Monday, August 31, 2009

Cash for Climate

Let's say the world will spend $250 billion a year for the next 10 years to minimize the suffering caused by climate change. What's the best bargain we can get for the money? The Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC), a think-tank in Denmark headed by Skeptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, has commissioned 21 papers from leading climate experts and economists to answer that very question. Over the coming month, the CCC will be looking at the benefits and costs of proposed actions in four different areas: climate engineering, cutting future greenhouse gas emissions, economic growth, and green energy technologies. Each topic will feature a main research paper accompanied by a series of critiques by other experts called perspective papers. At the end of the process, the CCC will assemble a panel of five leading economists, three of them Nobelists, to rank all of the proposed solutions as to their relative cost-effectiveness. This ranking process is the CCC's specialty—it has twice used this technique to rank order various proposals for solving some of the world's biggest problems, including disease eradication, sanitation, economic development, malnutrition, and the oppression of women. This week, the CCC kicked off the process with the high-tech topic of climate engineering, starting with a paper by J. Eric Bickel, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin in Operations Research and a fellow in the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, and Lee Lane, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., where he also serves as the co-director of the Institute's Geoengineering Project...Reason

The Color of Change Is Green

The curious thing about the troops manning the effort to create a clean, green economy in the age of Obama is that they are not the stereotypical environmental activists one normally thinks about. Sure, the greens at the major environmental organizations are on board with Obama (though some think he's not going far enough). But the real leaders of the new green jobs movement aren't environmentalists at all; they're labor union officials and inner-city community organizers like those at Color of Change. Their interest is not protecting the environment as much as it is hijacking the green zeitgeist to agitate for economic justice, airing ethnic, racial, and other grievances, and grabbing government cash...AmericanSpectator

Gov. Herbert views fire, criticizes federal policies

Gov. Gary Herbert on Sunday joined critics questioning why the 10,000-acre Mill Flat Fire that destroyed at least three structures and threatened more than 600 others was not suppressed earlier. After flying over the blaze's towering smoke column in a helicopter, he aimed his criticism at a decision to let the lightning-caused fire burn as a way to clear old growth and invite rejuvenation. "A lighting strike may be a good way to manage resources but [it] may not be the best practice," the governor said. Conditions similar to those where the Mills Flat Fire is burning exist throughout central and southern Utah on public land in Gunnison, Garfield and Iron counties, he said, adding he plans to take the matter up with Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials. Herbert also took aim at restrictions on federal wilderness areas. The Mill Flat Fire started July 25 within the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness Area. Before Congress designated the area as protected wilderness, livestock grazing controlled vegetation overgrowth that causes fires to burn more intensely when they do start, he said. "With wilderness, our hands are tied behind our backs," Herbert said. "It sets us up for a tragedy." Perhaps sheep should be allowed to graze in now restricted areas, he said...SaltLakeTribune

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leaves livestock-killing wolf pack in wild

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to leave a wolf pack in the wild in southwestern New Mexico, despite the pack killing five cows this month. The federal agency - which can remove wolves that kill three head of livestock within a year - confirmed that a cow killing on Aug. 12 was the third by the pack this month. This week, the wolf program's field team confirmed two more kills by the alpha pair in the Beaverhead area of Catron County. However, Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle in Albuquerque ruled Friday that the Middle Fork Pack is highly valuable genetically to the effort to establish endangered Mexican gray wolves in the wild on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. Tuggle said the pack's alpha pair, released in 2004, are a breeding pair that are raising at least four pups and that removal could jeopardize the pups' survival. It was the second time this summer the federal agency decided against removing a wolf linked to at least three livestock kills in southwestern New Mexico. In June, Fish and Wildlife decided to allow the alpha male of the San Mateo Pack, who had been linked to four livestock killings, to remain in the wild...AP

Over at Wolf Crossing, Laura Schneberger writes:

It continues to be unfortunate that the Albuquerque press seems to not get what is happening in Ranch / Wolf country. There have been 5 confirmed yearling kills within mere weeks, on one ranch way to the north of the wilderness boundary and the Middle Fork wolf pack are feeding and teaching pups to live entirely on livestock. Remember FWS own science says for every kill there are usually 6-8 more that cannot be found. There is no real 3 strikes rule anymore. FWS haven’t removed wolves for killing livestock since Fall of 2007. Defenders of Wildlife haven’t reimbursed ranchers for depredations since about the same time. This is occurring even during aggressive hazing that has been going on for at least 3 weeks. So tell me what part of this situation is sustainable and leads to recovery in the wild...

Wolf's journey shows value of connectivity

A wolf with a global positioning system device attached to her neck has documented what wildlife biologists have long known: individual wolves often travel long distances when looking for a mate, new hunting prospects, or both. In this case, the wolf, an adult female, traveled 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Jasper National Park before being killed by a trapper near Sheridan Lake, B.C. Even more amazing long-distance trotting was documented in recent years when wolves that originated in the Yellowstone ecosystem wound up in northern Colorado, one just west of Denver and the other near Beaver Creek and Vail. In the latter case, a global positioning device documented a travel of 450 direct miles (724 kilometers), although wildlife biologists estimate the wolf actually covered 1,000 miles. Wolf expert Mark Hebbelwhite told the Rocky Mountain Outlook that such journeys illustrate the importance of connectivity between ecosystems. But in Wyoming's Jackson Hole, exactly the opposite problem was evident. There, three wolves had an affliction called the mange, a parasitic infection of the skin that causes the animal to scratch their hair off, leaving them exposed to the elements. The wolves, federal officials tell the Jackson Hole News&Guide, have been hanging around people's houses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a permit to the landowner to use rubber bullets to shoot at the animals, in an attempt to drive them off...DailyNews

Wolves Are Set to Become Fair Game in the West

A wolf hunt is set to begin in Idaho on Tuesday if a federal judge does not stop it. It would be the first time in decades that hunters have been allowed to pursue the gray wolf, an animal that has come to symbolize tensions over how people interact with wilderness in the West. On Monday, the judge, Donald W. Molloy of Federal District Court, will hold a hearing to determine whether to issue an injunction sought by wildlife advocates against the hunt and reopen the question of returning the wolf to the endangered list. The states’ hunts will be over when the limit is reached or when the season ends, which is Dec. 31 in most areas. “The first day is the best day when it comes to an animal as smart as a wolf,” said Nate Helm, president of Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. The resurgence of the wolf population, rooted in a federal effort to reintroduce the animals to the Northern Rockies in the mid-1990s, has long angered deer and elk hunters and cattle and sheep ranchers who say the wolves are depleting game and killing livestock. Federal wildlife officials said that in 2008 a record 264 wolves were killed in the region for the legal reason of protecting livestock. The clash illustrates a persistent divide in the West, where environmentalists and wildlife conservationists have long gone to court to fight laws they say favor powerful groups like hunters, ranchers and others. Wolves have been one of the most tangled issues of late, including in front of Judge Molloy...NYTimes

Two firefighters die in Station wildfire

Officials say two firefighters were killed when their vehicle rolled off a mountainside as they battled the massive Station wildfire in northern Los Angeles County. County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said at a news conference that the two men were amid intense fire near Mount Gleason in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday afternoon when the vehicle crashed. A tearful Bryant said the men's families have been notified. He did not release their identities or give a cause for the crash. The fire has consumed 66 square miles, destroyed at least 18 structures and was threatening some 12,000 homes. Ash rained on cars as far away as downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, spreading in all directions in hot, dry conditions...AP

Backcountry pilots push for better access

A clearing in Lewis and Clark National Forest 100 miles southeast of Great Falls, once used only for cattle grazing, will soon be a stopover for pilots. They're hungry, too — for access to the backcountry. "This would be their trailhead to recreate on the forest," forest Supervisor Spike Thompson said as he sidestepped cow pies while strolling down the new 4,000-foot-long airstrip he approved. Sticking out in the green meadow like a highway center line, the Russian Flat grass airstrip will provide access to the Little Belt Mountains for adventurous aviators for the first time. The grass strip is scheduled to open in spring 2010. John McKenna, a 55-year-old pilot from Bozeman and the president of the Recreational Aviation Foundation, said the Montana airstrip is the first to be approved on any forest in the nation in 40 years, but he's lobbying for more like it. "Maybe we ought to talk about airplanes being reintroduced, like the grizzly or wolf," McKenna said. The nation's 154 forests are updating their travel rules and pilots such as McKenna have become involved, just like motorized users and wilderness advocates, said Gordon Schofield, group leader for land use in the Forest Service's Missoula-based Northern Region. That's leading to new requests for access to the national forest after decades without them, he said...GreatFallsTribune

Activists want to meet with county about gas industry

Regional activists want to know how Garfield County officials feel regarding the possibility that gas drilling activities may be polluting groundwater in western parts of the county, and they plan on finding out at a Sept. 8 meeting of the board of county commissioners in Glenwood Springs. Representatives of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, a volunteer group of industry watchdogs, and the Western Colorado Congress, a nonprofit that has been involved in numerous Western Slope development issues, will be at the meeting to talk about the impacts of gas drilling on the county's communities and residents. Among the subjects sure to come up, organizers said, are recent findings by the Environmental Protection Agency that gas drilling activities in central Wyoming may have polluted the wells of area ranchers with chemicals used in a practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or “frac'ing.” Frac'ing, a drilling practice that the gas industry says is crucial to recovering hard-to-reach gas and oil pockets deep underground, involves the injection of large quantities of sand, water and chemicals into a well after it is drilled. The high-pressure compound fractures the subterranean strata and releases the gas or oil to flow to the surface...PostIndependent

How an El Niño affects weather

Whether it’s El Niño, La Niña or El Nothing, there sure has been a lot of interest in the seawater temperatures in the eastern Pacific these days. And for good reason — they can have a dramatic affect on our local weather. Since January 2007, we’ve either been in a La Niña or neutral condition when it comes to ocean temperatures. In other words, seawater temperatures have been below normal. There is a rough correlation between seawater temperatures and seasonal rainfall. More times than not, below normal seawater temperatures produce below normal rainfall, and above normal seawater temperatures produce near or above normal rainfall. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center indicates that a weak El Niño, which produces above-normal seawater temperatures, developed in the eastern Pacific during July and is forecast to strengthen through our rainy season. The term El Niño was first documented centuries ago by Peruvian fishermen. Since the warming often occurred during the Christmas season, Peruvians called this event “Corriente del Niño,” meaning “current of the Christ child.”...TheTribune

For Sierra Valley ranchers, help to resist developers tougher to find

As the pressure to sell his 320-acre Loyalton ranch grew, Goicoechea resorted to a state law that protects farms and ranches from annexation, eminent domain and other development demands. "Developers offered money first, and when I turned them down they turned to threats," Goicoechea recalled. "I could have cashed out very easily. "But ranches like this aren't happening everywhere, and I've never wanted anything else. I have no objection to the development – just leave me out of it." Goicoechea's story is similar to others around the 300,000-acre Sierra Valley, the largest alpine valley in the Sierra Nevada and one of the biggest in the nation. Many other ranchers and farmers pressured to sell their land to developers have turned to conservation easements and state conservation laws to keep their land in agriculture and to preserve the bucolic, 19th-century character of Sierra Valley. But now with many funding sources drying up, conservation groups and ranchers – once at odds over how the land should be used but now working together to protect it – are wondering how much longer the valley can hold out...SacramentoBee

How Tre Became America's Most Wanted Environmental "Terrorist"

On August 12, 2008, after a tumultuous seven-year investigation, Arrow was sentenced in Federal court to six-and-a-half years for lighting three cement haulers ablaze at the notorious Ross Island Sand and Gravel in Portland, Oregon, as well as firebombing two trucks and one front loader owned by Ray Schoppert Logging Company near the timber town of Estacada, Oregon. The acts were in protest of the Eagle Creek timber sale in Mt. Hood National Forest in the late 1990s. A grim-faced, 34-year-old Arrow listened warily as Judge James Redden read his sentence. At the behest of his lawyers, Bruce Ellison and Paul Loney, Arrow earlier signed off on a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice and accepted responsibility for his role in the arsons, even though for years he denied any involvement. “[I’m] true to a higher power ... I don't feel I need to be rehabilitated,” Arrow stated in a verbose speech to the court upon hearing the ruling. "Corporations have usurped much of the governmental power. Corporations seem to be able to get away with poisoning the very entity we rely on for our well-being with no punishment, or very little punishment," he declared. "I don't know what happened to you but they were very serious crimes, and you know it,” responded a disgruntled Judge Redden. The closing of the case was seen as a major victory by the FBI, which had long promoted Arrow as America’s most notorious and dangerous eco-terrorist...PacificFreePress

Rancher Dusty Hunt honored for rescue

In an emotional ceremony Friday that saw a lot of smiles, as well as a few tears of joy, the New Mexico Army National Guard honored members of the Grant County Search and Rescue Team, along with local rancher Dusty Hunt, for rescuing a couple lost in a canyon. Tom and Linda Bosworth were stranded for nearly four days without food or water in the Saddle Rock Canyon area after their Jeep flipped over while they were exploring the area. Tears of gratitude and a belief in miracles - of both the divine and human kind - were the sentiments expressed by a very grateful Tom and Linda Bosworth to all who contributed in the search that saved their lives. The Bosworths were near death when they were found and had to be airlifted to a Tucson hospital for treatment. Hunt, who is not a member of the Grant County Search and Rescue team but owns the grazing rights for the land where the Bosworths were first stranded and lost, helped participate in the search on his own. It was truly a grassroots effort that helped find the couple, said Linda Bosworth, starting with friends and family members from afar frantically calling local agencies, and ending with Hunt hiking up an arroyo in his white cowboy hat...SilverCitySunNews

Beds made of hay are latest hotel craze

Holiday-makers around the world are facing up to the fact that, in times of recession, large travel expenses are difficult to justify. While for some this has meant the end of life as we know it, for a new generation of nature lovers and eco-conscious tourists, it has prompted the discovery of a cheap and unusual alternative. In Germany and its European neighbors Austria and Switzerland, a long weekend in a converted barn - sleeping on a bed of freshly raked hay -- is fast becoming the 'staycation' of choice. Heuhotels ('heu' is German for hay) offer exactly what their name suggests. For as little as eight euros ($11) a night backpackers, couples, families and, in the case of one "hay hotel" in central Germany - 'groups of up to 60' - can rest their heads in a way nature intended. "I suppose some people might find the idea unappealing," manager Sarah tells CNN, "but for anyone who wishes to snuggle up close to nature it's perfect."...CNN

The U.S. versus Monsanto?

Did a warning shot just fly across Monsanto's bow? Most of the focus on the newly invigorated antitrust division of the Department of Justice has centered on the possibility that the feds are taking a hard look at Google's domination of the online advertising market. But for the foodies, organic and family farmers, and anti-GMO activists of the world, there's a far more provocative target at which to aim the antitrust cannon: the Roundup, GMO-corn and GMO-soybean king, Monsanto. This is not idle speculation. On Aug. 7, Philip Weiser, a newly appointed deputy assistant attorney general in the antitrust division, gave an important speech in St. Louis, which just happens to be where Monsanto is based. The title of the speech: "Toward a Competition Policy Agenda for Agriculture Markets." Weiser started off with some historical observations about the Sherman Act, the enabling legislative authority for antitrust enforcement, pointing out that worries about price fixing by "the Beef Trust" in the late 19th century encouraged senators representing agricultural states to support passage of the bill. Weiser then delivered a pair of pointed paragraphs unlikely to be received with smiles at Monsanto HQ...Salon

Horse 'n buggy lawman ruled

Wyatt, Virgil and other Earp family members walked the streets of San Bernardino in their day. Virgil was Colton's first city marshal, after serving as a territorial marshal in Arizona. Wyatt occasionally wore a badge as well. But their short local legacies, colorful as they may have been, were overshadowed by a man who served as San Bernardino County's sheriff from 1903 to 1915. At more than six feet tall and 200 pounds, John C. Ralphs was an imposing figure and the prototypical Western lawman. Historical accounts say he had a deep booming voice. He sported a modified handlebar mustache and a wide brimmed hat. And in an era when the automobile was fast becoming the transportation of choice, Ralphs doggedly stuck to the horse and buggy. He was the county's last frontier sheriff. He was said to love camping with his posses in the desert, entertaining his men with tales of capturing criminals and espousing his philosophy of life. What else would you expect from a man born on a wagon train passing through Utah on the way to California?...PressEnterprise

Appreciation: Elmer Kelton, celebrated Texan and author

When novelist Elmer Kelton died peacefully in his sleep last weekend, Texas lost one of its most beloved authors. He was the author of The Time It Never Rained, which one critic listed as one of the dozen or so best novels written by an American in the 20th century, and more than 60 other books. He garnered so many awards – seven Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, four Western Heritage (Wrangler) Awards from the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame, lifetime achievement awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Western Literature Association – that his wife once confessed they were reduced to putting them in drawers. And the WWA voted him the "Best Western Writer of All Time." But to call Elmer's work Western diminishes writing that went far beyond the genre and the region to deal with universal themes. Elmer, who was a willing and popular speaker whenever asked, used to tell audiences he liked to take a character, put him in a time of change and transition and see what he did. Those times of change were almost always in Texas history, which his novels cover from the Texas Revolution to contemporary times...DallasMorningNews

On the edge of common sense: For a life-changing event, ride a real bull

'So, what's the difference between riding a mechanical bull and riding a real one?" the boy asked his dad. "You will know the difference, my son, the first time you climb over into the buckin' chute and look down." The mechanical bull is a carnival ride, it is not a life-changing experience. Riding a real bull will affect how you answer one of the questions you will be asked the rest of your life. Whenever Professional Bull Riders comes on ESPN, or extreme sports are being discussed, you will have a practiced answer like "I was going to ride one once, but I had a sinus infection so I couldn't" or "I was taking piano lessons and worried about injuring my hand" or "Yeah, I rode bulls till my brains came in." I can't remember the first bull I got down on. I do recall trying to hang on to the back of a steer in a roping chute and being scraped off. I started riding bulls in high school. There wasn't much of a system set up for kids to learn. Most of the rides I made were in rodeos where the money was up. I tell the story in retrospect years later that I had a friend on the New Mexico State University rodeo team named Charley Engle. He was a good bull rider and I admired him. When I asked him for advice he suggested that I had to practice. "Practice!?" I thought. Does that make any sense to anyone reading this? I'm going to have a train wreck tomorrow, I better have one today to practice!...Amarillo.com

Song Of The Day #121

Today's selection is by The Cruzeros and is available on their 12 track CD Scandalosa.

No, this is not the traditional country you're used to finding here, but it will get your heart pumping this Monday morning.

I can also share with you that after 62 years of kicking around nightspots, rodeo arenas, the Halls of Congress and other places I won't mention, you better be careful of the choices you make, cause in the end you'll be Stuck With It.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Sometimes even cowgirls bite the dirt

Julie Carter

The business of being a cowgirl is not for sissies. Doesn't matter if you are thinking cowgirl in the rodeo arena or on the ranch.

Both require a measure of grit and tough that one either has, or not. You can't buy it at the store.

Tenacity is a mindset that gets a cowgirl through a life of measurably tough times. Some folks call it hard-headedness but it goes beyond that, goes beyond stubborn or even just gutsy.

Frankly, it's the same inborn "cowboy-up" gene that puts a cowboy back on his horse right after a wreck, that lets them think getting bucked off over a prank is funny and that allows them to endure long days, short nights and working in weather that stops the rest the of world.

There was a time when I thought "cowgirl" was a choice. While the word is both a noun and a verb, it is also a chemical, biological explanation for why you can take the cowgirl to town but you can't ever get the "cowgirl" out of her.

I think back and recall the places in my life where I tried to graduate from the country-kid cowgirl I was raised and attempt to become more cosmopolitan and worldly.

There was the disco-phase in the '70s.

Donna Summer and I were constant musical companions and I had the moves down pat, which were no more than a country jitter-bug morphed into a classical kind of dancing.

Then, the flash-dance phase.

Torn, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, rolled bandanna headbands and lots of curls, flounce and bounce in the hair-do.

Although during this phase, I did own a horse and trailer and spent my summers rodeoing, making me a mixed message.

There have been periods of my adult life where I lived in big cities (Denver, LA and Phoenix).

I lived in apartments and condos and spent my free time on a beach with the Pacific Ocean serving as my "home on the range and wide open spaces."

I got over that. "Cow-girl" always called me back. That inner yearning, an emptiness that was never filled with fast lanes and fast living.

Somewhere along the way, I figured it out. I am what I was in the beginning.

I wasn't supposed to go anywhere to be someone different, I was only to be me wherever I was.

Now I look at the young'uns, as we older people call them.

Tough young cowgirls with a life ahead of them to experience and the youth to be the best they can be.

I hope they can find the understanding that who they are now is who they are going to be, and their job is only to improve on it.

Photos (see below) of a young cowgirl in a progressive wreck at a rodeo where her horse was falling, reminded me of the tough involved in being a cowgirl.

I was in that same kind of wreck so many times - I got up and brushed myself off as I watched my horse run back to the arena gate. I'd lived to do it again another day, and did.

Life is kind of like that. You fall fast and fall hard.

All in the course of living. Without giving it a second thought, you just get up, dust yourself off, and walk on out the gate knowing you'll be back to run another day.

When I get to Heaven, I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing boots under my white robes.

They'll be a large crowd of us, those that were blessed enough to be born cowgirls.

Julie can be reached for comment at www.julie-carter.com . Photos are courtesy of Kyla King, Mountainair, and are of Chandi Langley, 19, of Estancia and a student at NMSU.

It's The Pitts: Certified Free Beef

Lee Pitts

The past few years niche markets for beef have developed that conscientious ranchers and companies have tried to fill. The natural and organic niches were profitable for producers until Wal Mart and the Big Chains turned those products back into commodities. To keep ahead of them, and to supply an increasingly fussy consumer, ranchers will have to develop new niche markets in the future. Like these:

Cowboy Free: Sad to say, some sophisticated “foodies” don’t like cowboys, the west or cattle. But they still like to eat beef. These people don’t like the fact that some people are allowed to own vast tracts of private property either, so this beef will be produced by a collective of liberal lesbians in La Jolla in petri dishes, or by Monks in Massachusetts. It will cost $600 per pound and taste like mud.

Rain Forest Free Beef: In response to the conversion of the Amazon rainforest to pasture, some consumers will want to purchase beef that is rain forest free. Most of these animals will come from the Arizona desert and parts of North Dakota and the Pacific Northwest where the ground is so hard they must use rocks for fence posts.

Home Raised: Beef from teenage cattle that will be raised in a home. To qualify, cattle must have a roof over their heads, three square meals a day, their own room, allowance, iPod and TV. To be sure you’re getting certified “Home Raised” beef look for the label that says: “All measures were taken to relieve this animal’s boredom.”

Fat Free Beef: This will come from Mexican crossbred cattle that have been roped so often their bellies rub up against their backbones. Because consumers want a “healthier” product, any fat found in the roping steer carcasses will be replaced with chemicals. This beef will have the shelf-life of toilet paper and will be sold in cardboard boxes. With proper seasoning (included), the box will taste better than the beef.

Painless Beef: To qualify for this niche the animals will be raised without the use of hot shots, whips, squeeze chutes, cuss words or anything else that might make an animal uncomfortable. There will not be any castration, branding or vaccination and the beef must come from animals that died of old age.

On The Hoof Beef: For people afraid of food for safety reasons, they’ll be able to purchase live animals and process the cattle themselves in their own backyard. This way they’ll be able to pinpoint exactly who to blame when they get sick.

Lactose Free: Beef from animals that were taken away from their mothers at birth so they couldn’t nurse. Obviously, cows that suck themselves will not qualify.

Water Neutral Dry Aged Beef: In the future water will be king so this beef will be produced without the aid of any irrigated crops. Water neutral bovines will only have access to naturally occurring water sources such as puddles and golf course water hazards. Qualifying cows must return to Mother Earth 100% of the water and carbon they consume as audited by Bernie Madoff.

Certified Free Beef: What the consumer of the future will really want is scrumptious beef that will also make you lose weight, is good for the environment and doesn’t cost anything. Although there will be huge demand for such a product it will be as rare as Martha Stewart linens and pillows in a Nevada bunkhouse.

Cruelty Free Beef: This does not refer to the cattle but to the people who raise it. The demand for such beef will be in response to the poor working conditions in third world countries and on our farms and ranches. Such beef will come from ranchers and cowboys who were never subjected to any abuse or harsh working conditions. To produce beef for this niche ranchers must earn a livable income above minimum wage, have health insurance and a pension comparable to that received by postal service employees. Needless to say, this beef will be harder to find than Certified Free Beef.

Song Of The Day #120

Our Gospel tune today is Loretta Lynn singing If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again.

It's available on her Hymns CD.


Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet. They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency. The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license. "I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill."...cnetnews

DOJ Budget Details High-Tech Crime Fighting Tools

The release of the 2010 budget request has shed more light on some FBI surveillance programs the bureau is currently developing and testing. The budget request shows that the FBI is currently developing a new "Advanced Electronic Surveillance" program which is being funded at $233.9 million for 2010. The program has 133 employees, 15 of whom are agents. According to the budget documents released Thursday, the program, otherwise known as "Going Dark," supports the FBI's electronic surveillance intelligence collection and evidence gathering capabilities, as well as those of the greater Intelligence Community. Another high-tech program includes the development of the Biometric Technology Center, a joint Justice, FBI and DoD program. Building the center will cost $97.6 million and will serve as a research and development center for biometric technology. Last year, the FBI announced it would partner with the University of West Virginia to establish the center. Eventually, the Biometric project will be a vast database of personal data including fingerprints, iris scans and DNA which the FBI calls the Next Generation Identification (NGI)...ABCNews

ACLU Demands Info on DHS Computer Searches at Borders

The ACLU demands information on the Department of Homeland Security's policy on searching laptop computers at international borders. The DHS' Customs and Border Protection office announced in July that it can search electronic devices and any printed material carried by travelers regardless of whether they are suspected of anything - a statement one senator called "truly alarming." Such searches, made without suspicion of any legal infraction, violate civil rights, according to the complaint, which quotes Senator Russell Feingold as calling the practice "truly alarming." A bill pending in Congress would require DHS to base such searches on reasonable suspicion. The ACLU says the DHS blew off its Freedom of Information Act request for information about the policy. The ACLU wants to see the records on the practice, including policies regarding the criteria for selecting travelers to search and whether any procedures are followed if information is business-related or legally privileged. It also seeks records on whether the information is circulated among other government agencies, statistics reflecting the number of travelers subjected to suspicionless searches, and statistics reflecting the racial profiles of travelers who are subjected to such searches. The ACLU is represented by house counsel Jameel Jaffer...CourhouseNews

Gun groups to sue over Montana-made and retained firearms

The Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) have formed a strategic alliance to litigate the principles of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act (MFFA), passed by the 2009 Montana Legislature and signed into law by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The MFFA declares that any firearms made and retained in Montana are not subject to any federal authority, resisting Congress’s dramatically expanded use of the interstate commerce clause to justify Washington’s regulation of virtually all of the private economy. The MFFA also applies to firearm accessories and ammunition. The primary purpose of the MFFA is to set up a legal challenge to federal power under the commerce clause. MSSA and SAF expect to mount this legal challenge by filing a suit for a declaratory judgment to test the principles of the MFFA in federal court on October 1st, the day the Montana law becomes effective. The concept of the Firearms Freedom Act has caught fire nationwide. Tennessee has passed a clone of the MFFA. Other clones have been introduced in the legislatures of Alaska, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Minnesota and Michigan. Legislators in 19 other states have indicated that they will introduce MFFA clones soon or when their legislatures next convene...PressRelease

Second Amendment cases up early

The Supreme Court will consider two new cases on the scope of individuals’ Second Amendment right to have guns at its first Conference for the new Term, on Sept. 29, according to the Court’s electronic docket. Both petitions challenge a Seventh Circuit Court ruling that the Amendment does not restrict gun control laws adopted by state, county or city government, but applies only to federal laws. The cases are National Rifle Association v. Chicago (08-1497) and McDonald v. Chicago (08-1521). The so-called “incorporation” issue is the most significant sequel issue raised in the wake of the Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, recognizing for the first time a personal right to have a gun for self-defense, at least in one’s home...SCOTUSBLOG

Preparing for the "Second Amendment Tax Holiday"

The Second Amendment is one thing a gunsmith never forgets. Now the state's Legislature is creating Louisiana's first "Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday." The holiday is scheduled to run from 12:01 AM on Friday, September 4th through 12 midnight, Sunday, September 6th. During this three-day period all fire arms, ammunition, and hunting supplies will be exempt from the state sales tax. Hunting supplies include archery items, hunting apparel, and miscellaneous hunting equipment. Despite the scheduled holiday, Earl Gothreaux of Hunter's Supplies and Pistol Range says gun sales have continued to peak since the Presidential elections in November. "A lot of people are buying ammunition and stocking up because they think it could be banned altogether," says Gothreaux...KPLC-TV

Shootings rampant despite gun ban

You cannot legally buy a handgun in Chicago, yet the city is the nation's most murderous city. You can own one, but only if you've owned it since before 1982, and it's registered every year with the Chicago Police Department. Gun-control advocates and gun-rights advocates don't - or can't - agree on how a city with a handgun ban can lead the nation in murders. To proponents of owning guns, it means the ban doesn't work. "Laws are only for law-abiding citizens anyway," said John Riggio, owner of Chuck's Gun Shop and Pistol Range in Riverdale. "Criminals, by definition, don't follow the law." But to proponents of regulating guns, it means the ban isn't big enough...Medill News Service

California sheriff considers allowing armed self-defense

California has long been a gun control breeding ground. It has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, and though has a process for obtaining a license to carry a concealed handgun, it is a "may issue" permitting process meaning California sheriffs can issue licenses but only if they want to. Most don't. That may be changing for one sheriff as budget cuts have forced him to realize that some people really are on their own and need to be able to protect themselves. "I think in the interest of doing right by the public and the constituency, we had to make some acknowledgment of the fact that it's a different environment out there," said Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness. "As things have changed, our ability to respond effectively and ensure their safety has been compromised. Therefore, I think it's only appropriate that we look at these applications with a different thought process in mind."...Examiner

Was the first government gun confiscation attempt foiled by an unsung colonial heroine?

Then, on April 18, 1775, British General Thomas Gage sent 700 trained troops to Concord, Massachusetts. On the dawn of the 19th, 70 men — farmers, clerks, storekeepers — stood fast and faced the British advance guard at Lexington Green. History does not know who fired the first shot, what Ralph Waldo Emerson called ...the shot heard round the world. And what sin, what transgression did the British commit to bring on armed conflict? They had come for their guns. Their own government had come to disarm them. The first battles of the Revolutionary War were fought over...gun control. It is, I believe, the first and only revolution in history borne of a government's attempt to remove weapons from its citizenry. There is one nagging question, though: History has long asked how the colonists knew the British were coming. There was good intelligence that let us know they were on their way and what they were coming for, and there's a fair amount of evidence that the colonists were tipped off by a woman, none other than General Thomas Gage's New Jersey-born wife, Margaret Kemble Gage, who sympathized with the Colonial cause. But, did she really? We don't know. However, even Gage himself suspected her and packed her off to England to spare himself embarrassment...BackwoodsHome

6 nabbed stealing pieces of border fence

Police in the Mexican border city of Tijuana say they have arrested six men for stealing pieces of the U.S. border fence to sell as scrap metal. Holes in the border fence once were more commonly made by migrant smugglers, but fewer people are trying to cross because of a weak U.S. economy and a crackdown on immigration. The Tijuana police department says the suspects intended to sell the steel sheeting as scrap...AP

Students' take-home assignment: Census kits

Anyone tempted to ignore the 2010 Census will have a tough time doing it — especially if they have kids in school. The government has launched Census in Schools, an all-out campaign targeting superintendents, principals, teachers, students and, indirectly, parents, as schools open across the nation this month and next. The message: The Census is coming and here's why everyone should care. The goal is to send posters, teaching guides, maps and lesson plans to every school in the nation, Puerto Rico and U.S. island territories to encourage everyone to participate in the national count. The materials will land in more than 118,000 schools and reach 56 million students. "It's great to reach the children because children are such strong voices in their homes," says Renee Jefferson-Copeland, chief of the Census schools program. "In households that are linguistically isolated, they can express the information to their parents." Between January and March, the Census Bureau will help plan a week of Census education in schools. During Census Week, teachers will devote 15 minutes every day for five days to the topic by discussing such things as civic participation, confidentiality or geography. Beginning in mid-March, more than 120 million Census questionnaires will be delivered to residential addresses. The Census Bureau is partnering with Sesame Street to extend the 2010 Census message to preschoolers and adult caregivers. Under consideration: Using Sesame Street characters on Census materials and having characters participate in school events and public service announcements...USAToday

Bureaucrats seek to abduct, maroon teen sailor

Mike Perham sailed into the record books yesterday as the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly but his entry is under threat from a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Laura Dekker, who wants to make her own round-the-world voyage. Today she will find out whether the Dutch courts will let her do it. Laura’s parents have agreed to her plans, but the Dutch Council for Child Protection is so concerned about the potential dangers of the trip that it has asked Utrecht District Court to grant it temporary custody of her so that it can keep her on dry land...LondonTimes

Man Jailed 3 Months for DWBM - Driving With Breath Mints?

Donald May probably wishes he had just let his breath stay funky. According to May, it was his bad luck to be chewing on breath mints when he was pulled over for an expired tag on his car. The arresting officer thought the mints looked like crack cocaine and threw Mays in the slammer for drug possession. "He took [the mints] out of my mouth and put them in a baggy and locked me up [for] possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence," May explained. The story gets stranger, and May contradicts the officer's report. The officer claimed he field-tested the evidence and it tested positive for drugs. The officer said he saw May buying drugs while he was stopped at an intersection. He also stated in his report May waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily admitted to buying drugs. May said that never happened. "My client never admitted he purchased crack cocaine. Why would he say that?" attorney Adam Sudbury said. Source: WFTV Orlando May's life was turned upside down when he was unable to bond out. While in jail for three months, he lost his job, was evicted from his apartment and his car was auctioned off. May was released from jail once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney's office sent a letter stating that the test results confirmed there were no illegal substances...[link]

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Tools for Sustainable Farming

Environmentalists are just as fond of talking about it as are politicians, economists or marketing experts – "sustainability" has become a buzzword. The problem is that the term sustainability can refer to many things and have manifold interpretations. Agricultural scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have shed light on the subject. Together with colleagues in theoretical and applied science they have managed to give the term "sustainability" a more definite meaning. They have helped to make this multi-faceted concept quantifiable – a benefit to farmers, food manufacturers and consumers alike. The research question was: How can the sustainability status of farms with available operating data be determined and systematically improved? The goal was very ambitious – to improve the environmental balance of agricultural enterprises without compromising their operating efficiency and social performance. In years of meticulous work to this end, the team of researchers developed indicators and models to analyze, assess and optimize the sustainability of agricultural enterprises. After all, sustainable farming really does benefit everybody: It conserves natural resources, saves energy, reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers, and fosters a healthier environment, more competitive farms and safe foodstuffs. Thanks to their new indicator model, the TUM researchers are now able to describe agricultural enterprises as systems based on their material and energy flows...USNews

Looting of Indian artifacts targeted: Federal crackdown reveals depth of criminal intrigue

What has become the nation's biggest crackdown on dealers of black-market Native American artifacts doesn't lack for intrigue. Armed raids. Secret informers. Sacred objects. Since the investigation began 2 1/2 years ago, 26 people, including a number of well-known antiquities collectors, have been charged in three states. Two suspects committed suicide, one of those a former Scottsdale resident. One man is charged with threatening the life of an informant who spearheaded the inquiry. Using a paid informant identified only as "the Source," agents of the FBI and Bureau of Land Management purchased sacred Hopi kachina masks, Navajo pendants, Pueblo pottery and other artifacts from more than two dozen figures in the Four Corners states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Court records say the civilian operative spent $335,000 buying more than 250 apparently illicit objects. Federal investigators estimate that four-fifths of the nation's archaeological sites have been plundered by amateur collectors and professional thieves. The Four Corners case was nicknamed Cerberus Action in honor of a mythological three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades. It has been touted by the Interior Department as America's "largest ever undercover operation" targeting looters. Since December 2006, court records say, an informant has been paid more than $224,000 to infiltrate the "network of criminals who pillage archaeological sites." The Source was equipped with video and audio devices as he made deals. Some suspects bragged about illegally obtaining artifacts, pointing out their looting grounds on maps. One defendant vowed to die in a gunfight with federal agents. Another was arrested after he threatened to "take care of" the paid informant. According to affidavits, the Source was an antiquities dealer for years before he began working with investigators in 2007. Federal authorities say he has no criminal history and volunteered to help because he was outraged by the black market...azcentral

Wolves kill 120 sheep at ranch near Dillon

Kathy Konen has lost guard dogs to wolves in the past, but nothing prepared the Dillon rancher for the killing of 120 buck sheep last week. "They were in the sagebrush, on the creek bottom - just all over the pasture," Konen said Thursday. "It's a terrible loss to our livestock program." Konen said they discovered the attack Aug. 16 while checking their sheep in the Rock Creek drainage of the Blacktail Mountains south of Dillon, where they pasture buck sheep in summer. She said they check their sheep every two or three days, so the attack was recent. She and her husband, Jon, immediately called officials with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which sent out a federal trapper to investigate the scene. The trapper found numerous carcasses of sheep that had been killed by wolves, said Carolyn Sime, FWP wolf program coordinator. The total included 82 confirmed kills and 40 carcasses that were classified as probable kills, including some that had been eaten by bears. The attack occurred on private land the Konens own. It's not the first attack that the Konens have had this summer. They lost 26 sheep to wolves in the same pasture in July, she said. After that attack, FWP authorized federal trappers to remove three wolves that had been observed in the area...BillingsGazette

On Energy, Obama Finds Broad Support

Most Americans approve of the way President Obama is handling energy issues and support efforts by him and Democrats in Congress to overhaul energy policy -- including the controversial cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Even as public support has slipped for Obama's health-care proposals, support for ambitious changes in energy policy has been steady. Although the issue of health care arouses more intense feelings than energy policy does, those who do feel strongly about energy and climate policy tend to tilt toward the administration's position and a broad majority of people echo Democratic lawmakers' views on the benefits of proposed changes. Nearly six in 10 of those polled support the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy being developed by Congress and the administration. Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the issue, compared with 30 percent who do not. A narrower majority, 52 to 43 percent, back a cap-and-trade system; that margin is unchanged since June...WPOst

EPA says wells in Wyoming show possible pollution from frac'ing

Government scientists believe they have found indications that natural-gas drilling activities may have polluted groundwater sources in Wyoming. Scientists testing water from domestic wells in the area around Pavillion, Wyo., for the Environmental Protection Agency say they have found methane gas, hydrocarbons, lead and copper in water from the well of a rancher named Louis Meeks. When Meeks submitted water from a second well, according to reports published by the ProPublica nonprofit news organization, the same substances were detected. Scientists reportedly found traces of those and other contaminants, known to be used in drilling procedures, in 11 of 39 wells tested since March. The company with wells near Meeks' land, the Canadian-based energy giant, EnCana, reportedly has begun supplying Meeks' ranch with potable water until further tests can be completed. This reportedly is the first time the EPA has undertaken its own water analysis in response to complaints of contamination in drilling areas...PostIndependent

More than 1,500 ordered to flee Calif. wildfires

Wildfires chewed through tinder-dry brush up and down California on Friday, forcing hundreds to flee ritzy seaside neighborhoods, comfortable foothill suburbs and tiny farming communities. Up to 1,500 people were ordered to evacuate from the wealthy seaside community of Rancho Palos Verdes, Fire Inspector Frederic Stowers said early Friday. He said the mandatory evacuations were ordered until 6 a.m. Friday. The wealthy communities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula south of Los Angeles are in an area known for horse trails, spectacular Pacific Ocean views, pricey real estate and exclusive golf clubs, including the Trump National Golf Club owned by Donald Trump. Helicopters dropped water on the 100-acre blaze, slowing its progression toward homes, but there was no containment early Friday, Stowers said...AP

FEMA Despoils Desert, Environmentalists Say

FEMA is destroying rare desert riverine habitat by encouraging and insuring development in flood plains, putting endangered species such as the jaguar and the southwestern willow flycatcher at greater risk, WildEarth Guardians claims in Federal Court. Through its administration of the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA has insured structures in some of Arizona's most threatened watersheds and floodplains, including the Colorado River and Gila River watersheds, according to the New Mexico-based nonprofit that has about 500 members in Arizona. "FEMA encourages development in riparian areas and flood plains that destroys remnant portions of habitat relied upon by threatened and endangered species in Arizona, and that leads to the increased fragmentation of this habitat to the detriment of species survival and recovery," according to the complaint...CourthouseNews

How Many Biologists Does It Take to Count a Dead Grizzly?

On December 17, 2004, Louisa Willcox of the Natural Resources Defense Council convened a collection of U.S. grizzly bear advocates in Bozeman, Montana, with a call to arms. Under threat of lawsuit from the governor of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service planned a fast-track removal of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Convinced that such a move—under the sorts of conditions proposed by the agency—could send the park’s grizzlies on a downward spiral toward extinction, Willcox figured the activists and lawyers gathered had about a year to either derail the process, or get ready to sue. Those responding to her call were the heavy-hitters of northern Rocky Mountain nonprofits: conservation lawyers who had successfully defended Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction program, and built a tenuous consensus around the idea of reintroducing grizzlies to the remote Selway-Bitterroot wilderness of central Idaho and western Montana; attorneys from the firm that won the case (if only temporarily) for Bill Clinton’s roadless initiative, who stopped Crown Butte from digging its New World Mine cyanide heap leach gold mine at the northeastern corner of Yellowstone, and who won their case to phase snowmobiles out of that park. It was not, however, an amiable gathering. Within minutes, old alliances and grudges reared their ugly heads...CounterPunch

Yellowstone the focus of bio-blitz

Approximately 80 academics and scores of additional National Park Service employees and volunteers will scour a segment of Yellowstone National Park on Friday. Their goal: Document every plant and animal species observed over that period of time. The event is being called a bio-blitz. The concept has been used to document the biological diversity of a number of smaller parks around the nation, but now makes its way to the crown jewel of America’s national park system. “Other park service units have done this, but we’ve never done one in Yellowstone National Park,” said Ann Rodman, geographic information systems specialist for Yellowstone. “To be honest, we’re really not sure what to expect.” While the park conducts annual surveys for its larger mammal species such as elk and bison, Rodman notes that many of the smaller lifeforms living within Yellowstone National Park have somehow slipped through the cracks throughout the years...PowellTribune

Bee calamity clarified

An illness that has been decimating US honeybees for more than three years probably isn't caused by a single virus, but by multiple viruses that wear down the bees' ability to produce proteins that can guard them against infection, according to a new study. Cells taken from bees that had succumbed to colony collapse disorder (CCD) were cluttered with ribosomal RNA fragments, suggesting that the bees had trouble translating genetic material into functional proteins, Berenbaum and her colleagues report today (August 24) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Berenbaum and colleagues at the US Department of Agriculture screened thousands of transcripts in the guts of bees from both healthy and CCD-stricken colonies from the east and west coasts of the US. CCD bees had several unusual RNA fragments resulting from broken, malfunctioning ribosomes. Multiple infections with a family of viruses called the picorna-like viruses, which seem to especially afflict CCD bees, could cause the appearance of such RNA fragments as they overwhelmed ribosomes and limited the cells' ability to manufacture functioning proteins. Bees that are not able to make proteins cannot mount effective responses to viral or bacterial infection or respond to dietary shortages, Berenbaum said. Although the study didn't uncover a single cause for CCD, said Dan Weaver, a Texas-based apiculturist who was not involved with the research, it "provides some hints and suggestive evidence that maybe there's a general impairment of bees' ability to cope with pathogens at a basic regulatory step."...TheScientist

Cattle from Canada under investigation

Washington state is investigating a herd of cattle in Stevens County that may have violated state-entry requirements when they arrived from Canada. "We are in the middle of investigating why they haven't met Washington's animal health or entry requirements," Washington State Veterinarian Leonard Eldridge said. "My investigators and brand inspectors have been in the area where the cattle are running." Eldridge said a time frame has been set for the ranchers under investigation to present the herd to the state for testing. Eldridge declined to comment further until the investigation is complete. He also declined to name the cattle owner or identify the number of cattle being investigated. "Be assured we are on top of the investigation," he said. "I do have the individual animal identification on every one of those animals as it came across the border, so I know what I'm dealing with." Some neighbors are concerned the animals may have commingled with their cattle, Eldridge said. "If indeed that has happened and these cattle have not met Washington's animal health requirement, that is a violation," he said. "If there are diseased cattle, it will affect all surrounding cattle," said Len McIrvin, partner at Diamond M Ranch, which is adjacent to the herd under investigation. Wade King, president of the Cattle Producers of Washington, said his organization has closely watched the investigation. Several members are affected, he said. "These cattle were destined for a dry feedlot down in the Basin and were diverted from the port of entry directly to this ranch property in Northport," King said...CapitalPress

Bovine TB creates hassles, few losses for ranchers

Bovine tuberculosis has created costly problems for the cattle industry in states where the disease has appeared, but it appears to be a manageable threat. Nebraska and Texas are investigating positive cases of bovine tuberculosis to determine whether there has been an outbreak of the disease already confirmed in California, Minnesota, Michigan and New Mexico. The disease is considered untreatable in cattle, so both infected and uninfected animals in a herd usually are killed when bovine tuberculosis is found. But cattlemen and others say few cases have been confirmed and the disease is proving more of a nuisance than a real threat to their roughly $60 billion industry. "The fear and the phobia that's been caused by all of this has been much more damaging than anything to do with the disease," said Bim Nelson, who runs Bassett Livestock Auction in north-central Nebraska, where two cases of the disease were found in one herd. For cattlemen in states where the disease is present, the biggest problem related to bovine tuberculosis is the cost and hassle of testing cattle before they are shipped over state lines. On average, testing adds $5 to $15 per head to the cattle industry's costs...AP

NM ag workers seek compensation

New Mexico is hearing a debate over whether agriculture workers need to be included in the state-run workers compensation system. A group of civil rights organizations is suing to have New Mexico agricultural workers included. On the other side, Roosevelt County wheat and beef producer Matt Rush said most farmers and ranchers provide insurance for employees and don’t need another government mandate. The workers compensation task force the Legislature appointed gave the opinion the current system is working and the state shouldn’t mandate that agriculture participate in workers compensation, Rush said. If producers didn’t offer health coverage or give employees money to buy their own policies, Rush said, workers would go elsewhere. Walter Bradley, government and business affairs director for the Dairy Farmers of America in Clovis, said DFA polled New Mexico dairies. Of the 90 percent who responded, all have health insurance for their employees, mainly through private sources. Bradley said dairies and farms having loans — as most do — are required by the bank to carry such coverage. “The bottom line is that dairies and farms have coverage, and there’s no evidence to show that those costs should be raised,” Bradley said. Joining the state workers compensation system would triple producers’ expenses, Bradley said. Rush said he found estimates the move could increase production costs 50 percent to 60 percent. “It would literally put a large portion of New Mexico agriculture out of business because the profit margins are so slim right now anyway,” he said...PortalesNewsTribune

Farm to Hub to Table - New Nonprofit Feeds Appetite For Local Food

But this month, Proutt's tomatoes showed up in a salad of local lettuces and carrots at JABA's day center in Charlottesville. Proutt dropped off his harvest at the Local Food Hub, a new nonprofit group that aggregated his produce along with that of 20 other local small farmers and delivered it to JABA's central kitchen. Projects like the Hub are popping up around the country. And they could be the missing link between supply of and demand for products grown close to home. In Louisville, Grasshoppers Distribution sells the produce of 100 state farmers to 75 restaurants and schools. In Burlington, Vt., the nonprofit Intervale Center is aggregating produce from 20 farmers to sell to individuals and, this winter, to local restaurants, hospitals and universities. In Northern California, the pioneering Growers Collaborative estimates that over the past year it delivered 400 tons of local produce to Kaiser Permanente's 19 regional hospitals. Such networks also are a priority for the Obama administration, which hopes they will improve rural economies and promote healthful eating: "What we've got to do is change how we think about, for example, getting local farmers connected to school districts because that would benefit the farmers delivering fresh produce," Obama told the Organizing for America health-care forum last week...WPost

But Above Everything Else, Bev Walters Is A Cowboy

More at home on the range than anywhere else, this septuagenarian is a hallmark of the Valley. Santa Ynez local Bev Walter celebrates her 77th birthday the day this story appears in print, which, by extension is a celebration of her long life as an artist, actress, rodeo rider, show rider and, beyond everything else, a cowboy. “I’m a cowboy, not a cowgirl,” Walter states emphatically. “Cowboying is a profession.” In conversation, it is evident this is a mistake many have made before, but Walter is unafraid to correct it. She has always worked on a ranch, she says, and, up until a riding accident in 2000, she’s done the work male cowboys do, including building fences, branding, castrating, roping and hauling horses and cattle. Cowgirls are more about the riding, she says, although Walter has certainly done her fair share of that as well. For years, Walter and her two sisters rode off and on with famed trick rider and performer Montie Montana in his traveling show. “Montie was a dear, dear friend and a mentor,” Walter says. “He taught me a lot about breaking horses and a repertoire of the horse tricks for making children laugh. We used to go to the hospitals and perform for the children with the horses.” She didn’t like traveling, though, and always found herself back on a ranch...SantaYnezValleyJournal

Eulogy for Elmer Kelton: An author as beloved as his books

The following eulogy was delivered at the funeral of Elmer Kelton Thursday afternoon by the Rev. Ricky Burk, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church: In his autobiography, “Sandhills Boy,” Elmer says he discovered America on April 29, 1926, at Horse Camp on the Five Wells Ranch a few miles east of Andrews, Texas. His mother often told him that it was a wet, stormy day and the first few weeks were equally stormy for Elmer and his parents. Elmer was born prematurely, and his mother kept him in a shoebox and often in the oven in order to keep him warm and help him survive those first perilous weeks. Although he grew up on a ranch, Elmer and horses never connected. He said it might have begun before he was even able to walk. His father was working half-broken horses and his mom was sitting on the fence holding him and watching her husband. Dad decided it was time for Elmer to have his first ride, so he placed Elmer in front of him in the saddle. The bronc immediately began to pitch while Dad held on to the reigns with one hand and Elmer with the other. He calmly worked the bucking bronc around to where mom was seated on the fence and handed off Elmer like a quarterback handing off a football. Elmer said that from that day forward his relationship with horses went downhill...GoSanAngelo

Into the sunset: Friends, family bid farewell to Kelton

The funeral for Elmer Kelton began with western tunes recorded by “The Sons of the Pioneers” and ended with the writer’s favorite hymn, “Just as I Am.” In between, the friends, family members and fans gathered at the First United Methodist Church Thursday shared laughter, tears and a lesson. Drawing on personal recollections as well as material from Elmer’s novels and autobiography, the Rev. Ricky Burk, senior pastor at the church, remembered the writer, the man, and what he gave us. “Through the characters of his writings Elmer taught us a lot about life,” the pastor said in his eulogy. “His books were about basic human nature, the struggles we all face.” Ricky said Elmer once wrote his characters are “not the traditional Western fictional heroes, standing up to a villain for one splendid moment of glory. They are quiet but determined men and women who stand their ground year after year in a fight they can never fully win, against an unforgiving enemy they know will return to challenge them again and again so long as they live. “They are the true heroes.”...AbileneReporter

Song Of The Day #119

I've had several folks ask if I had today's selection. They don't remember the artist or the title of the song, but they do remember what it is about.

The song is I'm Tying The Leaves (So They Won't Come Down). The song was written by E.S.S. Huntingdon & J. Fred Helf and was first recorded in 1907 by Byron G. Harlan. If you want the original 1907 recording you can download it for free here. In addition to the Harlan recording, I have it by Jimmy Greer & Mac O Chee Valley Boys, Kenny Roberts, Grandpa Jones and Lulu Belle & Scotty. It's the Lulu Belle & Scotty recording that Ranch Radio will offer today, and it's available on their CD Down Memory Lane With Lulu Belle and Scotty.

The song is simple, but the imagery is powerful and that's what folks remember.

If only we could just tie the leaves.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Obama to Spend Billions on Oil Exploration…In Brazil

That’s right, the Wall Street Journal reports, $2 billion of your tax dollars will soon be going to the state-owned Brazilian oil company, Petrobras so they can explore the off-shore Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin. The WSJ wrote, “The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a ‘preliminary commitment’ letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount.” This money will come either in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. One might look at the massive national dept, suffering economy, failing Post Office, failing Cash For Clunkers program, billions for bailouts, billions for ‘stimulus,’ and the fact that we already had to work until August 12th this year just to pay for the current costs of government, and ask “How can we afford to pay Brazil to do something we don’t even allow in our own country?”...ATR

EPA Whistleblower’s Office May Get Shut Down

Following a whistleblower report that criticized a global warming rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reportedly considering shutting down the agency office in which the critical report originated. Dr. Alan Carlin, the senior analyst whose report EPA unsuccessfully tried to bury, worked in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE). According to a story in last Friday’s Inside EPA, the agency is now considering shutting that office down. The Washington Times ran an editorial yesterday, critical of the potential shut down of the internal review office by the EPA: In June, the Competitive Enterprise Institute made waves by releasing internal e-mails from the Environmental Protection Agency. In those messages, a top administrator told a key researcher that the researcher’s new report would not be released. Why? Because it does “not help the legal or policy case” for a controversial decision to treat global warming as a health hazard. In short, because researcher Alan Carlin’s conclusions differed from the administration’s political agenda, his research was ignored. CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman appeared on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show yesterday to talk about the scandal, and the EPA’s plans to shutter the office that produced the controversial report. Kazman reiterated what he said in a statement on Monday about the issue: “Economists are the most likely professionals within EPA to examine the real-world effects of its policies,” said Kazman. “For this reason, the NCEE is a restraining force on the agency’s out-of-this-world regulatory ambitions. EPA would love to get that office out of the way, especially since it has within it civil servants like Dr. Carlin, who are willing to expose the truth about EPA’s plan to restrict energy use in the name of global warming.”...OpenMarket

So much for sticking to science.

Study Warns of ‘Energy Sprawl’

A paper published on Tuesday by the Nature Conservancy predicts that by 2030, energy production in the United States will occupy a land area larger than Minnesota — in large part owing to the pursuit of domestic clean energy. The authors call it “energy sprawl” — a term meant to draw attention to habitat destruction, and to warn that biofuels in particular will take up substantial amounts of land. “There’s a good side and a bad side of renewable production,” said Robert McDonald, a Nature Conservancy scientist and one of the authors, in a telephone interview. The paper looked at several scenarios, including a “base-case” derived from current Energy Information Agency forecasts for the country’s energy mix in 2030, as well as various permutations of efforts to cap greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. The study took into account only land impacts in the United States...NYTimes

Secretary Salazar Announces $13 Million Contract for Navajo Indian Irrigation Project Pumping Plants

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Bureau of Reclamation has awarded Archer Western Contractors, Ltd. of Phoenix, Arizona, a $13 million contract to construct two pumping plants near Farmington, New Mexico. The pumping plants are key features for continued development of the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project. That ongoing project, which Reclamation is developing for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, provides water for the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry farming enterprise of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation Irrigation Project, which was begun in 1964, is now 70 percent complete. Under the new contract, the Phoenix firm will construct the pumping plants over the next two year period. The contract covers complete construction of the pumping facilities including buildings, electrical work, installation of electronic operating controls, and installation of the pumps. The associated pipe laterals that will carry the water will be constructed through a future contract. The pumping plants are located about 14 miles south of Farmington, New Mexico and are scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2011. “When these pumping plants and pipe laterals are completed, an additional 5,166 acres of irrigation capacity will be added to the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project,” Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor announced...PressRelease

Song Of The Day #118

Before there was Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys and before Monroe created the format that would become bluegrass, there was The Monroe Brothers, Charlie & Bill. They recorded 60 tracks for Bluebird from 1936 to 1938, and broke up in 1938.

I've selected two songs from their recordings. First is their 1938 recording of Have A Feast Here Tonight which showcases Bill's skill on the mandolin and presages the virtuoso he would become on that instrument. Second is their 1937 recording of Do You Call That Religion? because many of their recordings were gospel, and because the Owner/Producer/Manager of Ranch Radio really likes that song.

You can get 30 of their songs from Rounder Records Vol.1 & Vol.2, or you can get them all on the Bear Family 6 disc box set Bill Monroe - Blue Moon Of Kentucky 1936-1949.


Court’s Steroid Ruling Pumps Up Computer Privacy

A divided 11-judge federal appeals court panel has dramatically narrowed the government’s search-and-seizure powers in the digital age, ruling Wednesday that federal prosecutors went too far when seizing 104 professional baseball players’ drug results when they had a warrant for just 10. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 9-2 decision offered Miranda-style guidelines to prosecutors and judges on how to protect Fourth Amendment privacy rights while conducting computer searches. Ideally, when searching a computer’s hard drive, the government should cull the specific data described in the search warrant, rather than copy the entire drive, the San Francisco-based appeals court ruled. When that’s not possible, the feds must use an independent third party under the court’s supervision, whose job it would be to comb through the files for the specific information, and provide it, and nothing else, to the government. Judges, the appellate court added, should be wary of prosecutors and perhaps “deny the warrant altogether” if the government does not consent to such a plan in data-search cases...Wired

S.D. National Guard leader: Pentagon control of local troops would create chaos

The state’s adjutant general of the South Dakota National Guard and Gov. Mike Rounds are among state leaders opposed to a Pentagon proposal involving control of how part-time military troops are used in any state. At the heart of the disagreement is who will command troops when they are sent to a particular state to deal with a hurricane, wildfire or other disaster. The military justifies a change in law as a natural extension of its use of federal forces. The governors see the Pentagon move as a strike at state sovereignty. Rounds agrees with the National Governors Association’s opposition to the plan. “When we’re dealing with natural disasters, we’ve got a response system in place that works,” Rounds said in an e-mail statement. “Sometimes you need more forces, such as reservists, as part of the existing structure to respond to emergencies. We do not want a separate Pentagon chain of command that would complicate response efforts.”...RapidCityJournal

Mexico's new drug use law worries US police

Mexico now has one of the world's most liberal laws for drug users after eliminating jail time for small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and even heroin, LSD and methamphetamine. But stunned police on the U.S. side of the border say the law contradicts President Felipe Calderon's drug war, and some fear it could make Mexico a destination for drug-fueled spring breaks and tourism. Tens of thousands of American college students flock to Cancun and Acapulco each year to party at beachside discos offering wet T-shirt contests and all-you-can-drink deals. Enacted last week, the Mexican law is part of a growing trend across Latin America to treat drug use as a public health problem and make room in overcrowded prisons for violent traffickers rather than small-time users. Supporters of the change point to Portugal, which removed jail terms for drug possession for personal use in 2001 and still has one of the lowest rates of cocaine use in Europe. Portugal's law defines personal use as the equivalent of what one person would consume over 10 days...AP

More people caught at U.S.-Mexico border with fraudulent, stolen or purchased documents

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers report an upswing in so-called impostors and fraudulent document cases at U.S. ports of entry in recent years, as the government has increased border enforcement and cracked down on illegal crossings. The number of people caught at the nation's ports of entry with fraudulent, stolen or purchased documents grew from about 23,500 in 2006 to more than 28,000 in 2008 — an increase of about 19 percent, according to CBP statistics. Warren Burr, the director of CBP's fraudulent document unit in Virginia, estimated that about 90 percent of cases involved documents seized at the ports of entry from impostors with legitimate paperwork, such as U.S. passports, green cards and border crossing cards. On the enforcement side, the U.S. government has also stepped up prosecutions of fraudulent document cases...USAToday

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

U.S. needs climate law before Copenhagen: officials

The United States needs to have a climate change law in place before international talks on a climate pact begin in December, two top Obama administration officials said on Monday. The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation in June to cut U.S. carbon emissions from utilities, manufacturers and others 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The Senate is set to take up its own version of the bill in September when lawmakers return from their summer recess. It is unclear whether the bill will make it into law before the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. The highly contentious debate over health care reform is likely to crowd the legislative agenda in the fall. "We think it is important for the president to be empowered to be able to say to the rest of the world that America stands ready to lead on this issue," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters after an energy briefing at the White House...Reuters

U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeks trial on global warming

The nation's largest business lobby wants to put the science of global warming on trial. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change. Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" -- complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect. The goal of the chamber, which represents 3 million large and small businesses, is to fend off potential emissions regulations by undercutting the scientific consensus over climate change. If the EPA denies the request, as expected, the chamber plans to take the fight to federal court. The EPA is having none of it, calling a hearing a "waste of time" and saying that a threatened lawsuit by the chamber would be "frivolous."...LATimes

UPDATE: The Chamber petition is available here, and they are not challenging the science behind global warming, but whether "EPA has demonstrated, as a matter of law, that greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles in the U.S. endanger public health or welfare.”

Government Agencies Would Need $16.6 Billion in New Tax Revenue to Buy Carbon Allowances Under Global Warming Legislation

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study says that all levels of government – federal, state, and local – will have to come up with a total of $16.6 billion in additional revenue to purchase carbon allowances, if cap-and-trade – to allegedly combat global warming -- is enacted into law. Experts say this could prompt increases in taxes. This is the second government report to estimate that the proposed climate-change legislation, formally known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, will eventually cost consumers more. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study published on June 19 revealed that the House cap-and-trade bill, passed by a 219 to 212 vote on June 26, would cost an estimated $175 per household every year...CNSNews

Gee, seems like this may hit people making less than $250,000 a year.

Jury finds BLM, DuPont negligent in land case

A federal jury has found the Bureau of Land Management and E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. negligent in the use of an herbicide blamed for damaging thousands of acres of crops across a broad swath of southern Idaho. The jury found the BLM negligent in its decision to use of the powerful herbicide Oust to control invasive weeds on public lands burned by wildfires in 1999 and 2000. The verdict reached Monday in U.S. District Court in Boise, also found DuPont responsible for selling a product that was defective and unreasonably dangerous and lacking adequate warnings. The verdict was welcome news to some of the 130 farmers whose potatoes, sugar beets, grains and corn crops were destroyed for several years when winds blew the powdery herbicide on to their nearby farmland...AP

Three Views of the Wolf Wars: A Hunter, Advocate, and Game Official Speak Out

This is a long, but interesting piece and can be read at New West.

Local Rancher Loses Thousands to Wolves

The time has come for what Idaho hunters and ranchers have been looking forward to for years: tags to kill wolves are on sale now. There was a slight hiccup Monday afternoon. Fish and Game's computer system went down for about 20 minutes but it's back up and running. More than four thousand tags have been sold statewide so far and locally about 40 tags have gone out the door to eager hunters at Sportsmen's Warehouse. A local rancher has dealt with huge losses from the wolves and he, like many hunters, is getting the guns ready. "Since 1895, the Siddoways have been running sheep in this country," said Jeff Siddoway whose great grandfather started the sheep business. It's been in the family for more than a century and the fourth generation Siddoway sells lambs, bucks and ewes. But this year, he's lost more than $35,000 worth of livestock to what he calls vicious predators of the wild. "Every day, every night you're out there trying to find them, protect them...do whatever you have to do to keep them away...but you know they're going to come back and do you some damage," explained Siddoway. Last week, Fish and Game commissioners decided hunters could harvest 220 wolves within the state. Siddoway says he's disappointed they choose the lower quota but doesn't believe they'll be able to kill that many...LocalNews8

There's a video report available at the linked site.

BLM cuts energy leasing in Wyoming range

The Bureau of Land Management has decided that thousands of acres in the Wyoming Range will be off-limits to oil and gas drilling, state BLM Director Don Simpson said. Energy companies had purchased 23 leases on 24,000 acres of the land in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, but the BLM held off on issuing the leases when conservation groups protested. Simpson did not elaborate on the BLM's decision, which he announced Sunday. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, conservationists and hunting outfitters attended the announcement. Dustin Child, an outfitter whose camp is in the Wyoming Range, said he was happy with the decision. "It's great," Child said. "It gives me great hope. We've probably won the battle." An additional 20,000 acres are also part of that challenge by conservationists, and the U.S. Forest Service is expected to address that land next month after completing an air quality analysis as part of an environmental study...AP

Minerals industry may face fee hikes

Under pressure to shore up federal budgets, the Obama administration has proposed several measures to speed up payments and increase processing fees on the minerals industry. For example, a $4,000-per-well processing fee that originated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 would swell to $6,500 per well. Another proposal would strip away the industry's ability to deduct drilling and other "intangible" expenses. On the coal front, there's a push to require that federal coal "bonus bids" be paid in lump-sum at the time of lease rather than the usual five-year payment plan. In a letter to Congress this week, Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States executive director Marc Smith said the measures are sold as an elimination of unnecessary subsidies. If enacted, the measures would severely cut available capital needed to continue to develop domestic energy resources, he said. "That means less capital available to be put back into drilling more wells, developing American energy, creating jobs and generating revenue for federal, state and local governments," Smith wrote to Congress...BillingsGazette

Spotted owls block Skamania wind farm expansion

Plans for a wind farm on some state land in Skamania County are on hold because it’s spotted owl habitat. The Department of Natural Resources is no longer considering leasing 2,560 acres to the SDS Lumber Co. for possible future expansion of the proposed Whistling Ridge Energy Project. “The reason it was withdrawn was because of issues with endangered species,” DNR spokesman Aaron Toso told the The Vancouver Columbian. “It will give us some time to work with the federal services to see how we can make wind energy work with our habitat conservation plan.” Last month, the agency found itself having to defend the Radar Ridge wind turbine lease on forest land in Pacific County after a team of biologists said the proposed turbines would harm or kill marbled murrelets, robin-sized seabirds that nest in that specific tract of old-growth trees near the coast...DailyWorld

Yup, that's our policy: habitat for animals trumps clean energy for humans.

Human needs should come first in environmental policy

Ever hear of the Yellowstone Sand Verbena? Probably not, since the only place this plant is currently known to grow in North America is a beach in the national park bearing that name in Wyoming. Or how about the Meltwater Lednian Stonefly, which is only found in Glacier National Park in Montana? That one will be gone by 2030, thanks to global warming, assuming global warming is a reality, as claimed by some scientists. Or it may be frozen by the new little ice age predicted by other scientists. These are two of 29 species -- including 20 plants, six snails, two insects and a fish -- the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says may require federal actions to avoid extinction under the Endangered Species Act. As Examiner Columnist and Chapman University Law School professor Hugh Hewitt explains elsewhere in today's edition, such policies will "essentially sequester large swaths of private property from all use for years." There won't be a dime of compensation for the private property owners involved, either. But the injustices to private property owners hardly begin to describe the full human toll exacted by current law, which embodies a fundamentally unbalanced view of the proper relationship between man and nature...WashingtonExaminer

Wild pigs increasing damage to Fresno Co. ag

Fresno County farmers and ranchers are accustomed to dealing with tiny insects and plant diseases. But their latest pest is a big one, weighing in at more than 100 pounds. And it has a voracious appetite. Wild pigs are ranging over more of Fresno County and causing more damage. "It used to be just rangeland that they would root up or livestock ponds that they would wallow in and destroy," said Fred Rinder, Fresno County Department of Agriculture's wildlife and weed management supervisor. "But not any more." These days, the pigs are venturing from the foothills in eastern and western Fresno County to devour oranges, almonds, grapes and vegetables on Valley farms. Their rooting can destroy berms and rip through irrigation lines. While many of the pigs average about 100 pounds, some have grown much larger. "A big 300-pound pig will rub up against an almond tree and put a 30-degree lean on that tree," Rinder said. At Harris Farms River Ranch near Sanger, as many as 200 pigs have been caught and killed over the last several years...FresnoBee

'I wanna be a cowgirl for a lifetime'

For a few hours Tuesday, a Bothell girl forgot about her life-threatening illness and lived her life-long wish. Saddling up to Sugar Pie is more than a horse ride for Alyssa McCarron-Thompson. It's her dream. "I wanna be a cowgirl for a lifetime, or until I get tired of horses," she said. The horse ranch in Maple Valley is a world away from the hospitals and headaches that have haunted this 7-year-old since April. Doctors discovered a brain tumor behind Alyssa's eyes. Surgeons could only remove 35 percent of the second grader's tumor. "If you took it all out, it would have messed up my eyesight," Alyssa said. Doctors say there's a strong chance it could grow back. Tuesday, the Make A Wish Foundation swapped her hospital gown for cowboy boots. Real life cowboys taught Alyssa the ropes, such as how to round up cows, and cut a calf from the herd, and that some ranchers have hearts as gold as her boot tips. "We're just here to help make her wish," said rancher Duane Herbert...KOMO-TV