Saturday, February 11, 2017

Rogue Federal Bureaucrats Threaten Trump’s Agenda

by Fred Lucas

Recent scandals in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service demonstrated that it’s almost impossible to fire federal employees, many of whom reportedly intend to go rogue by not implementing President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Conservatives are hopeful the time has come for civil service reform that would rein in this permanent class of government workers who have voiced outright hostility to the new administration. Some have even called it the “fourth branch of government” or “alt-government.”

...Among federal employees, about 95 percent of political contributions went to Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential race, according to an analysis by The Hill. Some of those federal workers are now in consultation with departed Obama administration officials to determine how they can push back against the Trump administration’s agenda, The Washington Post reported last week.

At the State Department, for example, nearly 1,000 government workers signed a letter protesting Trump’s executive order on refugees. A few days later, Trump had to fire acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she announced she wouldn’t defend the administration’s refugee policy.

During the Obama administration, two of its biggest scandals involved the IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2013, a Treasury Department inspector general report determined the IRS had been targeting conservative groups. In 2014, a VA inspector general’s report revealed falsified appointments in which some veterans died while waiting for care.

Years later, conservatives remain frustrated that federal workers weren’t held accountable.
“I will take your IRS employees and raise you the EPA, where story after story, a worker was viewing porn on work time and couldn’t be fired because the process is fraught with appeals,” Wilterdink said. “It’s hard to argue we have an accountable government when someone can’t be fired for years at a time.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. House revived the Holman Rule, named after a Democrat congressman who introduced it in 1876. It would allow lawmakers to cut the pay of individual federal workers or a government program.

There are other proposals for holding federal workers accountable. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced a bill in January to hold seriously tax delinquent people ineligible for federal civilian employment, federal contracts, or government grants. This bill was proposed in response to IRS data that found more than 100,000 federal civilian employees owed more than $1 billion in unpaid taxes at the end of fiscal year 2015.

Trump brings big change to climate policies

President Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress are working to undo President Obama’s actions on climate change, underlining what could be a major shift on a policy that affects the world. While it’s been just three weeks since Trump’s inauguration, the president has already issued memos to approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which were both blocked by Obama partly due to concerns about how they would contribute to climate change. Trump has also sought to limit regulations with another executive order, while the House has passed four measures under the Congressional Review Act to unwind Obama-era rules on energy. Two of those measures have also passed the Senate. On Capitol Hill, House Republicans are working to overhaul how the EPA uses science as part of an effort to roll back what they see as unjustifiable regulations. Tom Pyle, president of the right-leaning Institute for Energy Research, said Trump is likely to implement even more campaign promises soon. “The key will be getting an energy and environment team in place, and that includes the White House. And once the Senate Democrats get through their process of getting over the fact that they lost and letting these guys get in place and begin to implement the president’s agenda, there’s going to be much more activity,” said Pyle, who served on Trump’s transition team at the Energy Department...more

Tell NM Legislature to shoot down gun bills

by Randy Lynch

...This year, however, the Democrats won control of the House and Senate, and see our Republican governor as being too weak, unprincipled or just uninterested to resist them. I’m not sure they’re wrong, either. So, here comes a one-two punch against our rights in the form of House Bill 50 and Senate Bill 48.

Both bills are nearly identical and have cleared their respective committees with recommendations to pass. They’re designed to do something all Americans should oppose: inject government control deeper into our personal lives. Our society was built on the concept of limiting that kind of power in order to preserve more power for the individual, but we slip further away from that ideal every time we pass laws like this.

...With these bills, if you own a firearm, you cannot just sell it or give it to someone else. In other words, your personal property is no longer your personal property if it’s something that catches the attention of the government. Beyond the emotionally charged issue of firearms, that alone is disturbing. If you do want to give or sell your gun to another, you’d have to go through a gun dealer and they’d treat it like a new sale and impose on both parties the same screening and restrictions. Plus, the dealer would be authorized to charge for this. The government would again dictate how and where you spend your money and what you do with your own property, even with friends and family.

...This is our government and we need to make our voices heard. Call or email your senators and representatives and tell them that you don’t want them further regulating our lives. Call or email Governor Martinez and tell her she must veto without fear or hesitation if a bill like this comes to her desk. This is easy to do. All the contact information you need is available online at

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Las Vegas Jury Has Heard Openings in the Trial of the Bundy Ranch Six

A jury in Las Vegas heard competing narratives Thursday about six men accused of illegally wielding weapons to block a federal roundup of cattle near states' rights advocate Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch in April 2014. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre cast the defendants as insurrectionist lawbreakers—willing gunmen who answered Bundy's call to "do whatever it takes" to prevent federal Bureau of Land Management agents from seizing his cattle in a decades-long dispute over grazing rules and unpaid fees. Defense attorneys portrayed the men as patriotic citizens and peacemakers—spurred by internet videos of scuffles between federal agents and Bundy family members to travel to the Bundy ranch to protest government heavy-handedness. "He saw wrong being done to the Bundys," said Terrence Jackson, attorney for Phoenix resident Gregory Burleson. "He carried his weapon. (But) at no time did he point a weapon at anyone. At no time did he participate in any illegal activity." Myhre opened the trial in U.S. District Court showing photos of each defendant with a rifle in his hands. The prosecutor characterized them as "the end of a rifle barrel" in a tense standoff between Bundy and the BLM that could have turned tragically deadly with hundreds of unarmed protesters in potential crossfire in a dry river bed. "It is a crime to use a gun to threaten the life of a federal law enforcement officer," Myhre said. In the end, no shots were fired, no one was injured and the cows were set free. The prosecutor said the two dozen government agents at the scene identified more than 20 people with guns in what he called a protest "mob," and on high ground surrounding a corral containing almost 400 head of Bundy cattle near Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Engel, who is serving as his own attorney, told jurors he was astonished to find armed, armored and helmeted federal agents with gunsights trained on men, women and children who had prayed and recited the Pledge of Allegiance before gathering amid fluttering flags and cowboys on horseback to free Bundy cattle...more

Exxon Adviser Resigns Over Oil Giant’s ‘Targeted Attacks’ On NGOs

A research scholar at New York University has resigned from Exxon Mobil Corp.’s External Citizenship Advisory Panel, citing what she calls the oil giant’s “targeted attacks” on environmental groups under former CEO Rex Tillerson’s watch.In a letter this week to Exxon Mobil Foundation president Ben Soraci, Sarah Labowitz expressed her disgust with the company’s continued assault on organizations investigating whether Exxon covered up the risks of climate change...more

First, let's take a look at who was targeting Exxon:

Exxon’s current strain of legal trouble dates back to November 2015, when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the oil giant to obtain documents related to allegations that it had lied to the public and its investors about the risks of climate change. In March, a coalition of state attorneys general, including Maura Healey of Massachusetts, pledged to crack down on corporate climate fraud, after InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reported that Exxon executives were aware of the climate risks associated with carbon dioxide emissions but had funded research to cover up those risks and block solutions...
...To show what Exxon was up against, the spokesman shared a link to a draft agenda for a January meeting of environmental group leaders at the Rockefeller Family Fund. First covered by The Wall Street Journal in April and later published at The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative site, the letter appears to list several of the meeting participants’ common goals, including “to establish in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm.”

So you have all these state-elected attorneys, using taxpayer funds, going after Exxon. This is the same group that filed a brief in the D.C. circuit court to defend Obama's Clean Power Plan. They were being joined in a "targeted"effort by a group of environmental leaders to influence the public that Exxon is a "corrupt institution."

In the past we've seen corporate America cowering before such groups, and seeking to buy them off with grants and other goodies. Exxon chose not to follow the path established by their chicken-hearted brethren.

In June, Exxon hit back, filing a lawsuit against Healey in the company’s home state of Texas in an effort to bar a civil investigative demand from her office. Shortly thereafter, Labowitz told HuffPost, the company began advancing a conspiracy argument that she finds particularly troubling.

In October, Exxon filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, that sought to invalidate Schneiderman’s subpoena, arguing the investigations by the New York and Massachusetts AGs were “biased attempts to further a political agenda for financial gain.” The company claimed that “revelations from third-party disclosures about secret and deliberately concealed collaboration with anti-oil and gas activists and a private law firm” had shown the AGs were “incapable of impartial investigations” and were “attempting to silence political opponents.”
Exxon Mobil then turned its attention to non-governmental organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, warning them in a series of letters not to destroy or delete communications related to their probes of Exxon ― including communications with the press. The move hinted at future subpoenas.

I'm not always a fan of Big Oil, but in this case, I admire their effort to "vigorously defend" themselves from this herd of liberal lawyers and environmental pimps.

And their is more good news: 

 Labowitz’s departure comes just days after Tillerson, the former Exxon head, took over as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state.

This bodes well for the U.S. in any future climate negotiations or other international environmental claptrap. It is reasonable to expect Tillerson to "vigorously defend" U.S. interests. Just think how refreshing that will be.

Judge orders feds to identify agent in Cliven Bundy case

A federal judge in Las Vegas ordered prosecutors in the Bundy Ranch standoff trials to turn over an investigative report accusing a key government witness of wrongdoing. Judge Gloria Navarro denied motions to dismiss charges against 17 defendants who claimed the government withheld evidence by concealing misconduct allegations against the federal agent in charge of operations during the 2014 standoff. Navarro said prosecutors had a duty to release a full copy of a report by the Department of Interior's Office of the Inspector General naming the agent, calling it "material evidence" that could be used to impeach the government's witness. "The OIG Report details several violations of federal ethics regulations, misuse of government property, misuse of a government position, and 'a lack of candor when interviewed,' " Navarro wrote in a ruling Wednesday. "At a minimum, (defendants) may use this alleged misconduct on cross-examination to impeach (the agent)."...more

Embezzlement Investigation in Oklahoma Adds to Questions About Oversight of Federal Beef Promotion Program

Federal authorities are investigating the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million dollars from an obscure Oklahoma board that promotes the beef industry. The investigation and related lawsuits add to questions about oversight of a national program funded by fees charged to ordinary farmers and ranchers....The Oklahoma City auction is one of the largest markets for young calves that aren’t quite old enough or fat enough to be slaughtered. The day’s haul was a good one: More than 10,000 head of cattle were sold off. These large auctions and ones in much smaller sale barns across the country collectively take in about $80 million every year from a $1-per-head “check-off” fee paid every time ranchers and producers sell an animal. The check-off is administrated by the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, a network of 45 state-based boards and councils that collects the money to promote the beef industry...“It’s the misuse of the money for political purposes that’s caused the problem,” says Muegge, a former Oklahoma state senator and member of the Organization for Competitive Markets, a small group that is critical of the checkoff program and beef board. Muegge says check-off money and beef boards have very little oversight, and he points to his own state as proof. In October, the Oklahoma Beef Council filed a civil lawsuit to recover $2.6 million dollars it says was embezzled by a former accounting and compliance officer. An internal audit obtained by Harvest Public Media suggests hundreds of thousands of dollars of ranchers’ money vanished every year for seven years. Through attorneys, the former compliance officer declined interview requests. There is no evidence the Oklahoma Beef Council used any checkoff money for illegal political activity. But Mike Callicrate, a cattleman who operates out of Colorado and Kansas and is a founding member of the Organization for Competitive Markets, says the investigation and lawsuit merit increased scrutiny of the national beef checkoff program. Over the years, a growing segment of the nation’s 700,000-plus ranchers have complained that the federal checkoff program has ballooned into a billion-dollar cash cow for big ranchers and multinational meatpackers...The fight has moved from the cattle yard to the courtroom. The Organization for Competitive Markets is suing to force the USDA to turn over records related to an audit of the checkoff program. The group suspects checkoff money has funded illegal political lobbying by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Colorado-based association represents the majority of farmers and ranchers and has denied using checkoff money for political influence. Members of the Competitive Markets group are convinced their money is being used against them. The lawsuit is due back in court in March, and that’s when activists like Callicrate and Muegge hope they get a lot more answers to their questions about how the beef checkoff money is being spent...more

Raid in small NM town finds a pile of pot

COLUMBUS – A shoddy house on the corner of a dirt-road neighborhood in Columbus allegedly served as a secret hideout for undocumented migrants and a stash house for marijuana smuggling. Acting on a tip about suspicious activity, U.S. Border Patrol in mid-January arrested five men holed up in the home, a concrete block and wood-paneled house on the corner of two gravel streets off Highway 11. The men stated they were Mexican citizens in the country illegally, according to a Border Patrol statement issued this week. A storage shed out back reeked: Inside, under a blanket, they found nearly 296 pounds of marijuana wrapped in brown bundles. The drugs are worth an estimated $236,640 on the street in the U.S., according to Border Patrol. Also in January, Border Patrol on horseback discovered two burlap backpacks hidden under a mesquite bush near the Cedar Mountains south of Deming. They were packed with 94 pounds of marijuana worth more than $75,000 in the U.S. market. Footprints in the area led back to Mexico; the drugs were abandoned and no one was apprehended, according to Border Patrol...more

Why Latin America is the deadliest place for environmentalists

ISIDRO BALDENEGRO LÓPEZ, a farmer and a leader of the indigenous Tarahumara people, had spent much of his life campaigning against illegal logging in the Sierra Madre region of northern Mexico. On January 15th he was shot dead. His father died in the same way, for defending the same cause, 30 years before. Defending nature is a dangerous occupation, especially in Latin America. According to a recent report by Global Witness, an NGO, 185 environmental activists were murdered worldwide in 2015, an increase of 59% from the year before. More than half the killings were in Latin America. In Brazil 50 green campaigners died in 2015. Honduras is especially perilous: 123 activists have died there since 2010, the highest number of any country relative to its population. Berta Cáceres, an indigenous leader who was a prominent campaigner against dams and plantations, was murdered there last March. Why is Latin America so deadly? One reason is its abundant natural resources, which attract enterprises of all sorts, from multinationals to mafias. When prices are low, as they are now, the most rapacious do not go away; to maintain their profits they become more aggressive, says David Kaimowitz of the Ford Foundation, which gives money to good causes. New technologies open up new battlefronts. Soyabeans bred to grow in tropical conditions have encouraged farmers to displace cattle ranchers, who in turn have advanced into the rainforest. Small prospectors can now extract gold from soil rather than just hunting around for nuggets. That opens up new areas for exploitation, such as San Rafael de Flores in south-eastern Guatemala, where activists have been murdered...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1778

Here's a good tune and a bit of rodeo history:  Red Steagall's 1977 recording of Freckles Brown

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Fireworks, Rocky Start For 2nd Malheur Refuge Trial

The four defendants slated to go to trial for their alleged roles in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were in court Tuesday for pretrial hearings that got off to a bit of a rocky start. Jury selection is set to begin next week. Originally, seven defendants were part of this next trial. The government made plea deals with four defendants, including Thorn, but his presence Tuesday was evidence that at least for now that deal appears to have fallen apart. As the proceeding continued, the court addressed a motion to suppress evidence recovered during Ehmer’s arrest. His attorney, Michele Kohler, argued the way the FBI went about its arrest violated Ehmer’s constitutional rights. During the arrest, the FBI recovered a 19th-century “black powder pistol” and a pouch containing some cash, gas cards and checks made out to Friends of the Malheur, a nonprofit that supports the eastern Oregon refuge. Kohler is trying to keep that information from getting into trial. But prosecutors disagreed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said there was no violation of Ehmer’s rights during the arrest. Among other things, he said the FBI agents had probable cause. “The motion to suppress should be denied,” Gabriel told the judge. Kohler stood and responded that the arrest warrant, which the government has based its arguments on, wasn’t signed until Jan. 28, a day after Ehmer was arrested. The government struggled to respond to that argument. Brown spent upwards of 15 minutes reading the case file aloud, for evidence of a warrant signed earlier. “We have a fundamental problem with the government’s reliance on the arrest warrant,” Brown said. “It’s very curious to me that [FBI agents] all testified to an arrest warrant when there isn’t one,” Brown said, referencing testimony taken in court Monday. “This is a problem.” Brown asked prosecutors to supplement the record so she could rule on whether evidence from Ehmer’s arrest would be allowed in trial...more

Rulings could shape Vegas trial of 6 in Bundy ranch standoff

Several defense attorneys are seeking dismissal of the case, accusing the U.S. attorney's office of improperly withholding information about Daniel Love, the federal Bureau of Land Management supervisor who oversaw the Bundy cattle roundup in April 2014. Findings released last week by the federal Interior Department inspector general faulted the supervisory agent from Salt Lake City for accepting tickets and transportation at the Burning Man festival in Nevada in 2015, and for influencing the hiring of a friend to the bureau. The unnamed agent was accused of trying to influence employees not to cooperate with the probe of his activities. The findings weren't final, but were referred to higher-ups for possible disciplinary action. Federal public defenders representing one defendant identify Love as the head of the Bundy cattle impoundment operation and an important witness for the prosecution...The judge ruled Monday against one defendant's bid to prevent the government from showing jurors an interview he gave in the months after the standoff to a film crew from a company called Longbow Productions. Defense attorneys allege that crew members said they were making a documentary, but the interviews were for the FBI. Cliven Bundy is among other defendants seeking to prevent the jury from seeing his interview. He says that witnesses were paid, tricked and coached into making incriminating statements for the camera...Prosecutors have asked the judge to narrow the focus of the trial to the day of the standoff, and to prohibit defense teams from referring to federal land policies in Nevada and other states in the West where the federal government owns vast swaths of rangeland. Defense lawyers argue that if the government hopes to prove conspiracy, the jury has to hear what the defendants believe and why they went to the Bundy ranch...more

Another shot at delisting : Wyo. senators put gray wolf on target for state management

The gray wolf is alive and surviving – make that thriving – in Wyoming. Enough that most groups with ties to management in the state – from ranchers, to state and federal wildlife agencies, to U.S. congressmen – feel it is time for it to come off the endangered species list. Again. Legislation introduced recently in the U.S. Senate by the two Wyoming delegates, Senator Enzi and Senator Barrasso, along with several of their colleagues, would delist the gray wolf in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, and return management to the individual states. Key to the proposed Senate legislation for delisting is the stipulation that, if passed, the bill would allow for wolf management plans based on federal and state wildlife expertise to move forward without any legal ambiguity. Essentially, the delisting can’t be challenged again in court. Max D’Onofrio, press secretary for Senator Enzi, noted the bill should be more likely to pass because it affects the Great Lakes states – where the wolf was also previously delisted – and also enjoys bipartisan support. “The people who are closest to the areas where wolves are being delisted have the best understanding of how to manage them and should be left to do so. This bill would allow that to happen without interference from the courts,” says Senator Enzi. “This is an issue that Wyoming has been dealing with for decades. I trust local wildlife managers to manage wildlife better than judges, lawyers and the self-serving administrators and lobbyists of environmental groups in Washington...more

Hundreds of bison sent to slaughter over tribes’ objections

Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday started shipping hundreds of wild bison to slaughter for disease control, as a quarantine facility on a Montana Indian reservation that could help spare many of the animals sat empty due to a political dispute. Park officials say 15 bison initially slated for quarantine on the Fort Peck Reservation were instead loaded onto trailers and sent to slaughter. Hundreds more will be shipped in coming days. More than 400 bison, also known as buffalo, have been captured this winter attempting to migrate out of the snow-covered park to lower elevations in Montana in search of food. More animals are expected to be captured and shipped to slaughter through March. Fort Peck’s Assiniboine and Sioux tribes built their quarantine facility near Wolf Point, Montana, with enough room for 300 animals in hopes of using it to establish new herds across the U.S with Yellowstone’s genetically pure bison. Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure said state and federal officials “slapped the Fort Peck tribes in the face” by not using the facility. “They knew we were building a quarantine facility. A lot of money and time and effort were involved in this and all of a sudden they throw a monkey wrench in it,” Azure said. Montana livestock officials oppose transferring bison to the quarantine site because the animals have not been certified to be free of brucellosis, a disease that can cause animals to abort their young. Ranchers in the state fear bison could transmit the disease to cattle and would pose competition for grazing space on public lands...more

Wolf lovers, ranchers face off in competing Capitol rallies

A debate raged Wednesday among dozens of people outside the state Capitol over wolves versus ranchers. “More wolves,” shouted some people holding signs with slogans like “Free the Lobos.” Their supporters howled. “No wolves,” shouted another group, some wearing cowboy hats and holding signs that said, “Moove Over Wolves!” and “No More Lobos!” No one threatened to throw punches, even when things got heated. The competing demonstrators seemed content to outshout each other. Casey Spradley, a rancher from San Juan County, said she doesn’t oppose wolves, but she’s concerned about captive-raised wolves being released into the wild, potentially with less fear of humans. “My concern is they just keep trying to turn out more and more and more wolves,” said Spradley, who does not live in an area of Southern New Mexico set aside by the federal government for recovery of the Mexican gray wolf. “My bigger issue than the release of wolves is that the other side is trying to use the reintroduction of wolves to drive ranchers off of public lands. I believe there is a second agenda.” Santa Fe artist and musician Bird Thompson argued passionately with some of the ranchers, saying wolves have as much right to be on the landscape as cows. “As long as I’m breathing, I will fight for wild animals and people to co-exist,” Bird said later. Craig Ogden, who runs a farm near Loving, said federal wildlife officials have talked about creating a corridor for the wolf to migrate from Interstate 40 to the Guadalupe Mountains near his property. He said he’s concerned about the potential for the wolf to impede efforts he and others are making to restore populations of the lesser prairie chicken, another endangered species in the area...more

Protest calls for NM to allow more Mexican wolves

...The event, organized by the Center for Biological Diversity and Lobos of the Southwest, was met with a rebuttal protest from New Mexico cattle ranchers whose signs replied, “Wolves B4 people.” “It would be more feasible if we had a true recovery plan,” Jessica Decker, with the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association tells SFR, citing the same concern Sandoval and the Fish and Game commissioners gave for denying Fish and Wildlife the permits to release wolves here. Caren Cowan, executive director of the Cattle Growers’ Association, argues that ranchers aren't allowed to manage wolves and that waiting for federal management agencies to step in to capture or kill a wolf that has begun attacking livestock means waiting while more cattle die. “They need to engage the ranching community and give them the tools to be able to protect themselves,” she says. “It's not anti-wildlife or even anti-wolf. Ranchers just need to be able to take out offending wolves.” Those tools exist, counters Madeleine Carey, greater Gila guardian for WildEarth Guardians, pointing to range riders, modified pasture and electrified or flagged fences as means for ranchers to protect their cattle before depredations start. “It's just a change in the style of management,” she says. “Wolves were absent from the landscape for decades.”...more

Mountain lion attacks, kills family's beloved poodle outside Glendale home

A mountain lion attacked and killed a family's beloved poodle outside their home in Glendale on Monday evening, raising fears that the predator might return. "He was a gentleman of a dog," Erinn Brown said of her standard poodle named Wiley. She watched in horror as the mountain lion carried the dog's body. "It was really hard to see somebody that's really a part of your family ... have to be killed in such a gruesome way," Brown said in an interview Wednesday. She said everything had seemed normal when she opened a sliding-glass door and let Wiley out. But after a few moments "it was just silent outside," Brown recalled. "I actually noted to myself that the dog wasn't barking." She soon made a gruesome discovery. "Then I saw that our dog was hanging limp from the top of the fence," Brown said. The mountain lion then jumped over the fence and fled, leaving behind bloody footprints in its path. "It looked the size of a tiger," Brown said. "It was enormous."...more

USDA plans to use treated corn for ticks on deer

As part of the effort to control cattle fever ticks, the U.S Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to treat white-tailed deer with ivermectin, a broad spectrum anti-parasitic drug, to control tick vectors of cattle fever in Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Kinney, Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata counties in South Texas. The deer would be fed ivermectin-treated corn from a closed gravity feeder placed in areas where cattle fever infestation is a concern. Ivermectin is a widely used anti-parasitic drug in humans, livestock, and pets. Treated corn would be placed in the gravity flow feeders from February through July to control cattle fever ticks in deer populations. The feeders would be mandatory on both public land and private ranches with cattle within the tick quarantine area as part of the herd plan for all quarantined premises...more

Your Gear is Saving American Wool Ranchers

But there’s an upside to the harsh American West: the sunny, arid climate spurs the ­animals to produce small-diameter wool ­fibers that can make a merino-grade garment. “American wool is loftier,” says Rita Samuelson, marketing director of the American Wool Council. “It tends to be spongy, due to a combination of ­genetics, ­nutrition, and environmental conditions.” Recently, outdoor brands have started pay­ing top dollar to include American wool in their goods, revitalizing what was once a dying industry. Farm to Feet uses U.S. wool in its socks, which you can find in nearly 800 stores, including Cabela’s and REI. So does Bozeman, Montana, apparel maker Duckworth, which owns a flock of more than 10,000 sheep and controls every stage of its U.S.-based manufacturing process. Voormi, a Colorado company, combines wool produced in the Rocky Mountains with synthetics to engineer fabrics that the company says perform better than wool alone. And Patagonia, which took a PR hit last year when PETA posted a video of its South American suppliers skinning live lambs, has revamped its supply chain and is now sourcing American wool for many of its socks. This is a major change from a decade ago. In 2007, the American Sheep Industry Association reported that 71 percent of U.S. wool was exported. Today only half is...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1777

Here is Jim Eanes & Shenandoah Valley Boys playing  one of my favorite fiddle tunes,  Florida Blues.The tune was recorded in 1951 for the Rich-R-Tone label, and that's Roy Russel on the fiddle and Hubert Davis on banjo.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

US Army signs off on Dakota Access Pipeline as Trump greenlights project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Tuesday, paving the way for an infrastructure project that has been surrounded by protest and controversy. Robert Speer, the acting secretary of the Army, announced the decision to Congress, saying he was ready to offer the pipeline’s owner a 30-year easement on a disputed patch of land. In the decision, Speer said he would halt the preparation of an environmental impact statement meant to assess the effects of the pipeline, adding that he had sufficient information to support approval. The pipeline had already passed environmental review and a federal judge found for the pipeline after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe flied a lawsuit, based on the tribe’s water supply and sacred lands, against it before then-President Obama halted the project last November. No part of the proposed route goes through tribal lands. The easement will allow for the completion of the last mile and a half of the 1,172-mile project, connecting oil production areas in North Dakota to a crude oil terminal near Patoka, Ill...more

Seattle Just Divested Billions From Wells Fargo Over Dakota Access Pipeline

The movement to stop the controversial Dakota Access pipeline through financial activism took an important step forward today, as the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve a bill that terminates a valuable city contract with Wells Fargo. The bank, one of the largest in the United States, has provided more than $450 million in credit to the companies building the pipeline. The move makes Seattle the first city to divest from a financial institution because of its role in the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion project that would run from western North Dakota to Illinois, and is fiercely opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Wells Fargo is one of 17 banks directly financing the project...more

Former interior secretary Jewell says Army is ‘reneging’ on its commitments on Dakota Access pipeline

Former interior secretary Sally Jewell said in an interview Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers was “reneging” on its commitment to other federal agencies and tribal leaders to conduct a thorough environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline before granting an easement to the project’s sponsor. On Tuesday, Army officials said in court filings that they would grant the final federal permit that the pipeline’s sponsor, Energy Transfer Partners, needs to complete the 1,170-mile project. Jewell, who has refrained from commenting on the new administration even as it has clashed with members of her former department, said she felt compelled to speak out because she believes it is now violating its legal obligations. Jewell said the Corps failed to adequately consult with leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation abuts the proposed route, early on in the process. The formal Environmental Impact Statement, which the agency indicated in December it would conduct, would have provided the tribe with an opportunity to air its concerns and allowed other agencies to weigh in on the decision. “So the decision to not do any of that is reneging on a commitment they made [in December] and I think it’s fair to say that I’m profoundly disappointed with the Corps’ reversal of its decision to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement and consider alternative routes,” she said. “This is a clear reversal of a commitment on the part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on something they gave thoughtful consideration to when they decided to do an environmental review.”...more

Sheriffs ask Trump for federal help with Dakota Access pipeline protesters

When top members of the National Sheriffs’ Association met with President Donald Trump in the White House Tuesday morning, one of their chief requests was for federal assistance dealing with demonstrators at the Dakota Access pipeline site in North Dakota. Protesters have been camped there since April, and local law enforcement feels stymied by the protesters’ ability to retreat to reservations — federal land where police and sheriff’s deputies have no jurisdiction, Sheriff Paul Laney of Cass County, North Dakota, told reporters Tuesday night. Now the Trump Administration has cleared the way for construction to resume on the controversial pipeline, and more conflict with protesters is expected. With the support of other sheriffs from around the country, Laney met with Trump and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to seek help from Customs and Border Patrol agents, U.S. marshals, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as a stronger response from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. “That, we feel, would alleviate a lot of issues,” Laney said. Greg Champagne, sheriff of St. Charles Parish, La., and president of the association, and Carolyn Welsh, sheriff of Chester County, Pa., were among the sheriffs who backed Laney’s request for federal assistance...more

Activists Plan Emergency Actions Across the Country to Protest Approval of Dakota Access Pipeline

Lawyers for the tribe say they will argue in court that an environmental impact statement, mandated by the Army Corps under Obama, was wrongfully terminated. They will likely request a restraining order while the legal battle ensues. Pipeline company lawyers have said that it would take at minimum 83 days for oil to flow from the date that an easement is granted. Although the tribal government once supported the string of anti-pipeline camps that began popping up last spring, leaders have since insisted that pipeline opponents go home and stay away from the reservation. “Please respect our people and do not come to Standing Rock and instead exercise your First Amendment rights and take this fight to your respective state capitols, to your members of Congress, and to Washington, D.C.,” tribal chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement. Still, the easement announcement is already activating pipeline opponents to return. A “couple thousand people” are headed back to the camps, including contingents of veterans, said former congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the tribe, in a video posted to Facebook. Cedric Goodhouse, a Lakota elder who lives on the reservation and has been involved in fighting the pipeline since last spring, said it’s inevitable that the fight will spill outside the courtroom. “It’s going to come here to the drill pad. That puts us in a different spot,” he said. “It’s going to come to a head, and people are probably going to get hurt.”...more

Dakota Access protesters vow 'mass resistance.'

Activists are threatening "mass resistance" to President Donald Trump and the Army Corps of Engineers on the hotly disputed Dakota Access pipeline — and it could be difficult for the White House to counter the movement.  "The granting of an easement, without any environmental review or tribal consultation, is not the end of this fight — it is the new beginning. Expect mass resistance far beyond what Trump has seen so far," the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a statement.
What that resistance will look like is uncertain. The movement appears to be taking on a diffuse, leaderless structure, similar to Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Such movements tend to have staying power...more

Jury seated for first trial in Bunkerville standoff case

A jury of 16, including four alternates, was sworn in Tuesday following a selection process that lasted two days. Eleven women and five men were chosen for the jury. U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered jurors not to discuss the case with anyone and not to “listen to or view anything touching on this case in any way.” “I promise you by the time you’re done, you’re going to know more than anyone about this case,” she told jurors, whose careers range from stay-at-home mom to Southwest Airlines employee. Some of the jurors seated in the case have friends or relatives in law enforcement. One expressed during jury selection her belief that government agents should be held to a higher standard than the general public. The trial is expected to last 10 weeks. It is being held in the largest courtroom on the seventh floor of the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas. Court officials have increased security procedures in and around the courthouse for the duration of the trial because of the high-profile nature of the case...more

1,500 desert tortoises to be helicoptered off military base

Plans by the Marine Corps to move as many as 1,500 desert tortoises from a Twentynine Palms training base expansion area have cleared a major hurdle.Federal wildlife officials based in Palm Springs have completed an analysis that found that moving the reptiles, which are listed as threatened with extinction, wouldn’t jeopardize the survival of the species. The finding puts the Marines on track to move the tortoises out of the Johnson Valley this spring so they can use the land for live-ammunition training missions with tanks and ground troops. Congress in 2013 added some 88,000 acres of the valley area to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms. Tortoises have been moved from military and solar development sites in the past, but the Twentynine Palms endeavor would be the largest such move ever in the Mojave Desert, say wildlife officials. Biologists plan to capture the animals and transport them by helicopters to Bureau of Land Management areas outside the combat center’s new boundaries. Most of the tortoises already have had radio transmitters affixed to their shells so they can be more easily located...more

No cost figures are reported in the article, but I can't help but wonder what the cost per tortoise is for this entire operation.

Chaffetz meets with President Trump, talks Bears Ears

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz got a rare invite to the oval office to meet with President Donald Trump Tuesday. “I got thirty minutes with the president and I lead with Bears Ears,” said Chaffetz. Instead, Chaffetz said, he took the opportunity to ask the President to repeal the Bears Ears National Monument designation. “I can’t state his final position but I think he was very sympathetic to how devastating this must have been to people down in southern Utah,” said Chaffetz. “Totally unfair, thirty minutes is a long time to spend with a very important person,” said Woody Lee, a consultant for Dine Bikeyah, an advocacy group representing several native tribes pushing to keep the national monument designation. Congressman Chaffetz is quick to point out, not a single elected leader in Utah supported the monument designation. But Dine Bikeyah says that ignores a key group: leaders of the tribes. "I encourage President Trump to come down and meet with the tribe. Directly talk with them,” said Willie Gray Eyes, Chairman for Dine Bikeyah...more

Navajo Nation defends Bears Ears National Monument

On Jan. 5, the Navajo Nation Council’s Naabik’iyátí’ Committee voted 19-0 to pass a resolution supporting the presidential proclamation establishing the Bears Ears National Monument and opposing any congressional action that seeks to reverse the designation. The Navajo Nation’s action came as Utah’s congressional delegation and Utah’s state legislature continue to lobby President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke to take action to reverse the Bears Ears National Monument designation. “The Navajo Nation remains committed to defending Bears Ears, and we oppose any action to diminish or eliminate the designation,” said Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates (Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tse’Daa’Kaan, Upper Fruitland). The Bears Ears cultural landscape has been the subject of administrative, legislative, and local efforts to protect it for more than 80 years, and former President Barack Obama’s proclamation on Dec. 28, realized that protection in the form of the new Bears Ears National Monument...more

A week in the life of P‑22, the big cat who shares Griffith Park with millions of people

The lion slinks through the chaparral, a blur of movement in the night. Head held lower than his shoulders, he scours the brush in a ravine just south of Travel Town in Griffith Park. Hind paws land where the forepaws lift. No twig snaps, no crinkling leaf. He’s silent, an ambush predator, always hunting, always looking for opportunity. Inside a small gray box on his neck, a microprocessor switches on to calculate and time stamp his location — 21:00, Dec. 2, 2016 — one of 56 readings made in the course of a week. The coordinates reveal the lion’s rambling course through this island of wilderness in the midst of the city. As famous as he is, the mountain lion known as P-22 is a mystery, his day-to-day life hidden by his instincts for evasion. The National Wildlife Federation has called the species a “nearly perfect predator,” and among the survival skills, fine-tuned over 40 million years of evolution, is a talent for invisibility. What evolution did not prepare P-22 for is how to exist in an eight-square-mile urban park with more than 5 million human visitors a year. Most male cats have almost 20 times that space, nearly to themselves...more

Idaho Senator Risch Bill Looks To Throw Out Federal Land Policies On Sage Grouse

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) has introduced a bill to give states more responsibility to manage conservation of the greater sage grouse. It comes as GOP control of Congress and the executive branch begin to shift western land management policy. Since then, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has voiced his frustration – detailed in a lawsuit he brought against the Obama administration. According to the court filings, Idaho was cut out of the planning process and the state’s work on the issue was disregarded. But a federal judge dismissed the state’s lawsuit earlier this year, ruling the state hadn’t proved injury and therefore did not have standing in the case. Sen. Risch’s bill, which was introduced last week, would give states the option to block those federal land use plans. The proposal would bar federal officials from listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act until at least 2027. Risch Communications Director Kaylin Minton says the dismissed Idaho lawsuit was not a factor in the senator’s bill...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1776

Some Hawaiian Swing for Mr. A-10, so he can better enjoy the sunny beaches of Palomas Creek. For him and his Palomas Creek Crazy Cowboys we have Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West pickin' their 1956 recording Hawaiian War Chant.

Opening statements set for Thursday in Bundy trial

Opening statements in the first trial against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and 16 others accused of taking up arms against federal agents will begin Thursday in Las Vegas. The Bundy trials mark one of the West’s most high-profile land-use cases, which erupted in the 2014 Battle of Bunkerville, when armed ranchers and militia members mounted a six-day standoff in the Nevada community against U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials. Jury selection started Monday for six defendants from Arizona, Idaho and Oklahoma, who say they went to the standoff to protest a BLM roundup of Bundy’s cattle on federal lands and to protect protesters from federal law-enforcement officers. Their trial is one of three that will be held in the case. Federal prosecutors and a judge in the case designated the six as the “least culpable,” but all 17 defendants face identical charges and could spend the rest of their lives in prison if convicted. “This is a crazy case,” said Las Vegas attorney Shawn Perez, who is representing Oklahoma defendant Richard Lovelien. “They are supposed to be less culpable, but all the counts are the same.” Perez said his client did not threaten anyone, draw his weapon or engage law-enforcement officers. “Richard Lovelien’s position is, ‘I don’t even know why I’m here,’ ” Perez said, adding that his client didn’t meet any of the Bundy brothers until after they were arrested and transported to Nevada last year. Defendants say they are victims of government overreach. They argue they were exercising their constitutional rights to protest peacefully and have accused federal agents of ratcheting up tensions and escalating the potential for violence...more

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

House Passes Repeal of BLM Planning 2.0 Rule

Today, the House passed H.J. Res. 44 (Rep. Liz Cheney, WY-at large), a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the BLM Planning 2.0 Rule. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) gave the following remarks during floor debate:

“Planning 2.0 dilutes local and state voices and centralizes power here in Washington DC. […] This puts special interest groups above local elected officials, which is not the way it was ever intended,” Chairman Bishop said. “Counties all across the West expect their BLM officials to be responsive to their needs and manage their land with the best interest of the community in mind. Their livelihoods depend on it.”

 “Over time, we’ve established a set of commonsense regulations that ensure local governments and local communities are prioritized in federal land use planning. The BLM’s proposed rule strips local governments of their ability to coordinate in local land use planning with the agency on behalf of the people. This ultimately weakens input from surrounding communities and local citizens who are directly impacted by the management of federal lands. The BLM Planning Rule clearly prioritizes special interests over the protections of citizens, which is why today, I voted to overturn the BLM regulation to preserve the important role that local governments play in federal land use decisions and protect the citizens of New Mexico," stated Rep. Steve Pearce.

Over 60 groups support overturning the BLM Planning 2.0 Rule, including the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMAC), the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, the New Mexico Coalition of Conservative Districts, and the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.

Southwest border is ‘gaping wound’ in homeland security, DHS chief says

The lack of a border wall is “a gaping wound” in the country’s defenses, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said Tuesday, saying Border Patrol officials in the ground in Texas and Arizona can point to exact spots where fencing is needed right now. Mr. Kelly also promised a marked jump in morale at his department, saying tens of thousands of immigration agents had been despondent after having their hands tied by the Obama administration, and are now eager to get back to enforcing the law — the job they were hired to do. The retired Marine general, testifying to the House Homeland Security Committee, swatted aside complaints from lawmakers upset over the rhetoric of President Trump, saying he’s talked with agents on the ground who say there is a need for fencing. “The people that work the border will tell you that physical barriers, backed up by men and women, is what we need to secure the southwest border,” Mr. Kelly said. The new secretary also promised a new approach to quick deportations of criminals, and defended Mr. Trump’s new office designed to keep tabs on illegal immigrants held in local prisons and jails...more

So how much sense does it make to have a national monument along our border, which places restrictions and limitations on the Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies? Let's hope Trump listens to Steve Pearce and fixes this. 

Scientists Get Down And Dirty With DNA To Track Wild Pigs

These animals will eat anything, from rows of corn to sea turtle eggs, to baby deer and goats. "People don't realize that wild pigs are voracious predators," says Jack Mayer, a biologist with the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C., who has studied wild pigs for 40 years. "They will run down and kill and eat lamb, sheep, goats, calves, domestic chickens." And more. "Pigs will eat humans," says Mayer. "It's been documented in combat, remote area homicide situations and plane crashes. Pigs will go in and feed on human carcasses." They are "opportunistic omnivores," Mayer says. "If they get can their mouth around it and it has a calorie in it, they will eat it."...But the pigs may have met their match. Kelly Williams, a biological science technician at the National Wildlife Research Center, is going high-tech on these hogs. She and her colleagues at the National Wildlife Research Center have recently developed a way to keep tabs on the animals without ever even laying eyes on them. All she needs is a scoop of water. "So, for example, right now in New Mexico the forest service is out collecting water for me," says Williams. "All they have to do is carry around a little Nalgene bottle, scoop up a water sample and ship it back to me." At the end, she gets an answer – "Yes, pigs were here," or "No, they weren't." She then passes the results along to people like Brian Archuleta, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in New Mexico. Archuleta has a goal for the new year: wild pig annihilation. "Total elimination by the last day of September of this year," he says of his goal. Archuleta is not joking...more

Bumblebees Are Dying Out Because They’re Too Fat to Mate

Before the 1990s, the rusty-patched bumblebee could be found in 28 states throughout the Midwest and the New England region. Then, it vanished mysteriously. Within a few decades, 90 percent of rusty-patched bumblebees were gone in an ecological poof . Even more troubling, several other closely related bumblebee species also died-off. Now it’s almost unheard of to see the rusty-patched bumblebee. Last month it became the first bee in the continental U.S. listed under the Endangered Species Act. Pesticides, climate change, habitat destruction, stress from competition, or a combination of these might all be to blame. Most recently, however, entomologist have been investigating a parasitic fungus found on the bumblebee called Nosema bombi, and the more they learn the more they’ve become concerned. Before the 1990s, the rusty-patched bumblebee could be found in 28 states throughout the Midwest and the New England region. Then, it vanished mysteriously. Within a few decades, 90 percent of rusty-patched bumblebees were gone in an ecological poof . Even more troubling, several other closely related bumblebee species also died-off. Now it’s almost unheard of to see the rusty-patched bumblebee. A queen bumblebee can birth males—called drones—on her own. But only after a male fertilizes her eggs can she produce female bees. This is crucial, because drones are essentially layabouts. It’s the women, the worker bees, that do all the foraging to sustain a colony. So inside a mating cage, Strange places a queen bumblebee, and on the other side a drone infected with Nosema bombi. Already this fungus has spreads down the bee’s throat, has rooted itself in the gut where the spores “proliferate like crazy,” according to Strange. There the fungus swells in the soft tissue between the bumblebee’s organs until the drone grows so plump it can’t bend its abdomen to mate with the queen. Without fertilization, the queen can only birth more males. Without females, future colonies starve...more

PLF takes first move in effort to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse

Late last week, PLF gave notice to the pertinent Colorado and Wyoming wildlife agencies of our intent, on behalf of a broad coalition of property rights and sound science advocates, to petition the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the Endangered Species Act. The mouse’s tenure on the list of protected wildlife has been contentious, figuring prominently in the larger science and policy debate about taxonomy and wildlife regulation. Our petition will contend that the Preble’s mouse—which the Service listed as a threatened subspecies in 1998—is in fact no different from two other plentiful, non-endangered jumping mouse populations that dwell north of the Canadian border. The petition’s argument for delisting focuses on the faulty subspecies designation on which the mouse’s listing is based. It relies on a 2013 study of the Preble’s mouse, produced by biologists at the University of New Mexico and published in the journal Molecular Ecology. The study constitutes the most comprehensive analysis of North American jumping mouse populations in history. Its conclusion—that the Preble’s mouse is actually a relatively common animal...more

Outdoor Retailer show may leave Salt Lake City, seeks bids from other cities

Organizers of the Outdoor Retailer show are soliciting proposals for a possible new location for the massive, twice-yearly conventions held for two decades in Salt Lake City. The call for bids follows outcry from some industry leaders who say the show should leave Utah in protest of state public lands policies, particularly its vocal opposition to the newly anointed Bears Ears National Monument. The shows, which organizers say bring at least 45,000 visitors and $40 million annually to the state's economy, may still remain in Utah's capital, they said Monday. But multiple groups associated with the convention stressed the need for choosing a venue whose policies support the outdoor industry's "culture" and "values." "We've heard member discontent as well as comments from Utah's [political] delegations and efforts on public-land policy that are out of alignment with what our industry stands for," said Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, which has close ties to the show and encouraged the show's owner, Emerald Expositions, to seek a range of potential host cities...more

170 Conservation Groups Urge Senate to Reject Zinke for Interior Secretary

One hundred seventy conservation groups today urged the U.S. Senate to reject Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) as the next interior secretary. Senators will vote in the coming weeks on whether to place Zinke in charge of the nation’s more than 1,500 endangered species, as well as more than 500 million acres of public lands and minerals leasing for oil, gas and coal across the country and in our oceans. Today’s letter notes that Zinke earned just a 3 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters during his two years in Congress. At his Jan. 17 nomination hearing, he offered no indication that he would manage the Department of the Interior differently from what his congressional voting record indicates: that he consistently put special interests ahead of the nation’s wildlife, natural heritage and climate. “Zinke’s voting record qualifies him to be an exterminator, not the chief protector of America’s endangered animals and beautiful public lands,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, one group that signed the letter. “Anyone who cares about public lands, protecting wildlife and halting the climate crisis should understand that Zinke — and Trump’s corrupt brand of politics — will take us in exactly the wrong direction.” release

How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data

The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015. The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers. But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data. It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised. His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper...more

Reyes and Noel moving closer to taking posts with the Trump administration?

The worm is turning for two Utahns who could have important jobs in the Donald Trump Administration – Attorney General Sean Reyes and state Rep. Mike Noel. Last week Reyes flew off in a private plane to points unknown (Washington, D.C.?) and Noel went to Denver for a meeting of Mountain States Legal Foundation – who supports Noel’s appointment to director of the Bureau of Land Management. Noel recently told UtahPolicy that he believes he has a “good chance” of being appointed BLM director. If that happens, and as director Noel is given his reins by Trump and incoming Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, there could be big changes in Utah, where the BLM controls thousands of acres of land. Noel is actually a retiree of the BLM, where he worked for 20 years; he knows the agency intimately and says one of his first actions would be to eliminate the bureau’s law enforcement personnel and armed officers. The Foundation, made up of public land users, like ranchers, miners and oil producers, takes on a variety of legal challengers – and back’s Noel’s appointment, he said. The group has produced some public lands leaders in the past, including one former head of the BLM and the Interior Department. “They asked me to come to speak to them, and I did,” said Noel. The BLM director’s appointment won’t be made until Zinke is officially approved by the Senate, which should happen this week, Noel added. Zinke could come to Utah within several weeks, as he has promised various Utah officials that the Beehive State will be one of his first visits...more

Three Malheur Refuge defendants plead guilty to trespassing

Three of the remaining seven defendants charged in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge took plea deals Monday rather than go to trial next week. Sean and Sandra Anderson, a married couple from Riggins, Idaho, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing in exchange for other charges being dismissed. Dylan Anderson of Provo, Utah, took the same step, and all three were sentenced to a year on probation. A fourth defendant was scheduled to change his plea Monday, but the hearing was canceled...more

Jury selection goes smoothly in opening day of first Bundy conspiracy trial

Jury selection moved quickly Monday on the first day of three trials related to the armed Cliven Bundy Bunkerville ranch standoff in April 2014. Six "low-level" defendants face a variety of charges in a trial that may last from six to 10 weeks. The six are Richard Lovelien, Todd Engel, Gregory Burleson, Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler and Steven Stewart. About 10 protesters showed up on the steps of the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse on Las Vegas Boulevard, but were vastly outnumbered by an estimated 100 local and federal law enforcement officers providing security over the entire block surrounding the courthouse. The first jury pool of 250 was trimmed to 56 who entered Courtroom 7C on Monday morning. By mid-afternoon, 25 potential jurors remained as prosecutors and the defendants' lawyers spent about four hours questioning potential jurors. Most of 32 potential jurors who were excused were released on hardship issues, but a handful were rejected because of their perceived viewpoints on social media, how much they already know about the case, their views on law enforcement, gun issues and viewpoints on where they receive their news and how biased it might be. As she adjourned the opening day, presiding Judge Gloria Navarro said that if Tuesday's second day of jury selection goes as smoothly as the first, that opening arguments might be moved up from a planned Thursday start to possibly Wednesday. A second jury pool will be interviewed starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The court hopes to find 42 jurors qualified to serve before it is trimmed by more detailed questioning before opening arguments...more

GOP chair says report vindicates probe into climate study

The chairman of the House Science Committee is hailing a new report in a British newspaper as vindication of his probe into a major federal climate study. In a weekend report from the Daily Mail, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researcher outlined concerns he has about the data underpinning a major 2015 federal study refuting a potential pause in the rate of warming around the globe. Dr. John Bates told the Daily Mail that the study — called the “Karl study,” after its lead author — was rushed out so as to have an impact on international climate negotiations. He also questioned thjustify the probe he has launched into the study. e quality of the data used to reach the conclusions in the report. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the House Science Committee chairman who was butted heads with NOAA and other federal scientists over climate issues, said Bates’s statements “Now that Dr. Bates has confirmed that there were heated disagreements within NOAA about the quality and transparency of the data before publication, we know why NOAA fought transparency and oversight at every turn,” he said in a statement...more

Crowd Cow: Beef from a local ranch to your doorstep

Of course you can buy beef at any grocery store. But if you want to buy excellent quality beef from local ranchers in small quantities, that’s not so easy to do. That’s where Seattle start-up Crowd Cow comes in. “Crowd Cow is a way to get beef from a small local ranch delivered straight to your door,” said Crowd Cow co-founder Ethan Lowry. “So you get all of the convenience of ordering online, but you get the quality of knowing exactly where your meat is coming from” “We work with western Washington ranches and source grass fed and grass finished beef and Wagyu,” he said. “Normally, the way you’d get that is you’d have to go to the ranch and you’d arrange to buy a side of beef, 250 pounds of beef. With Crowd Cow you can say, ‘Hey, I want to get a few steaks. I want some ground beef.'” Lowry is a start-up-starting junkie who also co-created the online restaurant guide Urbanspoon. The interesting thing about his latest venture is that you go in on a steer with a bunch of strangers. When a cow goes up online, people claim different cuts and only when every piece of meat is spoken for will you get your delivery. When the cow is claimed, an image of a cow will literally tip on the website. Lowry says it usually takes 2-3 days to tip a cow. “Not only do you get to have the quantity and the cuts you were looking for, but it also finds a home for the more exotic cuts,” Lowry said...more

Monday, February 06, 2017

BLM misconduct probe may derail Bundy Ranch standoff trial

An investigation accusing a federal agent of misconduct and ethics violations could derail one of the most high-profile land-use trials in modern Western history. Jury selection is scheduled to start in a Las Vegas federal courtroom Monday for a series of trials in which 17 cattle ranchers and self-styled militia members face charges for their roles in the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff against Bureau of Land Management officials. But a Jan. 30 report by the Department of Interior's Office of the Inspector General appears to raise serious questions about the BLM special agent in charge of operations during the standoff, who is expected to be a key witness for the government in the case...Lawyers representing Bundy Ranch defendants say the report offers enough details to positively identify the agent as Dan Love, the BLM special agent in charge of Utah and Nevada between 2012 and 2015. Already, they are filing motions to confirm it. A defense lawyer said Thursday they are asking a federal judge to force the government to reveal the name of the agent in the inspector general's report. If it is Love, they will ask for charges to be dismissed against the Bundy Ranch defendants before the trials begin. "I'm sure it is him," Las Vegas attorney Bret Whipple said Thursday. "If it is Dan Love, first of all we will file a motion to dismiss. ... He is the primary figure in the government's case. He put together the plan. He negotiated with (the Bundys)." Whipple represents ranch owner and Bundy family patriarch Cliven Bundy, 70, whose years-long feud with the federal government over cattle grazing rights on federal land culminated in the 2014 standoff. Whipple said the report paints a picture of an agent with a personal agenda and no regard for the rule of law. He said his client long has maintained that Love dangerously orchestrated events during the Bundy standoff to "enhance and enrich" his personal profile and "to make a name for himself."...more

See my comments from earlier today here.

The report says Love stated he "owns" the head of law enforcement. Just exactly what does that mean? Is it because he's the key witness? Or does he have some other info on the Bundy case or the Gold Butte National Monument the BLM doesn't want made public? 

How might this affect the Bundy case?

The inspector general's report could damage the credibility of the government's case if Love is identified as the agent, said Sara Gordon, associate professor of law at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "It’s in an ethics report. I think everything is up for grabs — misuse of the vehicles, using intimidation," Gordon said. "This stuff, it suggests that he’s willing to cheat and lie for his job." She said defense attorneys involved in the Bundy Ranch trials might not be able to show juries the inspector general's report but could question Love about specific incidents raised in it.  “Anytime a witness is on the stand, you can cross-examine them and ... try to impeach him," she said. "They can ask him about things that (could) show that he’s dishonest.” Gordon said any damage defense lawyers could inflict upon Love's credibility would not affect the credibility of other witnesses testifying for the prosecution.

Report - BLM agent in ethics probe threatened retaliation: 'Grenades will go off'

The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General investigated an unnamed Bureau of Land Management supervisory agent in Salt Lake City for more than a year on ethics complaints, with the independent panel concluding that breaches had occurred. The agent, which KSL has confirmed is Dan Love through a source familiar with the investigation, is accused of using his position to secure preferential treatment for his family during the 2015 Burning Man event in Nevada, including using federal law enforcement officers as personal escorts for their safety, using his BLM vehicle to transport his girlfriend and allowing her to share overnight BLM lodging with him. Although unnamed in the inspector general's report, Love — who was the top cop for Utah and Nevada before being promoted to a national position — was linked to many of the requests associated with the luxury compound, according to emails obtained in an investigative news story cited in the report...more 

He certainly wanted that girlfriend to be well fed and comfortable. As a refresher, I posted the following in May of last year:

 A new position requested by Love?  LOL!

You have to read down to the very end of the article to get a kernel of truth:

Sheriffs, county commissioners and Utah members of Congress said Love lacked the gravitas to handle the delicate politics of public land management in the rural West. Allies said Love deserves credit for helping deter illegal looting and trading of artifacts from public lands and for ensuring nobody was injured or killed during the Bunkerville, Nev., standoff with Bundy. "The biggest problem with Dan is nobody trusted him," said Garfield County, Utah, Sheriff Danny Perkins. "It sounds to me that they gave him a better job than he had." Perkins added, "I think BLM has a lot of fence mending whether Dan is there or not. It looks like the ball's in their court."

Remember the request for VIP facilities at Burning Man?  The request included "trailers, flush toilets, washers and dryers and vanity mirrors. Also included was a 24-hour, full-service kitchen with a menu of "10-ounce steaks, 18-ounce pork ribs, poultry, ham, fish, vegetables, potatoes, bread, salad bar with five toppings and three dressings and desserts." And those desserts?  Specifically they had to include "assorted ice cream flavors, Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, as well as cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, puddings and pastries." See here and here

That was Dan Love.

And the overreaching, bungled fiasco with Cliven Bundy?  That was also Dan Love.

This is from May 11

One former government official familiar with the issue said that Utah's congressional delegation wants Love relocated from his post and that BLM leadership appears amenable to making that happen. "It's unfortunate that Dan has become something of a political pawn," said the official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation. "There are clearly elements in the agency who would prefer he simply fade away, in part to appease Hill critics." Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in March introduced H.R. 4751, a bill to eliminate BLM and Forest Service law enforcement and transfer policing powers on federal lands to local sheriffs. Chaffetz said his constituents want to see a "little more Andy Griffith and a little less Rambo" from BLM law enforcement officers. He's not a fan of Love. "There's one common denominator where things have gone wrong: It's Dan Love," Chaffetz said in an interview. "The Department of Interior knows how to solve this problem; thus far, they've decided not to do that." A Chaffetz spokeswoman declined to elaborate on what that solution is. Sheriffs in Utah don't like Love, either. They see him as heavy-handed and dismissive of local authority.

He was an embarrassment to the BLM and the Congressional delegation wanted him out.  So what did the BLM do? They promoted him up and out.

This is another example proving one of the DuBois Laws of Government.

Whereas in the private sector - cream rises to the top,
In the government sector - shit floats to the top. 

And now we have this new report, which is available here


  For more information and an important update go here.