Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obama to allow oil drilling off Virginia coast

In a reversal of a long-standing ban on most offshore drilling, President Barack Obama is allowing oil drilling 50 miles off Virginia's shorelines. At the same time, he is rejecting some new drilling sites that had been planned in Alaska. Obama's plan offers few concessions to environmentalists, who have been strident in their opposition to more oil platforms off the nation's shores. Hinted at for months, the plan modifies a ban that for more than 20 years has limited drilling along coastal areas other than the Gulf of Mexico. Obama was set to announce the new drilling policy Wednesday at Andrews air base in Maryland. White House officials pitched the changes as ways to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and create jobs - both politically popular ideas - but the president's decisions also could help secure support for a climate change bill languishing in Congress. The president, joined by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, also was set to announce that proposed leases in Alaska's Bristol Bay would be canceled. The Interior Department also planned to reverse last year's decision to open up parts of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Instead, scientists would study the sites to see if they're suitable to future leases. Obama is allowing an expansion in Alaska's Cook Inlet to go forward. The plan also would leave in place the moratorium on drilling off the West Coast. In addition, the Interior Department has prepared a plan to add drilling platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico if Congress allows that moratorium to expire...more

Cap And Tax

Watch out when sweeping new legislation comes with a "bipartisan" label. Usually it's a bad, repackaged measure undeserving of passage. Case in point: the new energy bill. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are working feverishly to craft a "tripartisan" approach for a new cap-and-trade bill. The goal reportedly is to slash carbon emissions 17% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Unlike the past efforts, which relied on a one-size-fits-all approach, this one will have separate caps on carbon output for manufacturers and utilities. It also boosts offshore drilling and nuclear power. Even business groups, notably the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have made favorable noises about the bill. But don't be fooled. This will be another massive tax on consumers and industry. Industry foes, of course, will be bought off with rebates, subsidies, protectionist rules and other goodies. You'll be left holding the bag...more

Forest Service OKs Wyoming oil well study

U.S. Forest Service officials have decided not to fast-track the drilling of a single, exploratory well on the Shoshone National Forest using a controversial categorical exclusion rule. Instead, the agency decided Monday it will prepare a more thorough environmental assessment to analyze the Scott Well No. 2 project. Environmentalists and some area residents have opposed the drilling plan for what they say would be the only functioning oil well inside the nation's first national forest. The categorical exclusion rule was used extensively during the Bush era to bypass painstaking environmental reviews for thousands of oil and gas drilling permits in Wyoming and across the West. Wind River District Ranger Rick Metzger said the agency had initially proposed utilizing a categorical exclusion for the project last fall. He said Forest Service officials decided to prepare the environmental assessment to "ensure" the issues and concerns brought forward during the scoping period and at an early February meeting were fully analyzed...more

Judge blocks mine beneath Cabinet Mtn. wilderness

A federal judge on Monday blocked a proposal to dig a major new mine beneath a remote Montana wilderness area that boasts grizzly bears, rare trout — and huge reserves of silver and copper. Mining companies have eyed the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness south of Libby for more than three decades. Development has been stalled by lawsuits from environmentalists. Monday's ruling from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy says the U.S. Forest Service must reconsider its 2003 approval of a proposal by Revett Minerals to mine up to 10,000 tons of ore day from the Cabinets. Molloy also ruled against the mine in 2005, when he struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion of the project. Revett CEO John Shanahan said the ruling will delay work scheduled to start this spring. But he said the Spokane, Wash., company remains committed to the mine, which could employ up to 300 people. "We're in this for the long haul," Shanahan said. Molloy did not immediately provide the grounds for his ruling. Plaintiffs in the case had argued the Forest Service underestimated the potential environmental damage a mine would cause...more

Cat trackers sniff out the truth

For Colorado mountain lion AM06, every day is like "The Truman Show" for felines — the authorities are always watching. A satellite signal snaps his exact location every three hours as he wanders his 230-square-mile territory from Nederland to Lyons. If he stalks cattle or a beloved pet in the exurban foothills above Boulder, he may be lured, trapped and shot with high-velocity beanbags to scare him away for good. DNA samples of AM06 sit on file in a state Division of Wildlife building, and if AM06 becomes a proud father, wildlife agents will probably tag and follow the scampering kittens. Halfway through a six-year study of cougars in the suburbs — the elk-eating kind, not the bar-hopping divorcees — AM06 is a well-known quantity. At any given moment, researcher Mat Alldredge can print out a terrain map showing the prowling puma's every move for an entire month. What they've learned is that most lions are not long for this world...more

Toad is a telltale for impending quakes: scientists

For ages, mankind has craved a tool that can provide early warning of that terrifying moment when the earth begins to shake. But if a scientific paper published on Wednesday is confirmed, we may at last have found one. The best hope yet of an earthquake predictor could lie in a small, brown, knobbly amphibian, it suggests. The male common toad (Bufo bufo) gave five days' warning of the earthquake that ravaged the town of L'Aquila in central Italy on April 6, 2009, killing more than 300 people and displacing 40,000 others, the study says... By March 28, more than 90 male toads had mustered for the spawning season, but two days later, their numbers suddenly fell, Grant reports. By April 1 -- five days before the quake -- 96 percent of the males had fled...more

It apparently scared the "you know what" out of them.

Song Of The Day #273

Ranch Radio needs to hear something that will get him out of his funk this morning.

Hank Snow can do that with his 1952 recording of The Gal Who Invented Kissing.

Snow's stuff is widely available. This particular tune is on the 20 track CD The Essential Hank Snow.


Fox news & local tv video coverage of Krentz murder

Fox News



KVOA



KVOA



TV 3

Many ranchers will be cautious

People who live and work along the U.S.-Mexican border in Cochise County plan to be more cautious as a result of the shooting death of a rancher near Douglas over the weekend. Bill Odle, who lives along Border Road next to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, said he and his wife, Ellen Logue, are trying to be more aware of the illegal immigrants who cross their property. Glenn Spencer, who owns property across the river from Odle, said he is “taking extra precautions.” He did not want to elaborate, except to say that “we are deploying some additional technology.” Richard Hodges, a rancher near Bisbee Junction, said he has been concerned for a long time about Americans getting killed by drug smugglers. Now, when Hodges goes into his pasture, he said he plans to look up on the hill for spotters, and when he gets on top of ridges, he will stop and see if anybody is around him. “Almost all of the drug runners now are armed. Virtually every one of them is armed,” he said. “It used to be that they didn’t bring weapons into the United States. And then you started seeing an armed escort that went with the drug runners. Now, either everyone is packing a weapon or they have the armed escort with them.”...more

This is not Afghanistan or The Balkans, this is and has been happening in the USA. What a shame.

Reward offered as ranchers arm themselves in wake of murder

Southern Arizona ranchers are arming themselves as tensions along the border grow and calls for a U.S. National Guard presence intensify. This stems from the murder of a well-loved Arizona rancher who was shot on his family's 35,000-acre ranch near Douglas over the weekend. Police suspect it was the doing of an illegal border crosser. Lynn Kartchner, who sells guns, tells 3TV, “I sold one of these, a Lugar 357.” He says he is busier than ever selling guns to ranchers afraid for their lives. Kartchner explains, “We had four people in today buying handguns for their wives.” Frustrated ranchers who feel under siege on their own land are reeling from the death of long-time rancher Robert Krentz who was shot and killed by a suspected illegal immigrant...more

NM rancher concerned with border safety, video report

State police, sheriff's departments and federal agents have stepped up their patrols along the U.S.'s border with Mexico, but residents in the region are still concerned about safety. On Saturday, an Arizona rancher was murdered near the state line and New Mexico's boot heel. Like many farmers and ranchers living along the border, James Johnson has warned for years that lives were in danger. "My father was held up at gunpoint in '91. And it's always been in the back of our minds that another tragedy could happen," Johnson said. "We're here 24 hours a day. You know, these border patrol guys, they come to work and they are gone in 10 hours." A collection of low steel pipes is all there is to the border with Mexico. It's easily penetrated by drug smugglers, aliens and other ne'er-do-wells. "State game and fish has a lot of problems with some of the fencing designs because of wildlife moving back and forth. At what time do we say, you know what, National Security is more important than wildlife," Johnson said...more

Here is the KRQE video report by Bob Martin

Politicians Respond, I Comment

US hands over equipment to Mexico for border security Amidst national strife over illegal immigration and local outrage over the murder of a prominent a Southern Arizona rancher, an historic agreement Tuesday between the United States and Mexico. "It's through the Merit Initiative that the United States and Mexico governments have come together to collaborate and cooperate," said U.S. Consul General John Breidenstine, speaking outside U.S. Border Patrol headquarters, Tucson Sector. To that end, the Department of Homeland Security transferred ten ATVs, four motorcycles, 50 global positioning units and an assortment of tactical equipment today to Mexico's Secretariat of Public Safety. "What happens in Mexico has a significant impact on what happens in the United States and vice versa," Consul Breidenstine said...more

Breidenstine makes me want to puke. If I never again hear a government official use the words "collaborate" and "cooperate" it will be a blessing.

As for Bredenstine's "What happens in Mexico has a significant impact on what happens in the United States", we need a new policy:

WHAT HAPPENS IN MEXICO STAYS IN MEXICO.


McCain: Call National Guard for border Sen. John McCain wants to call in the cavalry to defend Arizona from illegal immigrants
crossing the border from Mexico—and to shore up his own right flank. McCain asked the Obama administration Monday to send National Guard troops to the border after a prominent Arizona rancher was found shot to death on his own property. "I am asking you and the administration to immediately reconsider your position and send National Guard troops to our southern border region," McCain wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano...

Talk about your John(ny) Come Lately. McCain has had years to address this problem, but he was too busy promoting immigration reform.

Richardson orders more law enforcement to Mexico border Governor Bill Richardson ordered more law enforcement officers to the New Mexico-Mexico border today, following the killing of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz. In 2005, Richardson declared a state of emergency in border areas to provide more law enforcement funding for the border area in New Mexico. In 2006, President George W. Bush ordered national guard troops to the border to stem the flow of immigrants flowing into the United States from the U.S.-Mexico border. At that time, Richardson was critical of using National Guardsmen to patrol the border. “Our guardsmen are tired, they’ve been in Afghanistan and Iraq. I need our National Guard for forest fires,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said to ABC News in 2006. Last year, however, Richardson asked for funding, along with the other border governors, for additional National Guard troops on the United States-Mexico border...

Guard on the border under Bush - bad.
Guard on the border under Obama - good.

It's just this kind of politics that prevents a solution. Anyway, Richardson has been too busy issuing drivers licenses to illegals.

Yesterday I posted N.M. Delegation Urges Enhanced Border Patrol Presence in State's 'Boot Heel'

Currently, Senators Bingaman & Udall have no credibility on border security. Bingaman has introduced legislation, with Udall as cosponsor, to create 400 square miles of wilderness at or near the border. No motorized vehicles or mechanical equipment allowed. No vehicles, no electronic or communications equipment; nada for the Border Patrol. On the one hand they want increased BP presence, while on the other hand they chop them off at the knees. I don't believe New Mexicans are going to buy their little political dance this time around.

Rancher's Murder Exposes Deadly Gaps in Border Policing Former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, reacting to the murder of a well-known Arizona rancher by an assailant authorities believe was an illegal immigrant, said violence on the border has spiraled out of control and the federal government seems powerless to stop it. "The violence on the border is ... getting worse all the time," he said. "This is just a horrible manifestation of it." A satellite photo from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows a gap in the border fence near Krentz's ranch in southeastern Arizona. Tancredo said a small gap in the fence could be manageable, because border agents could "funnel" illegal immigrants into a small area and arrest them. But he said the gap by Krentz's estate is too big and law enforcers aren't working hard enough to catch people crossing over. "There is not going to be any effective barrier on that border because there is no desire to stop illegal immigration," he said. "They're not using any human resources effectively." Plus, Tancredo said, most of the fencing that is in place is not strong enough. It's either a single fence or, as Tancredo's Rocky Mountain Foundation noted, a short barrier meant to stop vehicles. "It doesn't stop people," said Charles Heatherley, executive director of the foundation...

Never been a fan of Tancredo, but he's making more sense than most on this incident.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

White House outdoors conference to urge conservation, quell rumors

Championing President Barack Obama's conservation vision for the 21st century, the White House Conference on America's Outdoors will be held in Washington next month. Hundreds of environmentalists, sportsmen and outdoors professionals will be on hand Friday April 16 to help leaders re-instill America's need to stay connected with nature. To some, Obama has made strides, pulling the plug on several oil-drilling leases issued under President George W. Bush. According to documents, the Interior Department may be securing land for future sites of national parks and monuments. The measure has come with heavy criticism from Republicans and U.S. oil and gas companies. Democrats claim new parks and monuments would not be declared without careful planning and public input. The April 16 conference also is said to include information to dispel rumors that the federal government is planning to freeze land, preventing it from being developed and impose significant restrictions on recreational fishing and hunting. The White House has denied that such plans have been in the works...more

The following is an excerpt from the March 29 issue of Public Lands News (sub.req.).

Instead of immediately laying out a set of concrete proposals the administration said it would first listen to interest groups and the American people. Said Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, “The conference is a great chance to learn about these efforts, start a new dialogue about conservation in America, and find ways to further the work that is already going on in cities and towns, counties and states throughout the country.”

If and when the initiative is fleshed out, insiders believe it could include:

* the designation of a number of national monuments on BLM land,
* full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund,
* revitalization of the National Park System in time for its 100th Anniversary in 2016,
* an omnibus public lands and parks bill (as is in the works now in Congress), or
* all of the above.

The source of the billions of dollars to accomplish such ambitious goals will be most controversial and has not been identified publicly. However, Salazar has said in a dozen Congressional hearings that he has his eye on offshore oil and gas royalties. And, perhaps, on a sharp increase in onshore oil and gas royalties...

The Obama administration chose Friday afternoon – the burial ground for unpopular announcements – to reveal its plans for an America’s Great Outdoors initiative.

Hosting the White House conference will be Salazar, Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley.

Perhaps the administration wanted to downplay the announcement because of the furor caused by an internal Interior Department review of possible BLM monument designations. The monuments controversy was touched off February 18 by the release by House Republicans of an Interior Department document that suggested the administration was evaluating 14 BLM-managed areas as possible national monuments...

Guv approves use of eminent domain to take federal land

Fed up with federal ownership of more than half the land in Utah, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert on Saturday authorized the use of eminent domain to take some of the U.S. government's most valuable parcels. Herbert signed a pair of bills into law that supporters hope will trigger a flood of similar legislation throughout the West, where lawmakers contend that federal ownership restricts economic development in an energy-rich part of the country. Governments use eminent domain to take private property for public use. The goal is to spark a U.S. Supreme Court battle that legislators' own attorneys acknowledge has little chance of success. But Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and other Republicans say the case is still worth fighting, since the state could reap millions of dollars for state schools each year if it wins. More than 60 percent of Utah is owned by the U.S. government, and policy makers here have long complained that federal ownership hinders their ability to generate tax revenue and adequately fund public schools. Initially, the state would target three areas for the use of eminent domain, including the Kaiparowits plateau in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is home to large coal reserves...more

Elk reproduction woes tied to wolves

After hours of watching Yellowstone elk herds through a spotting scope, Scott Creel noticed a few interesting things. When wolves appeared, the elk turned skittish. They spent more time on alert – heads in the air, ears pricked – and less time eating. They also left prime winter range to take cover in forested areas, where less food was available. Even when wolves were nearly two miles away, the vigilant behavior persisted, said Creel, a Montana State University ecology professor. Creel and fellow researchers linked the altered elk behavior to lower calf production. As their body fat drops, cow elk have difficulty staying pregnant through winter. They grow emaciated and abort, the research concluded. The work helps answer questions about low elk calf numbers in some herds in Yellowstone National Park, said Creel, the lead author of a study that appeared last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It indicates that wolves affect elk populations in subtle but important ways beyond direct kills, he said...more

Demand for locally produced meat overwhelms slaughterhouses

Erica Zimmerman and her husband spent months pasture-raising pigs on their farm here, but when the time came to take them to slaughter, an overbooked facility canceled their appointment. After several days they found an opening, but their experience highlights a growing problem for small farmers here and across the nation: too few slaughterhouses to meet the growing demand for locally raised meat. In what could be a major setback for America’s local-food movement, championed by so-called locavores, independent farmers around the country say they are forced to make slaughter appointments before animals are born and to drive hundreds of miles to facilities, adding to their costs and causing stress to livestock. As a result, they are scaling back on plans to expand their farms because local processors cannot handle any more animals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the number of slaughterhouses nationwide declined to 809 in 2008 from 1,211 in 1992, while the number of small farmers has increased by 108,000 in the past five years. Fewer slaughterhouses to process local meat means less of it in butcher shops, grocery stores and restaurants...more

Song Of The Day #272

Ranch Radio is in the mood for some traditional bluegrass. So today's tunes are I'm Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open from 1955 and Randy Lynn Rag from 1956, both performed by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mtn. Boys.

You can see their available recordings by going here.


Cochise ranch area outraged by killing

Neighbor ranchers of the slain Robert Krentz say they had been warning U.S. officials for years that somebody would be killed if they didn't gain control of this dangerous smuggling corridor where armed burglaries have become a daily occurrence. Now, they're demanding immediate action. Krentz, a longtime rancher, was shot and killed Saturday in Cochise County, by a likely southbound smuggler, who authorities believe escaped into Mexico. "The Mexican outlaws have total control, and it's going to get worse," said Ed Ashurst, whose 53,000-acre ranch is just east of the Krentz ranch. "There is going to be more bloodshed." On Monday, in reaction to the killing, Gov. Jan Brewer reiterated a March 2009 request to send 250 additional National Guard soldiers to Arizona's border. Rancher Dean Nelson said the National Guard should have already been called. "If the government doesn't call out the Guard, they don't care about us," Nelson said. But Ashurst said the National Guard won't improve safety unless its personnel are given the green light to shoot at smugglers. Ranchers in the unincorporated community of Apache, about 25 miles northeast of Douglas, say they'll now be more vigilant when they encounter illegal immigrants. Ashurst, Nelson and Mortensen described Krentz as a good man who didn't have enemies...more

Arizona reacts to murder of Douglas rancher

For the KOLD-TV video report on this trajedy, go here.

Also available at their website is a 2005 interview with Rob Krentz.

Bootheel murder spurs call for greater USBP presence

New Mexico's congressional delegation is asking for stepped up immigration enforcement in the state's Bootheel region, following the weekend murder of a respected southeastern Arizona rancher. Longtime rancher Robert Krentz, 58, was shot and killed Saturday as he made the rounds on his ranch checking cattle water supplies. While authorities have yet to say for certain the crime was tied to a drug trafficker, those close to Krentz suspect the connection. The shooting, still under investigation, has stirred rumors and heightened fears among residents of the southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico region, which often perceives itself as one community. Several residents say they feel their concerns expressed to federal elected officials and administrators about rampant drug trafficking and increasingly brazen immigrant-related crimes are falling on deaf ears. Robert Hall, sheriff of Hidalgo County, which covers the state's Bootheel, said he believes Krentz's murder is another indication that the extreme drug-related violence in Mexico is reaching the United States. "It's spilling over to here; this is a good example," said Hall, who has been sheriff since 2003. "These cartels tell these people: 'You get this stuff through one way or another.'" Gee, too, said more-hardened criminals seem to be involved in the drug trade these days. Less-experienced drug haulers get jobs hauling marijuana, while the top-notch haulers are assigned loads of cocaine. And he said they use the ruggedness of the area - two mountain ranges line the valley - to their advantage. "They're in a hurry to get back and get another load," he said. "These guys are hiking like Navy Seals and Army Rangers, and the cost of failure is high. If they lose their load, they can end up chopped up in pieces down in Mexico."...more

Border Patrol Officers Avert "Booby Traps" In NM, Seize Drugs

Border Patrol agents encountered "booby traps" in southern New Mexico and foiled 14 attempts to smuggle approximately 2,900 pounds of narcotics in separate seizures. The busy weekend was ominous as Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Lordsburg Station made 10 different seizures, including the significant seizure of 477 pounds of marijuana. Agents in Lordsburg utilized the latest enforcement technology to watch a group of drug smugglers as they walked north near Rodeo, NM. After responding to the area, Agents came upon 11 abandoned burlap backpacks full of narcotics, weighing 477 pounds. The total amount of the load is estimated to be valued at more than $382,000. The smugglers who carried the burlap sacks apparently absconded back into Mexico. This seizure was followed by nine other attempts to smuggle a total of 2,270 pounds of marijuana in various locations in New Mexico. The value of those loads is approximately $1,820,000. Meanwhile, Agents from Deming Station had their hands full dealing with suspected smugglers after they appeared to have set barbwire "booby traps" in roadways along the border. Regardless of the terror tactic, agents still managed to thwart three attempts to smuggle narcotics into the United States in that area. The traps that were found contained a suspended strand of barbwire stretched approximately four feet above the ground, across a dirt road, where agents routinely ride all-terrain vehicle's (ATV's)...more

NM Delegation's Response

N.M. Delegation Urges Enhanced Border Patrol Presence in State's 'Boot Heel'

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, along with Representative Harry Teague, today pressed the Department of Homeland Security to step-up the Border Patrol’s presence in New Mexico’s boot heel. The area is about 10 miles from an Arizona ranch where a rancher was killed over the weekend.

The New Mexico lawmakers pointed out that the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along our borders has reached a record high of 20,000, which has helped strengthen security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Additionally, DHS is constructing a new Border Patrol station in Lordsburg.

But as drug trafficking gangs continue to threaten security in the U.S.-Mexico border region, the New Mexico lawmakers urged DHS to take further security steps. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Bingaman, Udall and Teague urged the establishment of a Border Patrol forward operating base in the boot heel. Forward operating bases are outposts that allow agents to patrol closer to the international border.

The lawmakers letter to Napolitano follows:

We are writing to urge the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Border Patrol Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the New Mexico boot heel. We strongly believe that this step would greatly enhance our security posture and help ensure the safety of border residents.

Although the Border Patrol force strength is now at a record 20,000 agents and the apprehension rate along the southern border is at the lowest level since the 1970s, it is clear that more still needs to be done to fully secure our nation’s borders. Just this last weekend, a rancher was murdered at his ranch in Arizona just across the New Mexico state line after he encountered a person on his property. While the specifics of this terrible incident are still being investigated, we are deeply concerned about the security threats border ranchers are facing and believe it is critical that DHS enhance its capabilities in this region.

The new Lordsburg Border Patrol station will significantly increase the capacity of the station to house and maintain additional agents in the area; however, establishing a FOB in the boot heel would allow agents to spend considerably more time patrolling in closer proximity to the actual border. The Lordsburg station is situated along the I-10 corridor and Border Patrol agents spend an unnecessary amount of their time driving back and forth to patrol areas within the boot heel. Locating a FOB in this area would reduce agent response times and enhance our ability to fight drug traffickers and apprehend individuals illegally crossing the border. For these reasons, we ask that DHS promptly begin the process of creating a Forward Operating Base in the Hidalgo County boot heel.

Thank you for your attention to this issue and for your leadership in working to secure our nation’s borders. We look forward to your response.



Harry Teague Calls for White House Summit on Border Violence

Note: This letter was sent after the murder of two Americans in Mexico, and prior to the killing of the Arizona rancher in the U.S.

Washington, DC - Saturday, Congressman Harry Teague announced that he is calling on President Barack Obama to convene a bipartisan White House summit focused on stemming the drug violence that has plagued the U.S. border with Mexico. The meeting would aim to build a policy to address this crisis, ensure that the violence does not spill over into the United States, and help us get back to work building our border economies.

"There is no easy solution to the violence that has resulted in thousands of drug and gang-related deaths in these border communities. Nor is there a simple way to make absolutely sure that we can prevent the chaos from spilling over into this country," Congressman Harry Teague writes in the letter. “However, we believe that the only way to begin to address the violence at our border and protect our country is to organize a concerted and comprehensive effort that addresses every cause of the violence and every threat posed to the American people."

This past week, Congressman Teague, Vice-Chair of the U.S. House Border Caucus, and several other members of the Caucus met with Mexican Ambassador, Arturo Sarukhán, this week to discuss recent events, including the murders of two American citizens in Ciudad Juarez last week.

The full text of the letter is below:

March 19th, 2010

Dear Mr. President:

The recent murders of two American citizens and a Mexican national connected to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez serve as a tragic reminder of the potential threat posed to our nation by the tidal wave of violence that has inundated Mexico’s northern border region. Over the past three years, as the violence has raged in Mexico, legitimate economic activity has deteriorated, the fabric of society has been torn apart, and an estimated 15,000 people have been murdered, often brutally so. Thus far, the violence has largely been limited to Mexican territory. However, it is reasonable to question how long such a level of violence, dysfunction, and disorder can be sustained on one side of our 2,000 mile border without millions of Americans eventually feeling its effect.

According to the 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment, “the Southwest Border Region is the most significant national-level storage, transportation, and transshipment area for illicit drug shipments that are destined for drug markets throughout the United States.” Further, “the region is the principal arrival zone for most drugs smuggled into the Unites States,” and “Mexican [drug trafficking organizations] have developed sophisticated and expansive drug transportation networks extending from the Southwest Border to all regions of the United States.” Given the penetration into American territory that Mexican drug cartels have achieved and the cartels’ investments in U.S. drug shipment networks, we must take seriously the possibility that Mexican drug violence could spill over into American communities.

There is no easy solution to the violence that has ripped apart Mexican communities and left thousands dead. Nor is there a simple way to make absolutely sure that we can prevent the chaos from spilling over into this country. However, we believe that the only way to begin to address the violence at our border and protect our country is to organize a concerted and comprehensive effort that addresses every cause of the violence and every threat posed to the American people.

Therefore, we request that you organize a White House Summit to address the threat of Mexican drug violence. Such a Summit can provide the basis for a policy blueprint to address this crisis so we can ensure that the violence does not spill over into the United States and get back to work growing our border economies.

Thank you for your service to this nation.

Sincerely,

Harry Teague
Member of Congress

Krentz Family: Homeland Heroes

It's not as if "political leaders" had not been forewarned of the danger.

Tom Tancredo
wrote about the Krentz family 7 years ago:

I would like to bring to your attention a group of people whom I would like to include in what I am now calling the Homeland Heroes. These are folks whose daily lives confront them with incredible stresses and challenges far different than what their business had initially provided them.

They started out ranching, and that is a difficult task in and of itself. But, after generations in that particular industry and living in the same area on the border of Mexico, living in Arizona, many of the people who reside there are now living in what, I think, can be accurately described as a war zone. Every week I have been bringing to the U.S. House of Representatives the names and pictures of those people that I want to induct into this Homeland Heroes Hall of Fame.

Tonight, I want to talk about Rob and Sue Krentz, who own and operate a ranch located on the far southeastern corner of Arizona, about 12 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border and 25 miles northeast of the city of Douglas. They are third-generation ranchers. This ranch has been in their family since 1907.

Rob and Susie Krentz have three children they raised on that ranch. Their two sons, Andrew and Frank, attend New Mexico State University, and their daughter, Kyle, is a high school senior.

The Krentz family story is similar in many ways to the experiences of hundreds of other ranchers in this border region. Yet, to them and their children it, is unique and it is personal and dreadful in the impact it has had on their lives and the future viability of their way of life as ranchers.

Just one tiny statistic begins to tell the story of what these folks face every single day. In the month of November, 2002, in the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, which includes Cochise County, where the Krentz ranch is located, the Border Patrol appre- hended 23,000 border crossers.

That was in the month of November. It is anybody's guess as to how many people actually come across, but many, many people would suggest that the ratio is just about maybe one in five, and that is a very conservative estimate, that, for every one person we apprehend on the border, at least five get through. Again, I think it is closer to one in ten, but I will accept even this very, very conservative estimate, that, for every one we get at the border apprehended, five go by them.

This means that, in just the month of November near this ranch and over their property, when we had 23,000 apprehended, using the conservative estimate of one to five, it meant that 115,000 people crossed the border illegally. We are just talking about one little chunk of the border, the Tucson Sector.

That means that, if we project that out over the course of a year, 1,300,000 people come across that border in that sector. I guarantee that is a conservative estimate, but let us use it. Every month, approximately one million three hundred thousand people are coming across that border and coming across the lands of the people that live there, including the Krentz family.

I had the opportunity to spend some time down there just a few weeks ago, and I can attest to the fact that, on any given evening, one can watch dozens and dozens of illegal aliens trespassing across the land. The Krentz family will call the U.S. Border Patrol to come and intercept them. Sometimes the Border Patrol will come; sometimes they will not.

Mr. Krentz estimates that, over the past 5 years, his family has suffered a loss of at least $300,000 a year due to cut fences, stolen and damaged vehicles and farm equip- ment, and damage to the rangeland itself. This is very, very delicate land. It is desert land--something that has to be conserved and protected. When there are 1,300,000 trespassers coming across the land every year, it is not being conserved and protected. The land is being destroyed.

The Krentz ranch has 1,000 head of cattle. The continual movement of people across that domain constantly disturbs the livestock, impacting their own value, and sometimes somethings happen that are even worse. In February of last year, for instance, a calf was butchered by illegal alien trespassers. Two men responsible were caught. They were tried. They were found guilty. They served a total of 51 days in jail. They were also or- dered to pay $200 in restitution to the Krentz ranch. The Krentz ranch has not seen a cent of that money; and, of course, our best guess is they will not because these people have been released. They either came back into the population up here in the U.S.A. or returned to Mexico.

These losses, which are estimated in the neighborhood of $300,000, include damage to and disease-producing microorganisms in the water tanks and waterlines on their ranch. The family and their employees cannot drink out of the water tanks any longer because of the disease that happens to be in the water on the land--disease brought in by illegal alien trespassers--and the damage done by purposeful, deliberate vandalism on the part of the trespassers.

The estimated value of the water that has been lost on their property to date is $4 million. In June of 2002, the Krentz brothers discovered two separate instances of damaged waterlines. Illegal aliens had broken the two-inch PBC waterline in order to get drinking water. The Krentz ranch waterline runs for 40 miles and is one of the best gravity-flow waterlines in the State of Arizona. Because of these two breaks in the long pipeline, several hundred thousand gallons of precious water were wasted.

The Krentz family continually has to deal with threats, physical threats, from illegal border crossers. Recently, a family member came upon a group of 39 trespassers and was threatened by them, when he asked them to turn around and get off his land. He returned home, called the Border Patrol, and they did come and apprehend them. But we both know what happens is they put them into a revolving door near the border and, in a few days or in a few hours, many times they are coming right back across the border.

The Krentz family members are not vigilantes. They do not try to apprehend illegal aliens by force. They do not carry arms for their own protection. They will always call the Border Patrol when they observe trespassers. They and the other ranchers are trying to follow the law and work with the Border Patrol, and all they want from their own government is to enforce the law as well as to protect them and their property, and that is what we owe them. They are only asking the minimum from their own government, that it protect their lives and property from people coming across the border illegally. The Krentz family members are asking the government to protect them from this invasion by illegal aliens.

And there are no two ways about it. "Invasion" is an appropriate word to use to describe what is happening on our borders, especially on our southern border. It is an invasion, and the Krentz family and other ranchers on land near and adjacent to the border are asking their government to protect them from that invasion.

I want to salute Rob and Susie Krentz and Phil and Carrie Krentz as homeland heroes who are bearing the brunt of an invasion of over a million illegal aliens crossing our southern border. We need to understand their plight. We have a moral obligation to do something about it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Arizona Rancher's Killing Sparks Calls to Beef Up Border Security

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is under pressure to beef up border security in the Southwest in the wake of Saturday's killing of a rancher in southeastern Arizona. Three members of New Mexico's congressional delegation have asked for an increase in the Border Patrol's presence in the Boot Heel of New Mexico, about 10 miles from where the rancher was shot to death over the weekend. U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, along with Rep. Harry Teague, say Napolitano's agency needs to take more security steps. And former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, called on Napolitano to "reject politics and do the right thing" by dispatching the National Guard to the Arizona border. Bingaman, Udall and Teague urged a forward operating station for the Border Patrol in the region. Such outposts put agents closer to the international border. Teague -- whose district includes the border area -- says a station in the Antelope Wells area would better protect people and property...more

Out of respect for the Krentz family, I am withholding comment on Bingaman and Udall...for now.

No struggle apparent before Douglas rancher shot and killed, sheriff says

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever called the Saturday slaying of longtime rancher Robert Krentz a "senseless shooting" by a "sick and sorry" person and said there is no evidence to suggest there was any confrontation that led to the shooting. Krentz, who was out checking water line and fencing on his family's 35,000-acre ranch, had weapons with him in the ATV Polaris but he did not use them, Dever said. Investigators have determined the shooting was carried out by one person but don't know anything about who it was, including if it was a man or woman. They believe it was an illegal immigrant because Krentz was heard telling his brother on the radio "illegal alien" and because the area is a known smuggling corridor. Robert Krentz was found about 1,000 feet from where they believe the shooting occurred, dead in his ATV. The ATV still had its lights on and the engine running, Dever said. There were spin out marks in the dirt, leading investigators to believe that he was trying to get away from the shooter, Dever said. Investigators believe the shooter was headed south toward the border when Krentz encountered him. Law enforcement tracked a single set of footprints — believed to be the shooter's — for 20 miles to the U.S.-Mexico border. They also contacted Mexican authorities but so far there is no information about the suspect. "We are assuming he escaped south into Mexico," Dever said. Dever admitted it will be very difficult to find the shooter, and would likely require that the shooter talk about the incident with somebody. While investigators don't have a motive yet, retaliation has been raised as a possibility, Dever said. The day before the shooting, the victim's brother, Phil Krentz, reported drug smuggling activity on the ranch to the Border Patrol. Agents found 290 pounds of marijuana on the ranch and followed tracks to where they found and arrested eight illegal immigrants, said Border Patrol Tucson Sector deputy chief Robert Boatright. None were prosecuted because of a lack of evidence. They were all in custody when the shooting occurred, he said. Krentz regularly called the Border Patrol to let them know about illegal activity on the ranch, the agency said. Dever also said there was another incident within 24 hours of the shooting that could be connected involving a gun, but he would not elaborate. The area where the shooting occurred is a well-known drug and people smuggling corridor, Boatright said. In the summer of 2009, after seeing a spike in activity in the area, the agency opened a base staffed around the clock with 20 agents. Dever said his deputies have responded to numerous calls from residents in the area about burglaries, property damage and even a few home invasions. Recently, the county had assigned all of the deputies working overtime hours under the Department of Homeland Security's Operation Stonegarden grant program to the area. "There has been a prevailing sense for sometime in the community that something like this was going to happen," Dever said...more

Cochise County Rancher Murdered

This is so sad. He was the father of former NMSU Rodeo team member Frank Krentz.

Cochise County rancher Rob Krentz was shot and killed on his ranch some time Saturday, presumably by a drug smuggler. The death, which is being investigated as a homicide, occurred in the San Bernardino Valley, part of the Malpais region. The event has rocked the towns of Douglas and Portal, and the ranches in between, both of which have been under siege by cross-border smugglers for years. As the Weekly has reported, the situation in the so-called Chiricahua Corridor has deteriorated lately, leaving residents fearful that an episode of this kind was inevitable. The grief is great for the Krentz family and their many friends throughout Southeast Arizona; Krentzes have been ranching in Cochise County for more than a century. The Weekly has received word that a representative for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has placed calls to Cochise County, trying to set up a community meeting, either Monday or Tuesday at 11 a.m., possibly at the Apache School. The Giffords' rep making the arrangements said it is possible she will ask the president to place military units in the besieged area...more

From: Caren Cowan
Sent: Sunday, March 28, 2010 10:48 AM
Subject: Tragic News

Rob Krentz, Apache, Arizona, was killed sometime yesterday, apparently by illegals on his ranch. He was checking cattle on his 4-wheeler. He radioed home that he had come across some Mexicans, one of them in need of care. He requested that his brother contact the Border Patrol to send assistance. That was the last that was heard from him. When he didn’t come home around noon, the family began looking for him. He was found by helicopter in the middle of the night. Both he and his dog had been shot.

Rob was a kind and gentle man, a husband, brother, father and grandfather --- as well as a friend to all. He graduated from Douglas High School, attended the University of Arizona, and was a life-long rancher. He was active in the Arizona Cattle Growers Association, a past president of the Cochise Graham Cattle Growers’ Association and a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association.

Please keep the Krentz family in your thought and prayers. As we have more details we will share them.

Caren Cowan
Executive Director
New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association

Slain Ariz. Rancher May Indicate Increased Border Violence "There's a war going on in Mexico and its spilling across our borders," minutemen member Chris Simcox said. If you don't believe Simcox, proof may by just a couple hundred miles away on the remote ranch of Robert Krentz. "He's always been a humanitarian. He always gives water and food to the people he finds in distress which seems to be the case last night and he called his wife and said he was giving some water to illegals and said to call border patrol and she tried to call him back and he never answered his phone and they found him last night shot to death -- he and his dog," Simcox said. The news was understandably upsetting, but not a surprise. "He's been working with border patrol for years, begging and pleading for help with his property being vandalized and his home being robbed," Simcox said. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death but have not released any information surrounding the search for the person or people responsible. US Border Patrol is also helping...

Well-known Douglas-area rancher is found slain A longtime rancher was killed on his Douglas-area property over the weekend, and neighbors worried that his homicide was connected to increasing border-related crime in the area. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office offered little information into the late-Saturday shooting death of 58-year-old Robert Krentz, whose family began the Krentz Ranch more than 100 years ago. Area residents said Krentz had no enemies, and they could think of no motive for his death other than the possibility it was related to what they called the growing level of crime in the area related to illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. Others who live nearby were unwilling to disclose their names when they spoke about the homicide Sunday because, they said, they were afraid of possible repercussions. In a 1999 PBS interview, Robert Krentz and his wife, Susan, said illegal immigrants once stole property from their ranch, but that incident didn't stop him from aiding other trespassers. "You know, we've personally been broke in once. And they took about $700 worth of stuff. And you know, if they come in and ask for water, I'll still give them water. I, you know, that's just my nature," Krentz was quoted as saying in written transcripts of the interview. The Krentz family's cattle ranch was inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame in 2008. The family started the ranch in 1907...

Grizzly bears move east from Rocky Mountain Front, prompt community meetings

Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks plan to hold three meetings in April in communities east of the Rocky Mountain Front to discuss ways to coexist with grizzly bears. The bears have been steadily moving east in the last five years in a gradual expansion onto plains traditionally used as grizzly bear summer habitat, said Game Warden Bryan Golie. Earlier this month, a rancher reported a grizzly near the Maria River 15 miles east of Interstate 15 at the head of Tiber Reservoir. "We are having bears moving periodically out of the (grizzly) bear recovery area, both black and grizzly bears," said Bruce Auchly, a Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman. "That's why we lined up meetings in three communities we don't usually go to."...more

Wolves back in cattle country

Ross Williams and his son, Sterling, set out to feed the cattle on their Blackfeet Indian Reservation ranch 25 miles northwest of Browning on a zero-degree day in March 2009. As usual, the peaks of Flattop and Triple Divide mountain in nearby Glacier National Park poked into the sky like spires, but the real eye-opener was yet to come. Father and son arrived at a draw where the cattle were bunched within view of the family's log cabin. Near the top of a hill, 200 yards above the cows, was a pack of gray wolves. Williams managed to count 14 wolves in all. "Just lookin' like they were ready for dinner," he said. The longtime rancher had seen wolves around before, but he was shocked by this pack's size. "We're going to have problems," he told his son. He was right. May marks the one-year anniversary of the state and tribes taking over management of the once-endangered wolves from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The big Livermore pack, which once numbered more than 20 animals, exemplifies the successful return of wolves to Montana. With the state's wolf population now more than 500, packs are moving into what Montana wolf program coordinator Carolyn Sime calls "marginal" habitat in cattle and sheep country. As a result, responding to livestock-wolf conflicts proved to be a major challenge for state officials in 2009. Statewide, wolves killed 202 sheep in 2009 — almost double the amount killed in 2008 — and 97 cattle, up from 77 a year earlier. The total amount of livestock killed by wolves was a state record...more

State kills wolves in wake of teacher death

State officials on Monday found and killed two wolves thought to be responsible for killing a teacher in Chignik Lake last week, according to the Department of Fish and Game. The wolves were found in the Chignik drainage a week after the March 8 death of 32-year-old Candice Berner, a special education teacher killed in an apparent wolf attack while jogging along a remote road, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers say they think at least two or three wolves were involved in the attack. They and a state Department of Fish and Game biologist have been in the Alaska Peninsula community since late last week seeking to capture or kill the wolves, though blowing snow had prevented them from taking to the air...more

State suspends hunt for wolves that killed village teacher

The state is calling off its search for more Chignik Lake-area wolves that might have been involved in last week's attack that killed a school teacher. Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff killed two wolves Monday about five miles west of Chignik Lake. Fish and Game biologist Lem Butler said Wednesday he believes it's "highly likely that these wolves killed Candice Berner," the 32-year-old special-education teacher who had been based in Perryville. Butler concluded the wolves killed Monday were involved in Berner's death because witnesses said there were two sets of wolf tracks on the road where Berner had been jogging when the attack occurred, and because the two wolves seen that evening matched the descriptions of the wolves killed this week...more

Wolves suspected in attack to be tested

Two wolves killed by state officials were being transported Tuesday to the state wildlife veterinarian in Fairbanks for testing to determine if they were, in fact, the animals that killed a teacher out jogging near Chignik Lake last week, according to the state Department of Fish and Game. The wolves, shot from a helicopter in the Chignik drainage, matched the descriptions of wolves seen at the site where 32-year-old Candice Berner, a special-education teacher based in Perryville, was attacked and killed March 8 on a remote road outside town, according to Fish and Game. Alaska State Troopers say evidence at the scene indicated at least two or three wolves were involved in the attack, which left Berner's body partially predated. The two wolves killed Monday were to be forensically examined by the state wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen, to determine if they are the animals that killed Berner, Yuhas said. Beckmen will compare measurements of the wolves' teeth to the bite marks found on Berner's body, she said. Officials also plan to compare DNA from the wolves to samples taken last week from Berner's body. The wolves will be tested for disease, including distemper and rabies, Yuhas said. The wolves' brains will be sent to the Alaska Virology Laboratory in Fairbanks to be studied for rabies, which attacks the nervous system and is endemic among foxes and sometimes found in wolves in the Chignik Lake area, she said. "Given the rarity of such incidents, there is some speculation as to the health of the animals involved," Yuhas said...more

No rabies found in wolves blamed in teacher death

Two wolves suspected of killing a teacher outside a rural Alaska village did not have rabies, lab tests concluded Thursday. The animals were shot Monday from the air by state wildlife employees, who said they matched descriptions of the wolves seen where Candice Berner, 32, was killed while jogging last week. Berner died March 8 along a road about a mile outside Chignik Lake on the Alaska Peninsula. Microbiologists studied the brains of the wolves and found no indication of rabies, a virus that often makes animals aggressive and more likely to bite. The Department of Fish and Game is testing the wolf carcasses for other diseases, including distemper virus...more

Day of the Grasshopper Looms

Farmers and ranchers across the West are bracing for a grasshopper infestation that could devastate millions of acres of crops and land used for grazing. Over the coming weeks, federal officials say, grasshoppers will likely hatch in bigger numbers than any year since 1985. Hungry swarms caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage that year when they devoured corn, barley, alfalfa, beets—even fence posts and the paint off the sides of barns. A federal survey of 17 states taken last fall found critically high numbers of adult grasshoppers in parts of Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Each mature female lays hundreds of eggs. So "the population could be very, very high this year," said Charles Brown, who manages grasshopper suppression for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ryan Fieldgrove is dreading the influx. A rancher near Buffalo, Wyo., Mr. Fieldgrove was enjoying a banner year last summer when, seemingly out of nowhere, crawling carpets of hoppers marched onto his rangeland—a harbinger of this year's infestation. In three weeks, they had eaten every blade of tender, nutritious grass on his 10,000 acres. They also ate his wife's lilac bushes. "They took it all," Mr. Fieldgrove said...more

Grasshopper infestations may be the worst in decades in some states this year

Grasshopper infestations have taken on mythic tones here on the arid prairie of northeastern Wyoming — they blanket highways, eat T-shirts off clotheslines and devour nearly every scrap of vegetation on ranches and farms. The myth may come closer to reality this summer than at any time in decades in several states in the West and the Plains. A federal survey of adult grasshoppers last fall indicated that parts of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho could face costly grasshopper infestations this summer. Regionwide, surveys predict at least 48 million acres of outbreak-level infestation this summer. "In some states, we may see some of the most severe grasshopper outbreaks that we've seen in nearly 30 years," said Charles Brown, the national grasshopper suppression program manager at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Agriculture, Humane Society agendas clash

An escalating conflict in the United States pits appetites against compassion for animals — and the Midwest holds some key battleground. Agriculture interests see an enemy in the Humane Society of the United States. The Humane Society is pushing ahead, state by state, for laws against such things as "puppy mills" and intensive confinement of animals in factory farms. Some of the arenas: * In Kansas, the president of the state Farm Bureau is firing off complaints to corporations that show signs of empathy toward the Humane Society. * In Missouri, there may be a showdown on the November ballot over a proposed law to regulate dog breeders; its opponents are led by the head of the state pork association. * Nationally, agribusiness interests launch daily salvos against the Humane Society through a new outlet at HumaneWatch.org. The society says its critics are spewing inflammatory rhetoric. "They see (our) strength and they're very paranoid about it," said Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle. "But we remind them and others that we are seeking simply to curb the worst abuses in livestock." The industry doesn't buy that. "Ultimately, the Humane Society wants to make it more difficult to produce livestock on the scale that this country requires to meet demand," said Don Lipton, a spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation...more

Rodeo Bull Goes Head-to-Head With Zoo Dolphins in a Study of Balance

Dolphins, whales and porpoises have extraordinarily small balance organs, and scientists have long wondered why. Now a study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has contradicted a leading theory, which held that the animals moved their heads so vigorously that they had to have smaller, less responsive balance organs to avoid overwhelming their senses. Working with a Midwestern zoo and a local rancher, the researchers, led by Timothy E. Hullar, MD, a Washington University ear, nose and throat specialist at Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, directly measured the head movements of dolphins and compared them with those of a closely related land animal -- a rodeo bull. Cattle have much larger balance organs than dolphins, yet the tests showed that both species had similar head motions. The findings will be published in the April issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology. Hullar says the results deepen our understanding of the role of balance systems, including those of people. Much of an animal's or person's balance is controlled by the semicircular canals located in the inner ear. Even though a bottlenose dolphin is about 8 feet long, its semicircular canals are as tiny as those of the average mouse, an animal that could comfortably ride on the tip of the dolphin's nose...more

Oregon cowboys face a tough new adversary: unemployment

Buck Matthews was crossing northeast Oregon's Big Sheep Creek on his quarter horse, Rose, two winters ago when they suddenly crashed through the ice. Matthews, a 29-year-old cowboy, swam for his life while dodging the mare's flailing hooves. Man and horse reached the riverbank, then trekked four miles back to Matthews' pickup and trailer to avoid freezing to death in subzero temperatures. "It was pretty wild, and I was walking fast to keep warm," Matthews said. This winter, a pack of gray wolves shadowed the pair as they herded cows in the snow-covered canyons east of Enterprise. Such is the life of "riding for the brand." Matthews and other cowboys in rugged eastern Oregon accept the hazards, long hours and low pay because they love what they do. Now they have a bigger worry: staying employed. The recession and ranch economics are trampling the job market for cowboys, one of the West's most enduring symbols. Many cowhands are out of work, work for ranches only part time or have left the field altogether...more

A true American cowboy

Steve Price is the kind of cowboy that little boys dream of becoming. His dirt-splotched black cowboy hat looks as if it has never left his head -- like perhaps he was born with it on. His hands and face are reddened by wind, work and sun. You won't see him moving cattle with a four-wheeler. Horses are peaceful, he says. He can hear himself think. He has been known to sleep by a campfire, surrounded by cattle, and he calls team roping his "worst bad habit." There are plenty of dress-up cowboys to go around, he says. But when you live and breathe the work, cowboys grow into cowmen. It's nearly the thick of calving season now, and the cows need the careful, watchful eye of an expert. He has been the ranch manager there for 10 years. The land used to belong to Francis E. Warren, the namesake of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, who made his home there. Any humble cowboy won't offer the number of cattle he has or the number of acres on which they roam. "That's like asking a lady how many diamonds she has," he says with a smile and a wave of his weathered hand. But more than a dozen calves will be born on the ranch each day during the summer months...more

It's All Trew: The truth behind 20-Mule Teams

Many men have claimed they were the first to create and drive the famous 20-Mule Teams hauling Borax from Death Valley. It was 1882 before the truth was known and proved. Here is the story of that origin. It seems in 1886 a freighter named Ed Stiles was hauling Borax from the Eagle Borax Works to Dagget, Calif. He was using a matched, twelve-mule hitch pulling a wagon when a man stopped him asking if the teams were for sale. Ed gave him the owner's name and continued on his way. On his return trip this same man showed him a bill of sale and took over the mules. The teams and wagon were purchased, eight more mules added giving birth to the 20-Mule Team Hitch in history. Later, a second wagon was hitched in tandem doubling the tonnage hauled. In certain stretches of the journey a water wagon was hitched behind to carry water for the stock. Since a wagon tongue long enough to hitch up ten teams was not possible a log chain was used instead. On straight stretches of trail there was no problem. However, on turns and curves some of the mules had to jump the chain as it moved back and forth across the turns. This chain jumping was taught to rookie mules by tying them behind the wagons in route and dragging a short log chain on the ground where they had to walk. They quickly learned not to step on the chain and to jump across when necessary. For some reason, mules were easier to train about the chain than horses...more

Song Of The Day #271

Ranch Radio will get your heart started this Monday morning with Rabbit In The Log by the bluegrass duo Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Romeo, Romeo

by Julie Carter

Romeo was destined for greatness the day he hit the ground as a newborn colt. Perfectly made, his owner knew he had the makings of a premier stallion.

Rick carefully raised him to be an honest cowboy working horse as well as a show horse.

He taught him manners and obedience. Romeo was hand-fed and groomed lovingly by Rick's wife, who assured the young stallion that he was indeed very special.

In the meantime, Rick's friends had all been advised of Romeo's wonderful conformation, attitude and abilities.

As expected, Rick suddenly acquired an increased number of friends, certainly more than he had prior to this exceptional stallion coming of age.

Cowboys from miles around thought to help "ol' Rick" out some by bringing their mares to the stallion. Their strategy was that they would help Rick get a few colts on the ground and get the stallion's name out there. After all, what are friends for?

Of course, there would be no breeding fee involved with these friends' mares, since they were in fact, doing Rick a big favor.

This was not Rick's first load of pumpkins nor was he blind to the "helpfulness" of his buddies. He put a quick stop to their marketing plan.

Instead, he advertised the beautiful Romeo, spent some time showing him at a few premier horse shows and soon paying customers were requiring Romeo's services.

Romeo took this all in stride. But even with his impeccable manners, he had the inclinations of an alley cat.

He loved the ladies of the equine variety and when none were brought around to his corral, he exercised his talent for jumping fences.

Romeo had acquired this special skill while Rick was doing some pasture roping on him.

Rick had the habit of cold trailing a sick calf far beyond the norm, just to make absolutely sure his rope would catch on the first throw.

On one occasion, Romeo had sped up to the calf and thought it was just some obstacle to be jumped, and so he did.

He never did catch on to tracking cattle, just as Rick never caught on to throwing his loop when he had that first good shot. Horse and rider had somewhat of a hardheaded standoff going. But in the interim, Romeo fine-tuned his jumping skills.

Romeo would jump fences, cattle guards, gates and anything else between him and any mares pastured anywhere for miles around.

The owners always called Rick to come get him after their mares were bred.

If the pasture was a little short on grass, Romeo would simply jump his way back home. His adventures did improve the general quality of the colts in the neighborhood.

At some point, Rick worried that Romeo could get hurt, and he had tired of his neighbors getting high-dollar colts for free.

Romeo was too valuable to geld, so he decided to use the stallion's special jumping skills to an advantage.

Rick called a friend in Houston, where those little postage-stamp sized saddles were known to be popular along with the people who professionally jumped obstacles.

The friend said he knew of a hunter-jumper competitor who was looking to buy a horse for his wife. In discussion with the jumping enthusiast, the single most important requirement in the transaction was that Romeo be friendly to females.

Rick assured him in all sincerity and with perfect honesty, that Romeo absolutely loved the ladies.

Romeo now resides in one of the swankier sections of Houston and is enjoying himself greatly.

He has discovered that not working for a cowboy for a living has its advantages, one being he has no more sick calves to hurdle.

Jumping those little fences for the lady in the saddle was indeed a promotion.

So far, no tales of Romeo's wanderings have filtered back to the Panhandle, but some days in the wind you can still hear, "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo."

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarter@tularosa.net or visit her Web site at www.julie-carter.com

Song Of The Day #270

The Gospel tune on Ranch Radio this Sunday morning is Just Rehearsing by the Louvin Brothers.

Airport device follows fliers' phones

The Transportation Security Administration is looking at installing devices in airports that home in and detect personal electronic equipment. The aim is to track how long people are stuck in security lines. Information about wait times could then be posted on websites and in airports across the country. "This technology will produce valuable data that can be used in a variety of ways," TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said, noting it could help prevent checkpoint snarls. But civil-liberties experts worry that such a system enables the government to track people's whereabouts. "It's serious business when the government begins to get near people's personal-communication devices," said American Civil Liberties Union privacy expert Jay Stanley. The TSA is in the early phases of exploring the technology, which Purdue University researchers tested for a month last year at Indianapolis International Airport. Thumbnail-size receivers near checkpoints detected serial numbers emitted by some electronic devices being carried by passengers. The receivers recorded the time when a passenger entered a security line and the time when the same passenger cleared the checkpoint, Purdue transportation engineer Darcy Bullock said. Only part of each serial number was recorded, and the numbers were quickly deleted, he said. Some electronic devices automatically broadcast, or "chirp," their serial number every 15-20 seconds when they are turned on...read more

Ex-TSA pick Harding's firm got Army deal after he claimed disability

The firm owned by the decorated general who withdrew his nomination to lead the Transportation Security Administration had received a consulting contract worth almost $100 million from the Army after certifying he was a "service disabled veteran," according to documents and interviews with government officials. The disability he has cited was sleep apnea, a sometimes chronic breathing disorder that disrupts sleep. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert A. Harding, who became a federal contractor in 2001 after serving at the highest levels of military intelligence, withdrew his name late Friday at the end of a week in which he had been repeatedly questioned about his contracting activities. His withdrawal also came after The Washington Post raised questions with the White House on Friday about his disabilities status. The White House declined to comment about the $100 million contract, awarded in July 2008, or about Harding's disability, including its cause, diagnosis or impact on his work...more

Wilderness On The Border? 10 Articles On Border Violence

Senators Bingaman and Udall have introduced S.1689 which would create a 400 square mile swath of land along and near our southern border where law enforcement would be denied access with motorized vehicles or the use of mechanical equipment. In other words, our officers would be limited to being either horseback or afoot as they confronted the cartels and traffickers. Keep that in mind as you peruse these articles.

For my previous posts on this wilderness issue go here.

Mexican Police Chiefs of Two Border Cities Slain The deputy police chief in the northern Mexican border city of Nogales was killed along with his bodyguard, Sonora state police said Friday. Adalberto Padilla and bodyguard Ivan Sepulveda were shot Thursday night while traveling in a police vehicle. The assailants were described as men inside an SUV who opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles, the weapon of choice for Mexico’s drug cartels. A 16-year-old bystander was wounded during the attack in the city just across the border from Nogales, Arizona. In other drug-related violence, a local police chief and his brother were found decapitated in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, bordering Texas. The killers used the victims’ blood to paint the patrol vehicle with the initials “CDG,” signifying Cartel del Golfo, or Gulf cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful drug outfits. Drug-related mayhem has claimed a dozen lives in Nuevo Leon over the past two days, including six gunmen killed in a clash with Mexican marines...

A Soldier, 2 Police Chiefs and 7 Civilians Killed in Northern Mexico At least 10 people including a soldier and two police chiefs were killed between Friday afternoon and Saturday in the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon in northern Mexico, in a number of incidents presumably involving organized crime, officials said Saturday. The Tamaulipas information center said in a brief communique that “in Ciudad Victoria, the capital, an armed clash left four people dead, including one soldier,” in one of the bloodiest of recent incidents. The Tamaulipas information center said in another communique published in the town of Mante that Saturday morning “the lifeless bodies of the commander and the group chief of the Ministerial Police stationed in this municipality were found” riddled with bullets. The same agency also reported the discovery Friday afternoon of “the human remains of three people not yet identified, at the exit from the Victoria-Mante highway.” Added to these deaths was that of an unidentified woman who was killed during an operation launched by soldiers of the 7th Military Zone near Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon state...

U.S., Mexican drug gangs form alliances Mexican drug cartels formed new alliances in 2009 with violent American street and prison gangs that helped tighten their stranglehold on the lucrative U.S. narcotics market, but competition among Mexican smugglers remains fierce and threatens more bloodshed in the United States, according to a Justice Department report. The 2010 Drug Threat Assessment, released Thursday, also says Mexican drug cartels control most of the illicit cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine trade into the U.S., along with much of the marijuana distribution. The cartels' tentacles reach every state, including some unexpected rural areas of the U.S...

Cartel Wars Gut Juárez, a Onetime Boom Town This violent border city is turning into a ghost town. Bloodshed from Mexico's warring drug cartels has sent those with means fleeing this former boomtown. Restaurants have moved north to Texas. The dentists who served Americans with their cheap procedures have taken their equipment south. Even the music is dying here. No solid number exists for the exodus, a matter of debate among Juárez's leaders. But the city's planning department estimates 116,000 homes are now abandoned. Measured against the average household size of the last census, the population who inhabited the empty homes alone could be as high as 400,000 people, representing one-third of the city before the violence began. That would mark one of Mexico's largest single exoduses in decades. Juárez finds itself in the crossfire between two rival drug gangs, the local Juárez cartel and the powerful Sinaloa cartel, both of whom want to control the city to smuggle drugs into the U.S., the world's biggest drug-consuming market, and capture a lucrative and growing local drug market. Since 2005, 10,600 businesses—roughly 40% of Juárez's businesses—have closed their doors, according to the country's group representing local chambers of commerce...

Juárez Violence Puts Factories on Defensive U.S. companies flocked to the border city of Juárez because it was one of Mexico’s most business-friendly cities. Now, an entire industry is adjusting to doing business in Mexico’s deadliest town. Just across the U.S. border from El Paso, Texas, Juárez has turned into a murderous battleground as two rival drug cartels vie for a lucrative entry route into the U.S. A dozen homicides a night isn’t uncommon. On Wednesday, Luis Raúl Macías Rosas, who was a manager at a Juárez maquiladora, was murdered within 600 feet of a military checkpoint, authorities said. Some executives now carpool to work in a convoy, fearing they could otherwise be abducted. Whole factory work forces are undergoing kidnapping training. Routes to and from the bridge in El Paso are now patrolled by armed military guard. “You have to ask God every day that you come back safe,” says a senior executive at one of the plants...

Rural towns across the border in Chihuahua bloodied by cartel violence People seem serene working the cotton and alfalfa fields in the rural community 50 miles southeast of El Paso. Fort Hancock is a stark contrast to the rural towns across the border in Chihuahua, where residents are victims of brutal daylight attacks at their homes and shops and on their roads. One of every four killings in and near Juárez has taken place in small rural communities that share a border with Texas towns like Fort Hancock. Because of fear, Mexican residents are fleeing these towns and seeking asylum in the United States through Fort Hancock's international bridge. These border agricultural towns in Chihuahua are better known as the Valley of Juárez, an area the U.S. State Department has said should be avoided. The violence-plagued towns are also adjacent to Tornillo, Fabens and San Elizario. On Thursday, two men were killed in the border town of Praxedis Guerrero, close to Tornillo. One was shot more than 40 times at a cell-phone shop. The U.S. Border Patrol said these are "hot corridors" for drug and human smuggling. Both the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels are fighting to control these passages...

Mexico drug hitmen terrorize towns on U.S. border
Mexican drug hitmen are shooting up houses and terrorizing remote farming towns on the U.S. border, forcing residents to flee, as they try to secure key trafficking routes into the United States. In the latest flare-up of border drug violence, masked, heavily-armed men are torching homes, firing on shops and businesses and have killed at least three local politicians in a cluster of towns near the deadly drug war city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas...

Border States Face Growing Tension After the killing of two Americans last weekend, border states—Arizona, Texas, New Mexico—are ramping up efforts to confront the growing violence in Mexico. Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry ordered a number of measures including the sending of helicopters to Mexico. In Arizona, the state attorney general made a trip south in an attempt to consult with Mexican officials. During their visit to Mexico City, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senior administration officials formally announced changes in U.S.-Mexico security cooperation that had been in the works for months. The U.S. delegation met with their Mexican counterparts to officially unveil a "new stage" in bilateral cooperation. This comes three years following the first signs of an emerging drug cartel on the U.S.-Mexico border...

Mexican prison gang may target U.S. agents U.S. border officials are warning that the violent prison gang suspected of killing three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, may retaliate against U.S. officers. A bulletin issued through the El Paso Intelligence Center is urging law enforcement officials along the border, particularly in El Paso, to wear their protective vests and alert their own family members to the threat, says Kevin O'Keefe, intelligence division chief for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The intelligence center is a consortium of federal, state and local agencies focused on border crime issues. Last week, more than 200 officers from 20 separate law enforcement agencies targeted the prison gang Barrio Azteca in a series of raids. Investigators were looking for information about the slayings that stunned U.S. officials in Juárez, neighboring El Paso and in Washington...

We're not a gang, we're a union, say the drug killers of Ciudad Juárez
Sosa and Saenz are two senior members of the Artist Assassins, a drug gang working in Ciudad Juárez, the most violent city in the world. The 600 Artist Assassins and 1,200 Mexicles, another local gang, are employed by the Sinaloa Cartel — run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the country’s most wanted man — to control the drug traffic passing through Juárez. But the Artist Assassins and the Mexicles are in the middle of a war with the Aztecas. With 7,000 members the Aztecas are the most powerful drug gang in Juárez and work for the rival Juárez Cartel. The leaders of these cartels are businessmen in hiding and the gangs act as their enforcers on the streets. Each gang has its own style, from their clothes and tattoos to their expressions. While the Artist Assassins are groomed and eloquent, the Aztecas are pallid, wear oversized jeans and padded jackets and seem slightly crazed. The Mexicles are perhaps the most normal-looking and are reserved and polite. The gangs have to be kept apart in prison and when they arrive inmates are asked with which group they would like to be housed. In March last year the Aztecas escaped from their cells and started a fight, in which 20 Mexicles and Artist Assassins were killed. Ciudad Juárez owes its murder rate — an average of six dead a day — to this rivalry. The gangs have decapitated bodies and hung them from bridges, killed children, pregnant women and, in February, 15 teenagers. They regularly kidnap for ransom and they extort nearly every business in Juárez. When one funeral home refused to pay it was burnt down and its owners shot...