Thursday, May 31, 2007

FDA Recalls Feed Made With Tainted Binders

In the latest twist of a saga that began unraveling in March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says a pair of companies are voluntarily recalling melamine-tainted ingredients used livestock and fish feed. Unlike recent recalls involving pet food, this particular case involves companies operating in the United States: the Canadian-based Tembec BTLSR, which operates a chemical plant in Toledo, Ohio, and Johnstown, Colo.-based Uniscope. The recall involves finished feed made with binding agents called Aquabond and Aqua-Tec II, both used in fish feed, as well as a product named Xtra-Bond, which is used in livestock feed. Tembec manufactures the Aquabond and Aquatec products at its Toledo facility, and distributes them overseas for Uniscope. Tembec also supplies Uniscope with ingredients used to make Xtra-Bond. FDA food-safety czar Dr. Davis Acheson told reporters Wednesday that the three binding agents are used to make pelleted feed for cattle, sheep, goats, or fish and shrimp. Tembec allegedly added the melamine to enhance binding. Uniscope, presumably on heightened alert after numerous melamine-related recalls, tested product and reported its discovery to FDA....
U.S. Company Used Melamine in Feed

An Ohio company has long been adding the industrial toxin melamine to animal feed ingredients, and those feeds have been eaten by livestock and fish meant for human consumption, officials with the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday. The company used the chemical as a binding agent to hold feed granules in pellet form, in contrast to the recent pet food scandal, which involved imported ingredients that were spiked with melamine to provide a false measure of protein content, officials said. But as with the pet food scandal, they said, the levels of melamine involved appear to be too low to harm humans who may have eaten animals that consumed the tainted feed. The company, Tembec BTLSR of Toledo, sold the melamine-laden ingredients to Uniscope of Johnstown, Colo., which used them to make three finished food products -- one for cattle, sheep and goats, and two for fish and shrimp. The contamination came to the FDA's attention on May 18 after Uniscope officials tested for melamine in the feed components they were buying -- something the FDA has been encouraging food producers to do....
NEWS ROUNDUP

Idaho official named to lead Bureau of Land Management President Bush said Wednesday he is nominating James Caswell, a veteran public land official in Idaho, as director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management. Caswell, 61, who currently heads Idaho's Office of Species Conservation, would replace Kathleen Clarke, who resigned in February. Jim Hughes has served as acting director since then. The appointment requires Senate approval. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, a former Idaho governor and senator, praised Caswell's selection. "I've known Jim Caswell personally and admire his 'can do' attitude, pragmatic leadership style and outstanding management skills," Kempthorne said in a statement. "His proven expertise in coordinating endangered species programs on public lands and his ability to build strong, effective partnerships make him well-qualified for this position." Under Caswell's leadership, the Office of Species Conservation won the Idaho Legislature's approval for two politically charged issues: a wolf management plan and a Yellowstone grizzly bear management plan. Before taking his current job, Caswell spent 33 years in various positions with the BLM, Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Forest Service....
U.S. to study protection for Alaska loon A petition seeking Endangered Species Act protection for a rare loon that breeds in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve has been accepted for review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Conservationists hope an eventual listing of the yellow-billed loon will curb petroleum development in the 23-million acre reserve that covers much of Alaska's western North Slope. The petition was filed three years ago by the Center for Biological Diversity, the National Resource Defense Council, Pacific Environment and other U.S. and Russian scientific and conservation organizations. The Fish and Wildlife Service said it will publish its determination Wednesday in the Federal Register that the yellow-billed loon may merit protections. The finding requires the agency to solicit public comment, carry out a status review of the species, and if merited, issue a proposed rule to protect the loons later this year....
Who killed the honeybees? The buzz about the alarming disappearance of bees has been all about people food. Honeybees pollinate one-third of the fruits, nuts and vegetables that end up in our homey kitchen baskets. If the tireless apian workers didn't fly from one flower to the next, depositing pollen grains so that fruit trees can bloom, America could well be asking where its next meal would come from. Last fall, the nation's beekeepers watched in horror as more than a quarter of their 2.4 million colonies collapsed, killing billions of nature's little fertilizers. But as a Salon round table discussion with bee experts revealed, the mass exodus of bees to the great hive in the sky forebodes a bigger story. The faltering dance between honeybees and trees is symptomatic of industrial disease. As the scientists outlined some of the biological agents behind "colony collapse disorder," and dismissed the ones that are not -- sorry, friends, the Rapture is out -- they sketched a picture of how we are forever altering the planet's delicate web of life. The scientists constituted a fascinating foursome, each with his own point of view. Jeffery Pettis, research leader of the USDA's honeybee lab, told us the current collapse is one of the worst in history. Eric Mussen, of the Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California at Davis, maintained that it may only be cyclical. Wayne Esaias, of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, an amateur beekeeper, outlined his compelling views about the impact of climate change on bees. And John McDonald, a biologist, beekeeper and gentleman farmer in rural Pennsylvania, reminded us, if at times sardonically, of the poetry in agriculture....
300 bison headed to slaughter house State and federal agencies this week will begin capturing and slaughtering up to 300 bison, including 100 calves, that have entered Montana from Yellowstone National Park. Ranchers packed a crowded meeting of the state Board of Livestock on Tuesday and generally supported the plan as critical to protect their industry. However, a spokeswoman for the Buffalo Field Campaign vowed that her group would let Americans know through a media campaign about Montana's slaughter of the bison “moms and babies.” Acting State Veterinarian Jeanne Rankin unveiled the bison plan at the emergency meeting of the state Board of Livestock after reporting that repeated efforts to haze the bison back into the park had failed this spring. Livestock Board members present all endorsed Rankin's plan as a means to help Montana preserve its brucellosis-free status, which is critical for the state's $2.5 billion cattle industry. However, it was Rankin's decision alone to make as state veterinarian....
Column - Dam the Salmon(sub) Al Gore has been hectoring Americans to pare back their lifestyles to fight global warming. But if Mr. Gore wants us to rethink our priorities in the face of this mother of all environmental threats, surely he has convinced his fellow greens to rethink theirs, right? Wrong. If their opposition to the Klamath hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest is any indication, the greens, it appears, are just as unwilling to sacrifice their pet causes as a Texas rancher is to sacrifice his pickup truck. If anything, the radicalization of the environmental movement is the bigger obstacle to addressing global warming than the allegedly gluttonous American way of life. Once regarded as the symbol of national greatness, hydroelectric dams have now fallen into disrepute for many legitimate reasons. They are enormously expensive undertakings that would never have taken off but for hefty government subsidies. Worse, they typically involve changing the natural course of rivers, causing painful disruptions for towns and tribes. But tearing down the Klamath dams, the last of which was completed in 1962, will do more harm than good at this stage. These dams provide cheap, renewable energy to 70,000 homes in Oregon and California. Replacing this energy with natural gas -- the cleanest fossil-fuel source -- would still pump 473,000 tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. This is roughly equal to the annual emissions of 102,000 cars. Given this alternative, one would think that environmentalists would form a human shield around the dams to protect them. Instead, they have been fighting tooth-and-nail to tear them down because the dams stand in the way of migrating salmon. Environmentalists don't even let many states, including California, count hydro as renewable....
Easement prevents homes, but drilling still a threat A massive conservation easement on a scenic area near Carbondale will protect against residential development, but it can't fully guard against oil and gas drilling, according to Pitkin County Open Space Director Dale Will. A natural gas wellpad is temporary, he said, "but once something's covered with houses, that's it." Last week, Pitkin County officially purchased the $10 million conservation easement on Jerome Park, a 4,773-acre swath of open ranchland, from an association of local ranchers that don't hold the property's subsurface mineral rights. Those rights are divided into 1,751 shares scattered between at least 30 people in and out of state, according to extensive records kept by Ed Grange, a lifelong local. Grange and other descendants of the original ranchers who bought Jerome Park in the 1940s hold many of those shares. If they chose to sell, it could potentially open the area to energy companies. "Sometimes you have to protect properties one step at a time," Will said of the purchase....
Mineral rights complicate conservation easements Wrangling with rogue mineral rights is old hat for many land trusts in the West. Most private landowners in the mineral-rich region simply don't own their subsurface rights because a previous owner held onto them, or because the federal government never let go of them, according to Martha Cochran, executive director of Carbondale-based Aspen Valley Land Trust. The situation is commonly known as "split estate." Cochran said 80 to 90 percent of the properties AVLT looks at for potential easements are split estates, be they in Marble, Carbondale or unincorporated Garfield County. In order for landowners with split estates to officially conserve their property with associated tax benefits, she explained, they must demonstrate that their property does not have accessible, economically viable mineral resources that could be developed through permanently destructive activities such as strip or shaft mining. But "the IRS considers oil and gas temporary and reclaimable," Cochran said. That's one reason why AVLT made sure to acquire mineral rights for a conservation easement on a 45-acre parcel of riparian habitat near Carbondale where there was significant potential for a gravel pit, but it "doesn't bother" with subsurface rights for properties where oil and gas development is possible or likely....
Oil Industry Fights House Energy Bill A trade group representing independent oil producers on Wednesday lambasted a controversial U.S. House proposal it says would make it harder for oil and natural gas companies to drill on federal lands. By making it more difficult for companies to obtain drilling permits, the bill would threaten output and only worsen the country's tight energy supply-demand balance, said the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Rahall's "Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007" would repeal 2005 energy laws that streamline the drilling permitting process in the Intermountain West, require any oil or gas the government receives as payment for energy development on federal lands to go towards the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and promote clean coal technologies. It also would impose a $10-per-acre fee on non-producing federal onshore oil, gas and coal leases. The money would go towards repairing land damage caused by drilling. The goal, Rahall said, is to reform energy policies so that they ensure that energy development is done in a responsible way, protect fish and wildlife, address climate change and advance alternative energy strategies. "In the rush to drill, other American values are being placed on the chopping block," Rahall said during a hearing on his legislation held last week. "We have heard from ranchers whose families have been on the same land for generations but who are being forced to sell off their cattle and close shop, driven off their own land by drilling rigs."....
Thomas supports Range lease ban Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., plans to introduce legislation perhaps as soon as next month that would block future energy leasing in the Wyoming Range, a spokesman says. Cameron Hardy, spokesman for Thomas in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday that workers on the senator's staff are meeting with energy company officials in Wyoming this week about the legislation. Thomas believes a bill to block further leasing in the area, in far western Wyoming, would not encounter significant opposition, Hardy said. The senator has expressed support for limiting development there for years. Thomas' legislation would not address current leases in the mountain range, Hardy said. He said the bill would leave open the possibility that the state government or conservation groups could try to buy out existing energy company leases to retire them....
Oil and gas lease buyback proposed The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has endorsed an unusual proposal to buy back oil and gas leases in the Wyoming Range. Some 150,000 acres of the 750,000-acre Wyoming Range in the western part of the state were leased between the 1960s and 2003 for oil and gas drilling. Another 44,700 that were leased or eyed for leasing in 2005 and 2006 have had a stay placed on them as a result of protests. Locals, conservationists and sportsmen have objected to drilling in the range, known for its moose habitat and trout fishing. Though it has been drilled in the past, the area is poised to see more of that in the near future. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission sent a letter on May 23 to Mark Rye, undersecretary of Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It supported legislation to permit undeveloped oil and gas leases in the range to be voluntarily sold or donated by energy companies and permanently retired....
Proposed mining regs draw howls As small-time prospectors gear up for gold dredging season, a new set of proposed U.S. Forest Service regulations is being widely panned. The proposed rules give new teeth to "operating plans" required by the Forest Service, providing powers to criminally prosecute those who violate said plans, rather than seeking remedies in civil court. The Proposed Rule for Criminal Citation to Mineral Operators for Unauthorized Occupancy and Use of National Forest System Lands and Facilities, as it's called, takes particular aim at those who illegally squat on forest land while looking for gold or who stay beyond the time allowed on their mining claim. The proposed rules have been faulted on a number of fronts. Some local prospectors say the time limits imposed by the Forest Service through forest managers themselves are unfair and leave prospectors little time to establish or work a claim — and make improvements to the land, as required by federal mining laws. In much of the Stanislaus National Forest, a person can work a claim up to 21 days per calendar year. In some areas, the limit is seven days. "A working claim is a working claim and it takes time," said Robert "I-Bar Bob" Eastbach, a member of the Lost Dutchman's Mining Association, an organization for mining enthusiasts which owns a camp on the south bank of the Middle Fork Stanislaus River, in an area called Italian Bar....
Arson defendant spared `terrorist' label A radical environmentalist from Canada was sentenced Tuesday to more than three years in federal prison after a judge suggested that he consider taking a class on the United States system of democracy. Darren Todd Thurston, 37, was the fourth of 10 Operation Backfire defendants to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Eugene - and the first to avoid being labeled a "terrorist" under federal terrorism law. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of arson in connection with damage done to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse Facility in Litchfield, Calif., on Oct. 15, 2001. His sentence includes paying restitution of $122,497. In the 11 years leading up to that crime, Thurston enjoyed "virtual stardom" in radical activist circles for his communiques and publications, including two editions of "The Final Nail: Destroying the Fur Industry - A Guided Tour," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer said. The publication, posted on the Internet, identified the location of fur ranches and provided instructions on how to create incendiary devices, Peifer said. As recently as 2003, Thurston manufactured an explosive known as HGMD in Portland and then conducted a demonstration test in Redway, Calif., for the benefit of a representative of the Zapatista guerrilla movement in Mexico, Peifer said....
Wolstein defends Flats effort, denies intentional decline Developer Scott Wolstein said his family poured more than $10 million into Flats east bank entertainment, only to see businesses fail as the one-time national draw floundered in a wave of cut-rate beer and underage drinking. Testifying in court Friday, Wolstein rejected charges that his company let riverfront properties slide into blight, dragging down values of land that he wanted to acquire for a $230 million redevelopment. Wolstein, at times defiant and testy, fielded 3½ hours of questions before Cuyahoga County Probate Judge John E. Corrigan. The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is suing to take 12 parcels north of the Main Avenue Bridge by eminent domain, in support of a Wolstein-led plan to build housing and shops to revive the moribund district....
Copper, cattle working together on tailings Copper and cattle, two of Arizona's bedrock five-Cs industries, are working together at Phelps Dodge Miami to to solve what used to be a serious problem. Old-timers can remember when the dry slopes of the massive tailings dams would blow up a dust storm on windy days. And when it rained, the fine sandy material would wash into creek beds, causing siltation problems. It wasn't against the law back then but local residents complained about the dust. And eventually, various governmental entities became concerned about both the dust and the siltation. Mining companies tried to address the problem in various ways. Sixty years ago,Miami Copper Company spread wood chips on the slope of the big tailings dam near Miami. The wood chips helped keep the dust down a little, but quickly washed away when it rained. In other places, crushed slag was used to hold down the finely ground material, and once, they put up snow fences to try to keep it from drifting. Nothing worked very well. In 1989 the company began to address the problem in another unique way: they covered the tailings dams with earth, then began grazing cows on them. Patterned after a holistic land management system developed by Rhodesian ecologist, Allan Savory, the process takes the land through a life cycle. The whole eco-system is considered, and grazing cattle on the land is an important part of the cycle. The Phelps Dodge tailings reclamation project is recognized world wide and has received many awards. Jones said they have given tours for, among others, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Game and Fish, the Arizona State Mine Inspector, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and universities from all over the world. “The cows are the secret,” Jones said. “You can't stabilize these slopes mechanically, cows do it best. They change it from a verticle texture to a horizontal texture.”....
Lincoln officials say many trees will recover from bugs Lincoln National Forest officials have been assessing damage caused by insects and a fungus that have infested trees, as well as the possible fire hazards left by the damage. Forest Supervisor Lou Woltering said fire danger currently is moderate. No campgrounds or other areas are closed and no fire restrictions are in effect "because the threat is not there," he said. Southern Lincoln County residents expressed concern earlier this month that pinons around their communities are turning brown. Forest officias have said the discoloration appears to be connected to a fungus _ known as "needle-cast" _ that has invaded Ruidoso Downs, Weed, Mayhill, High Rolls and Nogal. They say most of the trees are expected to recover but likely will have thin crowns for a year or two. Woltering said the Lincoln has no plans to spray against insects. He said Otero County Administrator Martin Moore told him about half the people the county had heard from oppose spraying. In March, the Otero County Commission declared a disaster and a state of emergency for the Lincoln National Forest because of insects. Woltering said the Forest Service doesn't believe the current situation warrants declaring an emergency because there's no significant threat of fire....
A predator hot spot
The Upper Green River Cattle Association in northwest Wyoming loses livestock to predation by wolves and grizzly bears, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. “We’ve been in existence since 1917,” said Albert Sommers, president of the association, “and we’ve always hired (range) riders to work with our cattle.” Riders, just like the cowboys of yore, have a number of chores: fixing fence, moving cattle around the allotments, setting out salt blocks and doctoring sick or injured cattle. “They also count the dead and pick up the pieces,” Sommers said. The Upper Green River Cattle Allotment, near Pinedale in Sublette County, is the largest U.S. Forest Service allotment in the nation, which permits grazing for 7,565 cattle and 27 horses on about 130,000 acres. The grazing permits are held by the 16 members of the Upper Green River Cattle Association. The association had 50 confirmed predator kills last year and 40 the year before -- confirmed by state and federal biologists. Yet association members strongly believe there are even more losses due to wolf and grizzly bear predation. Their analysis estimates that they’ve been compensated for 45 percent of the calves killed by grizzly bears and 16 percent of the calves killed by wolves on the allotment....
Calling a truce Most every Wyoming rancher has a common set of tools used in the business of raising livestock. A ranch pickup is likely to hold pliers, a hammer, wire for repairing fences, syringes for calf inoculations, a can of nails, rope and chains, a salt block, maybe a bale or two of hay, and a rifle in a window rack for shooting coyotes and other "varmints." It is this last “tool” that you simply won’t find in vehicles used by Stacey Scott, a Natrona County rancher. It isn’t because he doesn’t have predators; he does, and they include coyotes, foxes, mountain lions, bobcats, badgers, mink and various raptors. The most numerous, big mammalian predator in the area is the coyote, but Scott doesn’t shoot coyotes. He hasn’t lost more than one or two calves to coyote predation in 30 years. “We don’t have any (predator losses),” he said. Without the stress of being hunted and trapped, coyotes will develop stable territories and populations without much movement in and out of their home areas, Scott said. The rancher said there is a direct correlation, a “cause and effect,” between pressures put on coyotes by ranchers, and how coyotes respond. Scott said most of his neighboring ranchers try “to shoot every coyote they see.”....
Coyote Ugly The camera tracks right across a field covered in tall grass. It follows the quick movements of a small animal, whose silhouette slips from behind the grass. A small doglike form comes into focus. The coyote’s pointy ears shift. It takes a couple of wary steps. A moment later, it is blown away—a cloudy burst of dust and hair, then nothing. This short video on the Rocky Mountain Varmint Hunter Website, rmvh.com, is just one in a line of “varmint safari” videos. According to the Website, these films are the work of two Salt Lake City-based “hardcore varmint-hunting fanatics.” The long understood status quo is that coyotes are varmints. Today, while state and federal agencies kill coyotes to keep deer populations robust for hunters and to protect livestock, coyote hunting has become big business. Rocky Mountain Varmint Hunters is helping to fuel that industry. While coyote hunting associations, clubs and competitions spring up across the country, the rationale for the pastime is seen by some as a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem. Others just call it a blood sport. “Now, every manufacturer has a varmint line,” says Janet Hansen, the CEO of the Varmint Hunter’s Association, based in South Dakota. “Our guys shoot more often and spend more money. It’s a huge revenue source for these manufacturers.” Not only have sales of hunting gear increased, she says, but a tourist industry has grown up around varmint hunting....
Cow shootings anger ranchers in West Marin Another North Bay heifer has been found shot to death, bringing to four the number of cows killed this year. Officials say a necropsy of a 600-pound heifer found dead on a Petaluma ranch Saturday will determine whether the shooting is related to three other cow shootings on the Marin-Sonoma border since February. Marin Humane Society Capt. Cindy Machado said the shooting appears to fit the pattern of shootings on Marin's Chileno Valley ranches, where an Angus cow and two calves were shot in February and March. The dead Petulama heifer was found about 50 feet off the road in a pasture near 5765 Roblar Road by owner Nick Bursio. The animal had a 1-inch-diameter wound near its heart....
Cowboys Were Her Weakness: John Clayton’s The Cowboy Girl Caroline Lockhart, born in 1871, was a pioneering female journalist, a world traveler, a promoter of Buffalo Bill’s legend and legacy, one of the founders of the Cody, Wyoming Stampede rodeo, a novelist, a newspaper publisher and editor, and a Wyoming rancher. But until reading John Clayton’s fine biography, The Cowboy Girl: The Life of Caroline Lockhart, I’d never heard of her, and chances are that many others haven’t either--she doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, for example. Lockhart, in Clayton’s balanced, non-judgmental telling, is often difficult to love but always larger-than-life, and The Cowboy Girl is a striking portrait of a Western woman who lived on her own terms throughout her long, extraordinary life....
'Buffalo' is tale of an unlikely pet In the new book "A Buffalo in the House" by R.D. Rosen, you'll read about one couple's experiences with an unlikely pet, and the way it buffaloed its way into their hearts. In the late 1800s, when Indian-white relations were far from friendly and buffalo were being hunted to near-extinction, Texas rancher Charles Goodnight and his wife, Mary Ann, hand-raised two buffalo calves and eventually grew them into a herd. Friendly with the Taos Pueblo Indians, Goodnight later gave several animals to the New Mexico natives so the tribe would have access to precious buffalo tallow. Three generations after Goodnight's death in 1929, his gift was nearly forgotten. But Charles' generosity wasn't forgotten by his great-great-niece, artist Veryl Goodnight. Veryl knew about her ancestors and wanted to honor them through sculpture. But since Veryl worked with living models, she needed a buffalo calf. She and her husband, Roger Brooks, spread the word to ranchers that an orphaned buffalo was needed in New Mexico. Enter Charlie, as the couple called him. Left behind after a herd migration, Charlie was less than a week old when Veryl and Roger flew to Idaho to claim him....
FLE

Immigration agency mired in inefficiency Last June, U.S. immigration officials were presented a plan that supporters said could help slash waiting times for green cards from nearly three years to three months and save 1 million applicants more than a third of the 45 hours they could expect to spend in government lines. It would also save about $350 million. The response? No thanks. Leaders of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected key changes because ending huge immigration backlogs nationwide would rob the agency of application and renewal fees that cover 20 percent of its $1.8 billion budget, according to the plan's author, agency ombudsman Prakash Khatri. Current and former immigration officials dispute that, saying Khatri's plan, based on a successful pilot program in Dallas, would be unmanageable if expanded nationwide. Still, they acknowledge financial problems and say that modernization efforts have been delayed since 1999 by money shortages, inertia, increased security demands after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the disruptive launch of the Homeland Security Department. As the nation debates whether, and how, to legalize as many as 12 million illegal immigrants living here, the agency that would spearhead the effort is confronting its reputation as a broken bureaucracy whose inefficiency encourages more illegal immigration and paradoxical disincentives to change....
Napolitano voices frustration over border agent policy to U.S. Secretary of State Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have written U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice voicing their upset with a Bush administration program that has U.S. Border Patrol agents helping train Iraqi security forces. Some of those agents could come from the U.S. border with Mexico. The Southwestern governors say sending some border agents to Iraq and other foreign countries could take away from local security efforts. In their May 25 letter to Rice, Napolitano and Richardson, a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, reference a federal contract with DynCorp International that allows the company to recruit Border Patrol officers for temporary foreign training assignments. "The administration needs to decide whose security is more important, America's or Iraq's. We believe America's come first," said the governors in their letter. Virginia-based DynCorp is a private government contractor that trains police and security forces in foreign markets including Afghanistan and Iraq. The program offers some incentives to Border Patrol agents going into dangerous overseas areas. Unlike many other Democrats, Napolitano has supported the Iraq War....
Immigration Reform Must Include Protection for U.S. Border Agents While Congress debates Immigration Reform, Don Swarthout, President of Christians Reviving America's Values (CRAVE) is calling for the protection of U.S. border patrol agents. Swarthout said, "If we are going to give 12 million Illegal Aliens amnesty after they have illegally broken into our country, we should also make sure our U.S. border agents are protected as well. Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos are absolutely perfect examples." Compean got 12 years and Ramos 11 years after being charged with attempted murder when they shot a drug smuggler who was trying to escape back into Mexico. An over zealous prosecutor unjustly convicted Compean and Ramos who were just trying to do their jobs. This is just one of several recent unjust prosecutions of our border patrol agents. CRAVE is calling upon our Congress to include urgently needed language in the Immigration Reform Bill to protect our border patrol agents from over zealous prosecutors and to immediately free Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos....
Group: Terrorism not focus of Homeland Security Claims of terrorism represented less than 0.01 percent of charges filed in recent years in immigration courts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a report issued Sunday by an independent research group. This comes despite the fact the Bush administration has repeatedly asserted that fighting terrorism is the central mission of DHS. The Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse said it analyzed millions of previously undisclosed records obtained from the immigration courts under the Freedom of Information Act. Of the 814,073 people charged by DHS in immigration courts during the past three years, 12 faced charges of terrorism, TRAC said. Those 12 cases represent 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed....
Private guards weak link in homeland security Private security guards paid little more than janitors and restaurant cooks are guarding many of the critical security sites in the United States, usually with minimal or no anti-terrorist training, an Associated Press investigation found. The nation's security industry found itself involuntarily transformed after Sept. 11, 2001, from an army of "rent-a-cops" to protectors of the homeland. But cutthroat competition by security firms trying to win contracts with low bids has kept wages low and high-level training non-existent. Security consultant Hallcrest Systems, in a January 2005 report for the Department of Homeland Security, said its experts believe that 15-20% of the country's private security officers protect sites designated by the government as "critical infrastructure." Major cities have a ratio of three or four security officers to each police officer, the study said. And the industry is governed by a maze of conflicting state rules, according to a nationwide survey by the AP. Wide chasms exist among states in requirements for training and background checks. Tens of thousands of guard applicants were found to have criminal backgrounds....

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NOTE TO READERS

Today was my birthday and I'm taking the night off.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Brazil Company Buying Swift & Co.

JBS SA, the company that controls Brazil's leading beef exporter Friboi, will buy U.S.-based Swift & Co. in a $225 million cash deal, that also comes with $1.2 billion in debt, JBS announced Tuesday. Private equity firm HM Capital acquired the troubled meats company from ConAgra Foods, Inc. in September 2002. Swift is the third-largest U.S. processor of beef and pork. The combined company will be the world's largest beef company, and make JBS Brazil's biggest food company, JBS said. The deal for Swift was announced before markets opened Tuesday. The acquisition must be approved by local authorities and JBS said it expects to conclude the deal by July....
CANADIAN RODEO BANS TIMED EVENTS

Cloverdale Rodeo to stop calf-roping event after calf's death Saturday Following the death of a calf in Saturday's calf roping event, the Cloverdale Rodeo Association announced today that it will no longer include roping events in its annual Surrey fair. "We felt as a board of agricultural people - as an association of agricultural people - that we didn't want this to ever happen again," association spokesperson Laura Ballance said of the death. So starting next year, the rodeo, one of the five largest in Canada and a mainstay of the Victoria Day weekend, will no longer include calf-roping, team roping, steer wrestling or wild-cow milking. However, because of that decision the rodeo will no longer be sanctioned by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA), which insists that all sanctioned rodeos include roping events. What that means to rodeo participants, Ballance said, is that when they win events at Cloverdale in future, they will no longer be able to accrue points towards an over-all Canadian title....
Circle the wagons: Lorne Gunter on the animal-rights threat to Canadian rodeos he Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair in Surrey, B.C. bills itself as “a celebration of western lifestyle.” Well, no longer. After a calf had to be euthanized Saturday following the roping competition, organizers of the 119-year-old event capitulated to pressure from animal-rights groups (and its own increasingly urbanized, politically correct board) by banning calf-roping, team roping, steer wrestling and wild cow milking starting next year. Cloverdale’s directors hailed their decision as “progressive” and “with the times.” But in reality, it is further evidence that as Canadian society moves away from its rural roots, we are falsely romanticizing and anthropomorphizing animals. We wish we could blame the rodeo’s decision entirely on animal rights activists, some of whom tried to disrupt last weekend’s event by forcing their way onto the rodeo infield to block competition. But the truth is, rodeo’s sanctioning bodies have caused some of their sport’s own problems. Just as some overly concerned pet lovers have started referring to their pets by the politically correct term “non-human companions,” rodeo organizations have — with an eye to deflecting criticism — taken to calling rodeo stock “animal athletes.” On the surface, this may seem to give the bulls, horses, steers and calves used in rodeo a higher level of respect. But by reinforcing the notion that the livestock are active participants with a stake in the competition, this terminology feeds rodeo’s opponents’ argument that the animals understand what is going on at rodeos and feel distress from it. Cowboys and stock contractors who supply animals to rodeos already do their utmost to protect the livestock. Most major rodeos feature an animal protection society officer whose job it is to ensure no animal is mistreated. As people who handle animals for a living, too, most riders, ropers and contractors understand better than those who would shut them down what the stock can and cannot tolerate without injury or duress....
No rodeo ban here - Edmonton Local rodeo organizers are bucking a suggestion the productions should be banned because they’re cruel to animals. “We have heard that extreme view at some time or another over the years, but I think everyone appreciates when they come down and see that the animals are being treated well,” Jim Oscroft, chairman of the St. Albert Kinsmen Rainmaker Rodeo and Exhibition, told Sun Media today. The rodeo runs this weekend. The Vancouver Humane Society has been leading a charge against rodeos, and was successful recently in convincing the City of Vancouver to ban the events. Peter Fricker, a spokesman for the Vancouver Humane Society, said other rodeos and cities like Edmonton – where the Canadian Finals Rodeo is held each year – should consider similar bans....
Rodeo ban renews Stampede criticism Buoyed by a B.C. rodeo's startling ban on controversial livestock events, Calgary animal rights activists vow to ramp up protests in July urging the Stampede to follow suit. Rodeo professionals, however, say the Calgary Stampede rodeo is one of the last bastions of western tradition, and yanking calf roping and steer wrestling from the program -- as officials did in Cloverdale, B.C. -- won't happen any time soon. "We don't see a lot of push for change in Alberta," said Dale Leschiutta, president of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association in Edmonton. "Calgary represents a truly western lifestyle, so rodeo lovers would be very reluctant to changes like this one at the Stampede." Calgary Stampede officials say dropping or modifying any contentious events from this year's rodeo is not on the agenda. "We will continue to monitor all events, but at this point we don't anticipate changing or modifying or eliminating any rodeo event," said Doug Fraser, a Stampede spokesman....
Educating fans key to rodeo survival Calf roping part of everyday life on ranches: Jasper Rodeo is a celebration of a way of life. A life that’s hard to understand for people who’ve never experienced a working ranch, Quesnel Rodeo Club president Ray Jasper said. Many people in Quesnel have grown up in cowboy country or attended local rodeos and witnessed how animals are treated during everyday ranching activities and in rodeos. Saturday at Cloverdale, a calf was put down after it tripped and broke an ankle during a tie-down roping go-round. After, it forced rodeo organizers to become the first Canadian pro rodeo to ban tie-down roping, team roping, cowboy cow milking and steer wrestling, a wave of disbelief swept through Quesnel’s rodeo community. “The groups that are against rodeo may view this as a toehold or foot in the door if we as a rodeo community don’t take this as very serious,” Jasper said. “The only way we can combat it is through education, educating people as to what actually goes on.” Jasper connects rodeo very closely to a way of life – ranch life. “In a ranch these animals have to be roped and branded to protect ownership or to be doctored,” Jasper said. “Concerning the issue of roping as cruelty to animals – it’s a working part of a ranch and without it a ranch can’t exist.”....
NEWS ROUNDUP

U.S. Rebuffs Germany on Greenhouse Gas Cuts The United States has rejected Germany’s proposal for deep long-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, setting the stage for a battle that will pit President Bush against his European allies at next month’s meeting of the world’s richest countries. In unusually harsh language, Bush administration negotiators took issue with the German draft of the communiqué for the meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations, complaining that the proposal “crosses multiple red lines in terms of what we simply cannot agree to.” “We have tried to tread lightly, but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position,” the American response said. Germany, backed by Britain and now Japan, has proposed cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who will be the host of the meeting in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm next month, has been pushing hard to get the Group of 8 to take significant action on climate change. It had been a foregone conclusion that the Western European members of the Group of 8 — Germany, Italy, France and Britain — would back the reductions. But on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan threw his lot in with the Europeans, and proposed cutting carbon emissions as part of a new framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose mandatory caps on gases end in 2012....
Pelosi: Climate Change Is a Reality House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday she led a congressional delegation to Greenland, where lawmakers saw "firsthand evidence that climate change is a reality," and she hoped the Bush administration would consider a new path on the issue. After meeting with German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Pelosi praised Berlin for its leadership on the issue. Her trip comes ahead of next week's Group of Eight summit and a climate change meeting next month involving the leading industrialized nations and during a time of increased debate over what should succeed the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international treaty that caps the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories in industrialized countries. It expires in 2012. President Bush rejected that accord, saying it would harm the U.S. economy and unfair excludes developing countries like China and India from its obligations. Pelosi, who strongly disagrees with that decision and many other of Bush's environmental policies, said Friday she said she wants to work with the administration rather than provoke it. Pelosi said she hoped Bush would be open to considering a "different way" in the future....
Berkeley sets tough course for its residents to follow In Berkeley's green future, there will be no incandescent lightbulbs, Wedgewood stoves or gas-powered water heaters. The only sounds will be the whir of bicycles and the purr of hybrid cars -- and possibly curses from residents being forced to upgrade all their kitchen appliances. Six months after Berkeley voters overwhelmingly passed Measure G, a mandate to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, the city is laying out a long-term road map for residents, business and industry. It includes everything from solar panels at the Pacific Steel foundry to composted table scraps. While San Francisco, Oakland and other local governments in the Bay Area have approved policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Berkeley is the first to begin spelling out how people would be expected to reduce their carbon footprints. Some measures will be popular and easy, like a car-share vehicle on every block and free bus passes. But others will be bitter pills, such as strict and costly requirements that homes have new high-efficiency appliances, solar-powered water heaters, insulation in the walls and other energy savers....
Drought Allows Florida to Clean Bottom of Lake Okeechobee The severe drought in South Florida had an upside for state water management officials who took advantage of the low water levels in Lake Okeechobee and began giving the lake bed a good cleaning. At an almost record low of 9.2 feet, the lake’s water level exposed areas where oozy and polluted muck sediment containing decomposed organic matter had accumulated, covering most of the lake bed at depths of more than a foot. Officials from the South Florida Water Management District brought in bulldozers and dump trucks to several sites around the lake on Thursday to scrape the muck and expose the natural bottom in an effort to promote the regrowth of submerged aquatic vegetation and shoreline marshes, which had been suffering since the active 2004 hurricane season. The hurricanes that hit the state in 2004 and 2005 stirred up the muck, keeping sunlight from plants and lowering water clarity in the 730-square-mile lake. In just one site, water management officials expect to take about three months to dredge out 500,000 cubic yards of muck from 800 acres of lake bed....
Veteran firefighters say they set unauthorized blazes Three veterans of fighting wildfires in the West say they set scores of unauthorized blazes on public lands during their decades of service. Their revelations come as retired Forest Service commander Van Bateman awaits sentencing June 4 after he pleaded guilty to setting timber on fire without authorization. The Federal Emergency Management Agency singled out Bateman as a hero for his work in New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Bateman's sentence could range from probation to two years in prison. Firefighters sometimes set fires to burn out undergrowth in overgrown forest areas. The intent is to reduce the amount of fuel for fires. Bateman and his fellow firefighters admitted they sometimes bypassed required procedures. "I would be shocked if there's anybody who's spent their career in forest management who hasn't done this," Bateman said. "I was doing my job." The three wildfire veterans, all of whom are friends and former colleagues of Bateman, concurred. Charlie Denton, a 43-year employee of the Forest Service who retired in 2000 as fire operations chief for Arizona and New Mexico, said he set dozens of fires without approval. "It was with the intent of doing something good," he said. "I bet I could get a list of 200 people" who did the same. Larry Humphrey, who retired in 2004 as a fire management supervisor and Type 1 incident commander with the Bureau of Land Management, said it is common to set small blazes and avoid paperwork and procedures required for prescribed burns. "If you had to bend the rules a little, you bent the rules," he said. A Type 1 incident commander is responsible for the largest fires and national catastrophes. There are 14 such commanders in the nation. Jim Paxon, who spent 34 years in the Forest Service before retiring in 2003 and who works as a TV news consultant, said, "I've done exactly that. I can't tell you how many times."....
Why firefighter set forests ablaze remains unclear On June 23, 2004, a 55-year-old man stopped his pickup truck along a dirt road near a mud bog nestled in Ponderosa pines 45 miles south of Flagstaff. It was not unusual for Van Bateman, fire management officer for the Mogollon Ranger District, to be out in the woods, especially during wildfire season. But on this date, the U.S. Forest Service boss did something peculiar: After hiking down a short trail, he picked up a handful of dry pine needles, ignited them and placed them next to a dead oak tree. "It smoldered," Bateman later told investigators. "I just thought after I lit it, I thought, 'Hell, we'll just have a lightning fire here today for the boys to do something.' I knew the fire was going to grow and not go out." That statement, and the act it describes, ended the career of a federal employee who spent more than three decades protecting the West's wild lands. It also bewildered friends and colleagues who knew Bateman as a conscientious firefighter. In fact, he had become a near legend in the world of smoke jumpers and disaster-planning experts....
Desert pupfish in hot water The last place anyone would expect to find fish is Devil's Hole, a chasm in the middle of the Mojave Desert where a 100-degree day is mild and the only thing bigger than the rocky expanse of desert is the sky above it. But nature is nothing if not amazing -- as good an explanation as any of how the Devil's Hole pupfish has survived in the bottomless geothermal pool that gave the fish its name. It is tiny, just an inch long, yet few species loom so large in the history of American environmentalism. The Devil's Hole pupfish is one of the rarest animals in the world. The seemingly endless effort to save it laid the foundation for the Endangered Species Act and shaped Western water policy a generation ago with a landmark Supreme Court ruling. But after 20,000 years in the desert, the fish teeters on the edge of extinction. No more than 42 remain in Devil's Hole. The Devil's Hole pupfish has been the beneficiary of one of the most aggressive campaigns ever to preserve a species, an effort every bit as intense as those to save the bald eagle and California condor. The Endangered Species Act requires nothing less. But saving the pupfish is more than a legal obligation for the biologists and bureaucrats involved....
Wily coyotes invade Florida, stalk animals A band of sneaky, savage, bloodthirsty hunters has migrated from the western United States to the woods, farms and prairies of Florida. They've been observed prowling residential yards in the Panhandle, killing cattle in Central Florida and staring ominously at passersby in Everglades National Park. The marauders are coyotes, and so far, there's no stopping them. Some problems they cause: killing domestic pets; harassing livestock and wild game such as turkey and deer; and digging up buried sea turtle nests on beaches. Everglades National Park biologist Skip Snow reported an increase in coyote sightings in the park this year....
Rancher shoots wolf near Leadore A rancher in Leadore shot and killed a wolf after finding 6 of his lambs had been killed. Officials with Idaho Fish and Game say federal workers confirmed that the lambs had been killed by wolves. The rancher shot the wolf May 16th after finding it amidst his herd. Wolves are also suspected to have killed livestock and pets in the central Idaho towns of Ellis and Pinehurst. A calf was killed in Ellis and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game authorized the killing of 3 wolves there. However, those wolves haven't been found or killed yet. Three pet dogs were killed a few miles east of Pinehurst. The dogs' owner shot at three wolves in the area, but none of them were hit. Wolves are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, but ranchers are allowed to shoot wolves if the animals are seek attacking livestock or dogs.
Untamed river may get wilder One of the Sierra Nevada's wildest rivers should get even wilder but remain accessible to visitors, according to a group that has been studying the Clavey River for the past seven years. The long-awaited list of suggestions from the Clavey River Ecosystem Project includes everything from removing several small dams and expanding habitat on the 47-mile river for native yellow-legged frogs to preventing damage to the river from activities such as camping and motorized off-highway vehicle recreation. The project represents a diverse group of interests, including environmentalists, scientists and dirt bikers. Conspicuously absent from the report are detailed suggestions on how to manage grazing, one of the most controversial activities in the area because of its potential to damage upland meadows. The plan will be refined over the next nine months before the project submits its final plan to Stanislaus National Forest policymakers and others involved in caring for the river. State and federal dollars, including a $775,000 grant from the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, funded much of the work. The final list of proposed projects - and estimates of how much they will cost - will be done in February....
State striving to 'rehabilitate' watersheds This is rugged country, where sagebrush and juniper trees dominate a landscape that's marked by rolling hills, a couple of homes and one-lane roads. State wildlife officials are spending millions of dollars to preserve watersheds and rehabilitate native habitat in areas like this across Utah. So far, about 400,000 acres statewide have been treated and improved. The aim is to help keep endangered species, such as the sage grouse, off of the endangered-species list, improve watersheds and restore habitat. Utah's efforts have been recognized by other states, which are now following its lead with similar restoration projects. At first glance, the land here appears dry and unproductive. But state and federal officials, local cattle ranchers and conservationists say the dusty land is a top watershed area, and critical habitat for animals. They're working in several areas in the region to improve the land through a program known as the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative. The initiative is managed by the Utah Department of Natural Resources and Utah Partners for Conservation and Development (UPCD), which has members from more than 15 state and federal agencies. Close to $11 million has been spent on the Utah land restoration since the program's creation, and at least 920 projects have been completed or are under way, said Rory Reynolds, Watershed Program Director with the natural-resources department. The projects range from tearing out swaths of juniper that have invaded sagebrush habitat to removing highly flammable and non-native cheat grass. This helps to stop soil erosion, create wildlife habitat, improve grazing conditions and ensure that runoff doesn't evaporate, said Reynolds....
Saga of the spotted owl not over yet For the past year, Dominick DellaSala has been part of a 12-member team charged with creating a recovery plan for the northern spotted owl. Now a draft of the recovery plan has been released to the public, and he has become one of that plan’s most outspoken critics. Option 1 of the draft plan includes a map of forests that would be reserved for spotted owl habitat. “In many cases those locations are overlaid on the current reserve system in the Northwest Forest Plan,” Jewett says, referring to the comprehensive forest management plan that has stood in for specific owl protections since 1994. Option 2 of the draft plan, on the other hand, gives decision-making power to forest managers – meaning, for the most part, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. It provides guidelines they would have to follow to set aside reserves for spotted owls. “They would have more flexibility in deciding where those areas are going to be as they go through the process of revising their forest management plans,” Jewett says. The inclusion of two options in a draft wildlife recovery plan is unprecedented....
Editorial - Yes, they're terrorists Lawyers for the people who pled guilty and are now being sentenced for a crime spree that included the 1998 Vail Mountain arson naturally argue that their clients are not terrorists, no indeed. "KEVIN TUBBS IS NOT A TERRORIST," Tubbs' lawyer wrote in melodramatic fashion in a court brief (the capital letters were his). The given reason: Tubbs' violence was motivated by a love for animals and an "overwhelming feeling of despair." Tubbs, a supporter of the Earth Liberation Front, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Eugene, Ore., to more than 12 years in prison. Chelsea Gerlach's attorney argued that Gerlach's name didn't belong on a list of terrorists that included Timothy McVeigh, among others. She and William Rodgers, another member of the ELF cell that called itself the Family, carried out the Vail attack, but they didn't intend it to kill or hurt anyone - as if the fact that other terrorists are worse is some kind of excuse. Gerlach's sentence, handed down Friday, is for nine years. A third defendant, Stanislaus Meyerhoff, received 13 years at his sentencing Wednesday. The difficulty with these arguments is that the legal definition of the federal crime of terrorism does concern motive, but not in the way these criminals mean. Terrorism is "an offense that is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and is a violation of several different offense categories, among which is arson." Members of the Family have entered guilty pleas in more than 20 attacks carried out from 1995 to 2001 that caused more than $40 million in property damage in five states. Targets included both private property and facilities belonging to government agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management....
Lumber market in flux: Downturn in new housing partly responsible for industry slump The situation looks bleak now, but Montana's lumber mills are accustomed to tough times. Theirs is a business that swings between high and low, so they've stopped being surprised when the low times come back around. That doesn't make it any easier to bear when business is down, though - especially when it's been down for so long. Across Montana, lumber mills are talking curtailments and closures, and making sober announcements to their employees. They are laying off hundreds of loyal, longtime workers, many of whom have known no other career. This month, Stimson Lumber Co. announced that 133 workers would lose their jobs in Bonner when the company permanently closes its plywood plant in July, leaving only a stud mill at the site with fewer than 120 workers. Stimson laid off nearly as many people just two years ago, then dropped 43 more workers from Bonner late last year. It has also carved an additional 17 jobs from its finger-joiner plant in Libby. But Stimson is not alone in its troubles. Lumber companies across the nation are closing mills, and plywood plants in particular have been shuttering operations in response to burgeoning competition from a product called oriented strand board, or OSB. The health of the nation's lumber mills is heavily tied to the building industry, to competition from foreign producers and to log supply and prices, among other market pressures. According to the National Association of Realtors, new housing starts slid 12 percent through 2006 and are expected to drop an additional 15 percent by the end of 2007, to about 1.5 million units....
Plan for firefighting air tankers delayed A plan to modernize the nation's aging, depleted fleet of large firefighting tankers - promised this spring - apparently won't be completed in time for the looming wildfire season. And that has two Colorado congressmen asking questions. "I didn't want to presume that it's not forthcoming, but I would have expected some update before the last week of May and the fire season is soon upon us," said Rep. Mark Udall, of Boulder. He and fellow Democratic Rep. John Salazar, of Manassa, drafted a letter last week to Mark Rey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's undersecretary for natural resources and environment. Their question: Where do things stand? Rey told Udall and Salazar a year ago they could expect a plan for modernizing and replenishing the fleet by this spring. But Joe Walsh, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, now says that a study of the system won't be finished for months, at the earliest....
Report: Wildfire brings policy questions A blaze that killed five federal firefighters last year has emboldened those who question the cost of saving the ever expanding number of homes on the fringe of wilderness. However, the deaths also were blamed on social and political pressures and decisions to put homes before the safety of firefighters, according to a report from the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service. "We are not going to die for property," said Tom Harbour, national director of fire and aviation management for the Forest Service. "It‘s time for homeowners to take responsibility for the protection of their homes." Firefighters‘ attitudes also are an issue in protecting homes. "One of the standard fire orders states: ‘Fight the fire aggressively having provided for safety first,‘" said Peter Leschak, a 26-year firefighter and a commander for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources‘ Division of Forestry. "There has been an argument recently to change that because we don‘t need to encourage firefighters to be more aggressive — half the time we‘re holding them back." The Forest Service spends 44 percent of its budget on wildfire suppression annually, he said, and much of that work means protecting homes where suburbs collide with wilderness....
Forest Service says no permit necessary for cloud seeding The US Forest Service says the state of Wyoming can attempt to increase snowfall by seeding clouds over federal wilderness areas without federal environmental analysis. Environmentalists say the agency is trying to sidestep laws and its own regulations. Erin O'Connor is a Forest Service spokeswoman. She says Wyoming's proposal doesn't require review under the National Environmental Policy Act because the state does not intend to set foot on federal lands. The state is funding a 9- million study that involves spraying the air above the Medicine Bow, Sierra Madre and Wind River ranges with silver iodide by using aircraft and ground-based generators on state or private land. Environmentalists say the Forest Service decision doesn't comply with the federal Wilderness Act or the Forest Service's manuals. They say the agency manual that spells out how to manage wilderness areas prohibits long-term projects to try to change the weather....
Dinos' might in army sights Last winter's snow has the cactus sprouting brilliant blooms in the Picket Wire Canyonlands as snakes, scorpions and tarantulas scurry for cover on the sun- bleached earth of the Comanche National Grassland. The landscape of southeast Colorado also crawls with history, but time may be running out on public access to the past as Fort Carson considers acquiring the land for war training. This secluded valley is home to one of North America's richest dinosaurs finds - more than 1,300 individual tracks; 35 sites have yielded bones. "The great thing about this site is that it's here to see, and it's free for the public," said U.S. Forest Service paleontologist Bruce Schumacher, leaning against a rock after wading across the Purgatoire River - the River of Lost Souls, as French explorers first called it. Schumacher planted his bare feet near the beachball-sized tracks of a brontosaurus left 150 million years ago. "The history here is just layered on itself," he said. But every map proffered by the Army has included Picket Wire Canyonlands in the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. Colorado's congressional delegation is fighting the expansion because it would uproot families and communities in this historic Old West region. An older history is here too....
Column - Fees have become a public lands shakedown Scarcely anyone objected in 1996, when Congress authorized the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to charge the public new or increased fees for accessing its own land to fish, hunt, boat, drive, park, camp or walk. After all, it was going to be an experiment - a three-year pilot program. Hence the name: "Fee Demonstration." But when it comes to federal revenue, intermittent streams have a way of becoming perennial. Fee demo was extended in 2001, and again in 2004, when it was expanded into the Recreation Enhancement Act. RAT, for short, enabled the agencies to charge even more. The system places federal land managers in the business of attracting crowds, and it may motivate them to ignore the needs of fish and wildlife. Recreation becomes a business. The big beneficiary of these access fees has been the motorized recreation industry to which they've provided standing and representation. Sponsoring Fee Demo through a cost-share partnership with the Forest Service was the powerful American Recreation Coalition, whose membership is comprised mainly of manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles, motorized trail bikes, jet skis and recreation vehicles. And joining the coalition in lobbying aggressively for both Fee Demo and RAT have been the National Off Highway Vehicle Coalition, the National Snowmobile Manufacturers Association and consumers of all things motorized who band together as the Blue Ribbon Coalition....
Loss of herd to brucellosis test leaves couple reeling Leaning slightly against a gusty, chilled north wind, Jim and Sandy Morgan surveyed their ranch south of Bridger. The heavy-seeded grass was tall enough to wave in the wind. Reservoirs that were ringed with caked mud last summer were now brimming with spring rainwater. Plump Black Angus cows munched clover, calves in tow. The Morgans' 7-month-old son, Jake, snoozed inside the house on his grandma's lap. Jim grinned tightly and quipped, "I guess we won just the wrong lottery." The Morgans spent 10 days in early May gathering and matching cows to their rightful calves and riding a full day with six relatives to trail 300 cows to summer pasture. They had just finished when Brent Thompson, the Billings-based veterinarian for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), called on May 11. A cow from their herd had tested positive for brucellosis. Disbelief was Sandy Morgan's reaction. "It's just a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, and we didn't understand all the ramifications," she said. "We didn't understand that the whole herd could be eliminated because of one cow." They had to saddle up and spend four more days gathering their cattle from the rugged hills and moving them down to the home ranch for testing....
Kill or be killed The "padrone" whistles and waves at his two sheepherders in the distance, calling them over for a short chat. The two Chilean riders, Benito and Hector, saunter over on magnificent steeds, trailed by their equally magnificent Great Pyrenees sheepdogs. A herd of several hundred Rambouillet lambs and ewes grazes nearby, the animals recently shorn of their wool. The two herders have worked for the padrone, or boss, for more than a decade, and it's a pleasant, casual conversation. In rapid fire Spanish, they answer a series of quick questions, smile and nod at the visitors, and slowly make their way back to the herds. "Coyotes killed two ewes near the Little Colorado/Black Rock area just the other day," the padrone translates. "So far, Hector and Benito have killed about 90 coyotes this trip. The dogs have killed two." It's a bright spring day on the Alkali Flats near the Green River in central Sweetwater County. The padrone, lifetime Kemmerer rancher Truman Julian, is out checking on one of his many two-man camps....
Identifying the killers Ask any ranchers, trappers or sheepherders, and they'll pretty much agree that actually witnessing a predator kill livestock is rare. So when a lamb or calf carcass is found, it's important to identify the killing culprit so that appropriate management actions can be taken to prevent further losses. But how does a wildlife investigator determine if it was a coyote, wolf, fox, bobcat or perhaps even a human that killed the animal? A careful examination of the dead animal and the kill site can most times identify the offending predator, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services officials. "Every situation is different when you start the investigation side (of predator control)," said Rod Merrell, assistant district supervisor for Wildlife Services in Wyoming. "In a way, it's a bit like the television show CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)," Merrell said on a recent outing to a sheepherder's camp in Sweetwater County. "You've got to determine what's been killed, what killed it, what kind of predators live in this area that could have possibly done it, a whole lot of different things to work out," he said. "Identify the problem, identify the culprit, then remove him as humanely as possible. That's it in a nutshell." Accurately determining whether predation occurred and, if so, by what species, requires a considerable amount of knowledge and experience....
Discouraging words: Local ranching fades Cattle rancher Jon Rowley tips back the brim of his cowboy hat with a dusty, gloved hand and squints at the Arivaca sky. It's noon, and scattered gray clouds threaten to douse the Santa Lucia Ranch, where he has been rounding up calves since dawn. But the rain holds off, and before sundown Rowley, 64, and his "cowgrampses," as he affectionately calls them, will get 20 or so calves roped, branded, castrated, bug sprayed and dosed with selenium to help fight off a drought-related deficiency. This month Rowley, his wife, two ranch hands and a farmer neighbor will process about 270 calves - half the number the ranch supported before our current drought. In August they will ride across the 39,706 acres they lease from the county, state and federal governments to round up the cattle again to ship them to market. It's the kind of gritty work that puts calluses on your hands, dust in the back of your throat and beef on your table....
It's All Trew: Can you please pass the salt? Let's examine some of the reasons salt is important in history as well. Salt was taxed as far back as the 20th century B.C. in China and was one of the prime movers of national economies and the cause of wars. During the Roman Empire period, the main reason for building the famous cobblestone highways was to enable the caravans to haul salt to the Roman cities. Roman soldiers were partially paid wages with salt, and the word "salary" is still used today. The phrase "worth one's salt," meaning you have earned your wages, also came from this era. Salt played a part in the location and success of many large cities. Timbuktu and Liverpool were places where salt was traded. Salt both created and destroyed empires. The salt mines of Poland led to a vast kingdom only to be destroyed by the Germans developing a sea-salt process that could be processed more cheaply. Venice won success over Genoa in a salt war only to lose again when Columbus discovered America, which had plentiful salt supplies....
Coombs recalls early mining days in Nye Co. The residents of Tonopah and the surrounding area will celebrate Jim Butler Days May 25-28. The annual Memorial Day celebration is the biggest event sponsored by the community and is named in honor of the man who is credited with the discovery of the fabulous deposit of silver and gold that led to the town's creation in 1900. The development of Tonopah, of course, was a seminal event in the history of Nevada -- indeed, in Western America. As I have previously noted, it ushered in the last great flowering of the Old West in the United States. The activity Tonopah generated quickly led to the founding of Goldfield (1902), Rhyolite (1904), Manhattan (1905), Round Mountain (1906), and a long list of smaller boom towns not rooted deeply enough in the desert to long survive the teeth of time, to borrow a phrase from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietszche. Jim Butler was a Belmont rancher and former Nye County district attorney at the time of his Tonopah discovery in May 1900. Jim's wife was Belle, whom he had earlier married after a shootout in Tybo, in which Jim is said to have killed Belle's husband....
A disappearing trail in the West There is an aura that the modern rancher, modern cowboy, if you will, exemplifies — the almost-lost identity of our past, galloping through visions that we try so hard in our dreams and fantasies to hang onto, even if for just a little bit. Ranchers are today what ranchers have always been, sophisticated men of the West who give a sensual and artistic bent to the scenes that we conjure up in our minds. Stetsons creased with care and covered in dust, faded blue jeans tucked into the brightly colored tops of cowboy boots, wild rags tied under chins, rustling in the wind, and all assortment of vests, gloves, spurs and chaps adding the finishing touches to the workaday costume of the tall in the saddle, proud cowboy. These men, like the one with whom I batted ranching philosophy around, are rooted in unflinching traditions and are at uncompromising ease with their roles. They are the guardians of a world from our past, the American West of mythic proportions. It is ironic, if you think about it, that today’s cowboy, the reality of the cattle rancher’s West, is also yesterday’s cowboy, the mythical cattleman of the same American West. We talked horses, some good ones we’ve had, and as we reminisced, the retired cow dog, Tip, circled the truck and remembered, perhaps, the many reluctant cows he’d put through the corral gate, just a short throw from the front of the truck. And as we talked, somberness colored the tone, for the rancher realized, I think, that to unburden himself of the land he had nurtured so faithfully over the years was a sign of letting go, the taking of a tentative step into an unknown world where the answers are even fewer and further apart....
On John Wayne's 100th birthday, we remember the grit A few years ago, Albuquerque's Boyd Magers found himself in a bind while compiling an all-time list of top Western stars for Western Clippings, his magazine about cowboy movies and TV shows. "I kept going back and forth between (singing cowboys) Gene Autry and Roy Rogers for Nos. 2 and 3," Magers said during a phone interview this week. "But there was no question about No. 1. That was John Wayne." Magers said Wayne throws his tall shadow worldwide. "You mention him in Japan and people know him instantly," he said. "It's hard to say why. It's an almost undefinable thing, a kind of chemistry on the screen. "But to me, he epitomizes that manly let's-take-care-of-business attitude that doesn't seem to exist anymore. And the sense that's there's a right and a wrong and no in between." Wayne - Oscar-winning actor, mythic hero, American icon and one tough hombre - was born Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, 100 years ago today. He doesn't look his age. A Harris Poll done this year lists him as the third most popular movie star behind Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks. Not bad for someone who died of stomach cancer in 1979. But legends are not good about lying still....


US on Mad Cow: Don't Test All Cattle The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease. The Agriculture Department tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows. Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too. The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry. A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn't have the authority to restrict it. The ruling was to take effect June 1, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal _ effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge plays out....

Sunday, May 27, 2007

MEMORIAL DAY

It’s Not Political

Being a defender.

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Buried beneath a stretch of ground on a ridge above the Broad River here in Columbia, S.C., are the remains of some 140 Confederate soldiers. Though some are in unmarked graves, most are beneath neat rows of small, white tombstones. At the entrance to this relatively small section of the much larger Elmwood Cemetery is a large, wrought-iron archway that simply says, “Confederate Soldiers 1861-1865.”

Nearby are ten Union Army graves — at least eight of them being soldiers of the U.S. 8th Infantry Regiment — who died during the postwar occupation of Columbia.

The Union and Confederate graves are separated by an old stone wall — the wall itself something of an unofficial monument, built to divide, thus symbolizing the simmering distrust that existed between the two regions of the country for decades after the war ended in 1865.

Beyond these two sets of graves are interred thousands of other soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines (including many more Civil War veterans and countless descendents of those Civil War veterans) from different times and future wars.

My father, a Korean War veteran, is one of them.

Point being: no matter what flags Americans have served under — or causes they have fought for — since initially choosing between the colonies and the Crown back in 1775, all are indeed Americans.

And most of them have fought less over the politics of a given conflict and more from the sheer fact that they were the ones responsible for defending the homeland or its interests abroad when politics and diplomacy had broken down.

As Lord Tennyson wrote:

Theirs not to make reply...
Theirs not to reason why...
Theirs but to do and die...

One of the oft-told stories of the American Civil War is one in which a U.S. Army officer asks a young Confederate soldier, who had just been taken prisoner by Union forces, if he (the Confederate) owned slaves. When the prisoner said no, the officer asked why he was fighting on the side of the rebellion. The Confederate matter-of-factly responded, “Because you’re here.”

Sounds simple, but for the Confederate soldier, taking up arms against the enemy had nothing really to do with politics or such lofty mid-19th-century issues as slavery and its abolition. It had everything to do with the fact that his country had been attacked. And if his fellow countrymen were going to shoulder weapons and march against the enemy, how could he not?

After all, as U.S. Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur said in 1815, nearly a half-century before the Civil War: “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!”

REMEMBERING THOSE, RIGHT OR WRONG

We remember those soldiers and sailors — right or wrong — in various annual observances, from Veterans Day to Armed Forces Day. This week, we remember the dead. We’ve done so since the end of our Civil War, when annual observances began cropping up in communities across the nation. The earliest observances specifically honored those Civil War soldiers, sailors, and Marines who were killed in action or, just as likely, died of wounds or disease (most of those buried here on the ridge over the Broad River died in the nearby Confederate hospital).

Which brings us to U.S. Army Gen. John A. Logan, the man who — under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman — led an invading force into Columbia, and who has since been blamed in part for this city’s burning on February 17, 1865. In what seems ironic to many South Carolinians, it was Logan who issued an order dated May 5, 1868, for the setting aside of a special day each year to honor the war’s dead. The order officially established what was to become Memorial Day — in those days known as “Decoration Day.” It read in part:

The 30th day of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

So the man partially responsible for torching this old Confederate city, is also responsible for the flowers placed on Confederate graves every spring. Not surprisingly, white Southerners haven’t always been too keen on the idea of honoring their dead on a day set aside by Logan. And separate annual Confederate Memorial Days — observed on varying days in April, May, and June (as well as a Texas Confederate Heroes Day in January) — have been observed ever since Logan’s order was issued.

THE EVOLUTION OF MEMORIAL DAY

“Memorial Days began very soon after the war, and concurrently by both Northern and Southern groups,” Joe Long, curator of education at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, tells National Review Online. “There’s a book entitled Race and Reunion that claims that the very first Memorial Day service was held by black Americans in honor of Union soldiers.”

Long adds that Northern and Southern observances were organized by ladies’ memorial associations. “Those early memorial services were very much driven by women.”

A few weeks after Logan’s order, Gen. James A. Garfield (future president of the United States) presided over the first Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery (the former estate of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee), and approximately 5,000 participants decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate dead — about 20,000 of them — buried on the grounds.

Over the next 20-plus years, communities nationwide held Decoration (Memorial) Day observances. And by the end of World War I in 1918, annual services were held to honor the dead from all of America’s wars.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the birthplace of Memorial Day after it was determined Waterloo held the first such service in 1866, one year after the end of the Civil War.

In 1971, Memorial Day became a congressionally mandated national holiday.

Arlington National Cemetery continues to hold the largest annual Memorial Day service. Flags are placed at each of the nearly 300,000 graves. Presidential speeches are made. And a wreath is placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns (also called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier).

As for me, I’ll do what I’ve done on previous Memorial Days: I’ll spend part of the morning strolling among the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers on this ridge here above the Broad River. I’ll think about their efforts. I’ll consider how much they struggled on both sides. I’ll try to imagine what it must have looked like from this very ridge-top on that single night in February 1865 as my city burned, the Confederacy collapsed around my great, great grandparents, and what would become the world’s most powerful “nation for good” was saved by those who were willing to risk death to save it.

A former U.S. Marine infantry leader, W. Thomas Smith Jr. writes about military issues and has covered war in the Balkans, on the West Bank, and in Iraq. He is the author of six books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications.
Cowboy lore falls to new low

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

by Julie Carter


With the stealth of a Ninja fighter, the cowboy eased his way around the end of a 20-foot stock trailer, hunkering his tall frame down far enough to stay out of sight of his prey.

With deadly precision he, in the flash of time it took for a single thought, slammed the gate closed and his job was done. The last turkey hen was loaded.

There was to be a June wedding in the yard at the ranch. That same yard also happened to be home to a flock of wild turkeys, a few of which had been relocated there some years back. Now their numbers were tripled.

These big birds roosted in the cottonwoods, perched on the vehicles, decimated the flower garden and left unpleasant reminders of their recent presence.

So a turkey relocation program was "hatched" by the head cowboy.

This same man plans a major cattle working in a matter of hours but this project would take at least two weeks. With careful cunning, he began baiting the turkeys into the trailer by trailing feed down the length of it.

When the time came that he could get a few captured, which sounds easier than it was because as soon as they'd see him they'd fly out, he'd shut the gate and haul them to a grove of cottonwoods at the south end of the ranch.

This took three trips for 14 turkeys. The last trip was for a lone rebel bird who refused to be captured, inspiring a new level of a stalking-capture mode.

I missed the photo opportunity of the year - a cowboy hauling one turkey in a 20-foot gooseneck trailer.

While it truly needed to be done, the very idea of it takes the cowboy image to a new low.

On the upside, it certainly has been fodder for moments of hilarity as the tale has been told and retold.

During a recent discussion of the turkey-herding incident, it was mentioned the turkeys had returned to their first home one night last week. The return just happened to coincide with the arrival of a new grandchild whose parents also reside at the ranch.

While the incident could seem somewhat mystical and the oh's and ah's momentarily sustained the coincidence, the reality was hard and cold. It was pointed out these were notoriously dumb drown-in-a-rainstorm turkeys - not baby-delivering storks.

In looking for a, perhaps, positive use for the turkeys besides Thanksgiving dinner and turkey sandwiches, it was suggested that they be painted white. And if a process of launching them could be engineered, they then could be used at the wedding instead of white doves.

The suggestion brought a look on the bride-to-be's face that could only be interpreted to mean this wouldn't happen in her lifetime.

Another response to the jovial turkey herding story came from an Albuquerque friend of the turkey herder. He wrote:

The Gobblers Shuda Went to Town

Darn bro...

I heard u was a turkey man.

A turkey man what am!

U shuda brung dem

turkeys to 'querque

We'd a put'um in a pot

an eat'um onda spot.

Yup...them turkey's uda

stayed right here in 'querque


Okay, it's not Whitman or Emerson but it is funny all things considered.

The next story I'm waiting for is the response of the saddle horses when they are asked to get in that same trailer. Horses are funny about loading up in trailers that have hauled anything other than a horse or a cow. Try loading one after a hog hauling.

New branding photos on the website at www.julie-carter.com

© Julie Carter 2007


The Bus Stop, The Kids & The Wolves

This is what it is all about folks, it made me sick and scared to read this this morning. How helpless can a person expected to feel about something so totally out of their control? Nowhere else in this state is anyone expected to tolerate deliberate endangerment of their children.

This isn't new either, other children have had similar wolf experiences. Hence the adoption of the County Ordinance. Something needs to be done and swiftly.

Laura

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laura

My name is Brenda McCarty. We've met several time at wolf meetings. I worked with Leasha Kaber to construct a video for the County on some of the wolf encounter. That video went to the Game & Fish Commission . I guess I included that bit of information because what we where trying to avoid is exactly what has happened.

We live on Eagle Peak Road and it's about 1/2 mile from the highway where the bus stop is. This past year my neighbor and I have been taking turns in regards to getting the children back and forth from the bus stop. I take the children to school in the morning and she takes them from the bus stop after school to the house. On the last day of school they only had 2 hours. I was not aware that my neighbor would not be home that early and that she had made arrangements for her daughter to be picked up at school or I would have also made arrangements for my children.

My children where walking home from the bus stop when after hearing a vehicle on the highway, turned to look behind them to see if the vehicle was turning down the road, saw a wolf standing in the middle of the road watching them. At one point, just a few second earlier, they had to have walked right past the wolf. After seeing the wolf my son, who is 13 years old took my daughter, who is 11 and mildly retarded, across the short cut straight to the house. The wolf turned and finished walking across the road and headed in the same direction as our house and more importantly the same direction as my children needed to go. As many time as we have talked to them about how to react, they still not only ran (or as my son put it walked very fast), but also left the main road and cut across 150 yards of brush and wooded area. They got to the house and immediately called me. They were scared and in a panic. I made sure that they were both safely in the house and then calmed them down. I then called Jess Carey and he in turn called the sheriff's department to make sure that the kids were not alone while Jess came from Rancho Grande Estates, which is about 9 miles from my home. Sheriff Menges took the Game Warden with him. They were the ones that measured the wolf print in the spot where my children first saw the wolf. When Jess got there they also found two other different set of wolf tracks, again on private property just southeast of the house.

All track were documented by Jess Carey, Sheriff Menges and the Game Warden. My son then made a statement out for Jess. When the Fish and Wildlife Biologist showed up she was asked not to speak to the children till after I got there, this was on my request. She drove out to look for more tracks while they waited for me to get there. I got home shortly before she returned and talked to Jess Carey and my father-in-law who had gone to stay with the children while I finished work. After returning, the Fish and Wildlife Biologist and I talked for a few minutes. She said that she did not find anything other then what Jess saw and to understand that she was not calling my son a liar, but that she did not find anything. Excuse me, but I don't think that the wolves, that left those tracks, just materialized out of nowhere. I wish someone had gone with her so that we would have been sure that she didn't erase evidence. She never, even when asked, commented on the tracks that Jess and the Game Warden confirmed. She didn't take my son's statement or even ask me if she could talk with him.

My father-in-law asked if the children (on the days when I am in court or their is no one able to pick them up) carry a gun up to the bus stop. All I could think of is that we live where we do so that our children don't have to pack a gun to school. Guess the jokes on me.

This morning I took the kids with me to work. This is something that I will not be able to do every day, but I just can't leave them alone anymore. My son is now afraid that if I go to work that his sister may "try to go outside and the wolves will get her". What do you do? How do you tell them well just pay attention to what's happening around you and stay close to the house. If you have any questions, want more detail or just want to talk about it. You can find me at Ron's Office.

Thank you,
Brenda