Monday, October 31, 2011

Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong accused of hiding truth by colleague

It was hailed as the scientific study that ended the global warming debate once and for all – the research that, in the words of its director, ‘proved you should not be a sceptic, at least not any longer’. Professor Richard Muller, of Berkeley University in California, and his colleagues from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures project team (BEST) claimed to have shown that the planet has warmed by almost a degree centigrade since 1950 and is warming continually. Published last week ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, next month, their work was cited around the world as irrefutable evidence that only the most stringent measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can save civilisation as we know it. The Washington Post said the BEST study had ‘settled the climate change debate’ and showed that anyone who remained a sceptic was committing a ‘cynical fraud’. But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped. Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no scientific basis. Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers. Like the scientists exposed then by leaked emails from East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit, her colleagues from the BEST project seem to be trying to ‘hide the decline’ in rates of global warming. In fact, Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained...more

Also see this post at NewsBusters.

Destructive Energy “Policies”

“Energy independence.” Doesn’t that sound like a great idea? Unfortunately, in the era of Barack Obama the goal of enabling the United States to meet its own energy needs has been subverted by some very destructive politics. First, the term “energy independence” has been confused with the term “green energy.” While some people use the two expressions synonymously, the Obama Administration has gradually phased-out references to “energy independence” and moved towards “green energy” references exclusively. This language shift from the Obama Administration raises some important questions: are we no longer seeking to become “energy independent?” And if we are still seeking “energy independence,” what is it, exactly, that we are trying to become independent from? Since the days of the Nixon presidency most Americans have recognized the many problems associated with being dependent on foreign oil suppliers. And it was nearly six years ago when George W. Bush became the first U.S. President to proclaim that “America is addicted to oil.” But now President Barack Obama seems to have determined that our problem isn’t so much “foreign oil,” but oil itself. His Administration has sought to force the nation away from consuming all types of oil – both foreign and domestic –and to move us in the direction of his environmentally preferred “green” energy sources. Unfortunately, the President has approached energy policy just as he approaches most everything else – with the naïve assumption that as long as lots of government programs and mandates are established, the agenda will be accomplished and all will go well...more

NM drought

Everyone in New Mexico knows about the drought — from the farmers and ranchers who live on the plains to ditch riders in the Rio Grande Valley and backyard gardeners in the state's largest city. They've felt the sting of what has become one of the driest years in over a century. While the taps aren't expected to dry up any time soon, New Mexico's reservoirs are low and conservation has regained its place on the stage as one of this arid state's buzzwords. The only hope for New Mexico is some much-needed moisture during the winter, and those hopes are already being dashed by forecasters who are predicting high probabilities for below-normal rain and snow. With back-to-back years of scant precipitation looming, water managers are concerned about the state slipping into a downward spiral. With soil so dry, any drop of rain would be quickly absorbed, keeping it from making its way into rivers and reservoirs. At stake are rural economies, endangered species and mandates for delivering water to Texas and Mexico. While the city taps will remain on, farmers in southern New Mexico aren't so sure they will get what they need for their crops next year. In the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, this year marked the shortest irrigation season on record at one month and it could be just as short next year. In the Carlsbad Irrigation District in southeastern New Mexico, projections show farmers could end up next year with less than a third of their normal allotment of three acre-feet of water per acre of land. "If La Nina hangs in here, we're just drilling further down into the drought," said Gary Esslinger, manager of the Elephant Butte district, which has some 8,500 members. Farmers have few options, none of which Esslinger said is ideal — curtailing crops, leaving land uncultivated or bunching up crops close to groundwater wells...more

Government agencies hunt wildlife-killing nurdles

Environmental regulators walked gingerly along the San Leandro shoreline Friday, keeping a sharp eye out for the elusive wildlife killer known as the "nurdle." "I've got one," said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after scooping one out of a worker's net. There, in his palm, was a tiny white pellet. Nurdles are the tiny bits of plastic that are melted down and used in the production of plastic bags, bubble wrap, packaging and wrapping material. They may sound cuddly and nonthreatening, but they are believed to be responsible for the sickness and death of thousands of fish and birds in the region that have mistaken them for food. The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Water Resources Control Board and the EPA have targeted four San Leandro plastic manufacturers in a first-in-the-nation effort to halt the rampant spillage of the pellets, hundreds of thousands of which have washed into storm drains that flow into San Francisco Bay...more

Concerns Are Raised About Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes

These mosquitoes are genetically engineered to kill — their own children. Researchers on Sunday reported initial signs of success from the first release into the environment of mosquitoes engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, killing them before they reach adulthood. The results, and other work elsewhere, could herald an age in which genetically modified insects will be used to help control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria. But the research is arousing concern about possible unintended effects on public health and the environment, because once genetically modified insects are released, they cannot be recalled. Authorities in the Florida Keys, which in 2009 experienced its first cases of dengue fever in decades, hope to conduct an open-air test of the modified mosquitoes as early as December, pending approval from the Agriculture Department...more

Fear The Food? Or The Food Police?

‘Food Day’ was earlier this week, an event sponsored by The Center For Science In The Public Interest (CSPI). To celebrate the CSPI released their ‘Terrible Ten’ food list. It seems fitting that this list was released just before Halloween, as it makes ‘monsters’ out of food. “Vending machines dispensing soft drinks and candy are the ubiquitous, mute, metallic monsters that promote unhealthy diets 24/7”, according to the list. Even Toucan Sam is among CSPI’s list of terrors, “Kellogg’s Froot Loops, a fruit-less sugary cereal gussied up with synthetic dyes, is one of a host of junk foods marketed heavily to kids.” While these items and other foodstuffs make the ‘terrible’ list, one thing the CSPI does not find terrifying during Halloween or any other season is more government regulation and taxation. “Taxing soft drinks is an effective approach for cash-strapped federal and state governments looking for ways to fund health care and disease-prevention programs,” the CSPI website claims. There are many calls to action on the CSPI website, from efforts to eliminate transfats to urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to up taxes on alcohol related beverages...more

World's grain prices depend on more than just wealth

Today the world's population is expected to hit a record 7bn, according to the United Nations. Indeed, the global population could double by the end of the century, stoking the old Malthusian cry that we will not be able to provide enough to go around. Conventional wisdom tells us that grain price rallies during the past few years have been caused by concerns over a rising population and rising wealth in the developing world. As people become richer, they eat more meat, and livestock needs significant amounts of grain to fatten up. Indeed, worldwide meat production has tripled over the past four decades and increased 20pc in the past 10 years, according to research from the Worldwatch Institute, the environment organisation. The pressure group noted that industrial countries are consuming growing amounts of meat, nearly double the quantity in developing countries. If this trend continues, then severe food inflation seems certain. However, research from Capital Economics suggests we are all worrying over nothing. They disagree with the conventional premise that meat consumption is responsible for rises in grain costs. A further complication is that different types of meat require different amounts of animal feeds. "According to the US Department of Agriculture, it takes 16lb of grain and soya beans to produce 1b of beef. But the ratio falls to 6:1 for pork, 4:1 for turkey, and only 3:1 for chicken and eggs," Mr Jessop says. There are similarly marked differences in the ratios for other inputs such as water and fuel. The upshot is that if Chinese people increased the amount of protein in their diet by eating less fatty pork and more lean chicken, rather than beef, the demand for animal feeds could actually fall," he says...more

Local rancher turns plastic cows into art with cow pies

That herd of painted plastic cows plastered all over downtown doesn't exactly make you want to shout "Yippie ti yi yo," does it? So what could you do to cowboy up those critters? Simple. Last week, Cow Patty, not her real name, secretly went around town putting 11 hand-painted and shellacked cow pies behind some of the fake cows you've seen downtown that make up the so-called artistic Cow Parade. Ms. Patty, a local, small-time cattle rancher, didn't want me to use her real name because she doesn't want to get busted for littering. The cows might be phony, but the cow pies are real. To get the decorating job done, on Wednesday Cow Patty marched through the Whole Foods store at Sixth and Lamar, carrying two of her cow pies, which are pretty darned huge. The store was busy, but nobody seemed to notice. Maybe people thought they were some kind of organic squash. "I get away with this because I look like everybody's mom," Cow Patty explained. She blames her fiancé for the project: "It was his idea. He said, ‘Those cows, they need (something) behind them.' " The Cow Parade is that collection of 74 to 78 decorative cow statues you've seen around Austin for the past few weeks. It's a world of polyurethane hooves and tails out there. The cows have taken over for a worthy cause: to raise money for the Super Hero Kids Endowment, a program for families of children who have leukemia and other blood disorders and diseases. Some of the cows, decorated by local artists, will be auctioned off Nov. 13 by Jay Leno at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. This is big-money stuff. "We estimate each of the cows will go for between $500 and $10,000," said Brian Dolezal, a spokesman for Cow Parade, a corporation that has been plastering cities around the globe with plastic cows since the first event in 1999 in Chicago. Cow Patty thinks her cow pies add a touch of authenticity to the herd. Each pie has the message "Keeping Austin Weird! Cow Patty" on the back...more

Organic squash?  

Baxter Black: Shepherding rough, thankless career

For those of you to whom the phrase “sheep camp” conjures up a pastoral, nostalgic, even romantic vision of shepherds watching over their flocks, I suspect you’ve never slept in one. Sheep camp, in the real world of shepherding, is the wagon where you sleep, live and eat. It looks like a small covered wagon. There is a built-in bed with storage underneath, a small stove-heater propane unit and a drop-down kitchen cabinet behind. A lantern provides light. The roof could be canvas or fitted tin. The wagon has four tires and a tongue and is usually hauled or pulled to the grazing area. In its heyday, the mid-1900s, sheep camps were as common and handy as Airstream motor homes. I worked in the ION country (southern Idaho, western Oregon, northern Nevada) in the ’70s near the end of good times for the sheep business. I worked for an outfit that ran 20,000 sheep on the high desert sagebrush. In the summer, the herd would be divided into bands of 2,000 to 3,000. One man with his sheep camp, dogs and a saddle mule or horse would keep moving them to good forage and try to protect them from predators. When it was needed, he would hook up his horse and drag his camp to a new location. The boss would drive in with the supplies at least once a week. These were self-sufficient, hardworking immigrants, often Basques from Spain. Over the years I watched the Basque improve their lot and be replaced by South Americans...more

Song Of The Day #700

Ranch Radio's 700th song just happens to occur on Swingin' Monday.  So here's a swingin' tune about two things much appreciated here: Cowboys & Rodeos by Quartette. 

The tune is on their 1996 CD Quartette.  According to Amazon, this CD is now pretty rare.

Dismembered bodies found all over Juárez

The dismembered bodies of four men were found throughout Juárez on Tuesday in a grotesque display of brutality. Some of the body parts were left in front of an elementary school and a day care center. Heads, arms, feet and other severed body parts were scattered at various locations in the city, which has been in the grasp of a deadly drug-cartel war for nearly four years. The mutilations were an apparent act of emerging rivalries with new drug organizations, according to messages left with the body pieces. The gruesome crimes follow the discovery of a man's severed head late Sunday and his decapitated body found hours later. In other violence, a Juárez police officer was killed when his car was peppered with gunfire Tuesday in the north part of the city...more

Mexican drug cartels strengthen ties with US gangs

I have previously posted FBI report: "The US Southwest Border region represents a continuing criminal threat to the United States" but this article from the El Paso Times gives you a view of local impact.

Mexican drug cartels are strengthening alliances with gangs in the United States beyond ethnic, ideological and geographic boundaries, warns a new report from the federal National Gang Intelligence Center. The gang-cartel link is most prominently seen in El Paso between the Barrio Azteca gang and the Juárez drug cartel, but similar alliances are emerging in various parts of the country, according to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. "Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are observing a growing nexus between the Mexican drug cartels, illegal alien smuggling rings and U.S.-based gangs," the study stated. "Ties have grown between them, and it is all because of money and drugs," said Sgt. Alberto Telles of the El Paso County Sheriff's gang intelligence squad. "Both the Barrio Azteca and Sureños have established ties (with cartels) to get cheaper prices on drugs. Sheriff's officials said there were 68 confirmed Barrio Azteca members and 31 Sureño members last week at the El Paso County Jail Annex. Numbers fluctuate as inmates are released from or arrive at the jail. Rival gangs are kept separated to avoid trouble...more

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Ghost tale from the camp fire

 by Julie Carter

Phantom horse, phantom rider – the stuff ghost stories are made of.

In J. Frank Dobie’s “Coronado's Children.,” a tale from cow camp relates the story of a cowboy murdered along the Loma Escondida road. Carrying gold coins in his saddle bags to buy a herd of cattle, he rode out on his cream-colored dun stallion with the black stripe down his back --what the Mexicans called a bayo coyote.

After his second night out, he rose, saddled the lineback dun and went to receive the herd he was purchasing. 

A couple hours later, the sheriff came along on his way to inspect the herd for stray brands. He found both the cowboy and his horse dead. The saddle bags were gone. 

The sheriff gathered a posse, followed the tracks and caught up with the murderers late in the afternoon. Although both the murderers readily admitted to the killing the cowboy, nothing could persuade them to divulge where they had hidden the saddle bags full of gold coins. They were hung for their crime and with that, carried the secret to their graves. 

Over the years, many tried unsuccessfully to find the hidden treasure. There was only a short stretch of road between where the murder took place and where the criminals were overtaken, but nothing was found.

Years later, another cowboy was sent from a cow camp to the headquarters of the ranch to fetch coffee. He left camp after dark and was trotting along the same road where the murder had happened, when up ahead he spotted two figures in the moonlight. 

Coming closer, the cowboy could see what he believed to be a man and a horse. The man mounted the horse and loped off. The curious cowboy set out to catch up, thinking it would be nice to have company on his night ride. 

As he narrowed the distance between himself and the rider ahead, he could see that the horse was a lineback dun. He continued following the rider and the dun up a steep brush-covered hill. 

At the top, the rider got a burst of speed and as he was passing by a dead mesquite tree, he totally disappeared. The cowboy thought the rider had simply slipped away into the brush in the dark of night. Without more thought, he continued his coffee-fetching errand.

He reached the ranch, twisted the coffee up in one end of a flour sack and began his return to cow camp. There at the same place as before,  he again saw the rider on the dun horse.

Putting a spur to his side, he kicked his horse off into a high lope with every intention of catching up with the mysterious rider. However, he never could quite close the gap between them,  even though the moonlight kept them silhouetted against the night. 

Once again as before, the rider and bayo coyote stallion seemed to disappear into that same mesquite tree. 

The cowboy dismounted, tied his horse and began to carefully explore the ground surrounding the tree. He could find no tracks. 

Perplexed, he leaned on the trunk and felt a long, deep gash that appeared to be a very old axe mark. Stumbling over a large rock, he saw something gleaming on the ground. Striking a match to see in the dark, he picked up the $20 gold piece.  

Familiar with the lost treasure story, he knew he’d likely found the spot where the fabled gold had been hidden. Turning over more rocks, he found the partially rotted saddle bags. 

The cowboy returned to the cow camp, presented the coffee to the cocinero, all the while keeping the other end of his flour sack carefully closed. 

Over the years, people would still come to hunt for the treasure, but now they hunted on the ranch belonging to the coffee-fetching cowboy. No one has ever again reported seeing the rider on the dun horse.

The tradition of campfire stories carries a tone of gospel truth to them and belief is fed more than it is refuted.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Controlling Nature Legislatively

Controlling Nature Legislatively
The Grand Canyon
Agency and Creator conflicts
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     The last time I was at the Grand Canyon, a great snow storm was in progress.  We had ridden the train up from Williams in a blizzard.
    We had gathered in Williams to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my parents.  It would be one of the last times the family would all be together.  It was a memorable few days.  For a moment in time, the entire world was shut out and just friendly surroundings prevailed.
     The Canyon was very much a part of the mood.  For hours we sat in the lounge at the Inn and looked out into the snow storm.  Hidden out there in a sea of white was the canyon itself . . . the Grand Canyon.
      Hoping for a glimpse of its magnificence wasn’t going to happen that day, but that was okay.  We knew it was there, and the immensity of it, hidden in the snow storm, magnified the calm of the gathering.  For a few hours, time was not an issue.  Peace prevailed.
     The Canyon
     What was it like for those Spaniards who first trotted to the edge of the canyon and pulled up in amazement?   For the most part there isn’t any warning.  The south rim is flat and any approach is without any forewarning.  All of a sudden it is just there, and the world falls away to incomprehensible depths. 
     Second and third takes don’t shake the amazement away.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Closer scrutiny results in greater awe with waves of near panic and fascination.  “Are you kidding me?” must be repeated in every known language with that first glimpse.  “Carramba!”
     If a visit happens to coincide with a thunder storm or a sunset or a sunrise, the canyon takes on various characters.  Brooding, foreboding, but always overpowering and immense is the dominating mood.  Few can make a case for “friendly” or “restful” against such a backdrop.  It is too immense and it is just too uncharacteristic of anything ever witnessed to be at peace with its presence.  It is . . . the Grand Canyon.
     Enter the feds and defenders
     Can we imagine any discussion with a representative of the Park Service, the EPA, the NRCS, the USFWS, the Forest Service, the Wilderness Society, the ACLU, the local 901 Chapter of the dog catchers, and the Old Broads for Wilderness when God called for a summit on his idea of creating the Grand Canyon?  When the sheet was pulled off the model of the grand scheme what would the comments have been?  One can only imagine.  Only Halliburton, Brown and Root, and the DOD reps would be laughing and offering high fives and belly bumps! 
    When the gasping was finally over and the smelling salts administered, the stammering would have commenced.  Every major environmental law in the land was under assault.  All forms of progressive righteousness were being breached! 
     It would have been then the various Secretaries would have experienced full graying of their heads.  Several would have experienced tooth loss and certainly there would have been a heart attack or two. 
     “We must consider the fate of our children,” would have been the clarion call from the Big Green.  “We must preserve the sanctity of these lands!”
   No doubt God would have smiled and quietly observed the proceedings.  At some point, he would have nodded to the moderator and silently asked for him to take control and continue with the discussion of what was going to happen.
    The plan was going to take place and construction was already in progress.  The greens would have gasped and in unison demanded equal time for debate.  The Brown and Root representative would now have his hat cocked back on his head and staring at his calculator with incredulity.
     No, this was going to be a very long project and many things would change over the course of the work.  No, there was no defined plan and the progress of the construction would start and stop. 
     “This simply cannot take place without an EIS,” the USFWS rep would scream. 
     “EIS, my foot, this is a grand scale NEPA debacle!” the EPA front man would tweet. 
     “Is there any chance we could test a device or two?” the DOD official would whisper to anyone who would listen.
     The moderator would go on to remind those gathered that this was but one of many projects that had been in place for more time than those gathered could even imagine.  The plan has many facets and when one was concluded another would be started.
     By that time, the Old Broads for Wilderness rep would be smiling slyly at the moderator.  She would raise her brow, tip her head, and in her best sultry voice of her youth would ask, “Does this mean things are going to get a whole lot wilder . . . huh, I mean we’ll have more wilderness?” 
      God would have shaken his head, smiled, and leaned over and whispered in the moderator’s ear.  He must be going.  He had more important things to do. “Please be patient and proceed.”
     The debate would have gone on as long as the moderator had enough patience.  The plan was going to take place, and, for that matter, others as well. 
    The Elitism of Conservation
     Sixty five years from now, every important conservationist of this era will be silent. Few will have created works worthy of honor.  If any man thinks he has the capacity or the capability of altering the course of natural processes, he thinks too highly of himself. 
     If the Wilderness Society or the Federal governments had been granted the authority to set the course of the erosion process that created the Grand Canyon, they would have denied it.  The arts clearances, the silt loading, the separations of the species, the clean water controls, the displacement of native Americans, the fairness of consultant appointments, and the concern that Halliburton would get too much of the profits would have brought the whole process to a standstill.  It would have bogged down in red tape. 
     On top of that, two senators from states other than Arizona would have introduced legislation disallowing the whole process to proceed.  Even the United Nations would have adopted a resolution to cease and desist.  They would have threatened to bring in peace keeping troops to insure preservation of the earth where the big canyon was going to ravage the landscape.
     In the attempt not to cry
     How dare our government declare the status of our natural world must remain at equilibrium as it exists today!  The elitism and condescension of such a stance defies logic and sensibility.  It must be recognized for what it is.  It is the age old attempt for foolish men and women to elevate their importance above the commons.  It is an attempt to garner power and security in a temporal, selfish existence. 
    There are consequences in such actions, however, and with those actions are responsibilities.  The very action of those piling on restrictions and conditions in land management will result in natural force adjustments.  The consequences of those adjustments may well fly into the face of the perceived benefit.  It might not prove to be the safeguard that was envisioned.  In fact, it could well have the opposite affect.  A glaring example is the health of the western forests and the escalating budgets of fire prevention, suppression and legal entanglement.
     Back to the absence of man
     Sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, an objective observer must smile thinking about the current intent of the Park Service to insure a pure wilderness experience.  If these people are truly thinking they are protecting the canyon itself, perhaps they must attend counseling.  For example, efforts to exclude mining near the canyon and even limit the good folks who want to trot down the trail to the bottom because of the man induced degradation it may cause, with trail  . . . erosion . . . Oh, my
     If we cannot agree that the canyon is the continuing result of endless and ongoing cataclysmic and unimaginable destructive forces, we need to give it back to the state of Arizona and let them make it a better place to visit!
    No, nature needs to take its course.  Man needs to be linked to his actions directly, economically, and with risk of failure . . . and, I, for one, would love to see what other great natural wonders might arise in say  . . . a half billion years.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher form southern New Mexico.  “The view of environmental idealism is a phenomenon that educated societies suffer.  We can seek to adjust it or we can let nature take its course.  Either way, it will be adjusted.  Those consequences are far more important to our society than the pitiful endeavors to save these lands for our children.”

Feds threaten to condemn 1200 homes

Roy and Karen Walker's condominium at Lake of the Ozarks represented a retirement dream fulfilled when the couple bought it nearly a decade ago. The unit overlooking the relatively calm Niangua arm of the lake had everything they wanted. It was near town, right on the shoreline, with an easily accessible boat dock. But proximity to the water has gone from a selling point to liability, their property from asset to albatross. The Columbia, Ill., couple are among thousands of property owners along the lake now stuck in legal limbo after being notified that all or part of their homes, decks, gazebos and patios were built on land that belongs to Ameren Missouri's Bagnell Dam and Osage hydroelectric project. What's more, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — the agency that regulates the lake, the dam and the hydroelectric plant — issued an order stating that all of the so-called nonconforming structures must be removed. St. Louis-based Ameren, caught in the middle of the dispute, has asked the federal agency to reconsider, at least with respect to the 1,200-plus residences in jeopardy. The utility, which manages the shoreline under federal oversight, wants to redraw the hydroelectric project boundary to exclude most, if not all, of the homes in danger. Meanwhile, the Walkers and many of their neighbors at the Lake Valley Condominiums — many with substantial portions of their life savings locked up in their homes — are scrambling for answers. Two of the development's buildings, along with a swimming pool and new wastewater treatment plant, are supposedly situated on Ameren's property. Some of the neighboring homes are also at risk. Some blame the neighborhood's developer; others, the title companies or the county. Many vent at Ameren. Almost universally, the shoreline restrictions are seen as massive overreach by the federal government. FERC has become a four-letter word...more

Senators wade into Lake of the Ozarks land issue

U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., have introduced legislation that will prevent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from requiring the removal of homes or businesses built within the boundary of a hydroelectric project, the senators announced this morning. According to FERC, thousands of property owners built homes, decks, gazebos and patios on land that belongs to Ameren Missouri's Bagnell Dam and Osage hydroelectric project, which the agency regulates. So FERC issued an order stating that all of the so-called nonconforming structures must be removed. St. Louis-based Ameren, caught in the middle of the dispute, has asked the federal agency to reconsider, at least with respect to the 1,200-plus residences in jeopardy. The utility, which manages the shoreline under federal oversight, wants to redraw the hydroelectric project boundary to exclude most, if not all, of the homes in danger. About four thousand properties would be in jeopardy, according to a news release from Blunt and McCaskill. In September, McCaskill and Blunt strongly urged FERC to rescind its plan and allow Ameren to redraw the project boundary, according to the release. Now they have drawn up the Landowner Protection Act, which would prohibit FERC from issuing any shorelines management plan that requires the removal of structures along the lake, and would be enforced retroactively to January 2011 — thereby applying to FERC’s current management plan for the Ozarks. The measure would protect most existing waterfront properties, allowing only the removal of structures built in "bad faith," according to the release...more

Tebow Inspires Phenomenon Called 'Tebowing'

Tim Tebow inspired a phenomenon when he dropped to a knee and began praying as his teammates wildly celebrated around him after an improbable overtime victory in Miami last weekend. That was simply Tebow "Tebowing," a phrase coined by a fan sitting in a bar in New York watching the popular yet polarizing quarterback rally the Denver Broncos. Jared Kleinstein was mesmerized by Tebow's peaceful demeanor kneeling on the turf amid all the chaos that ensued. He launched a website in which fans could submit photos of themselves "Tebowing," which means getting down on a knee and praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different. The trend is picking up steam. Kleinstein has received quite a collection of photos. There are fans striking the Tebow prayer pose next to statues, in bowling alleys, on boats and while waiting in line for tacos. There are kids getting ready for ballet performing the pose, an airline pilot just before takeoff and a construction worker on a rooftop. Recently, Kleinstein even received a photo of a solider in Afghanistan emulating Tebow's pose. Never did Kleinstein envision this venture taking off so quickly. Kleinstein started the website earlier this week after purchasing the domain name — — for $10. Almost overnight, it caught on through social media. He went from an audience of 785 to nearly 390,000 in just a few days...more

Couple Lost in Apple Orchard Calls 911

There must be something in the water in Massachusetts this year. For the second time in a month, police have responded to a 911 call from a couple stranded — and lost — on a farm outing. This time, the rescue appeal came from an apple orchard. When Mark and Marcia Rosenthal of Boston went apple-picking on the afternoon of Oct. 22, they didn’t expect it to end with a rescue. According to the farm’s owner, the two wandered too from their parked car at Honey Pot Orchard in Stow, and as night began to fall, they became frightened that they wouldn’t be able to find their way back. The Rosenthals called the Orchard’s main line, but when no one answered, they called 911. Police arrived at the orchard’s entrance and told the owners about the problem, directing them to a landmark where the couple was waiting to be rescued. Julie Martin-Sullivan, who owns the family business with her brother, said they sent workers right out to pick up the Rosenthals...more

Napa native recalls era of one-room schoolhouses

Napa native Peggy Meister recalls her school days at the one-room Soda Canyon schoolhouse, an era of pigtails and inkwells. Soda Canyon was one of more than 50 one-room schools that once dotted Napa County. They would soon begin to disappear, replaced by the city-based unified school districts that exist today. Born to Ernest and Grace Bentley at their Silverado Trail ranch, Meister was the youngest of seven children, all of whom attended the nearby Soda Canyon School from grades one through eight in the 1920s and ’30s. Enrollment ranged from nine to 14 students, the offspring of a half-dozen farm families. Meister, the baby of the family, began first grade in September 1931. The daily routine began with lunchpails in hands and a 1-mile walk to school with siblings and friends. They filed into the school as Miss Jordan, their teacher, rang the handbell at 8 a.m. After saluting the flag, Meister and her schoolmates held out their hands for a hygiene inspection. “You never knew, a student’s hands could have been dirty from milking a cow,” Meister said. Meister described the beginning of a typical school day. “While the teacher worked first with the younger students, grades one and two, the older students started their assignments, which were always written on the chalkboard,” she said. “Following the morning recess, the older students gave their recitations.” Classroom instruction and coursework continued until 2:30 p.m. for the younger students. Since they were not permitted to walk home alone, they took naps on cots set up in the gender-segregated anterooms until the older students finished at 3:30 p.m., Meister said. Meister and her schoolmates enjoyed their annual baseball game with the nearby Soda Springs School located on the Hogan cattle ranch. “We always had fun,” she said. “But you had to be careful that you were sliding into a base and not something else.” There were always chores to be done on the 100-acre Bentley ranch. They had field and orchard crops, milk cows and chickens. “We had 3,000 laying hens,” she said. “I never crave eggs or chicken.” Years later, while attending Napa High School, her rural lifestyle provided Meister with both inconveniences and pride. For example, she and her sister Bea were allowed to drive the family truck to school, but the truck was loaded with eggs they had to deliver to the Jackson Street poultry association before school. They also had to park the truck in a Brown Street garage rented by their father so no one would know they had a vehicle. This was during World War II, when gasoline was rationed...more

Song Of The Day #699

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is Bow Down Brother, recorded by Jack Guthrie in 1946. The tune is on his 22 track CD When The World Has Turned You Down.

Jack Guthrie


Saturday, October 29, 2011

El Paso man guilty of causing NM forest fire with toilet paper

An El Paso man pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Las Cruces to causing the Last Chance Fire in the Lincoln National Forest in April. Rodrigo Ulloa-Esquivel, 29, pleaded guilty to leaving a fire unattended, a misdemeanor for which he faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Ulloa-Esquivel was indicted Aug. 17 for criminal offenses related to the wildfire, which burned through the Last Chance Canyon in Eddy County for 16 days. On Friday, he admitted that, on April 24, he lit toilet paper on fire near a campsite in the Guadalupe Ranger District, even though he knew there were fire restrictions in place. High winds blew sparks from the campsite and, after unsuccessful attempts to extinguish the fire, Ulloa-Esquivel and his friends left without calling the U.S. Forest Service or other authorities to report it. When he was subsequently contacted by U.S. Forest Service investigators, Ulloa-Esquivel initially denied all knowledge of the fire. The fire consumed 53,342 acres and damaged four structures in the Sitting Bulls Recreation area before it was contained May 9, at a cost of $2.3 million and $67,500 in repairs...more

Smokey Bear Says

"Don't squeeze my Charmin or set it on fire"

"Wild bears don't use toilet paper - the fines are too high"

"Shit, Shovel & Shut up"

Government paws on our every tweet

In April 2010 it was announced that every 140-character snippet you have ever posted on Twitter has been committed to the U.S. Library of Congress. The Library of Congress and our friends at Twitter have agreed to archive every single tweet since its inception on March 21, 2006, when the first tweet was launched. It is now estimated that together we send a billion tweets a week – and all of it is be preserved forever. It does not seem to me that there is such a big jump from the retention of this information to the dissection and analyzing of such data and then ultimately the utilization of what is learned. The purpose (according to a blog post by Library of Congress communications director Matt Raymond) is to document "important tweets" as well as gather information about the way we live through the sheer masses of tweets on the site. Some find great comfort in the fact that only tweets from public Twitter feeds will be included, not those that have been set as private. Think quickly for me – are your tweets set to be private? Do you really understand that every tweet you post is intrinsically designed to be searchable? We must understand that Twitter was always designed to be searchable. In fact, it's essential that we recognize the possibility that at some point in the future our government, either overtly or covertly, could attempt to match this information with other user information archived in federal databases...more

Pot growers threaten federal land in NM

A large marijuana plantation found in a remote part of Bandelier National Monument this summer was an eye-opener for public lands officials in New Mexico. Not only do monument employees plan to search for similar gardens on foot and by helicopter every summer from now on, they believe the size of the plantation might be a dangerous sign that Mexican drug cartels are moving into New Mexican forests, said Jason Lott, Bandelier’s superintendent. “They would want to protect their investment and those that may inadvertently find it are at great risk,” Lott said. “It’s dangerous to have here for the visiting public.” In August, air crews surveying damage from the Las Conchas Fire south of Los Alamos flew over the plantation and immediately knew what it was, Lott said. The bright green plants – some of them 10-feet high – stuck out amid the blackened brush and charred trees. When they headed into Frijoles Canyon on foot, investigators found six gardens spaced out over five acres. Three of the gardens had already been harvested but officers still found 10,000 plants worth an estimated $10 million. It was one of the largest marijuana plantations ever found on public land in New Mexico, Lott said...more

Wyoming CO2 storage project may get put on hold

Work on a much-touted experimental underground carbon dioxide storage facility could come to a halt, partly because the CO2 needed to test the project is in such high demand by Wyoming oil producers that it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The University of Wyoming project aims to show the feasibility of storing CO2 emissions deep underground at a 25 square-mile test site east of Rock Springs. But while the project is based on the idea that CO2 is a byproduct and a pollutant due for stricter federal rules, CO2 is actually in demand in Wyoming, where oil producers pump it underground to force out hard-to-get oil, a method known as enhanced oil recovery. That means the sequestration project researchers’ plan to buy 3 million tons of CO2 for testing came with a big price tag: $750 million. The price could press pause on the project, said Rob Hurless of the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources and an adviser to Gov. Matt Mead on energy issues...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #007

Our offering this morning is a 1950 Roy Acuff Royal Crown Cola Show.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Invasive Species Alert: ZOMBIES!

Stay Safe In Your Tree Stand
Be warned of our state’s newest invasive species threat--ZOMBIES!

While zombie management is largely left to the police, military and health agencies, conservation plays a role in protecting Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife resources--and Missourians--from this invasive species.

Hunters, campers and others in the outdoors and on conservation areas should know there is always the chance they may encounter a zombie while out in the field. Good preparation helps you know what to do if you encounter this newest invasive species in Missouri.

The zombie invasion is like the feral hog problem in parts of Missouri, and its management is similar. We do not encourage organized zombie hunts since that may encourage the intentional release of zombie swarms. It can also disrupt wildlife and hunting opportunities for the more than 500,000 living Missourians who enjoy hunting.

Zombie Identification

Some indications that you have a zombie in view:

* It has a gray-green dull skin tone.
* It is wearing inappropriate clothing for the season or terrain (no coat or shoes, for instance).
* It has open wounds, other injuries and/or missing or damaged limbs but no sign of bleeding.
* It does not respond to verbal stimulus or exhibit any interest in its immediate surroundings.
* It is trying to eat you.

Zombie Hunger and Habitat

Zombies require meat and brains. While human is the preferred source, fish and wildlife are another ready source of nourishment...

Read the entire post here

The Biofuels Fiasco

A food versus fuel debate has raged for the past few years as ethanol consumes more and more of the U.S. corn supply. Ethanol will use about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop this year, and for the first time ever, more corn will go into motor fuel production than into feed for livestock. As the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has pointed out, since Congress mandated the use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply, corn use by ethanol mills has increased by 382 percent, yet with a limited supply of farmland and the need to grow other crops, plus some less than ideal weather conditions this year and last, corn production has increased only 5.4 percent over the same period. As a result, ethanol policy has been a major contributor to reduced red meat production. Per capita beef supplies for next year are projected to be at their lowest level since 1955. Food inflation is rampant​—​especially in categories where corn is a significant input. To date, poultry prices are up 3.4 percent over last year, milk and dairy is up 9.1 percent, pork is up 7.5 percent, and hamburger is up 10.4 percent. All categories are projected to increase even more next year. Moreover, the impact is not just domestic, as more than 60 percent of the world’s tradable corn supply originates in the United States. Food versus fuel is not the only market distortion caused by the federal mandate to use ethanol in the U.S. motor fuel supply. The federal regulations and mandates of what feedstocks may be used to make which biofuels are now creating chaos within the fuel sector​—​which hits motorists and taxpayers in the pocketbook, too. Consider that within the overall mandate that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be used for fuel by 2022, ethanol distilled from corn is limited to 15 billion gallons because of food versus fuel concerns. Despite already consuming 40 percent of the U.S. corn supply, corn ethanol has not yet hit its 15 billion gallon limit. Nonetheless, there still is more corn ethanol being produced than the market can absorb because of slackened motor fuel demand and a number of regulatory barriers. Federal support for the ethanol industry has resulted in an excess, and thus exportable, supply of ethanol. Sold politically just four years ago in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act as a means to secure domestic energy independence, subsidized American ethanol is now exported to Great Britain, Finland, and the Netherlands, helping them comply with biofuel mandates issued by the European Union...more

Global Warming — RIP?

Not long ago, candidate Obama promised to cool the planet and lower the rising seas. Indeed, he campaigned on passing “cap-and-trade” legislation, a radical, costly effort to reduce America’s traditional carbon energy use. The theory was that new taxes and greater regulations would make Americans pay more for fossil-fuel energy — a good thing if it reduced our burning of coal, oil, and gas. Obama was not shy in admitting that under his green plans, electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” His energy secretary, Steven Chu, at one point even said, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe” — that is, about $8–10 per gallon. Fairly or not, the warming movement appeared to be a tiny elite attempting to impose costs on a poorer and supposedly less informed middle class. But despite a Democrat-controlled House and Senate in 2009–2010, President Obama never passed into law any global-warming legislation. Now the issue is deader than a doornail — despite the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency to enact new regulations that would never pass Congress. So what happened to the global-warming craze? Corruption within the climate-change industry explains some of the sudden turnoff. “Climategate” — the unauthorized 2009 release of private e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom — revealed that many of the world’s top climate scientists were knee-deep in manipulating scientific evidence to support preconceived conclusions and personal agendas. Shrill warnings about everything from melting Himalayan glaciers to shrinking polar-bear populations turned out not always to be supported by scientific facts. Unfortunately, during the last three years “green” has also become synonymous with Solyndra-style crony capitalism. Commonsense ideas like more windmills, solar panels, retro-fitted houses, and electric cars have all been in the news lately. But the common themes were depressingly similar: few jobs created and little competitively priced energy produced, but plenty of political donors who landed hundreds of millions of dollars in low-interest loans from the government. Of course, it didn’t help that the world’s most prominent green spokesman, Nobel laureate Al Gore, made tens of millions of dollars from his own advocacy. And he adopted a lifestyle of jet travel and energy-hungry homes at odds with his pleas for everyone else to cut back...more

Obama admin renews push for solar energy in West

The Obama administration on Thursday identified 17 sites in six Western states as prime candidates for solar energy projects on public lands, continuing a push for solar power despite the high-profile bankruptcy of a solar panel maker that received a half-billion dollar federal loan. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the latest "Solar Energy Zones" refine and improve on a draft released in December that identified two dozen areas in California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. Five sites in Nevada, four in Colorado, three in Utah, two each in California and Arizona, and one in New Mexico were identified as ideal for solar development. The sites comprise 285,000 acres, down from about 677,000 acres in December, and reflect the department's judgment that the targeted land has the highest potential for solar development with the fewest environmental conflicts...more

Widow Blames Fatal Bear Attack on Serial Errors by Federal Workers

The widow of a botanist says her husband was killed by a grizzly bear because a federal Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team laid bait to attract bears, but never warned them of what they were doing on hiking routes near their cabin near Yellowstone National Park. Yolanda Evert says her husband, Erwin, was fatally mauled by a grizzly "approximately twenty-one yards from where bear #646 was left to recover unmonitored from the effects of chemical immobilization and other intrusions, and almost directly under a tree where the IGBST crew had hung bait." Evert says that after the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) trapped, drugged and tagged the adult male grizzly, No. 646, the team violated protocol and left the bear as it "began showing limited signs of recovery by holding up and swaying his head," instead of waiting, as they should have, for the bear to be "ambulatory." She claims the crew again violated "long-established procedures, policies, orders and permit requirements" by removing warning signs stating: "Danger! Bear trap in the area. The area behind this sign is temporarily closed. The closure is effective from 6-11-10 to 6-20-10." The widow says: "Shortly after the crew took down the warning signs, Erwin Evert walked on the trail, a decommissioned road, without knowledge of warning that he was walking in the same location of a trap site or a recently trapped and recovering bear." She says the recently sedated bear killed her husband. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is a joint effort of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Interior. They are studying grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The only defendant in the federal complaint is the United States of America, but Evert says the mistakes were made by grizzly bear captors Chad Dickinson and Seth Thompson, overseen by Team Leader Charles Schwartz, on June 17, 2010...more

Fire Season Wraps Up as Retardant Regulations Tighten

But as Idaho firefighters take a break from fighting flames, some of them will be under stricter guidelines on how they use fire retardants to do so next year. The U.S. Forest Service recently released an updated plan on how it will use fire retardants on 193 million acres of land throughout 44 states. A 2010 court order forced the agency to evaluate how to use retardants without harming environmentally sensitive land, water and endangered species. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which bases firefighting aircraft out of the Twin Falls airport, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are still deciding whether to adopt the Forest Service’s new approach. The use of retardants has been debated over the years because they can cause unintentional environmental consequences. Retardants are made up of water and fertilizers that suck the oxygen out of flames. But if the chemicals reach streams or rivers, it can result in dead wildlife and plants...more

Virgin Galactic selects pilot for spaceflights

After combing through a long list of astronauts, fighter pilots, and space geeks, British billionaire Richard Branson named a new astronaut pilot to join his start-up space venture that aims to lift paying passengers into space. Branson's company Virgin Galactic announced Wednesday that former U.S. Air Force test pilot Keith Colmer will join chief pilot David Mackay to begin flight training and testing of the company's revolutionary aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. Colmer was selected from more than 500 applicants, which included about 10 current and former astronauts, Virgin Galactic Chief Executive George T. Whitesides said in a recent interview at the company's office in Pasadena. "We selected the best pilot for our vehicles," he said. "Unlike most spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo is actually flown to space. So the emphasis is on people who have tremendous pilot skills." In the past, the way people have reached outer space is aboard a high-powered rocket. Instead, Virgin Galactic will depart from Spaceport America in New Mexico using a WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. It will fly with the reusable SpaceShipTwo rocket plane under its wing to 50,000 feet, where the spaceship will separate, blast off and, after their journey, be flown back to New Mexico...more

Miss America adds agriculture to her platform - Video

During the final interviews of the annual Miss America pageant, agriculture often takes the backseat to hot button issues and discussions of pop culture. Though the sheer majority of the pageant contestants are generations removed from livestock production, this year's Miss America recently made it clear that agriculture has an impact on the entire population. While not forgetting to voice her opinions on timely topics like high school success rates, childhood obesity and political cooperation, this year's Miss America, Teresa Scanlon, has added her support to the agriculture industry through a public service announcement released last week. "Not everybody farms, but everybody has to eat," Scanlon says. "Most Americans don't realize how essential and crucial agriculture is to our lives and to our economy. We're used to our grocery stores and our kitchens being full of food, but many people don't get that it's because of farmers and ranchers that we continue to be the breadbasket of the world." As a global traveler with a massive following, her industry backing has not gone unnoticed by industry mainstays...more

Here's the video referred to in the article: 

Windmilling, a Dying Art, Hangs on in Texas

Working 35 feet above the flat earth of the Panhandle, a young man in a baseball cap loosened the bolts attaching a windmill to a steel tower. “Ready?” came the shout from the ground. “Yeah, go ahead,” he hollered back. Slowly, the 500-pound windmill was lowered to the ground. A four-man crew expertly dismantled the wheel and replaced the motor, which had stopped working after it ran out of oil, and within an hour the windmill was hoisted back up and ready to spin. “This is kind of hard to do when it’s windy,” said Mike Crowell, the crew’s 59-year-old boss, who said his crews sometimes work on as many as nine windmills each day. Only a few dozen outfits like Crowell’s still exist in the Texas Panhandle, practicing the dying art of “windmilling” — fixing the old-style whirligigs that pump water from the aquifers. Windmills were crucial to 19th-century settlers of West Texas and the Great Plains because little surface water existed. Now, thousands of them — far smaller than the giant electricity-producing turbines that have sprouted around West Texas in recent years — still twirl in remote pastures. The windmills go where electricity cannot reach and cattle need to drink, though cheaper solar pumps are starting to push them out. “Obama wants everybody to go green,” said Bob Bracher, the president of Aermotor Windmill, a company that has manufactured windmills for more than 100 years and still makes a few thousand of them each year in a warehouse in San Angelo. “Well, hell, we’ve been green since 1888.”...more

Song Of The Day #698

Rounding out the week on Ranch Radio is Skeets McDonald and his 1952 recording of The Tattooed Lady.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Federal agents say environmental laws hamper work

Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they're hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed. A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the Republican-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the border with Mexico. Zach Taylor, a retired Border Patrol agent who lives about nine miles from the Arizona-Mexico border, said smugglers soon learn the areas that agents are least likely to frequent. "The (smuggling) route stays on public lands from the border to Maricopa County," Taylor said, referring to the state's most populous county. "The smugglers have free rein. It has become a lawless area." George McCubbin, president of the union that represents about 17,000 Border Patrol agents and support staff, likened current policy to telling city police officers they can't patrol a particular neighborhood. "If they want to get serious about this problem on the border, they can't be restricting areas we go in," said McCubbin, who works in Casa Grande, Arizona. "Don't let us there and you have nothing but the bad element going through that area." (Rep. Rob) Bishop said federal agents would be better stewards of sensitive lands than illegal immigrants and smugglers. "What is so ironic is that the environmental degradation is not being done by the Border Patrol," Bishop said. "It's being done by the illegals who are coming across."...AP

New Technologies Redraw the World’s Energy Picture

GOLDA MEIR, the former prime minister of Israel, used to tell a joke about how Moses must have made a wrong turn in the desert: “He dragged us 40 years through the desert to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil.” As it turns out, Moses may have had it right all along. In the last couple of years, vast amounts of natural gas have been found deep under Israel’s Mediterranean waters, and studies have begun to test the feasibility of extracting synthetic oil from a large kerogen-rich rock field southwest of Jerusalem. Israel’s swing of fate is just one of many big energy surprises developing as a new generation of unconventional fossil fuels take hold. From the high Arctic waters north of Norway to a shale field in Argentine Patagonia, from the oil sands of western Canada to deepwater oil prospects off the shores of Angola, giant new oil and gas fields are being mined, steamed and drilled with new technologies. Some of the reserves have been known to exist for decades but were inaccessible either economically or technologically.
Put together, these fuels should bring hundreds of billions of barrels of recoverable reserves to market in coming decades and shift geopolitical and economic calculations around the world. The new drilling boom is expected to diversify global sources away from the Middle East, just as the growth in consumption of fuels shifts from the United States and Europe to China, India and the rest of the developing world...more

Shell Oil receives EPA permit for drilling

The Shell oil company plans to start drilling multiple oil and gas exploration wells in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukckhi Seas next summer, unless environmental activists can persuade the Environmental Protection Agency to change its mind. The EPA on Friday issued an 87-page air permit for Shell’s Kulluk drillship to explore for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea on Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf. And last month, the EPA issued a permit for Shell’s Discoverer drillship to begin similar work in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. “We look forward to drilling in 2012 and validating what we believe is a valuable national resource base,” Shell said, noting that the approval process has taken almost five years. The American Petroleum Institute says drilling in Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf “is a genuine long-term economic stimulus plan." But on Monday, the environmental group Earthjustice filed an appeal with the EPA, challenging its decision to issue a permit for Shell's Discoverer drillship. “Arctic Ocean oil drilling is simply a bad idea,” said Earthjustice attorney Colin O’Brien...more

In Down Economy, Washington Lawmaker Pushes for More Logging

Tired of going back to the government every year with their hands out, rural counties are looking for a way to get off the federal dime and put unemployed loggers back to work. Washington Rep. Doc Hastings says he has an answer that would tackle both problems. "I think we need to utilize our natural resources a whole lot better from an economic standpoint," Hastings told Fox News. Hastings is proposing a plan to end to the so-called timber payments to counties that have historically relied on revenue from U.S. Forest Service timber sales. In its place, Congress would lift some environmental regulations and streamline the appeals process to allow for more timber sales on U.S. forest land. The one problem with Hastings plan -- the decline of spotted owls. Seen by conservation groups as an indicator species for the health of the Pacific Northwest's old growth forests, the spotted owl became a symbol in the battle between logging and the environment. The bird won, being listed in 1990 as an endangered species, and forcing a reduction in logging on federal land. The birds, on average 18 inches in length and weighing two pounds, are still endangered today. Since 1990, logging on federal land has plummeted. In 1990, 10.5 billion board feet of timber was cut in federal forests. Last year, that number was 2.1 billion board feet...more

Maryland Considering Flush Fee Hike

A state task force is considering doubling, and maybe even tripling, the state's flush fee. The fee for the Bay Restoration Fund is now $30 a year for property owners. The task force is considering recommending a doubling of the fee in 2013, and increasing it to $90 in 2015. The fund pays for sewage treatment plant and septic system upgrades as well as cover crops that keep pollutants from running off farms into waterways...more

Point Of View: Farmers, Ranchers Need Dust Bill

When word started to spread around the ag community that the EPA was considering tougher regulations on dust that could mean fines and stricter standards on our ag producers, I couldn’t idly stand by. Unsurprisingly, farmers were troubled that they would have to park their tractors or combines on a dry and windy day in order to comply with tougher standards like they already have to do in Arizona today. Some also worried that they would have to water down dusty roads or fields. This regulatory threat would add additional uncertainty to an already uncertain line of work. I gathered over 100 bipartisan cosponsors for a bill that would stop the EPA from any further regulation of farm dust. The bill would also exclude farm dust that is regulated at the state or local level from federal standards. We obviously touched a nerve with the EPA, when the Administrator abruptly announced days before a congressional hearing on the issue that the agency had no intention to change its current regulatory standards. This EPA announcement is a victory for South Dakota farmers and ranchers but we cannot, and should not, stop there. Today the EPA says they won’t further regulate dust, but without this bill, there is nothing stopping the agency from changing their mind and further regulating tomorrow. Additionally, it is important to note that the agency has no ability under current law to differentiate between urban and rural dust when enforcing their standards. Without this bill, if EPA enacts tougher standards meant for urban polluters or extreme environmental groups file lawsuits, there will be nothing stopping rural dust from also being included in the tougher standards. Finally, science has not shown rural dust to be a health concern like other kinds of dust. The distinction between urban and rural dust would provide ironclad certainty to the agriculture community so they can continue to provide a reliable, safe food supply in the United States and meet the world’s food needs...more

America's Third War: A New Eye on the Border

A new high-tech, low-cost camera system is helping to detect illegal immigrants along the Texas-Mexico border, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The new system of cameras is catching undocumented immigrants sneaking across private ranches and farms -- groups that would have otherwise gone undetected, according to local landowners. “There are literally hundreds of trails out here that are being frequented and used by drug smugglers and human smugglers, ” said border rancher Michael Vickers. “There’s a lot of desperate people coming in here from all over the world and, frankly, a lot of them are getting through.” Unlike past cameras used along the Southwest border, these cameras do not provide a live video stream that must be constantly monitored. Instead, the cameras only snap pictures when something triggers a sensor. Then, within seconds, an image is emailed to command center in Austin. Once the photograph is verified as illegal activity, it’s passed along to local and federal authorities monitoring the border. “We’re providing the imagery so they can make the best choice on how to respond to criminal activity that we’re helping to detect at the state level, ” said Capt. Aaron Grigsby with the Texas Rangers. During a ten-month test phase, using just 20 cameras in South Texas, officials made more than 130 arrests. "We can hide them virtually anywhere, said Hank Whitman, chief of the Texas Rangers. “They are small, compact, but we move them consistently. There’s no sense trying to look for them because you’re not going to find them.” The cameras cost roughly $300 each and the state plans to install 400 more along the 1,200-mile border with Mexico within the next four months. link

Napolitano: Jailed Illegals Will Get Phone Number to Report Civil Rights Violations

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the House Judiciary Committee in written testimony submitted Wednesday that illegal aliens taken into custody by local law enforcement and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be given a phone number to call if they believe their civil rights have been violated. The phone number will be provided on a form that will include directions on how to file a complaint in six different languages. Napolitano told the committee that ICE has “updated its detainer form to clarify the longstanding rule that state and local authorities are not to detain an individual for more than 48 hours except for holidays and weekends. “The new detainer form also requires state and local law enforcement to provide the arrestees with a copy of the form, which includes a number to call if they believe their civil rights have been violated by ICE,” said Napolitano...more

Song Of The Day #697

Ranch Radio needs something to get over the hump to Friday this week, and nothing does that better than Bob Wiils, Tommy Duncan & The Texas Playboys. Here's their 1936 recording of Get Along Home Cindy.

The tune was recorded in Chicago on September 29, 1936 and has some of the greats on it. In addition to Wills & Duncan there is: Herman Arnspiger - guitar, Leon McAuliffe - steel, Johnnie Lee Wills - banjo, Jesse Ashlock - fiddle, Al Strickland - piano, Joe Ferguson - base, and Bill Dacus - drums.

Turn that volume up so your neighbors can enjoy it too!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Greece Offers to Repay Bailout with Giant Horse

BRUSSELS (The Borowitz Report) – In what many are hailing as a breakthrough solution to Greece’s crippling debt crisis, Greece today offered to repay a bailout from the European Union nations by giving them a gigantic horse.

Finance ministers from sixteen EU nations awoke in Brussels this morning to find that a huge wooden horse had been wheeled into the city center overnight.

The horse, measuring several stories in height, drew mixed responses from the finance ministers, many of whom said they would have preferred a cash repayment of the EU’s bailout.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she “welcomed the beautiful wooden horse,” adding, “What harm could it possibly do?”

The Inconvenient Truth Behind Fisker Funding Fiasco

The wasteful and incomprehensible "green" energy policies of the Obama Administration continue to be exposed as a rip-off of American taxpayers. The latest insane venture involves hybrid auto start-up company, Fisker. While the story of Fisker receiving a $529 million loan from the Department of Energy has been widely reported, less known is the fact that green energy charlatan, Al Gore, may have played a key role in obtaining the loan. Before we move on to Gore's involvement in the Fisker fiasco, let's review what taxpayers are paying for regarding the White House's so-called green car "investment." The Fisker Karma is expected to go about 30 miles on an electric charge and then gets only about 20 MPG. The car can go from 0 to 60 in 6 seconds and comes in at a price tag of $97,000. To add insult to taxpayer injury, even though Fisker initially purchased a shuttered GM plant for $18 million where it says it will build a future line of vehicles, the current Karma line will be built in Finland. When and if the Karma ever makes it to US showrooms, a $7,500 tax credit for every wealthy purchaser will be granted. If someone is both rich enough and foolish enough to pay $97,000 for a car that underperforms competing sports vehicles like the Porsche Panamera (which costs $20,000 less, does 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and gets 24 MPG), why in the world should taxpayers subsidize the purchase?! It is absolutely insane for our government to give American dollars to a company with a risky business plan to produce a car (in Finland) for the wealthy that does little to help our environment or economy and then give taxpayer money to wealthy purchasers to buy the cars! So, why would the White House risk over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money on Fisker?...more

Wind farms shut because it's too windy

NATIONAL GRID has been forced to ask wind farms to shut down for the second time in a month - because it's too windy. Seven wind farm operators switched off their turbines on Monday night. National Grid said they were generating TOO MUCH power as storms ripped across Scotland. It leaves taxpayers with yet another bill. National Grid has to pay wind farm operators compensation when asking them to stop the turbines. National Grid said: "It was very windy yesterday and there was some curtailment of wind generation." Despite huge subsidies for wind farm operators, National Grid claims its network is not ready to handle the power surge in storms. Demand for electricity also drops off late at night...more

We subsidize farmers and then pay them not to farm.
Scotland subsidizes wind farms and then pays them to shut down.
We subsidize government, so why can't we get it to shut down too!