S Supreme Court Monday wiped out a Massachusetts court ruling that had upheld the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who carried a stun gun for protection from an abusive former boyfriend. […]
Jaime Caetano argued that the state's ban on allowing individuals to possess stun guns violated her Second Amendment right to carry a weapon for self defense.
She was arrested in Ashland, Massachusetts in 2011 after police officers, investigating a supermarket's complaint about possible shoplifting, found the weapon in her purse. She told them she needed it to fend off a former boyfriend who was abusive.
But in an unsigned opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday vacated that ruling. It said the Massachusetts court improperly found that Second Amendment protection applies only to weapons that were in common use at the time of the nation's founding.
Referring to its landmark 2008 ruling on handguns in the home, the justices said the Second Amendment applies "to all instruments that constitute bearable arms," even those not in existence at the time of the founding.
Caetano had argued that the Massachusetts Supreme Court's conception of the amendment, "as a sort of fossilized relic trapped in amber," was wrong. A stun gun, she said, is an instrument designed for self-defense, so that the state's ban on possession violated the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 ruling that said the Second Amendment protects the right to keep a handgun at home for self-defense.
Over at The Washington Post, Eugene Volokh, who also filed an amicus brief in this case, noted a few things about the case, one of which was that the decision was unanimous– and that it was handed down without hearing oral arguments, pointing to the notion that the justices saw this as “a very easy case.”

Sheriff: Oklahoma rancher dragged to death by calving cow

Authorities in Oklahoma say a rancher attempting to deliver a calf was dragged to death by the cow after he became entangled in a chain. Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton says the 75-year-old man was using a calf-pulling chain to help deliver the calf Tuesday when something spooked the cow, causing it to take off running. The sheriff says the rancher's wrist was caught in the chain and he was dragged behind the cow. He tells the Claremore Daily Progress that the rancher was still entangled in the chain when emergency responders arrived. Walton says authorities euthanized the cow in hopes of saving the man's life but that the rancher was pronounced dead at the scene. The incident happened in a rural area about 35 miles northeast of Tulsa.  AP

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Cover-Up of Wolves and What They DO!

Please note the picture below.  It is a late-March of 2016 picture from Wyoming and you will probably never see it again nor even hear of it.  You see:

-       Wolves don’t do such things.
-       Elk, like Minnesota moose, are disappearing due to global warming and ticks and definitely not wolf predation.
-       It is a Myth (like the time Kermit the Frog yelled, “it’s a Myth, Myth” and Miss Piggy comes on stage saying, “Yeth, Yeth”) that wolves eradicate game animals and hunting.
-       Protecting livestock like sheep and cattle from wolves means simply exerting a Little Effort like 24/27 shepherds and guard dogs and electric fences and fladry and noise makers and taste aversion and tank traps (I just made that one up) –none of which work more than temporarily.
-       Wolves are good for “the ecosystem” (which is whatever you want to make of “it” from the ecosystem in your yard to the North American Continent).
-       Wolves are wonderful to hear howling, it is a sign of “wilderness”.  (Please note, everywhere wolves now occur in the Lower 48 States, coyotes were or are present.  Coyotes once howled and yipped in the evenings but in the presence of wolves they quickly learn to remain silent because when wolves hear them they zero in on them and kill them at every opportunity.)

All of the above are lies believed by an urban general public that: A.) Does not live with nor is not affected by wolves, B.) Feels guilty about European settlement of North America or the presence of plants and animals not present here before 1492 when Columbus set foot on a Caribbean beach, or C.) Desires to eliminate all human use or ownership of animals from hunting and animal husbandry to animal control and the right to bear arms.

Organizations that raise millions from such folks will do whatever they must to keep reporting of and especially such pictures of wolf carnage from being published or circulated.

Federal politicians that passed the unjust laws that began the wolf introductions and protections do not want such publicity to unmask the perfidy of what they have done.

Current federal politicians that ignore this issue and refuse to give any more than lip service (tsk, tsk, etc.) to solving what their predecessors wrought do not want such publicity about their ongoing cowardly betrayal of rural Americans.

Federal bureaucrats utilizing the wolf carnage and the un-Constitutional laws that give them powers superior to states and the Constitution simply lie, shrug and blame others like a professional boxer jokingly “sparring” with amateurs.  The increased power and salary and retirement this gives them; makes them ruthless in suppressing photos and reporting about such carnage.

State bureaucrats, likewise bob and weave with a “me-too” alibi that mimics their federal “partners” malarkey about “wolves never”, “wolves always”, “global warming”, phony “counts”, etc.  Like the drivers of the “getaway car” they are complicit up to their ears in the whole scam for their own benefit camouflaged as “ecosystem beneficence”.

The media (TV News, Newspapers, Documentaries, Magazines, etc.) have all bought in to the kindly wolf myths for reasons as diverse as; “it sells”, “we get money to do so”, “our staffs are all urban ideologues”, “our political ideology/Party supports this for votes”, to “our teachers filled our heads with so much mush in school that we are incapable of seeing the truth of the matter.”

A few facts you won’t hear elsewhere:

-       Wolves frequently kill wintering deer or elk in large numbers without eating them just like a pack of domestic dogs that get loose will kill chickens or sheep they encounter for what we mistakenly call “fun” but is in reality the same thing Indians did when they drove buffalo over cliffs in numbers far exceeding what they could or ever eat or otherwise utilize.
-       A couple of years ago on the Wyoming/Idaho border a wolf pack killed a hundred and some sheep for “fun” one dark night.
-       Wolves have destroyed Minnesota moose hunting by depleting Minnesota moose.
-       Wolves have all but destroyed the once 20,000 elk in the Northern Yellowstone elk herd just as they are doing to moose, elk and deer in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and will do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Texas if the federal government forces them into those states.
-       It is not at all uncommon that wolves hamstring (tear the tendons in the rear legs thus causing the animal to collapse helplessly) pregnant elk, moose, cows, ewes, does, etc. with developed fetuses and then immediately while the adult female lives to begin tearing out the anal area to make a big enough hole to pull out and devour the fetus and then leave the cow, doe, ewe, etc. to die a horrible, lingering and painful (for all you animal rights/wolf advocates) death.
-       As big game goes in the West, so goes ranching and rural communities.
-       Wolves are spreading down through Illinois and Indiana and Missouri to infest Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee from which they are expected to “hook up with” (to coin a modern expression) government wolves and coyotes and dogs (making puppies along the way) in the Carolinas and in Oklahoma and Texas rolling Eastward from New Mexico.

The same things are happening in Europe.  As Europeans do their minuets with Islamic terrorists, wolves are all over now for the first time in a few hundred years and they are increasing in numbers and densities.  Formerly efficient use of suburban/rural forage by sheep and shepherds has been and is being violently and terminally (?) ended as wolf predation, mostly unarmed shepherds, and insane wolf protections combines to kill thousands of sheep annually and put many shepherds “on the dole”.  Rural life is, as in US “wolf country”, less profitable and more dangerous for unarmed citizens, children and the elderly.  When the Lufthansa pilot flew his airplane into the Alps, one of the policemen guarding the site for several days opined, “Our biggest worry was ALL THE WOLVES scavenging the site and consuming human body parts!”  Ask yourself; where else have you heard or will you hear any of this?

Jim Beers
25 March 2016

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow.  


NRA Rewrites Fairy Tales, Puts Guns in the Hands of Classic Characters

The National Rifle Association has added a new twist to classic fairy tales: arming protagonists with guns. NRA Family, the group's family-oriented website, has so far published updates to two classic tales, the most recent one last week: "Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns).” The pro-gun group said the revised stories show what would have happened if those fairy tale characters had weapons. But the revisionist take on some of well-known children's favorites, which appear online, are drawing complaints from gun-control advocacy groups that call the altered tales a disturbingly depraved marketing campaign. "The NRA continues to stoop to new lows in the hopes of shoving guns into America's youngest hands," Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said today. "It must now advertise deadly weapons to kids by perverting childhood classics with no regard whatsoever for the real life carnage happening every day. To be frank, it's pathetic." The NRA said the stories, written by Amelia Hamilton, whom the NRA calls a “conservative blogger” and “lifelong writer and patriot,” are part of an effort to promote responsible firearm use by children. The accident prevention program it oversees has helped teach more than 28 million kids about how to stay safe if they find a gun, according to the NRA's website. The NRA released a new version of the Brothers Grimm "Hansel and Gretel" last week after publishing an update to "Little Red Riding Hood" in January. At no point in either story do the protagonists fire their weapons at the fictional villains, but guns are portrayed as key to keeping them safe...more

The man who's got BLM's back

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

 Steve Ellis acts as a shepherd to the Bureau of Land Management's flock.

The agency's deputy director and highest career official keeps BLM's scattered 10,000 employees in sync with its policymaking headquarters. He picks BLM's state-level directors and recruits career leaders to Washington, D.C.

Ellis also monitors employee morale through incidents such as the 40-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, where some BLM employees became collateral targets in an intensified debate over federal land ownership.

In late January, as the Oregon occupation was in full swing, Ellis made a quiet stop in Burns, Ore., to show appreciation for BLM's district employees, who had been forced to work from home for weeks as militia descended on the town.

"These are my BLM children," Ellis, whose federal career has spanned roughly three dozen years, said during a December hike at BLM's Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. "You can't forget that in this senior career position."

He's a subtle but influential player as BLM continues a major culture shift, one that tries to place resource conservation on par with extraction.

While BLM policy is largely dictated from inside the Beltway, political appointees including Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider see Ellis as a key adviser on what will and won't work in the field. A good deputy director will ensure those policies are consistently deployed.

The deputy director post is BLM's most important position, said former BLM Director Bob Abbey. Policies change with a new president, but the BLM workforce will stay largely the same.

"Steve is serving at a critical time," Abbey said. "Given the BLM's aging workforce and the need to replace experienced personnel, he is in the position to bring into the organization fresh, intelligent and gifted leadership and use the strategic hiring of personnel as an opportunity to make positive statements both to employees and the public."

Bill to gut federal law enforcement on federal land

A Utah congressman wants to eliminate the law enforcement functions of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service — agencies at the center of recent high profile standoffs with anti-government groups. The 10-page bill, titled “Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act of 2016,” would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to take charge during incidents on federal land rather than the federal agencies tasked with overseeing the area. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, joined by three other Utah Republican representatives, introduced the bill on March 16, which had been referred to the House Agriculture committee. The group issued a statement explaining the reasoning behind the legislation. “Federal agencies do not enjoy the same level of trust and respect as local law enforcement that are deeply rooted in local communities,” they said, adding that the measure “will help deescalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability.” Chaffetz’s office released the statement alongside a letter of support by the Utah Sheriffs Association. The organization said it has a “strong heritage in keeping the authority of the Sheriff a top priority.” “The Utah Sheriffs Association has seen federal officials try and usurp this authority by enacting laws and regulations that mirror state law,” the group said...more

video - The Plan to Create a Giant, Privately Funded Nature Reserve by Selling Beef

Many Americans trace the modern conservation movement back to President Theodore Roosevelt, known for his love of the outdoors and for creating the U.S. Forest Service and the national parks system. But what if government isn’t the only, or the best, entity to protect America’s natural wonders? The American Prairie Reserve is a nonprofit group that wants to establish the largest nature reserve in the lower 48 states and it aims to do so with private funding. So far, American Prairie Reserve owns or leases more than 300,000 acres with a goal of stitching together 3.5 million acres of private and federal land across to create a reserve 1.5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park.  And they believe that their unique approach will reduce the tension with local ranchers and farmers that national parks often experience. "Currently, wildlife has no economic value to ranchers and, as such, the ranchers don't want them around," says Pete Geddes, managing director of American Prairie Reserve. But American Prairie Reserve aims to fix that problem with its Wild Sky Beef program. Wild Sky is a brand associated with a for-profit company, and the proceeds from its profits go towards funding incentives for ranchers to engage in wildlife-friendly practices such as creating gaps in their fences for herd animals to pass through, planting native grasses, and allowing prairie dogs to establish colonies on their property. The more benchmarks the ranchers meet, the bigger the payout. "As we're successful and we gain more attention over time, you'll see other groups trying to put this together at a much larger scale," says Geddes...more

Here is the video:

Syrian refugees bumped from overbooked hotels for Garth Brooks fans

Country superstar Garth Brooks arrived in Hamilton on Thursday "fired up" for the first of five concerts amid news that his shows inadvertently bumped 228 Syrian refugees from the hotels they'd been living in. Brooks was due to meet with the media on Thursday afternoon and reporters were eager to get his reaction to reports that an influx of fans in town for his concerts had ousted refugees from the hotel rooms they were being housed in since coming to Canada. The singer cancelled that media appearance after bad weather rerouted his Hamilton flight to nearby Toronto. His representatives said there were no plans to reschedule. A day earlier, it was revealed that refugees in the city were being bused to St. Catharines, about 55 kilometres away, because Brooks fans had snapped up many local hotel rooms when they ordered their concert tickets back in January. City officials expect more than 80,000 visitors to descend on Hamilton over the next four days while Brooks is in town...more

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Video - 20-year-old horse recovering after being shot more than 100 times with paintballs

A 20-year-old horse is recovering after being shot more than 100 times with paintballs. Lily is recovering at the New Bolton Center in Chester County, Pennsylvania. "In 15 years, I've never seen another paintball case," New Bolton Center veterinarian Dr. Rose Nolen-Walston said. "You can tell she's a sweetie and you can tell she's happy to be getting some food and some care." Omega Horse Rescue's Kelly Smith found Lily at the New Holland Horse Sale Stables in Lancaster County on Monday after the horse auctions. They found no sign of an owner and believed her to be abandoned at the stables. They called the SPCA and Smith took Lily to New Bolton. "It was deplorable," Smith said. "Her eye was swollen shut. The other one she can't see out of. Her head was hanging down. She was very depressed." Dr. Nolen-Walston said tests are being to done make sure Lily is in good health. She is in isolation to prevent disease and is being fed a certain diet to help her, as she is underweight. Dr. Nolen-Walston said the paintballs caused body soreness but no permanent damage. "If you look at her she's obviously a very old, debilitated horse, who can't defend herself," Dr. Nolen-Walston said...more

EPA Chief: Climate Regs Meant To Show ‘Leadership’, Not Fight Global Warming

by Michael Bastasch

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted her agency’s signature regulation aimed at tackling global warming was meant to show “leadership” rather than actually curb projected warming.

McCarthy admitted as much after being questioned by West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley, who pressed the EPA chief on why the Obama administration was moving forward with economically-damaging regulations that do nothing for the environment.

“I don’t understand,” McKinley said in a Tuesday hearing. “If it doesn’t have an impact on climate change around the world, why are we subjecting our hard working taxpayers and men and women in the coal fields to something that has no benefit?”

“We see it as having had enormous benefit in showing sort of domestic leadership as well as garnering support around the country for the agreement we reached in Paris,” McCarthy responded.

Elon Musk Has SpaceX Spend $90 Million Propping Up His Solar Company

by Andrew Follett

Liberal billionaire Elon Musk is using his taxpayer-backed space company to prop up his ailing taxpayer-backed solar panel company. Musk’s SpaceX pumped $90 million into the financially troubled SolarCity, according to recently released Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings.

SpaceX now has an estimated $255 million invested in the struggling rooftop solar company, as the space company has already purchased $165 million in SolarCity bonds. SpaceX makes its money by selling rockets and space transportation services to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and is looking to start supplying the American military. SolarCity is a sizable investment for SpaceX, which was valued at $12 billion in 2015.

Musk himself invested $10 million of his personal fortune into SolarCity in February, according to SEC filings.

SolarCity has been in rocky financial straits recently as state governments cut back on lucrative subsidies people can get for selling solar power back to the electrical grid.The company’s stock has rapidly fallen and currently hovers around $23.54 per share, down from its 2014 high of $86.

Damage at Malheur: $1.7M and climbing

The group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January and early February caused $1.7 million in damages to the refuge headquarters with the costs continuing to climb, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said Wednesday. Ashe was one of several officials on hand Wednesday to lead media on a tour of the refuge, including limited portions of the headquarters area where armed militants were based during the 41-day occupation. More than 20 people have been charged in connection with the siege. Media were not allowed inside the buildings at the headquarters where occupiers set up camp, or given access to the roads and trenches officials have said were cut by the occupiers using federally owned heavy equipment...more

Lawmaker Asks, Is EPA Trying To Cover Up ‘Criminal Activity’?

Alabama Republican Rep. Gary Palmer suggested the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology look into the possible “criminal activity” being perpetrated by Environmental Protection Agency officials, citing recent agency “cover-ups.” “Mr. Chairman, it may be in our best interest to hold a hearing to see if there might even be criminal activity here because it seems to me that there’s a fraud being perpetrated on the American people,” Palmer said during the hearing Wednesday on EPA’s rules for regional haze. Environmentalists have been using consent decrees to force EPA to impose stricter haze rules while locking out opposition. The result is costly regulations imposed to imperceptibly improve visibility at some national parks. Republicans argue this shows the cozy relationship between EPA and environmentalists, which Palmer wants to further investigate. “We know that the EPA was holding seminars to teach their employees how to avoid national archives and records requests using websites set up by outside groups and maintained by outside groups, so there is collusion here,” Palmer, who is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said...more

Michael Martin Murphey returns for Andy Rieber benefit concert

Grammy nominated and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame performer Michael Martin Murphey and the Rio Grande Band will perform in Lakeview on Friday, April 8 at the Elks Lodge. The show is Murphey’s second in Lake County in the last four months intended as a fundraiser to help a Lake County local with medical bills for Lyme Disease treatment. The purpose of the show is to help with medical bills for Adel resident Andy Rieber, who has been battling Lyme Disease for the past 13 years. Last December a sold-out dinner concert with Murphey was held at Adel Community Hall, the event raising approximately $6,000 for Rieber. With ticket demand so high for that show it was deemed necessary to add the Lakeview event as well. Additionally Murphey will play two more shows to assist Rieber, at the Slickfork Saloon in Pendleton on Saturday, April 9 and at the Tower Theater in Bend on Sunday, April 10. Murphey’s concert in Lakeview comes just days before the release of his latest album—“High Stakes: Cowboy Songs VII”—a tribute to the beauties and hardships of the lives of working cattle ranchers. As a rare treat, “Murph” will give concert-goers a pre-release sampling of his new songs. The concert will be preceded by a steak dinner and the auction of an autographed Michael Martin Murphey guitar. Rieber is well known in Lake County, and has worked for years as a journalist and consultant, telling the story of ranchers to the wider public and helping to protect the ability of ranchers to graze on public lands. Her disease treatments have demanded repeated lengthy trips to Germany, resulting in extensive transportation and medical bills. The benefit is being produced by Murphey’s non-profit foundation Murphey Western Institute—“A center for the education, preservation, and perpetuation of the arts, culture, history and legacy of the American West.”...more

Border Patrol: DHS has “no intention” of deporting illegal immigrants

by Jazz Shaw

The House Judiciary Committee has been getting an earful lately from Border Patrol agents who are unhappy with how business is being conducted on their watch, specifically as it applies to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border. This week brought new revelations from Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, who reported what we’ve been hearing for some time now through off the record sources: the Department of Homeland Security is operating a catch and release program for all but the worst offenders. Further, they have “no intention” of even trying to schedule all of the apprehended border jumpers for hearings. (Washington Times)
A top Homeland Security official told Border Patrol agents the Obama administration has “no intention of deporting” many of the illegal immigrants caught trying to sneak into the country, ordering instead that they be released so they don’t clog up the courts, a leading advocate for agents testified to Congress.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said the orders are a new “catch and release” policy, which he said “amounts to amnesty” because it means many illegal immigrants are never asked to leave the country.
It also suggests the Border Patrol is being ordered to break President Obama’s own enforcement priorities, which say new illegal immigrants — defined as those who came after Dec. 31, 2013 — are priorities for deportation, and are supposed to be arrested and processed.
Judd’s testimony contains all sorts of insights into what’s going on between DHS in Washington and the men and women out there on the lines on the Mexican border. He recalls a conversation with Deputy DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who told the agents that there was no point in even bothering issuing a Notice to Appear (NTA) to the illegals they pick up because they “will help alleviate the burden on an already overburdened court system,” by cutting them loose. (There is currently a three to six year wait for court appearances, during which time the illegals are simply running loose.)

Drug traffickers’ US-Mexico border tunnel extends length of 4 football fields

U.S. authorities on Wednesday seized a cross-border tunnel that ran the length of four football fields from a restaurant in Mexicali, Mexico, to a newly built house in Calexico, Calif., following an investigation that netted more than a ton of marijuana and resulted in four arrests. The tunnel was the 12th completed secret passage that U.S. authorities have discovered along California’s border with Mexico since 2006. They have found more than 75 along the entire U.S.-Mexico border in the last five years, mostly in California and Arizona and many of them incomplete. The tunnel extended about 300 yards in Mexico from El Sarape Mexican restaurant and ran about 100 yards on U.S. soil to the house in a quiet residential area of Calexico, a city of about 40,000 people located 120 miles east of San Diego. Two men were arrested Wednesday in Calexico – one at the tunnel house and another at a house believed to have been used to store drugs – and charged drug trafficking crimes, authorities said. Two women were arrested Tuesday in Arizona, including the purchaser of the Calexico house. Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has long controlled drug trafficking along the border in California’s Imperial Valley, which offers easy freeway access to Los Angeles and Phoenix...more

Read more here:

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lawsuit seeks accounting for Rio Grande water use

A lawsuit filed in state district court by an environmental organization demands that the New Mexico state engineer make the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District prove it uses as much water as it is permitted to use. In the suit, WildEarth Guardians, a Santa Fe-based organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of wildlife, wild places and wild rivers, claims that “despite clear mandates,” the conservancy district has avoided showing it uses all of the water the state Engineer’s Office approved permits for in 1925. The conservancy district delivers water to 65,000 acres of croplands in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. In the suit, filed in Santa Fe on Monday, WildEarth Guardians requests that the court compel state Engineer Tom Blaine to set a date by which the conservancy district prove actual use of the water it claimed in 1925 or cancel the district’s permits. According to the suit, state law requires a permit holder to prove beneficial use of water by a specified date. The suit claims the state granted the conservancy district extensions from 1935 to 1987 and set another deadline of Dec. 31, 1997, but the conservancy district has yet to provide proof of beneficial use of all the water it is allowed under the permit. WildEarth Guardians also filed two applications with the state engineer to appropriate any water not put to beneficial use by the conservancy district for storage in an environmental pool in Abiquiu Reservoir. Water in the environmental pool would be reserved to protect and restore flows, habitat and ecosystems important to the survival of fish, wildlife and plants of the Rio Grande, the environmental organization said...more

French beef industry awaits mad cow test results

French livestock officials are awaiting test results on tissue samples from a cow suspected of having bovine spongiform encephalopathy. If confirmed, it would be the country's first case of BSE since 2004. France is Europe's biggest cattle producer and there is concern that a new case of BSE - more commonly known as mad cow disease -- could affect exports in an industry already struggling with low prices. Last year French beef exports totaled just over $1 billion, trade ministry data show. The suspect cow died on a farm in the Ardennes region of France. Preliminary testing on the carcass on March 17 indicated the presence of BSE. Tissue samples have been sent to an official European BSE reference laboratory in the UK for further testing. Officials said it could be several days yet before results are available. Confirmation of the disease could prompt the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to reassess France's official BSE risk level. Only last year the country regained the safest rating of “negligible risk.” South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Singapore lifted embargos on French beef following the OIE decision...more


Working on several projects for the rest of the week, so posts may be sparse.

Montana sheriff seeks to avoid standoff over arrest

The last named defendant in the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge was still at large Tuesday, drawing calls for supporters to flock to his Montana hometown and a local sheriff to urge outsiders to stay out of it. Supporters of the 41-day standoff this winter over U.S. land restrictions used social media to rally behind Jake Ryan, urging the sheriff to resist federal efforts to apprehend him and for people to head to the small northwestern town of Plains to pray with Ryan’s family. Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel, trying to head off any new armed conflicts, warned standoff supporters to stay away during negotiations for Ryan’s arrest. “There is no standoff, and I want to keep it that way,” Rummel told The Associated Press. “I don’t need anybody showing up in my county that’s only going to add tension to the situation.” A federal judge released Ryan’s name Monday as the 26th defendant charged in connection with the occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Ryan and another man are accused of using heavy equipment to dig a trench through a Native American archaeological site at the refuge. He and Travis Cox were the only people facing charges who had not been arrested by Tuesday morning. The sheriff, like the occupation supporters, is wary of federal officials. Rummel once gave his support to failed legislation in Montana that would have required any federal agent to get written permission from a sheriff before making an arrest or conducting a search in that sheriff’s jurisdiction. However, he has sought to be a facilitator in this case...more

Judge opens door for Ammon Bundy, others to be prosecuted in Nevada and Oregon at same time

A federal judge in Portland ruled Tuesday that Ammon Bundy and four other men indicted in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon can be flown to Las Vegas to face criminal charges in the 2014 standoff near the Bundy ranch in Nevada. Attorneys for the five defendants told U.S. District Judge Anna Brown that they don't think federal prosecutors in Oregon and Nevada should pursue criminal cases against them at the same time. Splitting time between courtrooms and jail cells in Oregon and Nevada would severely compromise their ability to meaningfully communicate with their defense attorneys and would interfere with their rights to speedy trials, they argued.Brown, the judge, said she would allow the two Bundys, Payne, Cavalier and Cooper to be transported from Oregon to Nevada on April 13 so they could be present for arraignment in the ranch standoff case. Brown said the group must be back in Oregon within 10 days – by April 23. She said she didn't think a single 10-day absence from Oregon would violate the defendants' rights in the wildlife refuge case to speedy trial or effective communications with counsel. A federal judge in Nevada, Brown said, will have to decide whether being tried in Oregon ends up violating the defendants' rights in the Nevada case. After the judge made her ruling, defense attorneys expressed disappointment. Attorney Lissa Casey said she will appeal the decision on behalf of her client, Ammon Bundy. "Moving Ammon to Nevada makes it more difficult for him to participate in his own defense, and it makes it more (challenging) for us to mount a zealous advocacy," Casey said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "...(W)e hope to keep Ammon in Oregon until this case is resolved."...more

Endangered Species Funding: Government Overpays Some And Underpays Others

Putting money into recovery efforts for endangered and threatened species can lead to successful recovery, but not all the time. In fact, a large amount of government funding for these efforts falls short of what is necessary for the species recovery, leaving them no better off than they were before. A new study by Arizona State University researcher Leah Gerber examined this issue by analyzing government spending on endangered and threatened species with the goal of finding out how the process can be made more efficient. The results revealed that despite receiving more funding than requested, some species continue to decline. These species are "costly yet futile" according to Gerber, and funding for these types of species should be funneled elsewhere to save more species. Gerber also revealed that only 12 percent of the 1,500 species on the endangered and threatened list are receiving the full amount of funding that was requested for their recovery plans, whereas a number of others actually receive more than was requested. Increases in funding can help, but in many situations some species still decline even with adequate help...more

Access & Economics: Concerns on Owyhee Canyonlands proposal

Oregon Natural Desert Association, Keen Footwear and other supporters are proposing a National Conservation Area (Monument) consisting of 2,579,032 acres within Malheur County. Some 2,012,350 acres will be designated as wilderness, and 50 miles as wild and scenic river. The area constitutes 47 percent of all federal land in Malheur County and is 1,279,032 acres larger than all privately owned land in the county. The area proposed is, in a word, massive. By closing even a few roads, public access, other than by foot or possibly horseback, will be denied to hundreds of thousands of acres. These areas are used to graze cattle, hunt, fish, sightsee, camp and ride ATVs. According to Oregon State University’s Economic Information Office, Malheur County ranks first in beef production value in Oregon. Negatively affecting that segment of the county’s economy will be disastrous for the county tax base, all of its businesses, schools and protective services. The communities, the county or the state can ill afford the losses in revenue that will occur due to ONDA’s overreaching proposal. Road closures will harm, not help, non-agricultural activities and the businesses they patronize. Deer, elk, antelope, big horn sheep, upland bird and varmint hunters, along with anglers, will be denied access, leaving them, in some instances, 40 or more miles from the places they and their families have hunted and fished for generations...more

Supreme Court rules on water fight between Montana, Wyoming

The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in Monday on a long-running water-rights fight between Wyoming and Montana, ruling that Wyoming shorted its neighbor to the north on Tongue River water for just two of the 15 years Montana had claimed. The judgment by the nation’s high court upholds the conclusion by a court-appointed special master that Wyoming is liable to Montana for reducing the volume of water available in the river at the state line in 2004 and 2006. The court ordered the case back to the special master to determine damages and any other legal relief owed to Montana. The justices ruled for Wyoming in claims made by Montana for 13 other years dating back to 1981. Ranchers and farmers in both states depend on the Tongue River, which flows north from Wyoming and eventually joins the Yellowstone River. Montana sued in 2007, arguing that Wyoming for years had broken a 1950s-era water compact by allowing irrigators and small reservoir owners to take too much water from the Tongue...more

Judge denies immediate sweeping change to Deschutes water (Oregon spotted frog)

A federal judge presiding over a case that could alter the way water is managed in Central Oregon said Tuesday she wouldn’t grant immediate changes to water management in the Deschutes River basin, as a pair of environmental groups had sought. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken made clear during oral arguments in two cases filed in recent months that she prefers groups work together to protect the threatened Oregon spotted frog at the center of litigation. Aiken said she wouldn’t rule in favor of two groups seeking an immediate injunction this month that would have required three local irrigation districts to release water from their reservoirs, which farmers said could have been devastating, particularly in the North Unit Irrigation District in Jefferson County. “I’m going to deny” the motion, Aiken said. “That’s my opinion at this point.” Aiken said she would file her written opinion ruling against WaterWatch of Oregon and the Center for Biological Diversity, which asked for a preliminary injunction to change the water storage practices in the Wickiup and Crane Prairie reservoirs and Crescent Lake starting April 1. The environmental groups filed two similar suits in U.S. District Court in Eugene, seeking changes to how the North Unit, Tumalo and Central Oregon irrigation districts and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation store Deschutes River water in winter and release it in summer months. They said the practice of collecting the water in local reservoirs in winter and releasing it in summer creates unnatural river flow changes that harm the Oregon spotted frog, a brownish-red amphibian the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed as threatened in August 2014...more

Shots To Be Fired

The ongoing noise of gunfire on the Bureau of Land Management acreage near his ranch isn’t just a nuisance. Santa Fe County cattle rancher Jose Varela Lopez wonders what concentrating more of it just a few thousand feet from his ranch will do to the ability to use the land for anything but cattle ranching—and even that has seen its toll. “I’ve had a couple of animals that have been shot to death,” says Lopez, the 14th generation in his family to ranch on land southwest of Santa Fe. He stills runs a cow-calf operation with 15 mother cows. “It’s really heartbreaking when you see your animals out there that somebody used for target practice.” That includes Lopez, president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, who spoke at a September meeting for the Game Commission, voicing concerns over the lack of a public process as the department advanced efforts to set up this facility. By that time, the state board had already done a biological evaluation and cultural resources inventory draft report and met with a contractor to map out a shooting range that would include areas for rifle and pistol shooting, shotguns and archery, as well as a hunter education center, a multipurpose building and a host area where RVs could park for overnight camping. “I’m just worried about cumulative effects of having so many people out there and actually drawing them out there,” Lopez tells SFR...more

At border, Arizona voters not wild about building Donald Trump's wall

Border security is more than just a political issue for Dan Bell. It’s a reality he faces every day as a third-generation southern Arizona cattle rancher. The 35,000 acres of land he ranches share 10 miles of border with Mexico just west of Nogales. When he’s out working on his ranch on horseback, the 47-year-old rancher never knows when he might run into a group of undocumented migrants, or worse, drug smugglers. Twice in the past 13 years or so he’s come face to face with drug smugglers – once when he rounded a corner in a remote canyon and encountered 10 men hauling packs of marijuana on their backs. Two of the men were armed with rifles, one of which appeared to be an AK-47 assault rifle. Bell and the ranch hand he was riding with immediately turned their horses and headed in another direction. “It’s a big issue of safety and concern for us,” Bell said Tuesday, recalling the incident as he drove his pickup through some of the same remote canyons. And while he says many southern Arizona ranchers like Trump’s idea of building a wall, Bell believes building a wall along the entire border would be both impractical and expensive. What’s needed, he said, is a combination of fencing, surveillance technology and, above all, building roads that give Border Patrol agents better access to remote areas so they can reach illegal border crosses who invariably will climb over any wall. “If you have all the pieces of the puzzle, you might have areas where a wall might be effective and other areas where other things might be more effective,” Bell said. His comments were echoed by many other voters interviewed Tuesday in Nogales...more

President Obama is planning to cut the size of the Navajo Reservation by 4 million acres

Not true says SNOPES:

Example: [Collected via e-mail, March 2016]
My Native American friend are all up in arms over this from Facebook.

Origin:In March 2016, the above-displayed image started circulating on Facebook, purportedly showing an official news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior stating that President Obama was preparing to reduce the size of the Navajo Nation by some four million acres:
Due to the work involved to maintain sheep, the Navajo people have very significantly reduced the number of sheep on the reservation land. The need for vast amounts of grazing land is no longer needed by the reservation. Much of the reservation is no longer inhabited as the population has moved from rural area and congregated in a few cities on the reservation or near the reservation.
The above-displayed letter is not an official news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.  We found no mention of President's Obama's supposed plan to take land away from indigenous peoples posted on the Department of Interior's web site (which includes sections for recent news and press releases) or in the organization's social media accounts, nor did we find any mention of it on the official Navajo tourism department's web page. Additionally, if it were real, a plan of this magnitude would have spawned multiple articles and stories across news media. These articles, however, do not exist.

This letter appears to be a commentary that recasts the background of the recent armed occupation of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by militants challenging the control and use of federal lands into one involving the Navajo, in order to highlight how the public would react differently to similar circumstances if Native Americans were the focus of the federal government's actions.  It may also be a commentary on the recent government transfer of land said to be sacred to the Apache to a foreign-based mining company (a move that Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell opposed). A lawsuit over mismanaged mining and logging on Navajo trust lands ended with a landmark settlement from the Obama administration in 2014).

We've reached out to the U.S. Department of the Interior for comment but have not yet received a response.

Last updated: 22 March 20

Video - Flying saucer stolen from Roswell’s UFO Museum

The giant UFO at Roswell’s International UFO Museum has been stolen. At first the heist was perplexing but then those at the museum took a look at the surveillance video. Around 3:30 A.M. Saturday, behind the International UFO Museum, three men were caught on camera loading the museum’s flying saucer into their truck. The UFO used to hang on the side of the building until snowstorm Goliath knocked it down back in December. “We had just had it prepared, and we were going to put it back up but we had it temporarily stored behind our building and they, some kids came and stole it,” said Karen Jaramillo, interim director for the museum. A second surveillance video shows the thieves leaving the museum in a red truck with the UFO in the back. This is not the first time an alien display has been stolen. Back in 2004, “Fred” the alien mannequin was abducted from right in front of the “alien encounter” store. Two men were seen rolling Fred and his wheelchair into their truck and speeding away...more

Here is the KRQE report:

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1584

Jack Guthrie & His Oklahomans perform Next To The Soil.  The tune was recorded in Hollywood on October 22, 1946 and released on the Capitol label.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Colony Collapse Disorder: The Market Response to Bee Disease

We live in an imperfect world full of problems. That fact contributes to the ongoing media drumbeat over imminent catastrophe. Horror stories sell; news items about incremental improvements are not interesting except to people in the industries working to make life a little bit better.

One horror story is that of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious phenomenon affecting honey bees. Based on media reports alone, one might believe that crops are at risk of going unpollinated and that we are heading towards a “silent spring”—one in which the familiar springtime buzzing of the bee is no more.

Two prominent agricultural economists, Randy Rucker and Wally Thurman, look at the bee problem in a new light. The problem still exists but gets little news because, once again, the sky did not fall. People in the beekeeping industry reacted to the problem so swiftly that pollination continued and the food supply was saved.

Colony Collapse Disorder is one of the many episodes PERC has examined over the years, showing how people resolve real problems. Too often it is presumed when reading about environmental issues in the doom-and-gloom media that politicians are needed to save the day. In the case of colony collapse, luckily it never got to political intervention. As is often the case, the uncoordinated market quietly resolved what had been posited as a major crisis.

Army Developing Military-Grade ‘Google Earth’

The day is coming when people will forget paper maps ever existed. From Google Earth to MapQuest and Apple’s Siri, we now take for granted the right to examine, at will, almost any spot on the planet. For most of us, it’s a matter of convenience, a question of finding the best route to work, or admiring a Google-eye view of one’s house or neighborhood. But for the U.S. military, quick and accurate depictions of terrain are vital, whether for realistic training systems, mission rehearsal or outright mission execution. So no wonder that the Army wants to create its own version of Google Earth, a system “where they can zoom in everywhere from very high up to down on the ground,” says Bill Reese, lead engineer for the Synthetic Environment Core (SE CORE) at the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), in Orlando, Florida. “They want it to be there in the cloud, available immediately anywhere in the world, at the point of need, for various levels of devices, from handhelds to sophisticated simulators,” Reese said...more

Private company seeks property condemnation through eminent domain

Few principles hold a more prominent place in Texans’ personal creeds than the right to own property. It’s why many settled here. It’s why many bridle against regulations that impinge on how they ranch, farm, or manage their property. And they recoil at the notion that a private company can ask and receive permission from state or federal governments to have part or all of their property condemned by eminent domain, limiting access to essential parts of a farm or ranch or, in more dire cases, rendering the property unfit for agriculture, hunting, or sale. Landowners in Medina County, Texas, in dwindling numbers, hope to prevent a private out-of-state corporation — Vulcan Materials, a Fortune 500 multinational materials company based in Birmingham, Ala. — from completing condemnation of 43 properties to build a 9 mile rail spur from a quarry site. Vulcan has been trying to build the rail spur from a leased 1,700 acre quarry site to connect with the Union Pacific rail line 7 miles south at U.S. Hwy. 90. Attorneys for Southwest Gulf Railroad filed a Petition in Condemnation in the Medina County Court on 43 properties belonging to farmers, ranchers, and other landowners in northeast Medina County.  “What separates this case is that eminent domain is being abused by a private corporation, solely for its own benefit,” Fitzgerald writes. “A restrictive covenant barring rail construction binds 9,622 acres, on 56 separate properties with 108 signatories, along Vulcan’s proposed rail line. “Only condemnation, using the power of eminent domain, would extinguish these restrictive covenants and remove them. But such power can only be validly exercised by a common carrier, which Vulcan’s paper railroad, Southwest Gulf Railroad, plainly is not...more

Bighorn ruling could have ramifications on Western grazing

A ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recognizing a connection between bighorn sheep die-offs and diseases transmitted by domestic sheep could have far-reaching ramifications on federal grazing allotments in the West. The ruling earlier this month by the three-judge panel against domestic sheep producers upheld a lower court ruling in Idaho supporting a U.S. Forest Service decision to close sheep grazing allotments to protect bighorns. “A lot of people were looking at this waiting to see what they did,” said Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West, noting it’s the first time a U.S. circuit court has ruled on disease transmission between the species. The ruling gives the Forest Service legal backing to look at other areas in the West where domestic sheep grazing should be limited to protect bighorns, she said, or for environmental groups “to try to force the Forest Service to do it if they’re not going to do it on their own.” The Idaho Wool Growers Association and others sued in 2012, contending that the U.S. Forest Service illegally shut down 70 percent of sheep grazing in the Payette National Forest in west-central Idaho based on unproven disease transmission between domestic and bighorn sheep. But a U.S. district court — and now a federal appeals court— disagreed. “There’s that possibility that it could be used on other forests,” said Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. He said the association was considering its next move involving possible legal action...more

'This land belongs to all Americans,' Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says in Burns

Harney County, infamous now for enduring a 41-day occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, may find itself back in the spotlight soon and this time it will be the government's doing. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell concluded a day of tours and meetings in the Burns area Monday by declaring she intends to help trumpet a success that got overshadowed by acts of the armed protesters who took over the reserve Jan. 2. The story, she said, involves environmentalists, government, ranchers and "a disaster averted." They worked together under the brand of the High Desert Partnership to protect the greater sage grouse while avoiding crippling federal regulation that could have upended ranching and logging in a weak economic region, she said in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive. Jewell, a former commercial banker and president of REI Inc., said she'll return to Washington, D.C., determined to showcase the Harney County effort, making it a national model for serving both economic and conservation needs. She'll also take home lessons from her day of tutorials by Harney County officials, refuge workers, Burns Paiute tribal leaders and federal agency workers...more

You think you are part owner of the Malheur Wildlife refuge?  Just go claim your share.  You'll end up behind bars just like the Bundys.

"This land belongs to all Americans" is a bromide that should be rejected by all Americans.  The feds control ingress and egress.  You don't.  The feds can sell or trade it.  You can't.  The feds regulate the uses allowed.  You don't.  One can only conclude the feds "own" it, not all Americans.  The land is controlled by a political entity and managed for political purposes.  Through politics, and only through politics, you may have influence over the land, but you certainly don't own it. 

Interior Sec. Jewell Urges Harney County Collaboration To Counter Extremism

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited Burns, Oregon, to meet with community members Monday in Harney County. Jewell stressed the importance of community collaboration to counter extremism. She met with Harney County officials and cited the community’s work on sage grouse habitat and other environmental efforts as a model for the rest of the country. Jewell said Ammon Bundy and others militants picked “the wrong county” to try and build support for an anti-federal government movement...more

Speaking at the Harney County courthouse Monday, Jewell did acknowledge that support for Bundy’s politics have increased, in part because the federal government hasn’t been countering it. “The federal government is not about marketing and sound bites. We’re in the forever business,” she said.
If the feds are not about marketing or soundbites, then why has Jewell requested $3.2 million dollars in DOI's FY2017 budget for her "communications" apparatus ?  And that's just for the Office of the Secretary.   To that you should add the media budgets for the NPS, USFWS, BLM, BIA, etc.  Millions spent every year to market the dept's programs and they include plenty sound bites.

Forever?  Try every four years, from one election to the next.

Occupier who feds say dug trench for feces, disturbed sacred artifacts faces charges

A Montana man accused of disturbing a sacred Burns Paiute archeological site by using heavy equipment to dig a giant latrine for protesters became the 26th person charged publicly in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A judge on Monday unsealed the name of Jake Ryan that had been concealed in an indictment filed March 8 in U.S. District Court in Oregon. Ryan and fellow occupier Travis Cox are the only two of the 26 defendants who haven't been arrested, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel. The federal indictment charges Ryan and one other person -- Sean Anderson -- with "depredation of government property" for allegedly digging two trenches or latrines next to a makeshift camping area at the refuge and causing more than $1,000 worth of damage...more

Former Federal Prosecutor Lays Out Likely Path For Refuge Trial

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys on either side of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation may not agree on many details of the case, but both sides readily describe it as complicated and largely unprecedented. A total of 26 defendants are charged in the Oregon case, and several — including occupation leaders Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne — also face charges related to a 2014 standoff at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy, the father of Ammon and Ryan Bundy. To better understand what these intertwined cases may look like as they play out in court, OPB’s Think Out Loud spoke Monday to former federal prosecutor Martin Estrada. Estrada said federal prosecutors in Oregon, Nevada and Washington, D.C. are all likely coordinating with each other to avoid jurisdictional infighting that could otherwise slow the cases. Additionally, he said the government’s attorneys will try to negotiate plea deals with refuge occupiers who played a less central role. “From the prosecution’s perspective, I’d think they’d want to have fewer defendants at trial,” Estrada said. “When you have this many defendants, as I mentioned, some of the less culpable defendants … they may get lost in the shuffle, and the jury may not find them responsible for the entire conspiracy.” He added that the government may try to use some of the more serious charges in the case as leverage to get guilty pleas against defendants on a federal conspiracy charge. Estrada said a conspiracy plea may only carry a sentence of two or three years in prison. “I think the likely scenario is, from the government’s perspective, they don’t want a 26-defendant trial. And they certainly don’t want multiple trials,” he said. “They don’t want to have to present this case multiple times.”...more

HT:  Marvin Frisbey 

After abduction, ranchers are angry

It was mid-day when the ranch hand stumbled upon drug smugglers, alone in the desert a couple of hundred miles west of El Paso, in one of the southern border’s most rugged corridors. The tale of what followed, an alleged abduction that left the ranch hand alive but shaken, has angered ranchers who for generations have worked this desolate land, where New Mexico pushes south into Mexico like the heel of a boot. Apprehensions of illegal crossers along the southern border have dropped sharply, the data show. But out here in the Bootheel, lawlessness is growing as smugglers look for alternatives to their traditional routes, ranchers say...The meeting in Animas was precipitated by the alleged abduction of a ranch hand whose name has not been released. The U.S. Border Patrol confirmed it has handed the investigation over to the FBI, which does not comment on ongoing investigations. The ranch hand is employed by Animas-based Elbrock Water Systems, which is owned by Tricia Elbrock along with her husband and son. She tells the story. According to Elbrock, it was mid-day on Dec. 7, when her employee was driving to a water well to make a repair on the Diamond A Ranch, described by the Nature Conservancy as a “500-square-mile gem nestled in the boot heel of New Mexico.” He was about 10 miles north of the southern border. It’s unforgiving terrain, with few unpaved roads and no cell service. The land is as dry as old bones and broken by small mountains and arroyos. “He got the job done and headed back, and that’s when they hijacked him,” Elbrock said. He came upon three vehicles loaded with drugs, she said. The men appeared armed. One of the vehicles was stuck, so the alleged smugglers commandeered the ranch hand’s truck to try to free their vehicle. It didn’t work. So “they threw out all the tools, equipment and materials in our truck, tied him up and blindfolded him and loaded all of their drugs on our truck.” Elbrock said they first learned something might be wrong when they got a call from the ranch hand’s wife. He carried a satellite phone and always called his wife to let her know when he would be in. “At 8 p.m. when he had not called, (his wife) called us. My husband and another went out to search for him with the ranch manager,” Elbrock said. They found nothing but the little notebook he usually kept in his shirt pocket on the ground, so they called law enforcement, and a search started. He was left tied and blindfolded with his truck in the desert near Wilcox, Arizona, Elbrock said. He managed to escape his bonds and drive to Wilcox to call for help...more

Donald Trump's wall plan draws mixed reactions on the border

Everywhere Jim Chilton goes on his sprawling cattle ranch along the Mexican border in Arizona, he has a gun at the ready. Guns at his front door. Guns in his pickup truck. Guns on his horse’s saddle. For Chilton, illegal immigration and drug smuggling isn’t just something he hears about on the news. He lives with it every day as smugglers routinely cross the border on his property. He supports just about anything to stop it, including Trump’s plan to build a wall from one end of the border to the other. “We need a wall. We need forward operation bases. We need Border Patrol to be down there all the time,” Chilton said. “We just need to secure that international boundary at the border, period.” While Chilton has not decided who he will vote for in the presidential election, he certainly supports the idea of building a wall. “I’m tired of having thousands of people coming through my ranch. I worry about running into a guy with an AK-47 and a bunch of druggers behind him,” Chilton said. “The United States needs to secure its international boundary.” Hector Orozco has a unique perspective on the border debate because of his occupation and past party affiliation. He manages a manufacturing company south of the border with offices on the American side, making campaign debates about foreign trade especially relevant. He is also an immigrant from Mexico who became a U.S. citizen and traditionally voted Republican. As of late, though, Orozco said he can’t get behind the party and its ideology. To him, America’s biggest challenge is the deficit and the economy, not illegal immigration. “It’s like they’re trying to distract us from the bigger problems,” he said. “(Illegal immigration) is a problem, but it’s not the biggest problem.” And he said a wall wouldn’t resolve immigration problems in any way. “People will find a way to improve their lives,” Orozco said. “Regardless of how big the wall is, they’re gonna look for a way because they’re gonna want to make a better life for their family. Not all who cross are criminals.”...more

In southern Utah, a ranger is jailed under questionable pretenses

by Tay Wiles

In early December, a Bureau of Land Management ranger at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in southern Utah, had a casual office conversation with a colleague about his frustration with how a holiday party was disrupting his day’s work. Two days later, he was in a Garfield County jail cell, purportedly for what he had said.

The ranger, Jeff Ellison, was in his second year working with the agency...

During the conversation in question, Ellison brought up improvised explosive devices, the weapon of choice for insurgents trying to do harm to U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The co-worker apparently was uncomfortable with the banter, and two days later, Ellison’s supervisor called him at home to let him know that he had to apologize. The supervisor also said he’d been informed two sheriff’s deputies were on their way to Ellison’s home.

Sure enough, the lawmen were soon at his door, and the ranger was arrested that evening. Ellison recalls that one of the deputies said the sheriff wanted to “make an example out of him.” He also says he was not informed of the exact charges — class B misdemeanor of threats and violence and infraction of disorderly conduct — until the next morning, as he was paying about $950 in bail.
Those charges have yet to be confirmed with the police report. Ellison says he asked multiple times to see the report, but the sheriff refused to provide it.

Sheriff James "Danny" Perkins was not available for comment at the time of this publication. A representative at the sheriff’s office told HCN last month that the police report could not be released because the incident is still under investigation. But both Ellison and Shea have been told the charges were dropped.

McConnell tells states to stop planning for EPA climate rule

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is telling state officials to stop their work toward complying with the Obama administration’s climate change rule for power plants. In a Monday letter to all of the country’s governors through the National Governors Association, McConnell said the Supreme Court’s decision last month to halt the Clean Power Plan validated his earlier advice for states to ignore the regulation and not try to comply. McConnell told the governors that he’s always felt the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon limits violate the law. “This is precisely why I suggested a ‘wait-and-see’ approach with respect to the CPP last year,” he wrote. “Given the Supreme Court’s recent stay of the CPP and the painful lessons of [the mercury and air toxics standards], ‘wait-and-see’ remains the most responsible approach today,” he said, referring to an earlier EPA rule that the high court found to be illegal. McConnell has been one of the loudest voices advocating for states to resist complying, which he says is one of the most effective ways to fight the rule. While few states were open to the idea, numerous states’ leaders decided after the Supreme Court’s stay that they would stop planning for compliance, reasoning that the regulation is much less likely to survive the litigation process on its merits. But the Obama administration has pushed back, encouraging states to keep up their efforts to comply and arguing that they’ll be thankful when the courts side with the EPA...more