Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Father-son duo arrested for allegedly starting Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe


A father and son were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of starting a massive California wildfire that destroyed many homes and forced tens of thousands of people to flee Lake Tahoe communities earlier this year, authorities said.

David Scott Smith, 66, and his son, Travis Shane Smith, 32, are accused of reckless arson in a warrant issued before formal charges are filed, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office said.

Mark Reichel, the attorney for both men, said they were arrested Wednesday afternoon and that reckless arson means starting a blaze by accident but “to such a degree that it was considered reckless.”

Authorities allege they caused homes to burn and people to be seriously injured in the fire that began in August. The Caldor fire scorched more than 346 square miles (897 square kilometers) from east of Sacramento to the Nevada border, threatening ski resorts and other prominent recreational areas.

...It was one of two massive fires last summer that for the first time in modern history crossed the Sierra Nevada range.

...Reichel, the men’s lawyer, said: “They are absolutely 100% innocent.”

Reichel said he did not know details of the accusation, such as how authorities allege the fire was set.

He said Travis Smith is an electrician and was with his father near where the fire started. The son called 911 to report seeing flames, Reichel said.

The son made several 911 calls because the calls kept dropping in the rugged area, and both men also warned campers about the fire, Reichel said.

“Neither one has ever been in trouble with the law in their life. They’re very law-abiding people,” he said...MORE

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Today we have a pretty tune by the York Brothers titled Long Time Gone, released in 1950.

Biden administration seeks review of Trump-era approval of water pipeline


Justice Department lawyers on Friday began the process of reversing a Trump-era approval of a Southern California water pipeline, calling the approval process rushed.

In January, the outgoing Trump administration approved Cadiz Inc.’s repurposing of a disused oil and gas pipeline in the Mojave Desert to carry groundwater.

“The Court should remand [Bureau of Land Management’s] decision to grant rights-of-way to Cadiz for purposes of transporting water across federal land,” Biden administration lawyers wrote in the filing.

“BLM rushed the approval process and, in doing so, short-circuited necessary reviews and violated the procedural requirements of the [National Environmental Policy Act] and the [National Historic Preservation Act],” they added...MORE 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Exxon Mobil rolls out limited plan to cut emissions in Permian Basin

 Exxon Mobil says it has a plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from its operations in one of the most prolific oilfields in the United States, saying it hopes to achieve its net-zero goal for operations in the Permian Basin by 2030.

The company made the announcement Monday, saying the effort will target both its own operations, as well as indirect emissions associated with the electricity it buys to power well sites and other infrastructure in the basin, which spans parts of southeastern New Mexico and western Texas.

Although limited, Exxon’s announcement is significant as it’s the first tangible commitment the company has made to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, compared to major European oil and gas companies, which set more tangible targets, said Artem Abramov, head of shale research at Rystad Energy...MORE

Influential Koch network rocked by an alleged affair scandal, donor departures and a discrimination lawsuit


The libertarian political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, has been rocked by an alleged extramarital affair involving a departing leader, as well as an exodus of key network donors while the organization undergoes major changes.

CNBC also has learned that Arlington, Virginia-based Americans for Prosperity, which has more than 3 million volunteers spread across 35 states, recently quietly settled a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and retaliation in the group’s North Carolina branch.

In response to this story, the group’s spokesman Bill Riggs told CNBC that they found an “amicable resolution” in the lawsuit and defended the organization’s workplace environment as “respectful, rewarding, and inclusive.”

This week, Tim Phillips announced he was resigning as president of Americans for Prosperity after 15 years at the helm, citing what he called “challenging personal matters.”

Phillips is said to have had what’s described as an extramarital affair with a Virginia-based Republican official, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. These people declined to be named in order to speak freely about a private matter...MORE

Biden’s ‘Infrastructure’ Bill Contains Backdoor ‘Kill Switch’ For Cars


Buried deep within the massive infrastructure legislation recently signed by President Joe Biden is a little-noticed “safety” measure that will take effect in five years. Marketed to Congress as a benign tool to help prevent drunk driving, the measure will mandate that automobile manufacturers build into every car what amounts to a “vehicle kill switch.”

As has become standard for legislative mandates passed by Congress, this measure is disturbingly short on details. What we do know is that the “safety” device must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”Everything about this mandatory measure should set off red flares.

First, use of the word “passively” suggests the system will always be on and constantly monitoring the vehicle. Secondly, the system must connect to the vehicle’s operational controls, so as to disable the vehicle either before driving or during, when impairment is detected. Thirdly, it will be an “open” system, or at least one with a backdoor, meaning authorized (or unauthorized) third-parties can remotely access the system’s data at any time.

This is a privacy disaster in the making, and the fact that the provision made it through the Congress reveals — yet again — how little its members care about the privacy of their constituents...MORE

New York To Require Full Vaccination To Access Restaurants, Gyms, Entertainment; 5-Year-Olds Need At Least One Shot

... moments ago New York City announced it will require residents to be fully vaccinated to access indoor dining, entertainment and fitness – a stricter rule than the current requirement for people to have received at least one dose. 

And yes, the new rule also means that kids age 5-11 will also be required to have at least one shot to enter restaurants, de Blasio said...MORE

Italy Bans Unvaccinated From Public Life With ‘Super Green Pass’

 Italy is rolling out its ‘Super Green Pass’ today, barring the unvaccinated from a variety of events and amenities, even if they have a negative COVID test.

Unvaccinated individuals are now barred from eating indoors at restaurants, attending sports events, concerts, theatres, and other public events, regardless of whether or not they have tested negative for the Chinese Coronavirus, reports Italian newspaper Il Giornale...MORE

Hospitals start firing workers over vaccination refusals

 Hospital systems in Massachusetts have started firing workers who refused to comply with coronavirus vaccine mandates.

New Bedford-based Southcoast Health fired 216 employees last week, a system spokesperson told The Herald News of Fall River.

Another 102 workers who had been placed on unpaid leave for missing a Nov. 15 vaccination deadline returned to work after showing proof of a first dose, spokesperson Katie Cox said. Those employees “will be tested regularly until they are fully vaccinated,” she said.

Another 151 Southcoast Health employees who have been granted religious or medical exemptions will also be tested regularly, she said...MORE

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Let's have a little fun today with Earl 'Grandpappy' Davis and his 1951 recording Grandpappy's Hot Rod Blues.



Monday, December 06, 2021

Medina Spirit Collapses, Dies After Santa Anita Workout

 This year's Kentucky Derby first-place finisher Medina Spirit collapsed and died after a workout at Santa Anita Park on Monday morning, the California Horse Racing Board's Equine Medical Director Jeff Blea confirmed. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old son of Protonico had just completed five furlongs in 1:01.40 in his second work since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

“I spoke to the attending veterinarian, and when they got to him on the track he had already expired,” said Dr. Blea, former American Association of Equine Practitioners president, speaking from the AAEP convention in Nashville, Tenn. “Not sure where on the track it happened but it was post wire.

“I will have them draw blood and pull hair and will try and get urine for testing. He'll go out to UC Davis in San Bernardino, for a full and
comprehensive necropsy including toxicology, forensics and tissue sampling. We will take a close look at the heart to try and identify the cause of death.”

The Daily Racing Form reported Juan Ochoa was aboard Medina Spirit, and that the exercise rider walked away uninjured.

The colt's Derby win remains in jeopardy due to a positive post-race test result for betamethasone, a therapeutic medication that is not allowed on race day. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has not yet held a hearing, required to disqualify Medina Spirit, but on Friday attorneys for Baffert released a statement claiming that tests conducted by a New York laboratory have “definitively confirmed” Medina Spirit tested positive for a corticosteroid not through an injection but because of an ointment used to treat a skin rash....MORE