Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Reasons to be Thankful that Cap and Trade Hasn’t Passed

This year we have much for which to be thankful: family, friends, and the Obama-Reid-Pelosi National Energy Tax (Cap and Trade) has not yet become law to name a few. We would like to remind you of 10 reasons you should be thinkful for that this year:

1. We don’t have to pay over $100 billion in additional taxes.
2. We don’t have to pay an additional $3.6 trillion in gas taxes.
3. We won’t lose 1.1 million jobs between 2012 and 2030 and 2.5 million each year after that.
4. We haven’t made new industries that are dependent on government handouts for their survival.
5. We don’t have a new bureaucracy in place to allocate and sell carbon credits that will increase corruption and favoritism in Washington, DC.
6. Our energy costs will not go up by $1500 per year for a family of four.
7. We won’t have our national debt increase by 26 percent by 2030. An increase of $116,600 for a family of four.
8. We won’t have protectionist tariffs to create trade wars and cause increased prices and shortages on the goods we need.
9. We won’t have a reduction in GDP of $9.4 trillion between 2012 and 2030.
10. We won’t have a 58% increase in gas prices.

Source: ATR

Possible sinkhole threatens New Mexico town

Cookie and Ella Fletcher decided to call Thanksgiving off. This year, there seemed little to be thankful for. Not far from the Fletchers' mobile home in this small southeastern New Mexico city lies a giant underground cavity that geologists say is a time bomb waiting to implode. At any moment, they say, the cavity could collapse into a yawning sinkhole, taking with it a chunk of highway, a church, several businesses and the El Dorado Estates trailer park the Fletchers call home. The cavity is the result of three decades of salt mining, a process in which oil service companies inject water into a salt layer 450 feet underground, allow the water to dissolve the salt, and then suck up the brine. Oil companies use the brine to help extract oil from the earth. Over the years, more than 6 million cubic feet of brine was removed from the Carlsbad well and sold for use in the oil fields that blanket the surrounding desert. State officials singled out the Carlsbad well as a danger and ordered it closed after two similar wells north of town collapsed last year, leaving craters about 400 feet across and 100 feet deep. Those sinkholes caused little damage because they occurred in rural areas -- in fact, sinkholes are not unheard of in oil country. But the Carlsbad brine well is smack underneath the busiest intersection in this town of 26,000, and it is only footsteps from a major irrigation channel and railroad more

Climate change data dumped

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years. The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation. The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building. The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such more

Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation

A week after my colleague James Delingpole , on his Telegraph blog, coined the term "Climategate" to describe the scandal revealed by the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, Google was showing that the word now appears across the internet more than nine million times. But in all these acres of electronic coverage, one hugely relevant point about these thousands of documents has largely been missed. The reason why even the Guardian's George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated, What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Professor Philip Jones, the CRU's director, is in charge of the two key sets of data used by the IPCC to draw up its reports. Through its link to the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office, which selects most of the IPCC's key scientific contributors, his global temperature record is the most important of the four sets of temperature data on which the IPCC and governments rely – not least for their predictions that the world will warm to catastrophic levels unless trillions of dollars are spent to avert more

Climategate: University of East Anglia U-turn in climate change row

A grandfather with a training in electrical engineering dating back more than 40 years emerged from the leaked emails as a leading climate sceptic trying to bring down the scientific establishment on global warming. David Holland, who describes himself as a David taking on the Goliath that is the prevailing scientific consensus, is seeking prosecutions against some of Britain's most eminent academics for allegedly holding back information in breach of disclosure laws. Mr Holland, of Northampton, complained to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last week after the leaked emails included several Freedom of Information requests he had submitted to the CRU, and scientists' private responses to them. Within hours, a senior complaints officer in the ICO wrote back by email: "I have started to examine the issues that you have raised in your letter and I am currently liaising with colleagues in our Enforcement and Data Protection teams as to what steps to take next." more

The Day Global Warming Stood Still

It will be a very cold winter of discontent for the warm-mongers. The climate show-and-tell in Copenhagen next month will be nothing more than a meaningless carbon-emitting jaunt, unable to decide just whom to blame or how to divvy up the profitable spoils of climate change hysteria. October 2009 will go down as the 3rd coolest October on record for the United States, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Records go back to 1880. The mainstream press is finally coming to the conclusion that the entire climate debate about global warming is about to collapse so they had better get out of that game and come clean with what is happening with the sun and what that means for planet earth and all the people on it. The global warming gig has played itself out and has only gone on as long as it has because climate change was a weapon for more mass more

Hide The Decline - Climategate Video

Aerial-gunning foes ask Obama to ban practice

A wildlife advocacy group has asked President Barack Obama to end aerial gunning of coyotes and other predators, citing an incident in Idaho where a shotgun-wielding parachutist fired on a wolf as an example of how the practice is rife with abuses. New Mexico-based WildEarth Guardians Friday asked Obama to issue an executive order. The group's 39-page petition also urged the president to banish spring-loaded sodium cyanide devices and other predator poisoning methods from federal public land, on grounds they're dangerous and more

No reason to designate Rock Creek as wilderness

...They are right, however their contention that the area is threatened by illegal ATV use and only a Wilderness designation can save it from that fate is incorrect and misleading. The Wilderness designation will not increase enforcement over what is in place today, either in dollars or people. On the contrary, such a designation would exclude a large and growing segment of the public that enjoys the pleasures of mountain biking. It is not allowed in a Wilderness area. This popular activity currently contributes economically and culturally to Johnson County as well as to the larger American public. They do not deserve to be excluded from responsibly enjoying Rock Creek. A Wilderness designation would negatively impact livestock grazing. I understand that "grazing would be grandfathered in," so permit holders have nothing to worry about with these new restrictions. In reality, that has not been the case in past experiences for Wyoming ranchers. This becomes a "comfort phrase" to mislead people. When the shouting minority takes over, the path of least resistance leads to no grazing. "Grandfathered in" is a phrase that has a warm, fuzzy and misleading connotation. First, its subliminal message is that ranching is part of the past of the American West, something to be tolerated until it dies a quiet death. This should never more

Tracking smugglers along the Mexican border

Under a scorching sun in the harsh desert along Highway 9 in southern New Mexico, Border Patrol agents Rito Jara and Juan Treviso are quickly on the move, scouring the hard ground, trying to pick up footprints from suspected drug smugglers or immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico. The agents discovered the footprints next to a cattle fence while on routine patrol early in the morning about three miles north of the U.S.-Mexican border. Finding more prints across the highway, they determined that two men passed by here around midnight, eight hours earlier. It appeared they were walking north across the barren scrubland toward either the town of Deming, New Mexico, or U.S. Highway 10, where they could be picked up and spirited away. Joining the search, Border Patrol Field Operations Supervisor Juan Acosta said it was possible the men had already reached the Cedar Mountain Range, many miles ahead, and were now hunkered down to avoid daylight search parties and the searing heat. One potential hideout, Acosta suggested, was a notorious mountain pass known locally as Doper's Gap, because of all the Mexican traffickers who have already passed though there carrying burlap knapsacks filled with illegal drugs bound for U.S. street more

Bizarre mutilations of cattle lead to 'alien visitor' theory

Colorado has been the source of stories of animal mutilations before, although most of the cases have been found to be the result of animal predation. Home to big skies and mountains, Colorado has been long favoured for cattle ranching, although with Colorado's tourism economy growing, there have been clashes. Established in 1851 and nestled in the mountains, San Luis is a quaint and picturesque village that is home to 661 people. The news of the calf mutilations on a pasture rented by Manual Sanchez has stirred up the village, where talk of alien visitors is growing. Sanchez had reported finding, over a three week period, four of his calves killed -- and strangely mutilated. The calves were found eviscerated and the skin was peeled back. One calf was also missing some of its tongue. There were no footprints, no animal tracks, no traces of vehicles in the pasture, and the part that has puzzled police -- no blood. Sargent James Chavez, the Public Information Officer for the Costilla County Sheriff's Office, told The Pueblo Chieftain "... a deputy and an undersheriff went to the pasture to investigate one of the killings. Chavez said the investigation revealed no indications of a predator attack and the lack of blood at the site made it highly unlikely that a person butchered it. "I've butchered a cow before and I know what kind of a mess it leaves," he said." The mutilations have drawn a noted UFO chaser, Chuck Zukowski, who investigated the bizarre killings. Zukowski has posted excellent, although disturbing photographs of the calf he investigated, along with detailed more

Battle rages in Colorado over sheepherder's guard dogs that attacked a cyclist

The herd, 1,300 strong, has been coming for 30 years to graze in this valley on the backside of the Continental Divide. But as Colorado has become an adventure sports destination, the once-empty valley has filled with hikers, campers and mountain bikers like Legro, and she was about to tragically embody the collision of the old West with the new. Legro, 33, screamed because she knew what came with the herd -- guard dogs. Shortly after she rolled down a hill and came upon the sheep, a dog leaped at her, locked its jaws on her hip and yanked her off her bike. A second dog pounced as she fell. The two enormous canines, powerful enough to fend off bears, tore at her until her cries drew two campers who drove them off. The emergency-room doctor lost count of how many stitches she required. To Legro and her husband, Steve, there was one person responsible -- Sam Robinson. One of a dwindling number of sheepherders in Colorado's mountains, Robinson, 54, turned to guard dogs a decade ago, after the state banned the use of traps to prevent mountain lions, coyotes and bears from destroying herds. "We don't have any other option," Robinson said. The Legros see things differently. In their years of hiking, biking and skiing the magnificent open spaces near Vail, they have fled from ranchers' dogs several times. "I cannot bring my dog up to the forest and let it run wild and attack people," said Steve Legro, 37. "Neither should anyone else." They wanted Robinson charged with a more

Monsanto's dominance draws antitrust inquiry

For plants designed in a lab a little more than a decade ago, they've come a long way: Today, the vast majority of the nation's two primary crops grow from seeds genetically altered according to Monsanto company patents. Ninety-three percent of soybeans. Eighty percent of corn. The seeds represent "probably the most revolutionary event in grain crops over the last 30 years," said Geno Lowe, a Salisbury, Md., soybean farmer. But for farmers such as Lowe, prices of the Monsanto-patented seeds have steadily increased, roughly doubling during the past decade, to about $50 for a 50-pound bag of soybean seed, according to seed dealers. The revolution, and Monsanto's dominant role in the nation's agriculture, has not unfolded without complaint. Farmers have decried the price increases, and competitors say the company has ruthlessly stifled competition. Now Monsanto -- like IBM and Google -- has drawn scrutiny from U.S. antitrust investigators, who under the Obama administration have looked more skeptically at the actions of dominant firms. Of all the new scrutiny by Justice, the Monsanto investigation might have the highest stakes, dealing as it does with the food supply and one of the nation's largest agricultural firms. It could also force the Obama administration, already under fire for the government's expanded role in the economy, to explain how it distinguishes between normal rough-and-tumble competition and abusive monopolistic business more

Cow tracking-- Would Canada's model work here?

- As the United States grapples with developing a national system to track diseased cattle, some here have been watching the Canadian model. Like Australia, the program requires cattle ranchers to participate and relies on ear tags to register cattle. But unlike Australia, the Canadian system doesn't actually track a cow's every move from birth to death. "Whatever we move to, we have to be sure it doesn't impede commerce," said John Masswohl, director of Government & International Relations for the Calgary-based Canadian Cattlemen's Association, which represents about 90,000 beef producers. "We aren't convinced the technology exists to read every tag every time. ... It's not all 'Star Trek' just yet." Canada started its mandatory livestock identification program in 2002. The database is owned and controlled by the industry -- the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency -- rather than the government. Ear tags are registered to the people who buy them. Owners are required by law to tag their cattle the first time they're moved off the farm they're born on. When the animals are slaughtered or exported, that, too, is recorded in the database. What isn't recorded in the database is every instance of ownership changing hands, Masswohl more

Longhorn Cattle Are Prized By The Inch

Texas longhorns — the cattle, not the college football team — have made a stunning comeback. In 1964, there were believed to be fewer than 1,500 genuine longhorns in existence. Today, there are more than 330,000 in private herds scattered across the country. The animals have grown popular among weekend ranchers who want a symbol of Western heritage but don't want the work involved with regular cattle. Every year, longhorn breeders come to the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, to answer the question: Whose horns are longer? At this year's horn competition, held last month, the stock pens are full of handsome creatures with widespread horns, their hides brown, white, red, orange and brindled. Under bright lights, cowboys pull them into chutes and hold a string along the length of their horns to get the measure. "We sell 'em by the inch, not the pound," says Donny Taylor, a heavy-equipment operator for Union Pacific Railroad who raises longhorns on the side. He says buyers like them because they're easier to keep. "Longhorns are cheaper to feed than regular cattle. They'll browse like a deer — they'll eat anything in the woods," Taylor says. "You want to keep your fence row clear? You want to clear property? Don't buy a goat. Buy a longhorn. They'll clean 'em up for you. The good Lord built 'em that way." more

Capturing cowboy mystique

It started with cocktail party chatter in suburban St. Louis. But this wasn't ordinary city slicker gossip. These were stories of cowboys and cattlemen, ropers and riders, drinkers and brawlers, ranch wives and war brides, odd neighbors and crazy bulls. The tales hooked Craig Savoye, a college professor and author of unpublished novels and screenplays always on the lookout for a new book project. For a guy from the suburbs, the stories were magical. One thought kept running through Savoye's mind: “You've got to be kidding me!'' So Savoye traveled to Nebraska to hear firsthand the stories and yarns of the Sand Hills and the people who lived in the heart of the state's cowboy country. His first stop was a master storyteller, the late Wayne Jenkins, a Callaway rancher and father of the cocktail party yarn spinner whose stories originally inspired Savoye. Savoye returned again and again in search of Nebraska nuggets. Sometimes people didn't pan out. Sometimes he uncovered gems. Now nine years and dozens of interviews later, he has published a book featuring 23 stories and character sketches, “Nebraska Stories: Tales of Cowboys, Ranchers, and Assorted Characters.'' more

It's All Trew: Bits, pieces on odds, ends

# It seems the word "cranky" did not arrive on the scene until automobiles were invented. When a balky motor was hard to start, requiring extra cranking, it was called cranky, among other epithets. I'm not sure how the word applies to women. # A "buck moon" occurs in July when the new antlers on a buck deer begin to emerge from the velvet casing provided by nature to protect the new growth of antlers. # The "dog days of summer" has nothing to do with dogs on Earth. The term comes from the fact that, from July 3 to August, the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius the Dog Star. # "Dinky Donkeys," or miniature Sardinian donkeys, were brought to the U.S. in the 1920s by New York stockbroker Robert Green. They now number into the thousands, making great pets, due to their mild disposition. Miniature equines, or little horses, date to Renaissance times, arriving in the U.S. in 1888 as a small Shetland horse named Tum Tum. # Look into almost any farmer or rancher's closet and you will find Carhartt overalls or coveralls. The durable work clothes date to the 1880s, when Hamilton Carhart traveled from rail station to rail station selling his work wear to railroad workers. Now selling globally, and with an T added to the name, the company with 4,200 employees remains a family-owned more

Song Of The Day #189

Ranch Radio will get your blood flowin' this Monday am with a bluegrass version of the theme song from the TV show Green Acres. My version is from the 15 track CD Countryfied TV Tunes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

When 'cowboy' was a noble tradition

Julie Carter

They could strike a match on the backside of their jeans and light a cigarette they just rolled while holding the reins in one hand and the cigarette paper in the other.

They laughed easily, worked relentlessly and found peace in doing an honest day's work.

It was an era when the cowboy was defined by the work that he did. You found him on dusty plains trailing thousands of cattle to the stockyards at the railhead. He worked for a $100 a month, worked until the work was done or until he drifted on to move another herd.

Many were men but just as many were boys. It was the 1930s and it was more the norm than not for a boy of 12 or 13 to be working a man's job for a man's wages. His momma would watch him ride away as he left to meet up with a cattle drive, not knowing if she'd ever see him again.

Most never went more than 6-8 years to school. Ranches were vast, covering hundreds of square miles. Getting to the school was a problem and finding work was not.

They ate their meals cooked from the supplies in a chuck box that followed along, not always in a wagon but sometimes in a jeep or pickup.

They rolled up in cowboy tarp bedrolls at night and were glad for the chance to be still for a few hours. A fire crackled and cast off sparks into a black night. A coyote howled in the distance and the cattle rustled just enough to ensure their intention of bedding down.

That cowboy didn't see movies or read books to find out what he was supposed to be like.

He broke his own horses and shod the same.

He wore his boots and his hat because they had a functional purpose. Usually there was a crooked crease in the hat and a careless look to him overall.

These same boys became young men, picked up rifles and shipped off to war. They were in foreign countries and on remote islands where they fought an enemy they'd never seen and knew little about. They were shot at and they shot back. Some were wounded, some never came home.

But, those that did, found their way back to the wide open country. They strapped on their spurs, saddled up a bronc and went back to the business of punching cows.

They took brides and rewarded them with ranch-camp living that offered no more than a shack and a cook stove but came complete with kerosene lighting and no plumbing.

In most parts of ranch country, not much changed until the railroads gave way to highways and trucking forced a complete shift in the rail industry and with it, the way cattle were shipped to markets.

They were the last generation of full-time horseback cowboys, working cattle in much the same way their grandfathers before them had. Horses were hardened and tough and the men the same.

As renowned Western author Elmer Kelton so eloquently put it, "What the real cowboy is, and has always been, is a common man in an uncommon profession, giving more than he receives, living by a code of conduct his detractors will never understand."

I pray we hang on to the best of what those men were.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The Corona Cowboy returns to rodeo finals

Born into the lifestyle, Taos Muncy has taken his deep-seated heart for cowboy life, added a dose of hard work, talent and determination and stamped his name on the rodeo world in the biggest way. It reads "World Champion." Next week, the Corona cowboy is again headed back to the Wrangler National Finals rodeo where he'll get a shot at proving his worth aboard 10 saddle bronc horses, 10 days in a row. It's been two years since he claimed his championship title and in the interim he has had his metal tested by injuries and disappointment. Muncy, 22, took the rodeo world by storm in 2007, winning a total of $210,133 for the year and was the youngest (20) to ever claim the title of World Cham-pion Saddle Bronc Rider. He had what he called a "dream season," where the luck began to roll, the draw was in his favor and the riding scores catapulted him upward through the standings. Not only did he win some of the big ones like Cheyenne Frontier Days, he also claimed the College National Finals Rodeo saddle bronc win. That title and the NRF title, made him one of only three contestants to ever to win the College National Finals and the NFR in the same year. Muncy, by his own admission was in a daze over the way it all turned out. He'd arrived at his first NFR, wide-eyed and a stranger. He told interviewers when he received his championship buckle, "I needed a nametag and someone to spit for me because I was pretty shook up. I was really overwhelmed." more

Song Of The Day #188

Our Gospel song for today is Buddy & Tina Wright's twin fiddle, instrumental version of I Saw The Light.

The tune is on their 11 track album The Twin Fiddle Collection.

The more I listen to their rendition of this song, the more it haunts me...and the more I like it.

One Nation, Under Surveillance

What have you got to hide? The answer may shock you: If you’re like most Americans, you have far more than you realize that you need to be hiding, and not doing so may be putting you and your family in grave danger. In his new book, Three Felonies a Day, attorney Harvey Silverglate holds that the typical American professional commits an average of three federal crimes a day, just going about their daily business, without even realizing it. And the only thing keeping them out of prison — make that keeping you out of prison — is the fact that federal prosecutors haven’t looked at you yet. “No social class or profession is safe from this troubling form of social control by the executive branch,” reads a statement on the book’s Web site, “and nothing less than the integrity of our constitutional democracy hangs in the balance.” While Three Felonies a Day illustrates the problem quite well, today I want to talk about solutions. Likely you have never thought you needed to protect yourself from the government. But you probably weren’t aware that so many federal laws are “impossibly broad and vague” that you were a “criminal” several times over today, just for going to work, picking up your kids, and eating dinner. Moreover, the concept of criminal intent has been largely removed from the law, so you can be imprisoned even if you had no idea what you were doing was against the law. One of the most powerful solutions against the sorts of miscarriages of justice that land people like you in prison is privacy. Privacy makes it much harder for an overzealous prosecutor to spin your perfectly innocent activities into “crimes.” Not to mention it also provides protection against the more mundane threats of identity thieves, psychotic ex-spouses, and so on. A few people figured out long ago that the federal government wasn’t actually here to help, and one of them, “Boston T. Party,” (a pen name) in 1996 wrote Bulletproof Privacy, now out of print. The thin volume, most of which is now quite dated, provided a how-to manual with practical solutions for increasing your personal privacy. Boston has since rewritten and expanded it, and the new book, One Nation, Under Surveillance, is three times the size, and has at least three times the practical solutions for protecting more

Surveillance State, U.S.A.

In his approach to National Security Agency surveillance, as well as CIA renditions, drone assassinations, and military detention, President Obama has to a surprising extent embraced the expanded executive powers championed by his conservative predecessor, George W. Bush. This bipartisan affirmation of the imperial executive could "reverberate for generations," warns Jack Balkin, a specialist on First Amendment freedoms at Yale Law School. And consider these but some of the early fruits from the hybrid seeds that the Global War on Terror has planted on American soil. Yet surprisingly few Americans seem aware of the toll that this already endless war has taken on our civil liberties. Don't be too surprised, then, when, in the midst of some future crisis, advanced surveillance methods and other techniques developed in our recent counterinsurgency wars migrate from Baghdad, Falluja, and Kandahar to your hometown or urban neighborhood. And don't ever claim that nobody told you this could happen -- at least not if you care to read more

The DNA snatchers: Police arresting innocents just to grab genetic details for Big Brother database

Police are arresting innocent people in order to get their hands on as many DNA samples as possible, senior Government advisers revealed last night. The Human Genetics Commission said the Big Brother tactic was creating a 'spiral of suspicion' among the public. The panel - which contains some of Britain's leading scientists and academics - said officers should no longer routinely take samples at the point of arresting a suspect. They also called for all police - including support staff - to place their own DNA on the national database in a show of solidarity with a public being routinely placed under suspicion. By law, officers are only allowed to make an arrest if they have ' reasonable suspicion' that a person has committed a crime. But the HGC, which has carried out a lengthy review of the merits of the database, said evidence had emerged of police arresting people purely so they could take their more

Malign Neglect

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke with confidence and authority before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Wednesday when asked how he would prevent another attack like the one committed by Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood. I think what we have to do is understand exactly what happened that led to that tragedy. Were there flags that were missed? Were there miscommunications or was there a lack of communication? Holder promised a "sound investigation" of the shooting. It was a nice try, but Holder's tone did little to disguise the speciousness of his words. We already know the answer to the three questions Holder posed. There were flags that were missed. There was miscommunication. And there was a lack of communication. The relevant question is not whether there were errors, but why--after eight years of restructuring our national security and intelligence infrastructure to prevent such failures--there were grave errors that cost 13 people their lives. The answer to that question is becoming all too clear: a deadly combination of political correctness and institutional stupidity. And in the days since the Fort Hood attack, those characteristics have remained on prominent display--both at the top of the Justice Department and in its more

Student expelled for having unloaded shotguns in truck parked off campus

The Willows Unified School District board of trustees has expelled a 16-year-old for having unloaded shotguns in his pickup parked just off the Willows High School campus. The board voted 4-0 Thursday to expel junior Gary Tudesko after the weapons were discovered via scent-sniffing dogs on Oct. 26. Board Vice President Alex Parisio abstained from the discussion and vote because he is related to Tudesko's family. Expulsion hearings are normally held in closed sessions, but affected students and their parents can request a public hearing. Susan Parisio defended her son during the 105-minute public hearing at Willows Civic Center. She acknowledged that Tudesko was lazy for not storing the shotguns at home after a morning of bird hunting, but she questioned the district's ability to enforce its policies off Willows High School property. "My son was not even parked on school property," Parisio more

Wayne Co. profits from police property seizures

The way Krista Vaughn sees it, Wayne County fined her $1,400 even though police and prosecutors admit she broke no laws. Vaughn, who has no criminal record, was required to pay for the return of her car, which was seized by police after they mistook Vaughn's co-worker for a prostitute. Even though prosecutors later dropped the case, Vaughn still had to pay. Her story is not unusual. In Wayne County, law enforcement officials regularly seize vehicles without levying charges -- even in cases in which they later concede no law was broken. The agency provides perhaps the most prolific and egregious example of what critics contend is the wrongful use of laws allowing the seizure of private property. t's a practice that's paying off. The Wayne County Sheriff's Office, which helps run the prosecutor's forfeiture unit, took in $8.69 million from civil seizures in 2007, more than four times the amount collected in 2001. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office gets up to 27 percent of that money. "Forfeiture laws are being abused by police and prosecutors who see only dollar signs," said former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga, now a defense attorney. "It's a money grab, pure and simple; a sneaky way of getting a penalty on something prosecutors can't prove. It's like shooting fish in a barrel." more

I had previously linked to part one of this series here.

Lawyers: government misconduct in Blackwater case

Defense lawyers are alleging misconduct by Justice Department prosecutors in the case against one of five Blackwater security guards accused in the killings of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad. In its court filing Wednesday, Slatten's defense team called the U.S. government's handling of the charges against Slatten "a disturbing case of prosecutorial misconduct, undermining the integrity of the judicial process." The case against Slatten became untenable, not merely because of a fundamental lack of evidence against him, but also because the trial team repeatedly mischaracterized the testimony of witnesses and excluded evidence that ran in Slatten's favor from the grand jury that indicted him, Slatten's lawyers wrote in asking for a public hearing before the judge. "The collapse of the government's case against Mr. Slatten should be as public as the baseless allegations against him," Slatten's lawyers added. "He should not be required to endure the government's repeated public mischaracterization of the evidence while non-public proceedings tell a very different story." more

Trucker program attracts drug smugglers

A U.S. program that offers trusted trucking companies speedy passage across American borders has begun attracting just the sort of customers who place a premium on avoiding inspections: Mexican drug smugglers. Most trucks enrolled in the program pause at the border for just 20 seconds before entering the United States. And nine out of 10 of them do so without anyone looking at their cargo. But among the small fraction of trucks that are inspected, authorities have found multiple loads of contraband, including 8 tons of marijuana seized during one week in April. The program works like this: Participating companies agree to adopt certain security measures in exchange for fast entry into the U.S. They are required to put their employees through background checks, fence in their facilities and track their trucks. They also are asked to work with subcontractors who also have been certified under the program, which is run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. The government keeps the list of participants secret, citing national security and trade secrets. But some of the 9,500 companies who are part of the system advertise their membership to drum up business, making them targets for smugglers, who can then threaten drivers or offer them more

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Washington's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1789

The First Thanksgiving Day Proclamation Under the Constitution, New York City, October 3, 1789:

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts and many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase in science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

(In God We Trust, Norman Cousins, editor, Harper & Brothers, 1958, pp. 71-72)

Obama to Go to Copenhagen With Emissions Target

President Obama is pledging a provisional target for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, the first time in more than a decade that an American administration has offered even a tentative promise to reduce production of climate-altering gases, the White House announced Wednesday. At the international climate meetings in Copenhagen next month, Mr. Obama will tell the delegates that the United States intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, officials said. The figures reflect targets specified by legislation that passed the House in June but is stalled in the Senate. Congress has never enacted legislation that includes firm emissions limits or ratified an international global warming agreement with binding targets. Mr. Obama will travel to the United Nations talks to deliver the promise in hopes of spurring significant progress there. He will appear Dec. 9, near the beginning of the 12-day session, on his way to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Dec. 10, officials said. By making the pledge in an international forum, Mr. Obama is laying a bet that Congress will complete action on a climate bill next year and will be prepared to ratify an international agreement based on the more

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Global WarmingGate: What Does It Mean?

Late on the night of of November 19, news broke on PJM and elsewhere that a large amount of data had been stolen from one of the major climate research institutions by an unknown hacker and made available on the Internet. The institution is the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, home institution for Dr Phil Jones and one of the world’s centers of research into anthropogenic global warming (AGW), or “climate change.” If we do accept them as authentic, though, they truly are incendiary. They appear to reveal not one, not two, but three real scandals, of increasing importance. * The emails suggest the authors co-operated covertly to ensure that only papers favorable to CO2-forced AGW were published, and that editors and journals publishing contrary papers were punished. They also attempted to “discipline” scientists and journalists who published skeptical information. * The emails suggest that the authors manipulated and “massaged” the data to strengthen the case in favor of unprecedented CO2-forced AGW, and to suppress their own data if it called AGW into question. The emails suggest that the authors co-operated (perhaps the word is “conspired”) to prevent data from being made available to other researchers through either data archiving requests or through the Freedom of Information Acts of both the U.S. and the more

Competitive Enterprise Institute Sues NASA in Wake of Climategate Scandal

Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed three Notices of Intent to File Suit against NASA and its Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), for those bodies’ refusal — for nearly three years — to provide documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The information sought is directly relevant to the exploding “Climategate” scandal revealing document destruction, coordinated efforts in the U.S. and UK to avoid complying with both countries’ freedom of information laws, and apparent and widespread intent to defraud at the highest levels of international climate science bodies. Numerous informed commenters had alleged such behavior for years, all of which appears to be affirmed by leaked emails, computer code, and other data from the Climatic Research Unit of the UK’s East Anglia University. All of that material, and that sought for years by CEI, goes to the heart of the scientific claims and campaign underpinning the Kyoto Protocol, its planned successor treaty, “cap-and-trade” legislation, and the EPA’s threatened regulatory campaign to impose similar measures through the back more

Three Things You Absolutely Must Know About Climategate

This may seem obscure, but the science involved is being used to justify the diversion of literally trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out fossil fuels. The CRU is the Pentagon of global warming science, and these documents are its Pentagon Papers. Here are three things everyone should know about the Climategate Papers. Links are provided so that the full context of every quote can be seen by anyone interested. First, the scientists discuss manipulating data to get their preferred results. The most prominently featured scientists are paleoclimatologists, who reconstruct historical temperatures and who were responsible for a series of reconstructions that seemed to show a sharp rise in temperatures well above historical variation in recent decades. In 1999, Phil Jones, the head of CRU, wrote to activist scientist Michael “Mike” Mann that he has just “completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps … to hide the decline”(0942777075). This refers to a decline in temperatures in recent years revealed by the data he had been reconstructing that conflicted with the observed temperature record. The inconvenient data was therefore hidden under a completely different set of data. Some “trick.” Mann later (2003) announced that “it would be nice to try to ‘contain’ the putative ‘MWP,’ even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back” (1054736277). The MWP is the Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures may have been higher than today. Mann’s desire to “contain” this phenomenon even in the absence of any data suggesting that this is possible is a clear indication of a desire to manipulate the science. There are other examples of putting political/presentational considerations before the science throughout the more

Climategate: When Scientists Become Politicians

Over thousands of years, at each step, the response of the scientists was to continually adjust and refine their theories to conform to the data, not the other way around. This is how science is done and how we developed the knowledge that has given us such tremendous and accelerating scientific and technological breakthroughs in the past century. It is occasionally reasonable to throw out a bad data point if it is in defiance of an otherwise satisfactory model fit, as long as everyone knows that you’ve done so and the rationale, but a deliberate and unrevealed fudging of results in an attempt to make the real world fit one’s preconceptions is beyond the scientific pale. Journal articles have been thrown out for it; PhD candidates have lost their degrees for it. But such behavior, along with attempts to cover it up and dishonestly discredit critics, is exactly what was revealed in a leak of emails last Friday from a research facility in eastern England. And it was not the behavior of previously unknown researchers on some arcane topic of little interest to anyone outside their own field. It was the behavior of leading luminaries in perhaps the greatest scientific issue and controversy of our age: Whether or not the planet is warming to a potentially dangerous degree as a result of humanity’s more

Wilderness bill opponents map out alternative plan

A group of opponents to a federal wilderness bill for Doña Ana County gathered Tuesday to outline its alternative to the proposal and ask New Mexico's senators to hold a field hearing locally about the matter. The group, including ranchers, off-road vehicle users, the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, in a letter to the senators have asked that several regions be removed from consideration for wilderness and instead granted other less-restrictive designations. The areas are clustered in southwestern Do-a Ana County, near the international border. Frank DuBois, a former state agriculture secretary who has opposed the wilderness legislation, said the group is asking for the change to keep from hindering officers who are enforcing immigration laws. Wilderness is the most-restrictive land designation granted by Congress. It prevents mechanized travel in most cases. National conservation areas are a designation in which the land-use parameters are tailored to match each region. Also, a 13,900-acre wilderness region proposed for Broad Canyon, south of Hatch, would be removed from consideration, under the opposition group's plan. "The chamber found this area to be too important for utility and energy corridors, flood control and other economic growth and public safety factors to have access restrictions legislatively imposed," said DuBois at a news more

Obama official slams oil industry

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar fired back at critics of the federal government's oil and gas leasing program on Tuesday, saying the oil industry was acting “like an arm of a political party.” In a conference call with reporters to announce oil and gas lease sales on federal land for 2010, Salazar said the Bureau of Land Management's oil and gas leasing program this year has been “robust,” putting more than 2.7 million acres of land up for lease and generating $126 million in revenue. Four more leases are planned before year's end. “But you wouldn't know it if you listened to the untruths coming out” of industry groups, Salazar said. “Trade groups for the oil and gas industry repeatedly launch attacks that have all the poison and assumptions of election-year politics.” Salazar said enery company shareholders have two choices: let their companies sign on to industry efforts that “act like an arm of a political party,” or “engage constructively to find common-sense solutions” to improving the leasing process. The verbal barrage was aimed at groups like the American Petroleum Institute, which has been critical of a number of moves taken by the Obama administration, including rescinding 77,000 acres of lease sales done late in the Bush administration and recommending shorter terms for future more

Conservation is seen as key to dealing with state's water woes

Compared to building new reservoirs, recycling or seawater desalination, conservation is one of the cheapest, quickest and least environmentally damaging ways for the state to get more water. "I think we have a water crisis in California, and I think conservation is the only solution that can be implemented in time," said Kevin Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department. Water demand in Southern California has remained essentially flat the last two decades, despite the addition of 3.7 million people. Similarly, L.A. used slightly less water last year than in 1990, even though there are a million more Angelenos now. Much of the lid on demand has been achieved through gadgetry. Utility rebates and plumbing ordinances have put low-flow toilets and shower heads in millions of buildings and homes. Water agencies promote high-efficiency washing machines. But it hasn't been enough, said Timothy Brick, chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the region's water wholesaler. "I think we have a long way to go." more

Coyote sightings worry rural residents

Tara Emery's rural Chandler area neighborhood is under attack by a pack of coyotes that devoured seven of her chickens last weekend and some of her neighbors' poultry. All that's left of a flock of White Leghorn laying hens that provided her family with eggs is an injured rooster, one hen and a yard littered with feathers and broken eggs. A five-foot chain link fence didn't protect them, and Emery said she is very worried about her small herd of Nigerian dwarf goats that are due to kid in the next few weeks. Their tiny babies are smaller than the chickens and prey for coyotes. "I don't know what to do, and I'm afraid of what's coming next," said Emery. She is the second generation to live on the rural family plot in an unincorporated county island north east of Gilbert and Ocotillo Roads and said she has never seen so many coyote attacks. Nearby rural Gilbert residents said they, too are seeing -- and fearing -- coyotes. Sherri Isaac, who lives near Val Vista Drive and Queen Creek Road, said she recently saw a pack of four around the new Perry High School and neighbors have lost more

Is the Senate health plan anti-gun?

"There is a broader issue here," said Dave Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute of Colorado, a libertarian think tank. "The more you socialize costs, the more you empower the argument that the government has the authority to control private behavior." Kopel pointed to the Japanese health care system, where employee waistlines are measured and those who are overweight are put into special weight loss programs, as an example of where the U.S. health care system could be headed. And gun control could become part of it, Kopel said. "If [the Department of Health and Human Services] can write regulations for lower premiums for healthy habits in general," Kopel said. "Then I don't see anything in the bill that stops HHS from saying people get higher premiums for unhealthy habits such as owning a gun or a handgun." Gun Owners of America spokesman Erich Pratt said the government has already blocked gun ownership through its access to the mental health records of military veterans. If a vet is diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, his or her name is sent to a special database used to prohibit gun purchases. So far, 150,000 veterans have been denied firearms using the list, Pratt said. The Senate bill could widen government oversight of who can own a gun, he warned. "With these mandates, it is really going to be impossible to keep our medical information out of this database," Pratt more

Rancher jailed after housing homeless

A California rancher who houses homeless people on his property chose to serve 90 days in jail rather than accept probation after being convicted of misdemeanor safety violations. Dan de Vaul says the terms of probation offered Monday would prevent him from sheltering about 30 people who reside at his ranch and participate in a substance abuse recovery program. The 66-year-old de Vaul says he is proud to go to jail for housing the homeless. About 30 supporters applauded as he was led out of court in handcuffs. Judge John Trice says officials have offered to help de Vaul bring his property up to code, but he would not accept assistance. A jury in San Luis Obispo convicted him of two misdemeanors for violations of building and safety code. AP

UPDATE: One of the jurors posted his bail.

He Created a New Kind of Western

Kelton wound up writing something almost as ambitious: a book that may go down as the Great Texas Novel. When Kelton died in August at the age of 83, many of the obituaries cited "The Time It Never Rained" as his finest achievement. The story of rancher Charlie Flagg and his struggles during a terrible drought in the 1950s is not just another western. It's a piece of Western lit. At home, he was trying to fashion a new kind of western. It wasn't set among the gunslingers of the 19th century but during the very period he was investigating as a journalist. His editor didn't care for the first draft, so Kelton rewrote it. The second draft didn't cut it, either. Kelton tucked away the manuscript and went back to the kinds of westerns he could sell. Ranchers often have to wait out dry spells, and that's what Kelton did with his drought novel. Time passed. Kelton thought he improved at the craft of writing. In the early 1970s, he started his old story from scratch. It was published in 1973 as "The Time It Never Rained." Readers recognized it as a classic. It won the Spur Award for best novel, which for authors of westerns is the equivalent of a Pulitzer. The tale centers on Charlie Flagg, a stubborn rancher who battles the unyielding drought. He also resists the government's relief programs with a determination that his friends find both admirable and strange. What emerges is the portrait of a rugged libertarian: "I just want to live by my own lights and be left the hell alone," says Flagg. The federal aid turns out to have bad consequences. It fuels inflation, turns neighbor against neighbor, and chips away at bedrock freedoms. Each time a rancher surrenders a piece of his independence, says Flagg, "he's given up a little of his self-respect, a little of the pride he used to have in takin' care of himself by himself." more

'Other Men's Horses'

Cletus Slocum stole Donley Bannister's best horse and crip pled it. Now Slocum lay facedown in the dirt, as dead as he would ever be. Bannister was known locally as a horse trader, finding them in faraway places and bringing them to the West Texas hill country for sale. He could recognize a good horse as far as he could see it, and spot a blemish from fifty yards. He loved horses as other men might love a woman. The blue roan, he thought, was one of the best he had ever owned. The four Slocum brothers— three now that Cletus was gone— also had a reputation for knowing good horses, steal ing them when and where they could. They had gone unpun ished because law officers had not been able to bring a strong case to court. It was difficult to persuade a witness to testify against one of them, knowing that to do so was to invite an unfriendly visit by the other three. Bannister did not wait for the law to act. He pursued Cle tus across the rockiest ground along the South Llano River. He caught up with him when the roan stumbled and went down, breaking a foreleg. While witness Willy Pegg trem bled and begged for his own life, Bannister put an end to Cletus's dubious career. He felt no remorse over the man, but his heart was heavy with pain when he shot the crippled more

It's All Trew: Well, in the past, water was work

The most significant problem facing the first Panhandle settlers was lack of water for their families and livestock. Hand-dug wells along creek bottoms came first. Hauling water gathered from the few surface springs into wooden whiskey barrels mounted on sleds was practiced where possible. When the Rock Island Railroad arrived, they hauled water in tank cars to fill cisterns built at section crew shacks along the way. Later, they dug wells, filling huge wooden storage tanks for the steam engines, and allowed settlers to get drinking water. Well-drilling equipment became available during the early 1880s, and it is believed the first such unit to arrive in the New Clarendon area was purchased by Smith & Sherrick. It immediately went to work drilling a water well for Charles Goodnight. Interviews conducted in 1929 by J. Evetts Haley and L.F. Micou told of these earliest efforts to find water on the plains. Both horse-powered and hand-powered drilling machines were used. In the low country below the caprock, hand-powered equipment was used with a crude tower, rolling block in the top and rope pulled by hand. Two men could dig 70 feet in a good day with drill bits weighing 15 to 25 pounds. Most wells in low country had no rock formations to go through, just sand, dirt and gravel. Another interview stated that horsepower for digging deeper wells was developed through a geared power wheel with horses walking in a circle, pulling the pole round and round. Deeper wells required winches to hold and pull more

Song Of The Day #188

File Factory is not working this morning and won't let me upload today's selection.

Since some of you missed out on our earlier selections, click here to listen to Song Of The Day #001, Cliff Carlisle singing Black Jack Davey.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Been getting ready for a news conference-letter signing this afternoon on the anti-rancher Bingaman wilderness bill. Will get back to The Westerner tonight.

Hage estate wins again

A federal judge has added $150,000 to the original $4.22 million judgment won by the estate of rancher Wayne Hage in a years-long battle over property rights. The federal government had asked Senior Judge Loren Smith to throw out the judgment. Instead, he increased it. Hage, a leader of the "Sagebrush Rebellion" against federal control of land, was the husband of former Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho. They both died in 2006. The order is the most recent victory in a legal dispute that stretches back to 1991, when Hage filed suit against the government for taking his private property without just compensation. In a previous court decision, Smith referred to the well-publicized lawsuit as "a drama worthy of a tragic opera with heroic characters." Hage's 7,000-acre ranch in Nye County, Nev., bordered several allotments in the Toiyabe National Forest on which he built fences, corrals, water facilities and other rangeland improvements for cattle grazing. Tensions began to mount between the rancher and the U.S. Forest Service in the late 1970s, when the agency permitted the introduction of elk to the national forest, resulting in damaged fences and scattered cattle, according to court records. Over the next decade, other incidents aggravated the strain and eventually led to the lawsuit. According to court documents, the Forest Service excluded Hage's cattle from forage and water in certain allotments, impounded animals that entered those allotments and prevented him from maintaining ditches needed to exercise his water more

Lawsuits place global warming on more dockets

The lawsuit seeks damages from a group of 33 energy companies, including ExxonMobil and coal giant Peabody Energy, electric utilities, and other conglomerates for allegedly emitting greenhouse gases that the litigants say contributed to global warming. That, the litigants claim, caused a rise in sea levels and increased air and water temperatures fueling the Category 5 hurricane that destroyed their homes. The lawsuit, considered a long shot by legal experts, cleared a hurdle last month when a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said it could continue, overruling a circuit court judge who had agreed with arguments from the companies that global warming is a political, not legal, issue. The Mississippi case is one of a small number of global warming cases to test the judiciary's role in the climate debate. •In September, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals made a similar finding in the case of Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., siding with a coalition of eight states, New York City, and three land trusts in their lawsuit against several coal-burning utilities for emissions. The lawsuit asks the court for an injunction capping emissions from the companies, claiming the gases are a "public nuisance." The case was dismissed at the district level on grounds that it was political, but on appeal, a two-judge panel disagreed. •Also in September, a federal judge in the Northern District Court of California dismissed a lawsuit brought by the tribal Alaskan village of Kivalina against 24 energy companies. Villagers are seeking $400 million in damages from the companies, claiming global warming had made their village more

Monday, November 23, 2009

Waffle-pocalypse!!! An open letter to President Obama

It seems our nation faces the dire consequences of a waffle shortage and Jason Sheehan wants the Obama administration to do something about it. He has written a letter to the President proposing a National Strategic Waffle Reserve and blesses the National Maple Syrup Reservoir currently under construction.

I believe Mr. Sheehan will see immediate action. After all, our national leaders might actually have to take a stand on the issues if they run out of waffles. I'll bet Harry Teague is working on this already. We may end up with the waffle reserve at Carlsbad Caverns.

Judge: Corps' Negligence Caused Katrina Flooding

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers' failure to properly maintain a navigation channel led to massive flooding in Hurricane Katrina. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval sided with five residents and one business who argued the Army Corps' shoddy oversight of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet led to the flooding of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He said, however, the corps couldn't be held liable for the flooding of eastern New Orleans, where one of the plaintiffs lived. Duval awarded the plaintiffs $720,000, or about $170,000 each, but the decision could eventually make the government vulnerable to a much larger payout. The ruling should give more than 100,000 other individuals, businesses and government entities a better shot at claiming billions of dollars in more

Very typical of our government today. Responsible but not liable. People are dead, property is destroyed, the government is responsible...but not liable.

Public land gone to pot

Clear Lake and Lake County are known worldwide for its excellent bass fishing. But the county also owns the dubious title as the "Marijuana Capitol of California." For the past three years more marijuana plants have been eradicated in the county than anywhere in the state. In fact, so far this year the state, county and federal authorities have confiscated more than 500,000 plants in Lake County. That's more than the entire state of Kentucky eradicated last year. Most of the plants were eradicated on public lands such as the Mendocino National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. According to authorities, the illegal growing of marijuana is destroying wildlife and the environment, plus making the public lands unsafe for hikers, hunters and others who enjoy the more

The federal and many state agencies have done everything they could to exclude human and commercial activities from the public lands and then seem surprised when someone other than their berry-eating backpacker buddies take advantage of the landscape they have created.

If you outlaw human use of government lands only outlaws will have use of it.

Gibson Guitar plant in Nashville raided by feds

An international crackdown on the use of endangered woods from the world's rain forests to make musical instruments bubbled over to Music City on Tuesday with a federal raid on Gibson Guitar 's manufacturing plant, but no arrests. Agents of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service made a midday appearance and served a search warrant on company officials at Gibson's Massman Drive manufacturing plant, where it makes acoustic and electric guitars. Gibson issued a statement saying it is "fully cooperating with agents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as it pertains to an issue with harvested wood." The company said it did nothing wrong. Federal officials declined to say whether anything was removed from Gibson's plant or what specifically the agents were trying to find. But some exotic hardwoods traditionally used in making premium guitars, such as rosewood from the rain forests of Madagascar and Brazil, have been banned from commercial trade because of environmental concerns under a recently revised federal more

The price just went up on older Gibson guitars. All you musicians and all us listeners can thank the USFWS. We'll have to go back to stretchin' animal skins over a drum...if the animal rights folks will let us.

WWP Wins Summary Judgment On 100,000 acre Byner Complex Allotments

Western Watersheds Project's Arizona Office has been granted Summary Judgment by Administrative Law Judge Harvey C. Sweitzer in a successful appeal of a grazing permit decision issued by the Kingman Field Office, Bureau of Land Management. Judge Sweitzer agreed with WWP that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act on the Big Sandy, Los Molinos, and Diamond Joe Allotments (collectively called the "Byner Complex"). The Byner Complex of allotments has some serious rangeland health issues, and the proposed action sought to limit livestock impacts in some key areas by moving livestock to new unexploited areas through the development of new water sources. To do this, the BLM had proposed building five new wells, eleven new troughs, twelve new miles of pipeline and fifteen new miles of fence, which all could have extensive effects on the landscape and the riparian areas. The BLM failed to analyze or even disclose the descriptions of the new water facilities. Administrative Law Judge Sweitzer found the BLM’s behavior to be in violation of the National Environmental Policy more

Go here to read the decision.

Wolf hunt an orderly success

It was historic, to say the least, that Montana just completed the first regulated wolf hunt in the lower 48 states this week. Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks deserves kudos for managing the hunt to a tee, closely monitoring it with a reporting system that ensured that the statewide quota of 75 wolves would not be exceeded. To be sure, many believe more wolves could have been harvested. But there were specific reasons for the conservative quota, amounting to about 15 percent of the state’s estimated population of 500 wolves. Even with the hunt, Montana’s wolf population is expected to grow next year. Even though Montana and Idaho wolves were removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act early this year, the two states must show the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they can maintain sustainable wolf populations. “This was the first year in a five-year period we have to prove ourselves, and I think we have to prove ourselves well,” Ream said. Not to mention demonstrating the viability of the hunt in court. The delisting decision has been challenged by a coalition of environmental groups, and the state of Montana is rightly defending its authority to manage wolves. The regulated hunt is a big part of that more

Spreading wildfires could bring 'an inferno on earth'

Fire patterns have changed over time as human populations have grown and altered landscapes by clearing forests, allowing pasture animals to overgraze grasslands, and importing new plant species. Across parts of the western United States, for example, cheatgrass, an invasive annual adapted to frequent burns, has supplanted native brush, desert shrub, and perennial grasses that typically experience longer intervals between fires. In other areas, mixed-age and mixed-species forests have been replaced by single-species plantations where flames can jump easily from tree to tree. The result, instead of a low-intensity restorative fire, is a fire so hot that it can cause lasting harm to soils. Humans have also altered fire patterns through deliberate suppression. After 1910, when a severe wildfire charred more than 3 million acres of western US forest in just two days, the strong desire to protect timber resources gave life to a policy of quickly extinguishing fires. For decades firefighters proved remarkably successful in this endeavor, but the upshot was that forests became so loaded with fuel that a blaze that evaded control could quickly grow into a dangerous megafire. Now policies are shifting in many places to let some fires proceed naturally or through preventative controlled burns; yet by warming the planet, we may be relinquishing even more control than we bargained more

Warming's impacts sped up, worsened since Kyoto

Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated — beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then. As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before. And it's not just the frozen parts of the world that have felt the heat in the dozen years leading up to next month's climate summit in Copenhagen: —The world's oceans have risen by about an inch and a half. —Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa. —Species now in trouble because of changing climate include, not just the lumbering polar bear which has become a symbol of global warming, but also fragile butterflies, colorful frogs and entire stands of North American pine forests. —Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997. Even the gloomiest climate models back in the 1990s didn't forecast results quite this bad so more

From worms to used motor oil, green gets a lift at ski resort

Worms that eat coffee grounds. Old motor oil that heats workshops. Patio furniture made of recycled milk jugs. Colorado ski resorts are going beyond standard recycling in an effort to green up their industry — and lure skiers and snowboarders concerned about the impact their sport is having on the mountains they love. Sometimes it's hard to reconcile our ski-loving, traveling side with the side that cringes at the environmental effect of all those people on the snowy slopes and the travel we do to get there. On one hand, you're gliding past pristine, snow-frosted pines, sucking crisp mountain air into your lungs and bursting with love for the outdoors. Then you sit down for an hour at an on-mountain restaurant and watch heaps of napkins, disposable silverware and plastic cups get tossed in the garbage can. Happily, resorts today seem more and more interested in reducing waste, pushing alternative transportation, using renewable energy, recycling and teaming up for environmental partnerships. Sure, there's a long way to go. But the effort is gaining speed, kind of like a downhill skier on a steep more

I wonder if those worms will eat horse shit. Might turn green myself.

Sheryl Crow Takes up Cause of Wild Horses in West

Sheryl Crow is joining the call for a halt to federal government roundups of wild horses in the West, branding them as inhumane and unnecessary. The Grammy Award-winning singer is asking President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to scrap a proposed roundup of 2,500 mustangs in northern Nevada. Crow, who campaigned for Obama last year and performed at his inauguration, opposes Salazar's plan to move thousands of wild horses to preserves in the Midwest and East to protect horse herds
and the rangelands that support them. In a letter sent to Obama and Salazar earlier this week, Crow and actors Ed Harris and Wendie Malick, along with Madeleine Pickens, the wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, and more than 100 other groups questioned the BLM's horse numbers and said there may be only 15,000 mustangs remaining on public more

Is There Such a Thing as Agro-Imperialism?

The American scientist was catching a glimpse of an emerging test of the world’s food resources, one that has begun to take shape over the last year, largely outside the bounds of international scrutiny. A variety of factors — some transitory, like the spike in food prices, and others intractable, like global population growth and water scarcity — have created a market for farmland, as rich but resource-deprived nations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere seek to outsource their food production to places where fields are cheap and abundant. Because much of the world’s arable land is already in use — almost 90 percent, according to one estimate, if you take out forests and fragile ecosystems — the search has led to the countries least touched by development, in Africa. According to a recent study by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the earth’s last large reserves of underused land is the billion-acre Guinea Savannah zone, a crescent-shaped swath that runs east across Africa all the way to Ethiopia, and southward to Congo and Angola. Foreign investors — some of them representing governments, some of them private interests — are promising to construct infrastructure, bring new technologies, create jobs and boost the productivity of underused land so that it not only feeds overseas markets but also feeds more Africans. (More than a third of the continent’s population is malnourished.) They’ve found that impoverished governments are often only too welcoming, offering land at giveaway more

Iowa to Host First USDA Meeting on 'Competition in Agriculture'

A series of public workshops looking at competition in agriculture and the role of federal anti-trust laws and their enforcement will take place at five locations across the nation in 2010. The first of those meetings, to be held jointly by USDA and the U.S. Department of Justice, will be in Iowa. USDA and the Justice Department made the announcement last week. The initial workshop is set for March 12 at the new FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, north of Des Moines. Specific areas of focus include concerns about the seed industry. A USDA spokesman says topics to be discussed are seed technology, vertical integration, market transparency and buyer power. One of the main issues centers on use of biotech traits in seed to the advantage or disadvantage of larger seed companies compared to smaller firms. An ongoing legal battle between seed industry heavyweights Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto prompts the focus on seed issues. Pioneer, based in Johnston, and its parent company, DuPont, allege that Monsanto is guilty of using its dominance in biotech traits in seed, particularly those resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, to dominate the seed market. Monsanto denies the charges, saying it has only a fraction of the seed sales market and that it licenses its traits widely, including to Pioneer. The latest figures show for seed corn sales, Monsanto's DeKalb and American Seed brands have 36% of the market. Pioneer gained two percentage points last year to reach 32% in seed corn more

Land swap angers hunters, governor

Hunters are ticked off and so is the governor as the State Land Office pushes a trade that would turn a chunk of pristine mountain wilderness over to private ranchers. Hunters think they'll be left out, and Gov. Bill Richardson issued a statement Friday calling the swap a "behind-the-scenes deal" that lack transparency and public input. Officials with the land office say that's just not true. It's a fight over elk, antelope and the land on which they live on around White Peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Right now the land is a checkerboard of state and private property. Henington said it's cheaper to maintain state trust acreage if it's all together and that the land it's acquiring could be more profitable. "There's nothing else that we do but generate revenue for our beneficiaries," he said. The beneficiaries are schools across the state that use the money generated by energy production, agriculture and hunting license more

Tampa cattle drive rounds up history

Cowboys and cowgirls mounted horses Saturday and drove 18 wide-eyed cattle through downtown Tampa, past hundreds of people who lined up outside the Tampa Bay History Center. Nick Dotti brought his 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter — each decked out in little cowboy hats and boots — from South Tampa to the cattle drive, which was held to promote the museum's traveling exhibit about Florida cattlemen. Although a cattle drive in downtown Tampa was an odd sight Saturday, it wouldn't have been unusual 100 years ago. Beef cattle were regularly driven to local ports, often to be shipped to Cuba, said curator Rodney Kite-Powell. "It wasn't a daily occurrence. We weren't like Tombstone," he said. "But cattle were very common around downtown." Cattle first arrived in the United States through Florida in 1521 with Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, said Handley and Kite-Powell. Now, there are about 1.7 million head of beef cattle in the state. They're raised on about 7 million acres mostly between interstates 75 and 95, Handley more

On the edge of common sense: Hindu practices differ little from traditional dairy

The Hindu dairymen, represented by the Hare Krishna in the United States, have much in common with dairymen from California, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The HK dairy is in West Virginia and is called New Vrindaban. They refer to themselves as a cow sanctuary. The big distinction is they never cull a cow. Granted, this sounds familiar to many a ranch wife who has heard her husband shout over the noise of the preg checkin' chute, "I know she's open and got no teeth, but let's run her one more year!" The HK cowmen sometimes name their cows, but that's not remarkable. I can recall Nicole, Two Dot and Dallas from my own bunch. The HK comment that "Cows are very dear to us, we take care of them like our own family." How many hundreds of times have you "normal" cattlemen who missed dinner, stayed up all night, nursed calves in the bathtub, rode into a blinding blizzard, fired up the generator to keep milking, went into debt and put your human family second behind a cow in distress? The HK dairy cows eat grain while they are being milked twice a day. They preach the "power" of cows to provide everything from milk for their children to manure for their farm. They make butter, yogurt and sweets. Ditto for traditional dairymen. But the paths of these two dairymen diverge in a profound way when the HK states, "slaughtering an animal is not natural for human beings." Have they not seen the paintings on the cave walls? Where do they get these ideas? Why did they invent the sharp knife and barbecue sauce? For coleslaw? more

Song Of The Day #187

Ranch Radio will get that foot tappin' this Monday morning with Baby I Want You So by Charlie Adams and The Lone Star Playboys.

The tune is available on his 30 track CD Cattin' Around on Bear Family Records.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Song Of The Day #186

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is I Pushed Through The Crowd by the wonderful blue grass singer Dale Ann Bradley.

The song is on her 12 track CD Songs of Praise and Glory.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Who gets the turkey leg?

Julie Carter

Everywhere I turn, I hear people making plans for next week. A trip, shopping, cooking and the inspiration for it all -Thanksgiving Dinner.

In the peripheral, there are bets on football games and plots for spending vacation time from school classes.

Paintball wars, cattle workings, roping, skiing and lots and lots of eating, napping, visiting and family togetherness. If the ropers aren't going to a roping, they will discuss at length, every roping they have ever entered in their life.

Somehow, a turkey drumstick, dressing and of course the traditional pumpkin pie, still have the power to bring the family home, even from afar.

Almost everything that takes place on Thanksgiving could happen on another day of the year. I'm fairly sure the Pilgrims at the first such event didn't look at the calendar and say, "Let's do this on a Thurs-day in November. Is that good for you?"
So what is it really that keeps us coming back to the historical observance of collecting a crowd, cooking up everything in the house and then some, eating until it's gone and then moaning our way back to our tepees and cabins.

I believe it is the tradition as much as the food that brings families together year after year, under all circumstances. And rural America re-mains steeped in tradition for many things, but none more than a traditional holiday.

We don't get too revved up about President's Day, Mother's Day (except to hold a branding) and Secretary's Day, but give us the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas and we'll show you some genuine Yee-Haw down-home country tradition.

There are a few folks that hold with the thought that the Pilgrims more likely ate chicken-fried elk steak than turkey and chose to follow that menu instead of the bird.

Others have sought a variation to the roasted fowl and opted for the deep-fried version.

This cooking method generated a retail Tsunami of turkey deep-fryers followed by the landslide of warnings about how the combination of fire and hot oil can quickly turn a fryer into a vertical flame thrower.

This year, our family traditions will again be orchestrated by my mother, who started the entire thing for my generation.

She will cook a turkey, make the best stuffing in the world, ours anyway, and we'll gather to eat at her big oak table that will be stretched with extra leaves from round to a long oval.

We, as a family, have been putting our family traditions "on the table" at Mom's house for five decades, and all of those have been around that oak table. As we grew to adulthood, the next wave was the grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren. If that table could talk ...

This Thanksgiving, our newest family member will be introduced to roundtable family holidays. He is just six months old and making his debut to New Mexico and grandma's Thanksgiving.

It's not quite like the days of old when "over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go" offered images of horse-drawn sleighs and piles of snow.
We've evolved to pickup trucks, baby car seats, long miles of paved highways in a snow-free Southwest. But the destination promises the same as the song:

Over the river, and through the wood -
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Enjoy the holiday however you spend it. You are making memories for your family to treasure in the next generations

More On Joe Delk's Patriotic Fiddle

Several editions of The Westerner ago I wrote about Joe Delk's activities on behalf of rural New Mexicans and posted a picture of Joe playing the National Anthem at the PRCA Turquoise Circuit Finals.

Dona Ana County rancher and author Steve Wilmeth saw Joe perform our anthem at the Cowboys For Cancer Research annual dinner and dance and wrote the following:

Amazing . . . . Anthem

Through a few moments of grace on Friday night, a very powerful performance was experienced by the attendants of the Cowboy for Cancer dinner dance at Dickerson’s Barn. The mandatory recognition of supporters, contributors, and active fundraising events had been concluded and the Delk Family Band had stepped to the stage for the commencement of the dance. As folks milled around talking and anticipating this very popular part of the evening, the sound of a lone fiddle drifted through the room and all eyes and ears turned to the stage. Joe Delk was the musician and the tune was none other than the National Anthem. Within moments the crowd was hushed and standing. By the end of the first stanza, part of the crowd was softly singing the words, and, by the end of the second, there were few dry eyes in the hall. By that time, it was just Mr. Delk and his fiddle in the spotlight. The mesmerized crowd might as well have been a hundred miles away as he concentrated and played. When the last note lifted away and was gone, the band struck up a two step and the dance began.

Wow! What a powerful performance it was. What an unsuspected gift and what an interesting response that came from the audience. Those who were there to witness such an unexpected salute to America will likely never forget it. For a moment, there was a unity of spirit and a remembrance of values. There was an emotion that was totally unexpected. It was an emotion that words didn’t prompt. It was a purely impromptu reminder that hope doesn’t come in packaged words or the pledge of new ideas. It comes from honest human endeavors that are self driven. It comes from the heart and it comes from independent and free Americans who still think for themselves. Thank you, Joe Delk. Your gift was special . . .

It's The Pitts: Picture This

Lee Pitts

If I didn't make my living as a writer I think I'd like to be a cartoonist. There's really only one thing holding me back: I can't draw. (There are some critics who say I can't write either but that hasn't stopped me from being a writer!)

I am a cartoon aficionado and the day Gary Larson retired his Far Side cartoon was a very sad day indeed around our place. I try reading Sunday comics but newspapers are downsizing and the first thing they are cutting are the cartoon strips. As a result, they aren't as good as they used to be. I can read eight pages of cartoon strips in any major Sunday paper and barely break a smile. That's why I admire the work of cowboy cartoonists like Jerry Palen, Mad Jack Hanks and Earl. It's a great gift, this ability to make a person smile, and rare is the week that I don't get a good guffaw from their cartoons.

Although I'm no artist I could "draw" upon my experiences to come up with punch lines. So, I've come up with what I call do-it-yourself cartoons for publications on austerity budgets. I supply the words and you do the art. For example, draw a picture of a feedlot steer with a packinghouse in the background. Here's the caption: "Hmm, they bring us all the delicious food we can eat and we don't have to do any work. I wonder, what's the catch?"

Got the idea? Good. Here's another. Under the heading, "Why people don't have elephants for pets," draw a picture of an urbanite picking up after her petite pooch with a little plastic bag. Or how about this one: Two chimpanzees are sitting in a tree at a zoo watching a PETA protest. One chimp asks, "Where did we go wrong? Too much inbreeding, perhaps?" In a similar vein, be sure to draw this one in color. A hunter is wearing camo pants, camo shirt, camo jacket, a camo gun, camouflage boots... with a bright orange vest and orange cap. One deer says to the other, "Does he think we're color blind? The idiot must have dressed himself this morning."

Sharpen your pencil and let's try a few farm animal cartoons. A young bull calf, with an ear tag in each ear and a nose ring turns to his buddy and says, "I wanted a tongue stud but my mother wouldn't let me." Here's another. At that moment when a preg-checking vet has his arm in a cow up to his shoulder the cow says, "If that pervert would just ask, I'd be glad to pee on a stick." On a related matter, draw a picture of a masculine bull smoking a cigarette with the caption: "I'd like to kill the fella who invented artificial insemination." I can also envision a cow after being unloaded on a new ranch turning to the realtor and saying, "I was hoping for it to be all on one level, something with a view, a pool perhaps, less rocks and more grass." For the more cosmopolitan crowd you could draw a Kobe beef animal in Japan being fed Bud Light under the caption, "Kinda defeats the purpose, don't you think?"

Perhaps you are better at drawing birds. If so, under your picture of a group of geese flying in V formation add this caption: "Would a little variety be too much to ask? For once could we fly in a B, or maybe even a D?" Or, two turkeys playing Russian Roulette on the day before Thanksgiving. "Go ahead," one says. "What have you got to lose?" Here's a bird cartoon I think cattle ranchers might get a laugh out of: two buzzards are sitting in the middle of the road sharing a road kill. One buzzard turns to the other and says, "Do you notice that after awhile it all starts to taste like chicken?"

The following cartoons are for advanced artists only. Two hunting dogs are baying at the base of a tree and looking down on them is the biggest, most ferocious mountain lion in the world. One dog turns to the other and says, "You ever get the idea we might be barking up the wrong tree?" Or how about a pack of wolves dining on Wyoming lamb with the caption, "Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?"

Now you know why I'm a writer and not a cartoonist. If none of these cartoons failed to bring a smile to your face don't blame me. After all, you drew your own conclusions.