Saturday, October 29, 2016

‘Part of a miracle’: Jubilation at Bundy ranch in Nevada over Oregon acquittals

Jubilation was in the air Friday at Cliven Bundy’s ranch, with family members of the imprisoned patriarch calling the acquittal of two of his sons for seizing a national wildlife refuge in Oregon a “vindication” of the family’s feud with the federal government. “Justice has been served and we were part of a miracle,” Bundy’s beaming wife, Carol, told the Review-Journal at the Bundy ranch, nine miles southwest of this unincorporated Clark County town, referring to the Oregon jury’s exoneration of the couple’s sons Ammon and Ryan and five other anti-government defendants Thursday in Portland. She had just finished speaking by phone to Ammon, who remains behind bars in Oregon. “Their thoughts were finally they’ve been vindicated,” she said. “And their thoughts went immediately to LaVoy Finicum, because his death now has been vindicated, too. With them being not guilty, he also is not guilty.” Carol Bundy, 62, her face no longer drained from stress, smiled as she sat on a wooden bench with peeling turquoise paint and spoke about assimilating the news of the acquittal. The conversation was punctuated by laughter from her barefoot grandchildren playing in the front yard and roosters crowing in the back. But she said her sons are weary of the legal ordeal and hopeful it is nearing an end. “They’re tired of being locked up. They’re tired of being unfairly held way from their families,” she said. She said the wait since the arrests of her sons and husband has “been a long hard ride,” but she was buoyed by the Oregon verdicts and is “hoping everything gets dismissed” before the trial in Nevada. “We’re moving forward with some other motions, a lot of discovery,” she said. “We have a lot of things that we can hit them with here in Nevada that they don’t even know.”...more

U.S. Marshals' tackling of Ammon Bundy's lawyer creates buzz in legal community

When U.S. Marshals physically subdued attorney Marcus Mumford at the finale of the Oregon militants' trial, the encounter created a buzz across the legal community with experts saying they'd never seen anything similar happen before. Marshals tackled and used a Taser on Mumford, Ammon Bundy's defense lawyer, following the Oregon standoff leader's acquittal in the federal conspiracy case Thursday. The agency said in a news release Friday that Mumford had become "upset and aggressive" in court after the jury verdict. The federal agency is conducting a review of the marshals' actions, according to Thadd Baird, supervising deputy of the U.S. Marshals Service. But he declined to discuss any further specifics about the highly unusual use of force. "The overwhelming consensus in legal circles is that any kind of altercation between law enforcement and lawyers in a courtroom is virtually unheard of," said Kateri Walsh, spokeswoman for the Oregon State Bar. "It just doesn't happen." Mumford had been arguing that his client should be released from custody immediately, but U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown said Bundy had a hold on him from a pending federal indictment in Nevada. Mumford yelled at the judge, and suddenly six to seven marshals closed in on him, surrounding the attorney at the defense table. The judge told them to move back, but soon after, the marshals grabbed Mumford. They yelled at Mumford to stop resisting while the judge ordered everyone out of the courtroom. The description of Thursday's events also led other lawyers to question whether the marshals had been too heavy-handed. "My understanding is he just raised his voice," said Carrie Leonetti, a University of Oregon law professor who previously worked as a federal public defender in California. Leonetti said the marshals likely considered the number of people in the courtroom before taking action, but also questioned their using a weapon against the lawyer. "They need to be proportional to the threat," she said. Leonetti said it would be more common for an attorney who wasn't following orders to be held in contempt, not taken down. "I cannot think of a time when courtroom security officers have used force against a lawyer," she said. Leonetti said the marshals' actions have an "unfortunate appearance of retaliation," but she believes their response came from training. "The optics of tackling the lawyer who won – the optics of that are unfortunate in any situation," Leonetti said...more

Oregon juror in Bundy brothers' trial blames prosecution's weak conspiracy case for acquittal

One of the Oregon jurors who acquitted the Bundy brothers and their bird sanctuary-seizing brethren says the verdict was no endorsement of their actions. Juror No. 4, in a Friday email to the Portland Oregonian newspaper, said the panel’s decision reflected how miserably federal prosecutors failed to prove their conspiracy case against the seven men. “Inference, while possibly compelling, proved to be insulting or inadequate to 12 diversely situated people as a means to convict,” wrote Juror No. 4. The juror — who maintained his anonymity in the email — said the panel later spoke with federal trial Judge Anna Brown and questioned the prosecution strategy against the seven occupiers of the federal land. The jury was told that alternate charges, including criminal trespass, didn’t carry what the government considered significant jail time. “We all queried about alternative charges that could stick and were amazed that his ‘conspiracy’ charge seemed the best,” he wrote...more

Interior secretary warns employees to be 'vigilant' after Bundy decision

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told department employees she is concerned that a jury’s decision to acquit six men and a woman in connection with their occupation of a remote Oregon wildlife refuge could endanger federal employees. In a letter sent Friday to Interior Department staff, Jewell said she respected the jury’s verdict but that staffers should be vigilant — and careful — going forward. “I am profoundly disappointed in this outcome and am concerned about its potential implications for our employees and for the effective management of public lands,” Jewell wrote. Jurors told news outlets that prosecutors had failed to convince them that the occupiers had conspired to keep federal agents from doing their jobs. In her letter to department staff, Jewell said she and Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor had visited the refuge in March, shortly after the occupation ended. The employees she met there, she wrote, had been worried about their own safety. “The armed occupation in Oregon was and continues to be a reminder that employees in all offices should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your supervisor and, where appropriate, law enforcement officials,” Jewell wrote...more

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ammon Bundy's 10 hours of testimony may have swayed jury

The leader of the armed Oregon standoff sat on the stand for more than three days, laying out his views on the Constitution, the federal government and the duty of man in his plain-spoken way . It was Ammon Bundy’s 10 hours of testimony that likely won over jurors in a trial that concluded with seven people being acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges, one legal expert said. “It gave Ammon a chance to explain his side,” Lewis & Clark Law Professor Tung Yin told the Daily News. “And apparently the jury seemed to agree. I think it’s really hard to see this as anything other than jury nullification.” “This is much bigger than the Hammonds,” Ammon Bundy told the court about his quest in Oregon to bring awareness to what he called injustices carried out by the federal government. “It’s for my children, grandchildren. “Everything comes from the Earth and if [the government] can get control of the resources, they can get control of the people.” Bundy, a father of six, described federal government officials as modern day Roman emperors trying to rule over their subjects by restricting access to resource-rich territories. “We need to wake up,” he told the jurors and the courtroom. Ammon Bundy’s lengthy testimony was possibly a turning point in the trial, Yin said. “The fact that they acquitted on everything must be representative of some kind of mistrust of the government or a symbolic protest, or anger at the government,” he said of the jurors. Yin, who followed the case closely, said he was stunned that jury found the occupiers not guilty of conspiracy and possession of firearms at a federal facility. “I erroneously thought this would be a slam dunk for the government,” he said. “And I’m sure the government, to a degree, the government prosecutors are surprised.” He pointed to the mountains of evidence, photos and even Bundy’s own testimony, that proved the group carried guns while in the bird sanctuary. Bundy told the court that the occupiers toted weapons because they would have been arrested otherwise. And they had to protect themselves against possible government attack, he said. “Of course you have to wonder if this this will embolden future Bundys,” Yin said. “But they’ve lost nine months of their lives. I don’t know if I were an anti-government type, I dont think if I would look at this as a true victory.”...more

Bundy brothers remain jailed following attorney's outburst in Oregon courtroom

The Bundy brothers remained in jail Friday following a dramatic acquittal a day earlier in a courtroom that erupted into chaos after an attorney yelled at a judge for their release, resulting in him being subdued with a stun gun and arrested. A jury delivered an extraordinary blow to the government Thursday in a long-running battle over the use of public lands when it acquitted all seven defendants involved in the armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge in rural southeastern Oregon. After the verdicts were read, an attorney for group leader Ammon Bundy demanded his client be immediately released and repeatedly yelled at the judge. U.S. marshals tackled attorney Marcus Mumford to the ground, used a stun gun on him several times and arrested him. U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said she could not release Bundy because he still faces charges in Nevada stemming from an armed standoff at his father Cliven Bundy's ranch two years ago...more

link has been updated

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Jury finds all Oregon standoff defendants not guilty of federal conspiracy, gun charges

A federal jury Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility. Kenneth Medenbach was found not guilty of stealing government property, and a hung jury was declared on Ryan Bundy's charge of theft of FBI surveillance cameras. "Stunning,'' said defense lawyer Lisa Ludwig, who was standby counsel for Ryan Bundy. "I'm just thrilled,'' said Neil Wampler's attorney Lisa Maxfield...more


...“The jury began by reading out the verdict for Ammon Bundy, ostensibly the leader of the occupation, and when we heard that Ammon Bundy was not guilty, it became clear very quickly that likely no one in the case was going to be found guilty, and indeed, everyone has been acquitted.”
After the verdict was read, Ammon Bundy’s attorney Marcus Mumford was tackled to the ground by five U.S. Marshals. He insisted his client was free to go. Ammon Bundy faces a US Marshall hold and is supposed to be transferred to Nevada where he faces charges for the Bunkerville standoff.
“There’s a hold for Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy out of the district of Nevada,” said Matt Schindler attorney for Kenneth Medenbach. “‘There’s nothing Judge Brown can do about that. So acquitting him here, all it does is effectively release him to that hold, to be transported to Nevada. And the court that has anything authority to deal with that, is the court in Nevada. Marcus let the emotion of the moment, I think, overtake his better judgement.”...more

Northeast United States will have new national wildlife refuge

Americans will soon have a new national wildlife refuge to visit in five New England states and New York. The Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge, finalized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Tuesday, includes 15,000 acres of land that mainly consists of shrubland teeming with as many as 136 types of animals and insects, according to the Associated Press, which includes the New England cottontails and American woodcock. It also hosts threatened and endangered species such as bog turtles and the Massachusetts's northern red-bellied cooter. This new refuge is a continuation of President Obama’s streak in holding the record for protecting the most public land and water of any past president. It will be the 18th created under his administration since 2009 and the 566th in the nation, joining a network of protected areas covering over 150 million acres of land. It also increases the amount of land under FWS’ purview. In August, Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to become the world’s largest marine protected area that spans two wildlife refuges. For the refuge to materialize, the next step for FWS is to acquire land from willing landowners in non-contiguous areas in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. According to the Associated Press, the officials say they plan to purchase half of the land targeted while obtaining the other half through conservation easement. The process could take decades, as the press release points out. It is entirely up to landowners to decide if they want to sell or donate their land to become part of the refuge. They could also opt for conservation easement, where the owners permanently sell property rights to FWS that restricts the types of activities that can be done on the land...more

For a list of recent refuges go here

Do you notice the difference of how this is done in private lands states and federal lands states?

The EIS for this wildlife refuge says, 

 All refuges within the project area have approved CCPs, and all have goals and objectives related to the restoration, maintenance, and continuing management of shrubland and young forest habitat. All of the CCPs were released for public and partner review and comment, with accompanying public meetings in their respective areas. 

A CCP is a Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

This is for 15,000 acres. All plans are completed with public review and comment prior to designation, and it is voluntary on whether or not you are part of the refuge.

Compare that to the 500,000 acre Organ Mtn-Desert Buttes National Monument. Sec. Jewell held one 'listening session', the plans come after the designation, and there is nothing voluntary about it.

Militarized Police Are Cracking Down on Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters

By Zoë Carpenter

After a weekend of mass arrests, people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline are preparing for another clash with a growing and increasingly militarized police force near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. On Sunday, demonstrators set up a new camp, called Winter Camp, in the pathway of pipeline construction, on what they consider unceded territory belonging to them under the 1851 Laramie Treaty. But Dakota Access LLC, the pipeline developer, said in a statement that they would be “removed from the land,” which the company purchased from a local rancher last month. Police said on Wednesday that they are prepared to carry out that threat. “It’s obvious we have the resources, we have the manpower, to go down there and end this,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said in an interview.

As the prospect of a raid on the Winter Camp looms, human-rights groups are increasingly concerned about law enforcement’s use of force against peaceful pipeline protesters (who call themselves “water protectors”), as well as journalists and legal observers. Demonstrators reported being pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, and strip searched in custody during the weekend’s arrests. Journalists were also arrested, and had their equipment confiscated.

In a Facebook post, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier described Saturday’s demonstration as a “riot,” and wrote that the “situation clearly illustrates what we have been saying for weeks, that this protest is not peaceful or lawful.” But it wasn’t immediately clear what he meant by a riot: The photo that accompanied the Facebook post showed protesters walking calmly through a field carrying banners and signs. Video footage showed people standing together, backing up as police approached. The only supposedly aggressive acts that the sheriff’s department described in any specific form included that two arrows were shot towards law enforcement, one officer was spit on, and that a drone that protesters were using to monitor police activity “attacked” a helicopter.

On Sunday, the Morton County Sheriff called for additional law-enforcement personnel from outside North Dakota. Officers from at least six other states—Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana, and Nebraska—have arrived so far. In his call for more resources, the sheriff cited “escalated unlawful tactics by individuals protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.” State and local officials also requested, and received, temporary flight restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration in a seven-mile radius around the protest camps, which may be an attempt to keep away news helicopters, as it was during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri.


Mountain Lion ‘P45’ Suspected Of Killing Miniature Horse

Barbara Lyons considered her miniature horse named Marco Polo part of her family.
“Marco was the sweetest one, shyest one.” Barbara Lyons said. When Marco was missing from his pen at a Malibu Ranch over the weekend, Lyons thought he was stolen. On Tuesday, the horse’s body was found near his pen, killed but not eaten. Evidence shows it was attacked by a mountain lion.
“I just hope he didn’t suffer,” Lyons said. A spokesman with the Department of Fish and Game says about a half-dozen mountain lions are known to live along the Santa Monica mountain range. Any one of them could be to blame, but the one known as P45 is the prime suspect because he’s known to roam the area. A Malibu rancher says P45 recently killed some of his llamas and alpacas. Fish and Game officials say there have been a normal number of mountain lion attacks this year, about once or twice a month. However, they say they have never seen a miniature horse attack...more

Forest Service lifting closure after bear attack

Forest officials have decided to reopen an area where a man was attacked by a grizzly bear twice in one morning...The area was closed after Todd Orr was mauled twice during a morning elk scouting trip nearly three weeks ago. Orr recounted the events in posts on his Facebook page, writing that he ran into a sow grizzly and two cubs. The sow charged him once, biting and scratching him. Then, as he walked away, he was attacked again. Minutes after the attack, the blood-streaked Orr posted a video to Facebook and explained what had happened. Millions watched the video. Just a few weeks before Orr’s encounter, there were reports of a hunting group running into and shooting at a bear with one cub. Officials were unable to determine whether Orr ran into the same bear or a different bear...more

Judge rules Madison Valley trail is public

A federal judge sided with the U.S. Forest Service this week in a lawsuit over a trail dispute in the Madison Valley, ruling that a trail that partially crosses private lands is public. U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon ruled that there was a public prescriptive easement — meaning an easement that isn’t in writing — on a trail that crosses the Wonder Ranch, a property south of Cameron near the Indian Creek Canyon...The trail in question begins on an adjacent ranch, passes through the Wonder Ranch and continues on to the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area. No motorized use is allowed on the trail. Court documents say the landowners’ spat with the Forest Service began when the owners of the Wonder Ranch put up gates and signs that asked people to dismount horses and leash their dogs while passing through the property. Court documents say they put up another sign sometime between 2007 and 2009, saying access was given “by gratuitous permission of the landowner.” The Forest Service asked the owners to take down the signs and leave the gates open. The dismount and leash signs were removed, but not the one claiming access was given by permission of the landowner. Forest officials in 2011 filed a document with Madison County asserting that the trail was public. In response, the owners of the Wonder Ranch filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service in 2014. The suit argued that the agency’s claim of a public prescriptive easement had “no validity whatsoever,” citing a 2004 letter from the then district ranger saying that there wasn’t an easement on the property. But after two years of dueling motions, a trial and a judge’s tour of the property, the court sided with the Forest Service. Haddon’s opinion says records of the trail go as far back as 1888, and that it was included in a 1940 Forest Service map as trail No. 328. He went on to write about the cavalcade of users the trail has seen, from ranchers moving livestock along the trail as it crosses the property in the ’30s and ’40s to the hunters and hikers that have been using the trail in increasing number since the 1980s. Haddon wrote that during the warm seasons in the 1990s, the trail saw between 10 and 20 users a day. That established that the trail saw ample and varied use, but part of the case hinged on whether the trail users asked for permission. If trail users were consistently asking the landowner for permission, it would show that the landowner was actually granting access by “gratuitous permission,” as claimed by the sign they put up. But Haddon wrote that the majority of trail users didn’t ask for permission. Ranchers trailing livestock in the last century did so without asking permission and a number of outfitters, hunters and hikers using the public lands accessed by the trail did so without asking permission, supporting the argument that the trail was public. Haddon wrote that it didn’t matter if the landowners “waved, said hello or served them lunch” — they were accessing a trail they believed to be public...more

Rancher Associations work with BLM to fight fires

The Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Department of Lands hope to improve relations and firefighting efforts with ranchers in east Idaho. Eight Rangeland Fire Protection Associations have sprung up in many western regions of the gem state with just one so far in north eastern Idaho near Dubois. These associations allow trained ranchers in a rangeland to provide a quick initial attack on wildfires. A program like this would have benefited ranchers who wanted to fight the Henry's Creek Fire but couldn't due to lack of training and proper protective gear. "The RFPA's(Rangeland Fire Protection Associations) allow a channel for those landowners and ranchers to assist us in ways that they want to while also meeting our expectations of safety and communication" said Jesse Bender, Fire Information and Education Specialist. The Idaho Department of Land is hoping to create two new associations in east Idaho, one east of Idaho Falls and the other near Rockland.  KPVI

55 % of Farmers and Ranchers in Agri-Pulse Polll Support Trump

With your Agri-Business Update I’m Susan Allen. Agri-Pulse one of most trusted farm and rural policy sources in Washington, D.C. conducted a new nationwide poll from Oct. 15-18 on how farmers and ranchers will vote in the presidential election. 55 percent of those surveyed in say they'll support Donald Trump while 18 percent are throwing their support behind Democratic Hillary Clinton. Only 2 percent plan to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and just 1 percent for the Green Party's Jill Stein. 15 percent of respondents said they were undecided and 8 percent refused to answer. Trump attracted 59 percent of the male and 37 percent of female voters, while Clinton drew support from 15 percent of the males and 33 percent of the females. Some 18 percent of the female respondents said they were undecided. The GOP nominee scored particularly well in two battleground states, with support from 68 percent of the farmers and ranchers in Ohio and 58 percent in Florida. The Agri-Pulse Poll, conducted by Aimpoint Research reached out to commercial operations of 200 acres or more. When asked if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country, a whopping 86 percent said they were “somewhat” or “very dissatisfied.” Indicating uptick from another Agri-Pulsepoll conducted in late January of this year.

Literary Las Vegas: Bruce Borgos

Bruce Borgos, a 50-year Nevada resident, began researching his first novel more than 15 years ago. He was intrigued by news stories about Nevada ranchers, like Cliff Gardner, who were fighting federal control. When an armed standoff erupted between cattlemen and the Bureau of Land Management in 2014, Borgos reworked his work-in-progress to reflect current events. The result was “Holding Fire.”


It feels like six people and a dog in a phone booth.

Heavy, gray smoke envelops us. Visibility zero. “Hang onto something!” the pilot commands us, struggling to get us off the ground. I look to the back as I buckle into the seat. There isn’t a whole lot for them to grab. Jordan has her arms wrapped around Natty. Rodney has one hand on Pal and one hand on the back of the pilot’s seat. John Henry has worked a hand through the cargo netting. As we lift off, we manage to gain a little height, maybe 30 or 40 feet, but the heat and wind from the fire below us has us bucking and rolling, and just as quickly we’re almost on the ground again. And then back up in the air. The rear rotor warning light appears on the panel in front of us, followed by a loud alarm.

Christ, this isn’t working. I look out the window and down, but there is nothing on the mountain top but fire and smoke. He can’t dip us over the edge of the ridgeline either because he can’t see the treetops that surround us through all the smoke. Only place to go is straight up.

“We’re still too heavy!” the pilot yells. “I can’t get altitude!”

Well, crap.

I twist in the seat and turn back to John Henry. “Pass me whatever is left!”


Song of the Day - Cowboy Reunion Special - 5 Tunes - 1964

A repeat from last years' reunion: For the NMSU Cowboy Reunion.  1964 Part 1  Roger Miller - Chug Uh Lug, Buck Owens - My Heart Skips A Beat, Connie Smith - Once A Day, Stonewall Jackson - BJ The DJ, Marty Robbins - Cowboy In A Continental Suit.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Federal judge dismisses a juror for 'good cause' in Oregon standoff trial

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown summoned the jury in the Oregon standoff trial Wednesday morning to Courtroom 9A and dismissed one of the jurors on the panel, a day after another juror had sent the court a note questioning the man's ability to be impartial in deliberations. She immediately had her deputy summon an alternate juror, selected randomly from numbers in a cup, to be ready to join the jury in federal court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The judge's decision came after she proposed the solution, saying she found "good cause'' to dismiss the juror but would only do so if both the prosecution and defense teams agreed to his release. If not, she said she'd likely have to question each juror, which could "run afoul'' of federal rules that prohibit the court from inquiring about their "mental processes'' in jury deliberations. After about a 15-minute break, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight announced his team would agree with defense lawyers to dismiss the juror. "I've determined Juror 11 needs to be excused,'' the judge told the jury moments later, citing the "interests of justice'' and to ensure the case isn't jeopardized by the court's deeper questioning of jurors to figure out the fuller context of Juror 4's note. Brown expects to give the new panel, now made up of nine women and three men, jury instructions again. Alternate juror No. 18, a woman from central Oregon who works as a legal assistant for a state public defender and family law attorney, will join the remaining 11 jurors Thursday morning. "You need to start over with that alternate juror,'' the judge told the remaining jurors. The judge said they must "set aside the conclusions'' they've drawn, destroy any verdict forms they were given and clean up the jury room so the new panel can start afresh. "It's a new jury, a new day, a new start,'' Brown said. Brown had arrived in court Wednesday morning with her own proposed plan and noted that Ammon Bundy's lawyer had filed a motion asking the court to either dismiss the juror, question the other members of the jury panel or declare a mistrial. The judge thanked Juror 11 for his service and told him his dismissal does not mean he's done "anything wrong or anything untoward.'' "But the problem is, a question was raised and it can't be resolved without me questioning every one of you about your deliberative process,'' the judge said, and that's unacceptable and could violate federal rules. The jurors sat stone-faced, displaying no visible emotion. They were allowed to leave for the day by noon Wednesday, ordered to return Thursday morning...more

More on the dismissal of Juror #11

...Although Brown initially said the juror in question could still serve, she changed her decision Wednesday morning after the prosecution and all seven defense teams reached an agreement on the matter. Juror No. 18, a paralegal from central Oregon, will take the dismissed juror’s place. After making her decision, Brown called the 12 jurors into the courtroom, telling them the only way to deal with the question of bias was to dismiss the juror. She told the jury they need to completely restart the deliberative process. “You’re going to have to set aside the conclusions you have and start over, just like when the case was handed to you,” Brown told the jurors. Neither the defense nor the prosecution knows where dismissed juror’s alleged bias falls — with the defense, which strongly advocated for his dismissal, or the prosecution, which initially opposed the idea of a dismissal. Marcus Mumford, the attorney for occupation leader Ammon Bundy, spoke about that lingering question. “I’m racked with self-doubt (that this juror may have been on the defense’s side), but when it comes down to it, you have to be confident in your case, in your cause and in the presentation that you’ve been able to make and in justice,” Mumford said. Earlier in the day, Mumford asked Brown to dismiss the juror or declare a mistrial...more

Judge Brown agrees to dismiss juror 11

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Judge Anna Brown on Wednesday morning agreed to dismiss a juror in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff case whose impartiality has come into question. The juror will be replaced with an alternate and the jury will start deliberations from the beginning...more


Ammon Bundy: Dismiss juror or mistrial

Embedded below is the motion filed by attorneys for Bundy which asks that juror #11 be dismissed or that a mistrial be declared.  Otherwise, they argue, the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to impartial jurors and a "fair trial" will have been violated.

Federal magistrate takes Beef Checkoff under advisement

Federal Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston heard arguments for 55 minutes Tuesday from attorneys representing the activist legal fund R-CALF USA and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the Beef Checkoff program. Judge Johnston of the U.S. District Court in Montana then took his range of options under advisement. R-CALF wants him to grant a temporary restraining order while Secretary Vilsack believes the challenge to the Beef Checkoff should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or for failure to state a claim. R-CALF would also settle for a preliminary injunction. R-CALF, with the long formal name of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, is a Billings, MT-based organization for independent cattle and sheep producers. It sued the secretary May 2, “alleging that the United States Department of Agriculture turns over proceeds from a federal tax on each sale of cattle to the private Montana Beef Council, to fund the council’s private speech, harming R-CALF USA’s members.” It said “the government-compelled subsidy of the speech of a private entity, which is not effectively controlled by the government, is unconstitutional under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and should be enjoined.” The R-CALF lawsuit, however, revisits some of the the same ground as a 2005 challenge to the Beef Checkoff program that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found the $1 per head charge for industry marketing and research funds “government speech,” not the commercial speech of individuals...more

New deadline for Mexican gray wolf recovery plan leaves conservationists wondering whether science or politics will prevail

The slogan spotted on signs outside New Mexico Game Commission meetings, on bumper stickers around the state and quoted by conservationists reads: More wolves, less politics. Whether that’s what conservationists find when the US Fish and Wildlife Service releases a long-awaited recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves remains to be seen. A federal district court judge signed off this month on a settlement stemming from a lawsuit filed against the federal wildlife management agency over the ongoing absence of a formal recovery plan for this most rare subspecies of wolf. Now the agency has a deadline of Nov. 30, 2017 for completing that plan. “We hope this is a turning point in the race to save the Mexican wolf—a unique, beautiful animal of the American Southwest—from extinction,” Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement issued shortly after the court decision was announced on Oct. 18. For 40 years, Mexican wolves have hovered in a sort of recovery limbo—an endangered species managed as an “experimental population.” That designation extended more flexibility to land managers on behalf of ranchers to remove and kill wolves when they interfered with or killed cattle, but conservationists argue the leeway has given too much room to the livestock industry and leaves wolves at risk of extinction. Both sides have called for an updated plan for how the species is managed, but the process has stalled out often over state objections and disagreements over how to deploy, as the Endangered Species Act mandates, the “best available science.” The plan is subject to an independent peer review before its completion, and plaintiffs, including Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center and the states of Arizona and Utah, will be updated every six months between now and the deadline, according to the settlement terms. The public will also have a chance to review the plan before it’s finalized. The state of New Mexico had at one point joined the list of plaintiffs, but dropped out of the settlement, calling the deadline too hasty...more

Legal experts give their analysis of jury questions from Oregon standoff trial

Tuesday's stunning development in the Oregon standoff trial - with one juror questioning another juror's impartiality in a note to the court - coupled with another jury question about what to do if unanimous decisions can't be reached on certain defendants and their charges - led to plenty of legal speculation on what it all means. The fact that jurors asked what to do if they're able to "agree on a verdict for 3 of the defendants but are at a standoff for the others,'' had defense lawyers in the federal conspiracy trial buoyed with optimism that they may have raised some reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds regarding four of the seven defendants. Defense lawyer Matthew Schindler, a standby counsel for defendant Kenneth Medenbach, sent out a message on Twitter shortly afterwards that read, "Some of the defendants almost certainly acquitted.'' While the parties agreed to have the judge respond with a message to jurors that if they are unable to reach an unanimous decision and are satisfied that additional deliberations will not change that status, then they should report that to the court. If the jury can't come to agreement on a certain criminal count, the court could declare a "hung jury,'' on that count, and the charge could be retried. But it was the second juror question that presented even more of a quandry for the court: "Can a juror, a former employee of the Bureau of Land Management, who opens their remarks in deliberations by stating, 'I am very biased...' be considered an impartial judge in this case?'' While the judge Tuesday questioned Juror 11, the former BLM employee, if anything had changed since jury selection when he said his former job as a BLM ranch tech and firefighter "20 years ago,'' wouldn't impact his ability to fairly weigh the evidence in this case, he said no. But the simple presence of a former employee of the federal land management agency on the jury had some legal observers scratching their hands as to why he was allowed to serve in the first place. Lewis & Clark Law Prof. Tung Yin said he was curious why the defense didn't use a "peremptory strike'' to knock this man off the jury during the voir dire process. The lawyers are due back in court Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. Judge Brown said she'd consider defense requests to ask any other questions of Juror 11, or Juror 4, who raised the question about juror impartiality, based on supporting case law they can cite. Andrew Chongseh Kim, a Concordia University law professor, said keeping the jury as is in the Bundy trial deliberations could lay grounds for an appeal if there are convictions. "The easiest way to avoid an appeal by the defense would be to replace Juror 11 with an alternate juror,'' Kim said. "The prosecution, however, would likely object that this would be interfering with the jury in the middle of deliberations.'' Yet Yin said the judge's query of Juror 11 and finding that he can be fair and impartial is a finding that would be "very difficult to challenge successfully on appeal.'' Other legal observers said the jury questions indicates there's some dissension or discord among the jurors, which is not welcome news for prosecutors. Removing a juror that could be favorable to the prosecution could alter the deliberations, yet leaving the juror who allegedly cited his own bias at start of deliberations could leave the potential for a future appeal, they said...more

Ammon Bundy's personal bodyguard sentenced to time served, 9 months

Ammon Bundy's personal bodyguard, Brian Cavalier, was sentenced Tuesday to the time he's already served in custody - exactly 9 months in jail - for conspiring to impede federal workers and having guns in a federal facility during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Cavalier, 45, a broad-shouldered, sturdy man who goes by the nickname "Booda,'' stood before U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown, as a jury five floors down in the federal courthouse in downtown Portland continued to deliberate on the same federal conspiracy charge that Ammon Bundy and six other co-defendants, who went to trial, face. Cavalier, wearing blue jail scrubs, said nothing and showed no emotion. "You've fulfilled the custody provision of the sentence,'' Brown told him. Cavalier remains under a U.S. Marshals Service hold, and is expected to be transferred to Nevada, where he faces another federal indictment stemming from the 2014 armed standoff with federal agents outside controversial rancher Cliven Bundy's ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Don't have time to make new videos this week. Here is one of my first: Grandpa Jones - I'm No Communist (1952)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Judge Rules Juror Questioned Over Bias Will Continue In Malheur Case

...During questioning Tuesday, the juror told Brown he stood by his statements during jury selection that his previous employment would not bias his decision in the case. Brown ruled she would allow the juror to continue in deliberations. She told defense attorneys if they wanted to further question the juror’s continued participation, they would need to submit relevant legal arguments by Wednesday morning...more

This is an update to the previous post

Malheur Jurors Question Impartiality Of Fellow Jury Member

Federal prosecutors and the attorneys for seven defendants in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge trial reconvened Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Portland.
Jurors submitted two questions to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown. In a hand-written note, the jurors indicated they may not be able to agree on charges for all seven of the defendants.
In a hand written note to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, the jurors indicated they may not be able to agree on charges for all seven of the defendants.
In a hand written note to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, the jurors indicated they may not be able to agree on charges for all seven of the defendants.
Amelia Templeton/OPB
“If we are able to agree on a verdict for 3 of the defendants; but are at a stand off for the others, does our decision for the three stand? Or does this become a mistrial for all the defendants?” the jurors wrote in the note.
“Conversely if we are able to agree on a decision for 10 out of the 13 charges does that decision stand or does it become a mistrial?” the note from the jury continued. “As an example … If we find a defendant guilty of count one, but can’t agree on count two what happens?”
In a separate note, the jury also raised questions about the impartiality of one of its members.
In a note to U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, the jury raised questions about the impartiality of one of its members. Brown has sent a note back to the jury asking them for clarification.
In a note to U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, the jury raised questions about the impartiality of one of its members. Brown has sent a note back to the jury asking them for clarification.
Amelia Templeton/OPB
“Can a juror, a former employee of the Bureau of Land Management, who opens their remarks in deliberations by stating ‘I am very biased …’ be considered an impartial judge in this case?” the second note from the jury read.
Brown has sent a note back to the jury asking them for clarification.
“Jurors, before I can respond to your question about the instructions,” she said, “I need to address the other question sent to me.”
The juror was later identified as juror No. 11. Jurors were allowed to continue deliberations as the issue was resolved.
“We ask that he simply be dismissed,” Per Olson, David Fry’s defense attorney, said in court.
“I can’t do that” Brown said.
“If we do not get to the bottom of this statement that was allegedly made, we are inviting a mistrial,” said Marcus Mumford, defense attorney for Ammon Bundy.
Prosecutors argued the judge should ignore the second question.
“It’s the government’s position that it is not appropriate to respond to this at this stage,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight.
Brown eventually said she would bring Knight, Mumford and Olsen into her chambers to question juror No. 11 about his statements during jury selection, specifically whether or not his previous employment with the BLM would influence his decision in the case...more at OPB News

Star turn for 'relentlessly mundane' prosecutor

The two lead lawyers in the trial of the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge could not be more different. On one side is standoff leader Ammon Bundy's attorney, Marcus Mumford, who has tussled with the judge, asked inappropriate questions and been threatened with being held in contempt. Short and stocky and speaking with a severe stutter, he also frequently wears cowboy boots and rumpled suits in court. On the other is prosecutor Ethan Knight. Tall and lean, the assistant U.S. attorney is partial to Brooks Brothers suits and pocket squares. He speaks with a commanding and clear voice — "almost like he's yelling at someone who is deaf," one former boss said — and is known for being ethical and hardworking. And as the jury deliberates in the trial of seven occupiers who are charged with conspiring to impede federal officials during the 41-day standoff last winter, Knight is poised to secure convictions in two of the highest-profile cases in Portland, Ore.'s history. In 2013, he led the prosecution of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-American who was convicted of trying to detonate a car bomb during Portland's 2010 holiday tree-lighting ceremony. That case and the Malheur trial have established Knight as a rising legal star in Oregon at the age of 42, said Tung Yin, a Lewis & Clark Law School professor who knows Knight. "The fact that they've put him as the lead prosecutor on the two most noteworthy cases since I've been here in Oregon suggests he's seen as the go-to guy in complex terrorism cases," Yin said. Knight, according to his former bosses and colleagues, seems to have been born to be a federal prosecutor. Knight attended Duke University and then the University of Oregon School of Law, where he was a moot court champion. He delivered a commencement address on civility in law and society. Amanda Marshall, who was Knight's boss as a former U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said she judged him during those early competitions. He even stood out then, she said. "He was one of those guys that as a college debater, you could tell this kid is super bright," Marshall said...more

Dakota Protesters Now Occupying Private Property, Citing 150 Year-Old Treaty

American Indians are occupying huge plots of private land near the Dakota Access Pipeline, claiming they own the property based on a nearly 165-year-old treaty. The company building the nearly 1,200 mile-long oil pipeline has purchased large tracts of land, relying on eminent domain to construct routes four states from North Dakota, to Iowa, to Illinois. It was not known who owns the occupied land. Protesters associated with the anti-oil protest told reporters Monday that the land is theirs under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. Tribes have challenged the treaty and others like it in court for not being honored. “We have never ceded this land. If Dakota Access Pipeline can go through and claim eminent domain on landowners and Native peoples on their own land, then we as sovereign nations can then declare eminent domain on our own aboriginal homeland,” Joye Braun, spokeswoman for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a press statement. Federal officials are not evicting protesters hunkered down at an encampment near the highly controversial Dakota Access Oil pipeline. They believe booting the protesters would harm free speech rights, despite the fact that the land is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Liberal activists and politicians’ decision to hold back criticism of the tribe’s occupation is unusual given the amount of publicity and criticisms they hurled at another group of land rights activists in Oregon...more

Refuge Occupier Ryan Payne Explains Why He Wants To Reverse Guilty Plea

When Ryan Payne took a plea deal in July in the case against the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, it was an important win for the prosecution: Payne was considered one of the strategic leaders of the 41-day occupation. But earlier this month, Payne asked the court to reverse his plea from guilty to not guilty. Payne, 33, is an electrician and Army Veteran from Anaconda, Montana, who has been characterized as a tactical leader in the occupation. Prosecutors say he and Ammon Bundy went to Harney County in November and December and met with Sheriff Dave Ward to present their "redress of grievances." Prosecutors also said Payne and Bundy demanded that Ward provide a safe haven for ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond, to prevent them from having to report to federal prison. The plea deal Payne originally struck with prosecutors recommended he spend somewhere between 41 and 51 months in prison. He was facing a conspiracy charge that carries a maximum of six years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition to conspiracy and weapons charges related to the Oregon occupation, Payne also faces a slew of criminal counts tied to the 2014 standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada. He hasn’t entered a plea for those charges yet. Payne agreed to answer OPB's questions by phone from the Southern Nevada Detention Center, where he is being held without bail. Payne said that he didn’t have much time to reflect upon and consider the Oregon plea deal, and that he was under "duress and pressure" from the government. "I succumbed to that duress and pressure," he said. "And I was able to regather my wit, mostly through my faith in the Creator … that the people will be the righteous judges." In his Oct. 11 motion to withdraw the plea, Payne’s attorney Rich Federico argued the foundation of the Oregon deal was an assumption that Payne and the government would also reach a deal in Nevada. That apparently fell through...more

Why the Law Turns a Blind Eye to Militias


Read Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer's undercover look at the right-wing militia movement.

When Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer signed up to train with a militia group in California last spring, he came equipped with woodland camo, combat boots, and a semi-automatic rifle. On a mountainside outside the San Francisco Bay Area, he joined other similarly armed recruits. Over the course of several trainings, they learned about marksmanship, land navigation, patrolling, rappelling, radio communication, and code language. They also learned how to hold defensive positions and set up bases.

The group Bauer joined was the California State Militia (CSM), which describes itself as a collection of "concerned citizen soldiers" seeking to defend America from all enemies, foreign and domestic. CSM doesn't conceal its activities; it shares photos of its trainings on Facebook. In March, CSM's Bravo Company posted snapshots of camo-clad militia members gathered in the woods, setting up camp and aiming their rifles among the towering pines. "We had fun, built stronger relationships and ate great," one member wrote on the Facebook page.

These military-style trainings have no connection to the US military or a government-sponsored militia. Yet they are legal so long as they don't cross the line into inciting violence or civil unrest. Under California law, it is illegal for a "paramilitary organization" to train with weapons if it engages in "instruction or training in guerrilla warfare or sabotage." Violators are subject to one year of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000. When I asked the California attorney general's office if there was any reason to believe that CSM's activities might violate state law, a spokeswoman said the office was unable to provide any legal analysis and declined to comment further.

Nationwide, 41 states have laws that place restrictions on private paramilitary activity. The laws fall into two categories: those that limit or regulate private military groups and those that limit or regulate private military training. The penalties vary. In Idaho, training people in ways to maim or kill with the intent to further "civil disorder" is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or up to a $50,000 fine. In Pennsylvania, training people to use guns or bombs with intent to further civil disorder is a first-degree misdemeanor. Arizona law forbids anyone besides the government from maintaining "troops under arms"; doing so is a class 5 felony—a minor crime comparable to improperly storing used tires.

...Some anti-paramilitary laws have been around since the Reconstruction Era, when they were intended to prevent the reemergence of Confederate armies. Many have their roots in the 1980s, when hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan began running training camps. The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors extremist activity, was so alarmed by these reports that it drew up model anti-paramilitary legislation, and over the next decade, 24 states passed restrictions on paramilitary activity. The new ordinances were enforced against white supremacists in a few scattered cases.

Bundy Supporters Rally Outside Federal Courthouse As Jury Deliberates

Jurors in the Malheur refuge trial deliberated for a second day without having reached a verdict. Outside the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Portland on Monday, a group of occupation supporters — and some of the defendants in the case — gathered to waive American flags and make signs. John Lamb stood in a light rain on the corner of SW Main Street and 3rd Avenue, roasting hotdogs on grill. “We’re waiting on a deliberation to get an answer,” the Bozeman, Montana, man said. Deliberations began last Thursday before jurors left for the long weekend. Outside the courthouse stood a half-dozen American flags and a red sign instructing the jury to ignore the law if they disagree with it — a message encouraging jury nullification. Near a man handing out free pocket Constitutions in Chapman Square, defendants Shawna Cox, Jeff Banta and Duane Ehmer also stood in support. During the occupation, Ehmer was well known for riding his horse “Hellboy” around the Malheur refuge...more

Cliven Bundy Arranges Details With New Attorney

Cliven Bundy has until Wednesday to iron out details to make Bret Whipple his new attorney for his criminal trial in Las Vegas, a federal magistrate judge ruled. U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen set the deadline on Friday. She previously cautioned Bundy against gratuitously changing attorneys to establish grounds for an appeal. Whipple is to replace Joel Hansen, who needs neck and back surgery, and 12 weeks of recovery time. Whipple was not present at the Friday hearing, and had attorney Jeb Bond address the court. Bond said Whipple was busy obtaining information in Oregon and Washington and asked for more time to complete details of the attorney transfer. Leen scheduled a tentative hearing for 2 p.m. Wednesday. If an agreement is complete before then and filed with the court, the hearing will be vacated...more

Greens ready for big laughs after election

Environmentalists are readying for a big night of comedy a day after the presidential election. The Natural Resources Defense Council will be holding its annual Night of Comedy on Nov. 9, about 24 hours after the big showdown between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The comedy gala, being held in New York, is used as a way to inspire donors to be extra generous in the coming year in helping to fund the group's environmental advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This year would-be donors are being given the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to the Big Apple to see the show, featuring "Late Night" host Seth Myers, who will be hosting the night of stand-up. Also on the bill is former "Daily Show" comedian John Oliver, who now has his own show on HBO, and comedian Sarah Silverman. For a minimum $10 donation, anyone can enter the drawing for a chance to win two tickets to the show, a pass to the after-party with the cast, as well as airfare to New York City and one night's hotel accommodation. The added incentive for donating early, and winning a chance at a limited number of tickets, is the promise of "very special guests" being announced soon. Who could that be? Al Gore? Leonardo DiCaprio? Clinton herself, perhaps? Who knows at this point...more

Protesters Allegedly Hold Journalists Hostage At Dakota Oil Pipeline Rally

Protesters allegedly intimidated and held a crew of journalists hostage Tuesday at one of the Dakota oil pipeline protests in North Dakota. Activists associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests threatened to slash journalists Phelm McAleer and Magdalena Segieda’s tires and seize their filming equipment. The two reporters were conducting interviews at the Sacred Stone Camp where protesters have gathered to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline. Federal officials are refusing to evict those hunkered down at the anti-pipeline encampments near the highly controversial, $3.8 billion project. Officials believe booting the protesters would harm free speech rights, despite the fact that the land is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Someone out of the blue started attacking, tried to steel our microphone,” McAleer told The Daily Caller News Foundation, prompting his crew to flea to their vehicle as protesters followed close behind. The protesters then pounced on the vehicle, pounding on its windows and demanding the crew inside turn around and head toward the press tent so they could confiscate McAleer’s camera footage...more

Top University Stole Millions From Taxpayers By Faking Global Warming Research

A global warming research center at the London School of Economics got millions of dollars from UK taxpayers by taking credit for research it didn’t perform, an investigation by The Daily Mail revealed. The UK government gave $11 million dollars to the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) in exchange for research that the organization reportedly never actually did. Many papers CCCEP claimed to have published to get government money weren’t about global warming, were written before the organization was even founded, or were written by researchers unaffiliated with CCCEP. The government never checked CCCEP’s supposed publication lists, saying they were “taken on trust,” according to the report. “It is serious misconduct to claim credit for a paper you haven’t supported, and it’s fraud to use that in a bid to renew a grant,” Professor Richard Tol, a climate economics expert from Sussex University whose research was reportedly stolen by CCCEP, told The Daily Mail. “I’ve never come across anything like it before. It stinks.”...more

UN Climate Conference Bans Skeptical Journalists

It is one of the stock hypocrisies of United Nations climate careerists, that while deploring carbon-emitting travel by everyone else, they have turned the UN into a prodigious generator of long, lavish and frequent "climate-change" conferences, held in enticing or exotic locales worldwide -- in places such as Bali, Rio, Cancun and Paris. From around the globe, participants board airliners (many of their tickets subsidized by your tax dollars) and carbon-emit their way to the next jamboree. From these grand climate shindigs, UN officials emerge to promise that if we'll just trust them to allocate a couple of things of ever-expanding scope -- for instance, the wealth of the developed world and the energy flows of the planet -- they will aim over the next century or so to fine-tune the temperature of the earth to within a few decimal points of where it was on Al Gore's 60th birthday...or something like that. It's the kind of performance that needs a skeptical eye, and full access by an independent press. It should be cause for great alarm when the conference authorities start walling out any reporters they suspect might dissent from UN climate doctrine. Which is exactly what's going on. Next month, from Nov. 7-18, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is planning a huge conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. The UNFCCC has approved press passes for some 3,000 journalists who wish to cover this event. But it seems that dissenters from UN dogma need not apply. The UNFCCC has refused accreditation to a Canadian media outlet, The Rebel Media, home to The Ezra Levant Show (full disclosure: I have been an occasional guest on this show, discussing topics including the UN). Why did the UNFCCC refuse to accredit Rebel Media? Apparently because Rebel Media just couldn't be relied upon to echo whatever propaganda the UN might put out. In an interview with Canada's CBC Radio, UNFCCC spokesperson Nick Nuttall suggested that The Rebel's cardinal sin was Levant's dissent from UN climate doctrine. Referring to Levant, Nuttall said: "I don't see what he's actually reporting, you know, as being particularly helpful."...more

‘Impossible’ Meat-Free Hamburger Debuts At Upscale S.F. Restaurants

It looks like a burger, smells like a burger and even bleeds like one. So, where’s the beef? There’s no animal protein in the Impossible Burger, which made its debut on the San Francisco dining scene Thursday. The idea is to mimic meat so closely that you might not realize it isn’t a traditional hamburger patty. The Impossible Burger is available at two S.F. restaurants — Cockscomb and Jardiniere. Some local vegetarians went to both on Thursday. Luke Ianni hasn’t eaten meat for twenty years, so the taste threw him. “It was so good that I was kinda grossed out, it was amazingly good,” he said. Like so many things high-tech, the product comes from a Silicon Valley company, Impossible Foods. It took five years and $190 million to get it right. The not-so-secret ingredient is a molecule called heme, which is a component of hemoglobin, the red pigment in blood...more

Song of the Day

One of my favorites, Benny Barnes performing Go On, Go On.  Recorded in Nashville, 1961.  The Westerner

Monday, October 24, 2016


A project, plus getting ready for NMSU Cowboy Reunion II and the 6th annual Frank DuBois Bronc Riding and Calf Roping, will limit my time to blog this week. Check in though, as I'll do the best I can.

Ranchers rally

The flames of the Cottonwood Fire that blazed through western South Dakota have been tamed, and in the ashes of the now charred rangeland, the ranching community is banding together to help one another. Grady Crew ranches with his family near Wall, S.D., and his pastures were in the direct path of the fire that burned around 65 square miles on Sunday, Oct. 16. Officials declared the fire completely contained by 8 p.m. Tuesday, but have remained on-scene in the days since to monitor the area and prevent any flare-ups. “We have 20 quarters of land in Forest Service permits, and every single acre burnt except for 80,” said Crew. “We lost 30 cows and 20 calves, and I think we will end up losing a few more that were burned marginally bad and now have bad udders and eye problems. We lost corrals, water tanks and virtually all of our fences.” In addition to precious grass and cattle being lost, miles of fence lines were also destroyed. “Every fence is gone; it’s unfathomable,” said Crew. “Miles of fence will need to be rebuilt, and that’s a daunting task — both financially and the labor required to put up new fence. Some of these fences go back to the homestead days; this is generations of hard work lost in one afternoon.”...more

Bill would end longstanding ban on bikes in U.S. wilderness

More than 100 million acres of America's most rugged landscapes designated as wilderness are off-limits to mountain bikers. But two Utah senators have introduced legislation that would allow bikers to join hikers and horseback riders in those scenic, undisturbed areas. The proposal is controversial within the biking community and opposed by conservationists who say bikes would erode trails and upset the five-decade notion of wilderness as primitive spaces. The bill from U.S. Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, both Utah Republicans, would give local officials with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and other federal management agencies two years to decide in each wilderness area if bikes will be allowed. If no decision is made within two years, the bike ban would be lifted in that area. The legislation comes from somewhat unlikely sponsors. Hatch and Lee both represent Utah, where outdoor recreation and mountain biking are big business, but are supporters of the GOP state's push to take over public lands controlled by the federal government — something environmentalists and outdoor recreation groups oppose. Lee, who said he's a former mountain biker, said his bill takes on what he sees as another overreaching federal regulation that hamstrings locals, and that there's no evidence that mountain bike tires cause any more erosion than hikers do. At issue is a part of the 1964 Wilderness Act restricting the use of "mechanical transport" — bikes, all-terrain vehicles and cars — in those 100-plus million wilderness acres in 44 states. It's the only blanket ban on bicycling in the federal public lands system. The ban on "mechanical transport" doesn't include wheelchairs, which are allowed as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Lee notes that skis, rock-climbing gear and kayaks, which are also allowed, "arguably involve some type of mechanical action" and help people move about. While mountain biking wasn't a popular sport when the law was passed, the bikes will alter the character of those spaces and are tough on trails, said Alan Rowsome with The Wilderness Society, a Washington, D.C.-based conservation group. Rowsome said that only about 10 percent to 12 percent of all U.S. public lands are protected under the Wilderness Act, one of "the bedrock environmental laws we have in this country" setting aside some areas as sacrosanct...more

Conservation Groups Sue to Protect the Forest-Dwelling Fisher

In yet another legal action against the federal agency responsible for protecting endangered wildlife, conservation groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to protect fishers. A member of the weasel family, the fisher is native to North America’s forests. It has a range covering a great deal of Canada and the northern United States. Due to its size and habitat, the fisher has few natural predators in the wild. In fact, the biggest threat fishers currently face is as a result of human activity. For over ten years, environmental groups have urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to examine the fisher’s status. They claim that the species faces threats from logging, as well as rodenticide use and incidental capture in fur traps. While the population has appeared relatively stable in some areas, other studies have indicated a growing problem. As a result of consistent campaigning, the Fish and Wildlife service has periodically considered the status of fishers. Most recently — in April of 2016 — the service announced that based on its own review of scientific evidence, the fisher’s current status was not as threatened as had previously been thought. Therefore, the agency concluded that fishers did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. Four conservation groups are now challenging that decision in a suit filed with the Northern District of California San Francisco Division...more

Landmark Settlement Reins in Rogue Federal Wildlife Killing Program

A federal court approved a groundbreaking settlement agreement between WildEarth Guardians and the federal wildlife killing program, Wildlife Services, late last week. The settlement comes over a year after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that WildEarth Guardians’ interests are injured by the program’s activities and the organization may challenge them in court. Under the settlement, Wildlife Services will conduct new environmental analyses in Nevada and across the nation, cease reliance on an old, largely debunked analysis and end killing activities on certain public lands. “This agreement means Wildlife Services can no longer rely on disproven ‘science’ to justify its cruel and ecologically unsound killing practices,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “We call on the program to use this opportunity to accept the clear science demonstrating that lethal control of native wildlife is ineffective and often counterproductive, and to adopt a coexistence mandate.” In August 2015, the Ninth Circuit held the program’s reliance on a twenty year old analysis, which itself relies on outdated and largely disproven decades old science, was not immune from environmental review. The settlement requires the program to no longer rely on the outdated 22-year-old Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The program will conduct a new environmental analysis of its activities in Nevada, and will update all analyses nationwide that rely on the 1994 PEIS. The program will also cease all killing activities in designated Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas in Nevada — over six million acres of public lands — at least until the new analysis is complete...more

Sheep industry criticizes H-2A rule changes

Federal reforms implemented a year ago haven’t enticed more domestic workers to take sheep industry jobs, say leaders of an organization that hires foreign labor for Western sheep ranchers. Instead, officials of the Twin Falls, Idaho-based Western Range Association believe the November 2015 rule changes to the H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program have become needlessly complicated and delayed approvals of badly needed workers. Henry Etcheverry, an Eastern Idaho Basque sheep rancher who started a three-year term as the association’s president in June, said his organization’s more than 200 sheep operations have collectively hired only two domestic workers since the changes were enacted. One worker was fired for being intoxicated on the job. The other never showed up for work. Sheep ranchers are required to advertise job openings before filling them with foreign H-2A workers, but Etcheverry finds the few locals who express interest are typically out for a “camping trip.” “It’s just a pipe dream,” Etcheverry said. “This government thinks there should be availability of (jobs) for domestic people, but domestic people don’t want to herd sheep — at least not for any period of time.” H-2A visas fill a critical labor need for U.S. agriculture. But Etcheverry said the application process is so complicated that most operations rely on outside help, such as the association. Etcheverry intends to visit with federal officials about the need for reforms during a November sheep producers’ convention in Sun Valley, Idaho. H-2A workers are allowed to work at a U.S. sheep ranch for up to three years, with their status renewed annually. According to a government fact sheet, the program changes improve administrative efficiencies and “promote greater consistency in the review of H-2A applications, provide workers employed in the U.S. with improved health benefits and protections and provide greater clarity for employers with respect to compliance of program requirements.” Sheep ranchers, however, say the federal government couldn’t keep pace with H-2A applications under the revised rules and failed to process renewals in time, forcing many operations to send workers home and then bear the expense of re-processing them and bringing them back. Castleford, Idaho, rancher Mike Guerry had to return 30 workers to Peru and Chile from January through March. He noted the new rules roughly double minimum wages for sheep workers over the next three years, though sheep prices are down. Other changes require operators to give each employee a cell phone and prohibit compensating workers who would rather use their own phones, restrict workers from cutting wood and restrict lodging and dining facilities from within 500 yards of a corral, though watching sheep is a key role of a sheepherder...more

Beef Checkoff goes on trial Tuesday in Montana

The Beef Checkoff is up Tuesday for a federal court hearing where anything could happen from dismissal of the challenging lawsuit to a temporary restraining order for the plaintiff’s. The Beef Checkoff refers to money for marketing and research, including food safety research, to promote the cattle industry. The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 gives the Secretary of Agriculture the power to impose a $1 per head charge each time cattle are sold. The latest challenge to the Beef Checkoff was filed May in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, MT. The Billings, MT, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund of the Stockgrowers of America – usually referred to as R-CALF, sued Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack over program details. The $1 per head Checkoff is split between a national fund, known as the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Fund, and a qualified state beef council (QSBC), in most states. R-CALF sued, claiming the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not have a “procedure by which a cattle producer who disagrees with the Montana Beef Council’s message.” However, attorneys for USDA said such a procedure does exist and there is an opt-out option that was found consistent with the First Amendment. In a 2005 Supreme Court case, promotions like those funded by the Montana Beef Council, were found to be “government speech” and therefore legal. R-CALF attorneys are telling Judge Morris that the Montana Beef Council is not sufficiently under USDA control for the 2005 standard to apply to it. The Supreme Court found that “compelled funding of government speech does not alone raise First Amendment concerns” and there is no right not to fund government speech...more

Wildlife biologists ramp up efforts to avert more wolf kills

Wildlife biologists regard the killing of four cattle in the Fort Klamath area of Klamath County as "unusual" and "disturbing," but they believe the wolves pose no threats to humans and the biologists are ramping up nonlethal efforts to stave off future livestock losses. Harming wolves is prohibited by federal law in the western two-thirds of Oregon, where wolves are protected as endangered species. "We don't even want to talk about lethal measures," said John Stephenson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist. "What we're trying to do is stop it with nonlethal measures. When you have a flurry of incidents, you don't jump to lethal measures." He believes the Rogue Pack, which includes the wolf known as OR-7, is responsible for the four confirmed kills. But none of the wolves in the pack, which includes OR-7's mate and wolves born the past three years, have radio collars that help track the location of wolves...more