Monday, January 31, 2011

Top Republicans craft strategy to fight EPA’s expanding regulatory reach

Top Republicans in the House and Senate are in the middle of crafting a plan to stop unprecedented regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of carbon dioxide emissions, but confusion abounds the details. Republicans bent on stopping the rules face key challenges — including the threat of a presidential veto on any legislation they pass and uncertainty over a prospective budget fight in March. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton met with Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Sen. James Inhofe on Wednesday to discuss potential legislation that Upton would introduce in the House, where Republicans hold a majority. The meeting, one of a series the two officials have been holding to coordinate House and Senate strategy on the issue, did not appear to result in any significant progress. “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you anything about the meeting,” said Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey. The legislation the two are discussing would likely remove greenhouse gasses from the EPA’s reach under the Clean Air Act. For now, the EPA is claiming authority to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act because of an “endangerment finding” in which the agency declared the emission to be harmful to society. Now, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is sprinting to finalize regulations to implement the endangerment finding that could have a major impact on American industry and economy. While Inhofe and Upton nail down legislation, one key issue yet unresolved by Republicans is what role the appropriations committees will play in the effort to take on EPA regulations. “No one knows if appropriations committee will do something to stop EPA first,” the top lobbyist for a major energy trade association told TheDC.

The article continues:

When the current continuing resolution (CR) – legislation that authorizes government spending at current levels – expires in March, Republicans will have to decide whether to take on the EPA by cutting off funding. In a new budget or spending bill, Congress could instruct the EPA not to spend any money on implementing global warming regulations. If the GOP is unsuccessful in March, insiders say a “clean” CR is likely. That means spending will not change and the EPA will be able to continue regulating until at least the end of this fiscal year.

That is the same strategy I previously posted could be used to defund Secretarial Order 3310 on Wildlands Policy.

Oregon ranchers fear financial hit from court-ordered loss of grazing territory

Rancher Ken Brooks is standing in his ranch yard near the ghost town of Fox , his eyes sweeping the timber-covered Malheur National Forest that holds the key to his future and that of 18 other Grant County ranching families. "They're all pretty angry," he said. "We're all in the same boat. We're unsure what we're going to do. And most of all, we're unsure of the reason we have to do it." A Dec. 30 ruling by U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty prohibits the ranchers from turning their cattle out on seven summertime U.S. Forest Service grazing allotments to protect threatened Middle Columbia River steelhead. The latest decision in a years-long battle over the effects of grazing on stream habitat bans cows on 16 percent of the 1.7 million-acre forest, which has one the largest grazing programs of any forest in the Pacific Northwest. The ban starts in June and would affect almost 4,000 mother cows and their annual calf crop valued at $2.8 million, ranchers and forest officials said. Environmentalists who filed the steelhead lawsuit said the Forest Service and National Marine Fisheries Service must do a better job enforcing laws to preserve stream banks from roaming cattle. "The court makes clear that the agencies have to make steelhead protection their highest priority," said Brent Fenty , executive director of the 1,400-member Oregon Natural Desert Association...more

Powell raising bar at NM Land Office

What matters to New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell is sunshine. He's quick to trade in his undecorated office for a few moments outside under the northern New Mexico sun. But Powell's obsession with sunshine goes beyond being warmed up by the golden rays on this winter day. He's more interested in the kind of sunshine that will bring openness and transparency to what goes on at the State Land Office. He wants to restore confidence in the agency, protect state trust lands and continue to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars each year for public schools and other beneficiaries. "Our objective is to put as much sunshine as we possibly can on these projects and let them live or die by their merits," he told The Associated Press during an interview. "The way we inoculate ourselves from future problems is just to have sunshine on everything that we do." The Land Office during the previous administration was embroiled in legal battles over the exchange of trust land for private land around White Peak in northeastern New Mexico and other questions were raised about appraisals, commercial land leases and the lack of analysis on some projects. Former Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons has defended his administration, but just this week the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected two of the White Peak land swaps that were orchestrated by Lyons...more

The Yakima Nation comments on feral horses

Free-roaming horses have been a part of the landscape in Idaho and central and eastern Oregon and Washington since the Spanish brought the species to what is now the United States. However, because the rangeland areas where these animals now roam are home to almost no apex predators and no viable market exists for selling them, the horse population has skyrocketed. Feral horses—and unwanted domestic horses being dumped in the country due to the economic meltdown—are now destroying rangeland forage needed to feed livestock and wildlife and to retain soil in place. They are also eating special plants of spiritual and nutritional significance to the local tribes. Runoff is dumping topsoil into streams, leading to degradation of the aquatic habitat for salmon and steelhead. Forage consumption by feral horses is also threatening the survival of our other traditional foods, such as deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and sage grouse. Something must be done to reduce the number of wild horses grazing in the Northwest, and fast. The resident adult horse population in the three-State area is above 20,000 animals, and the annual foal crop raises that number by 20 percent every year. The recent closure of horse-processing facilities in Texas and Illinois has had a far-reaching effect on the horse industry throughout the country. Without the slaughter option, the horse market has been flooded, the prices for all horses have dropped dramatically, and the livelihood of horse ranchers—tribal and otherwise—has been severely jeopardized. A collateral economic effect of the glut of horses is the devastating impact their populations are making on the environment. Forage depredation is only part of the picture. Plants important in tribal spiritual practices and medicine are being destroyed. Vegetation needed for big and small game has disappeared. Streams important to sport and Indian subsistence fisheries are degraded by silty topsoil rolling off denuded slopes...more

HT: Range Magazine on Facebook

SUGAR Act Would Phase Out U.S. Sugar Program

Sweet news on the sugar front. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and newly elected Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) have introduced a bill to phase out the U.S. sugar program. Called the SUGAR Act (Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions), S. 25 would reform one of the most egregious agricultural programs that raises food costs for consumers, leads to job losses in confectionery and related businesses, and harms developing countries’ competitiveness. Sugar producers defend the program by bragging that it doesn’t cost the federal government. But their sly defense ignores the estimated $4 billion a year added costs to consumers through a program that guarantees a minimum price to sugar producers, restricts the domestic supply, and sets a quota system for imported sugar, with prohibitively high tariffs above the quota...more

Auction accident takes life of rancher

Longtime Lane County cattle rancher Mervin McCarl died Sunday night after an accident the day before at the Eugene Livestock Auction when three cows got loose in the event’s parking lot and one of them picked up McCarl and tossed him in the air. The rancher, who was in his 70s and well-known in the local agricultural community, landed head-first on the pavement, event organizers said. “It’s a horrible, horrible accident,” auction owner Bruce Anderson said Sunday. “We’re all dealing with the shock of it. I’ve known Merv for 16 years. He was a valued customer. It’s a tragic, tragic situation.” There have been past incidents at the 56-year-old livestock auction, Anderson said, but none fatal. Anderson said he didn’t witness the accident and is still piecing together the facts, but employees told him that about 1:30 p.m. Saturday three cows got loose as they were being loaded into a truck. They’d just been sold at the weekly auction, which draws hundreds of buyers and sellers to the familiar landmark on Highway 99 south of Junction City...more

Song Of The Day #496

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and our selection today is by the Pickin' On band and is their instrumental version of Call Me The Breeze.

You will find the tune on their 16 track CD Hits of Western Swing.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Living the dream 

by Julie Carter

In the hearts of men is born a sense of adventure, a yearning to see what's over the next hill.

Today's world makes dreams seem very fragile as they shimmer from afar at what appears to be an unattainable distance. I find great hope in realizing that no matter the condition or the circumstances, there is still that burning desire to climb tall mountains, sail endless seas and travel toward the horizons that never end.

Last October, a young Arkansas cowboy decided to not become like the old men at the coffee shop that talked endlessly about things they wished they done when they were young and could.

He heard the disappointment in their voices and the regret in their words. So he sold what he could of what he owned to bankroll his dream.

He saddled his horse, tied a bedroll to the back of the saddle, slid a rifle in the saddle scabbard, filled the saddlebags with a few necessities and struck out for the California coast.

At the age of 20 his plan was, and still is, to ride until his horse steps into the Pacific Ocean.

Four months later, he is half way there. Against the odds and in spite of the doubts of those that didn't think he could get it done, he has serpentined his way across several states as the call of adventure keeps him moving west.

The looming dangers of such an endeavor are lost to youthful oblivion. The goodness of the people he has met drives a lesson about mankind deep into his soul. While living his dream, this cowboy is building a framework of manhood that will form the very essence of his character for the rest of his life.

Another dream, another way of life

The three of them laughed and poked fun at each other as they loaded their gear bags in the van, ready to the hit the road for yet another all night drive. Fort Worth was in their rear view mirror and Rapid City, South Dakota was in their sights.

The dream is rodeo. It is a siren's song to many, but a way to make a living for only a relative few. These three cowboys have conquered the financial plan and spend every day pushing the future their direction.

With the skill to keep the dream alive, they crossed two continents side-to-side, top to bottom, to spend eight seconds with a hack rein in their hand and 1,200 pounds of bronc exploding under their saddle.

Airports, hotels, gas stations and fast-food stops become the nuts and bolts of long days and longer nights between arenas in cities and towns that read like the lists in the back pages of an atlas.

All in their 20s, one comes from so far north in Canada that Google Maps struggles to find it. Another hails from the cold winters of South Dakota but now calls New Mexico home, where the third is a native.

National titles, Canadian and American, put buckles on their belts and patches on their "letter" jackets announcing their accomplishments. But none of those things are what orchestrates the song in their hearts.

A quick layover at the ranch between the rodeos and long miles briefly quiets the adrenaline that nourishes their perpetual dream.

The hum of traffic and the roar of crowds give way to the silence of solitude. Horses stomp at the corral gate waiting to be fed and cattle trail by to the water tank. All sounds of home.

This is the other half of the dream, the dream of the future beyond rodeo -- in place and waiting for that day when the cowboy comes home to stay.

Let the courage of these young men remind us that dreams are for living. Even if they need adjusted for appropriate age and circumstance, don't let yours fall by the wayside.

Julie can be reached for comment at or on her website


Precious or Sanctimonious?
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     Has anybody read the definition of “sovereignty”?  It is the condition of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area.
     In his book, President George W. Bush described how United States troops begged him to allow entry into Pakistan to deal with border insurgency.  The president’s hesitation was justified when an unplanned border skirmish resulted in political outrage from Pakistan.  From that experience, President Bush noted, “no democracy can tolerate violations of its sovereignty.”  His action for disallowing intrusion was correct. Dominion over lands within a country’s borders is fundamental.
     Scholars point out that states don’t have powers of external sovereignty.  For example, states don’t have the right to deport undesirables, but, in the underpinnings of our republic, sovereignty belongs to the people.  They have delegated it to the federal government for safekeeping and enforcement.  The Constitutional mandate to control our borders is a reminder of that transfer of trust. 
     “We the people” . . . but we the people are becoming more confused why the Pakistani issue is defined, and our southern border remains a subject of cartel intrusion that threatens our sovereignty and our existence.     
     Today, the Mexican border is arguably the most dangerous border in the world.  The entire border is at issue, but the most dangerous is that portion within the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. 
     That segment of border is the smuggling channel of choice.  Nearly half of all marijuana and illegal immigrant interdiction and apprehensions take place there.  Statistically, apprehensions take place there at a rate 17 times that of flanking sectors at El Paso and Yuma.  Another way of depicting that rate of entry is for every three successful entrants coming through the flanking sectors there are at least 51 that come through the Tucson corridor. 
     From a collateral perspective, published data suggests that a minimum of 100,000 females entering through that corridor were raped in 2009.  That isn’t from the actions of Americans.  It is from the participants of the Cartel war on our border. These are illegals carrying out opportunistic acts of barbarism against each other without recourse.
     For some time, signs on federal lands south of Interstate 8 in Arizona have warned Americans about the danger of entry.  Likewise, federal land agencies are increasing measures to assure safety for their employees.  At Organ Pipe, Park Service employees are alerted to red, blue, and white levels of danger.  In lands of red alerts, employees are not allowed to enter without armed escorts.  In lands of blue alerts, employees must have a fellow employee along.  Only land with white alert is safe enough for citizens.  The rest is occupied by smugglers.  By definition, the sovereignty of those lands has been conceded.     
     At Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, a manager has suggested that the public has been fed too much fear mongering.  If that is so, why has the USFWS declared a section of that refuge off limits to entry since 2006?  Likewise, why was there a recent scoping effort among federal agencies for enhanced protection for federal border employees? 
     The fact is land agencies are finding themselves on an increasingly uncomfortable and exposed front of the border war.  How bad is it?  A recent GAO report reveals that Mexican cartels are using the parking lot at the Organ Pipe Visitor Center for a staging point to run drugs north!  
     The protected lands hoax in Arizona has been exposed and is no longer innocent.  The environmental front has demanded refuges, and monuments, and designated Wilderness with a great deal of success.  It has increasingly forced the institution of de facto wilderness management to the point that border security is floundering in a quagmire of confusion.  The expansion of interconnected federal lands with access restriction and conflicting agency missions has promulgated the grandest smuggling corridor in the world.
     The Roosevelt Reservation (or Easement)
     Even the most basic access for the Border Patrol has been confounded with argument.
In 1907, President Roosevelt by Executive Order decreed that an easement of 60’ was set aside permanently for public reservation along the border with Mexico.  One would think that such a reservation would be used without qualification by the Border Patrol to access any border lands, but that isn’t the case.  When the border fence was being staged for construction at Buenos Aires, the manager declared the wall was incompatible with the Refuge’s mission. 
     In fact, further environmental interpretation of the Roosevelt Reservation revealed that the easement was silent to immigration (the Border Patrol wasn’t formed until 1924), and, since it referred only to “protection against (the) smuggling of goods”, there is only allowance for the installation of a public highway.  The interpretation was that barriers and fences were not intended at the time of the action, and should not be allowed now!
     The specific issue at Buenos Aires was that the fence would put in jeopardy 50 acres of “potential habitat for the endangered masked quail for which the Reserve was founded.”  Over in the San Pedro Drainage NCA, the fence would impact even more land.  It was there that 64 acres of land would be impacted.  In attempting to find out if that was a significant impact, it was discovered that it would affect about .11% of the 58,000 acres in that federal land mass.
     That corridor would also impact wildlife.  It was determined it could affect over 804 lizards, over 20 birds, and over 109 small mammals.  Furthermore, the lights would attract insects and the bats that would follow could be in greater risk of predation and injury.  Most profound could be the dreaded “remote potential of a roaming jaguar to be affected” . . . Whoa!
     The Battle
     How should Americans interpret this?  Those living on the border are on a track of increasing cynicism.  They search for the champion who puts the most basic Constitutional mandate, the obligation to protect our borders, ahead of all agendas. 
     No group can fight a conflict with their flank exposed. The fight is twofold.  The first is the expansion of the smuggling corridors and the implicit surrender of sovereignty to those lands.  The second is the environmental front that has wrestled the hearts and minds away from a citizenry that is distancing itself from the original and rightful claimant, the individual. 
     In the American model, how can you give up one without destroying the other?  In the American model, how can you destroy one and claim the other?  This is a great and dangerous dilemma.  It cannot be set aside for future consideration.  It stands in greater contrast each day the border war rages. 
     Look southward America . . . you can see it silhouetted against the fire that is burning. 

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “When we die do we do it alone or do we do it with our association memberships?  Likewise, when the Constitution is defended is it on behalf of the individual or is it on behalf of association fees and memberships?  Where is a Founding Father when you need one?” 


It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty...James Monroe

The very heart of being a sovereign nation is providing security of one's borders, of one's internal situation, and security against anyone attacking one's nation. That is the very heart of what I believe is sovereignty...John Warner

A state can no more give up part of her sovereignty than a lady can give up part of her virtue...John Randolp

Song Of The Day #495

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is He's My Rock by the bluegrass group Newfound Road.

The tune is available on their 13 track CD Newfound Road.

DOJ seeks mandatory data retention requirement for ISPs

The U.S. Department of Justice and an organization representing police chiefs from around the country renewed calls on Tuesday for legislation mandating Internet Service Providers (ISP) to retain certain customer usage data for up to two years. The calls, which are stoking long standing privacy fears, were made at a hearing convened on Tuesday by a House subcommittee that is chaired by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin. Four years ago, Sensenbrenner proposed, and then quickly withdrew, legislation calling for mandatory data retention for ISPs. In prepared testimony for today's hearing, Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said that data retention was crucial to fighting Internet crimes (PDF document), especially online child pornography. Current policies that only require ISPs to preserve usage data at the specific request of law enforcement authorities are just not sufficient, Weinstein said. It's unclear yet if Tuesday's House hearing is a sign that a data retention bill is imminent, said John Morris, the general counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington D.C.-based think-tank. Also unclear is whether it is only ISPs that will be required to retain data, or whether services such as e-mail providers might be included, said Morris, who also testified at the hearing. A similar question mark hangs over what data exactly it is that ISPs and potentially others will be required to retain, Morris said. Regardless of the scope, mandatory data retention laws raise important privacy and free speech concerns, he said. "In the privacy realm, the bottom line is that law enforcement is talking about having a massive amount of information on 230 million presumably innocent Americans using the Internet, being tracked and retained," he said...more

Friday, January 28, 2011

Beverage company introduces beef-flavored water

Ground Beef + Aged Cheddar
It's a brand-new year and many of us have resolved to eat more salad. And keeping that vow may easier than ever, since now there's a way to drink your greens, not just chew them. New Yorker Till Krautkraemer is the founder of MeatWater, a beverage company that creates hearty -- and obviously meaty -- meal supplement drinks in highly unusual flavors like cheeseburger, barbecued chicken wings and Italian sausage. To ring in the new year and toast to a healthier lifestyle, Krautkraemer has just released four new offbeat offerings that are vegan-friendly and devoid of animal byproducts. The new flavors in his MeatWaterVOID line include poached salmon salad -- which supposedly tastes like a piece of salmon over lettuce, asparagus and mustard seeds -- and grilled chicken salad, a green-colored beverage said to taste like grilled chicken, spinach and onions, complete with a balsamic vinegar dressing. Then there's grilled Thai beef salad, a dark reddish, "mildly spicy but SUPER beefy" flavor that supposedly tastes like flank steak, red leaf lettuce, cucumber and garlic. And, finally, there's Krautkraemer's favorite: Caribbean shrimp salad, a light-pink concoction designed to taste like grilled shrimp, mixed greens and raspberries...more

Are you thirsty yet? 

Me? I'm in the mood for calf fries cooked over a branding fire and some cool well water.

Wilderness - Schools Suffer Under Obama’s Land Grabs

Troubling and a bit ironic then is the fact that some states are battling with the federal government over revenue sources for education.  These states aren’t in a fight to receive any handouts from the federal government; instead they are struggling to keep a revenue source that belongs to them — their land.
It wasn’t always this way.  The Founding Fathers designated special territories in each state that were purposed to support schools.  A short video by CLASS, Children’s Land Alliance Supporting Schools, explains that states received these lands as they entered statehood and more than 134 million acres of land were granted by Congress to support schools.  By 2005, about half of all the states, mainly eastern states, had lost their school lands and funds due to mismanagement, but the remaining states have grown their funds to a total of $35 billion, compared to $210 million in 1905. Only 45 million acres of school trust lands remain in the U.S. Though each state with a remaining trust fund handles it differently, they are all dependent upon the profits of the land to help support education.  Revenues off these lands are accumulated from permits that allow grazing, ranching, farming, mining and hunting and in some cases involve selling the land to a developer for the building of a residential area or mall. The federal government as of late has had a heyday labeling land as wilderness areas. And though the federal government cannot take school trust land per se, they can take all the surrounding land, thus reducing the value of the school trust land. “When the government takes land and ties it up, that money is not going to educate our children,” says Susan Edwards, School Community Council Member in Utah for Crescent View Middle School and Alta High School. “The federal government is taking money away from our school children.” If land belonging to the trust fund becomes locked in by land labeled as a wilderness area or land that needs to remain untouched due to an endangered species ruling, it is much harder for schools to generate funds off that land. A farmer or developer would be hesitant to purchase and invest in a parcel of land that is surrounded by federal rules and regulations. “When the federal government declares their land off limits for productive uses, the in-held school lands cannot support our schools, and Utah’s children statewide suffer,” Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert explains to ALG...more

'We Will Take a Stand', Cattlemen, new sheriff vow to renew fight against Forest Service

The federal Forest Service shot down earlier this month appeals from cattlemen on the Alamosa and Jarita Mesa grazing allotments that sought to preserve grazing rights the cattlemen say pre-date the Forest Service’s jurisdiction. The Forest Service passed a decision to cut the number of cattle allowed to graze on the allotments by 18 percent over the next five years. The appeal, disputing the reductions proposed by El Rito District Head Ranger Diana Trujillo, was denied Jan. 13 by Carson National Forest Supervisor Kendall Clark. Clark upheld Trujillo’s decision to follow the recommendations of an “environmental assessment” of the area that recommended the “unsustainable” grazing numbers be reduced to lessen the ecological impacts on the land. Rancher Sebedeo Chacon, who said he stands to lose 26 cattle in the reductions, has demanded the resignation of Trujillo. He has a petition from last February with over 500 signatures supporting her resignation after Trujillo and local ranchers butted heads over her management of the District. And some cattlemen want outright defiance of the federal rules by local law enforcement. Forest Service rangers need to be deputized by Sheriff Tommy Rodella to have law enforcement authority in Rio Arriba County, according to statute. Carlos Salazar, president of the Association, suggested Rodella consider snubbing federal agents and simply not enforce the reductions — a proposition in which Rodella expressed tentative interest. “We are researching it, and within the parameters of the law, we will take a stand,” Rodella said...more

A Failed Push to Raise Fees Begs the Question: Is Public-Lands Grazing Helpful or Harmful?

The Obama administration recently rejected a petition from several environmental groups asking to raise the fees for ranchers whose animals graze on public lands. But the fight’s far from over. Currently, ranchers can pay $1.35 for each cow or calf eating grass on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. A report from the Government Accounting Office, however, shows the actual cost of administrating public lands grazing is about $7 per animal. According to Taylor McKinnon, the public lands director for the Center for Biological Diversity, taxpayers shouldn’t have to supply the $115 million gap between what’s paid by ranchers and what grazing costs the public. His organization is among those petitioning the federal government. But ranchers and the BLM say, if managed, livestock grazing is beneficial. Kim Baker is president of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association. She said she and most ranchers rotate their cattle to make sure they’re not overusing an area. “Ranchers have always been good stewards of the land,” she said. “We understand that if we destroy an area, it takes a long time to rebuild it.” If grazing fees were raised, Baker said it would hurt ranchers. “When you’re grazing in the forest, I gotta tell you, it’s not just like taking your cattle out to an irrigated meadow,” she said. Baker said ranchers who graze their cattle on public lands deal with rough terrain, weeds and wolves. A higher cost wouldn’t be worth it for most, she said...more

Utah slaps companies, space agency for illegal radioactive waste

State regulators have accused four companies and NASA of sending to EnergySolutions’ site radioactive waste that’s too hot for Utah. The Radiation Control Board on Wednesday announced violation notices issued last week. Next week, the board is expected to issue another such notice against Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions for accepting the waste in violation of Utah’s ban on class B and C waste. Rusty Lundberg, division director and executive secretary for the board, saidEnergySolutions reported the violations after an internal audit. He said regulators are also talking to the company about doing “an environmental project that will benefit the citizens of Utah” in lieu of fines and penalties. The five organizations already cited face fines and penalties of several thousand dollars each. They have 30 days to respond to the allegations. Some of the suspect waste came to Utah from U.S. Energy Department cleanups and facilities, including the K-25 Building nuclear enrichment building cleanup in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; and the cleanup at former Manhattan Project facilities in Washington state...more

Martinez names 3 new members to EIB

Gov. Susana Martinez has named three more members to New Mexico's Environmental Improvement Board. The new appointments include Jeff Bryce, vice president and chief operating officer of the Albuquerque-based engineering design firm Sierra Peaks Corporation, Lea County Commissioner and rancher Gregory Fulfer and John Volkerding, general manager of a salt water disposal company in Farmington. Martinez appointed four other members on Wednesday...more

Ruling discourages meat packer suits

The U.S. Supreme Court will not review an appeals court ruling that effectively hinders livestock and poultry producers from suing meat packers. Even so, the legal controversy over the rights of farmers and ranchers under the Packers and Stockyards Act will likely resurface if the USDA decides to implement new restrictions on packers, a lawyer said. It's currently very difficult for farmers and ranchers to sue a company for violating the statute, which prohibits packers from engaging in any "unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practice." Several federal courts of appeal have held that farmers and ranchers can't sue a packer unless they can show that such unfair practices were used to suppress competition in the livestock or poultry industries. Most recently, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reiterated this interpretation of the Packers and Stockyards Act during litigation between chicken farmer Alton Terry and the Tyson meat packing company. Terry claimed that Tyson retaliated against him for trying to organize and educate other chicken farmers. According to Terry's lawsuit, the packer refused to allow him to view the weighing of his chickens. When Terry complained to the USDA, Tyson canceled a shipment of chicks to his farm and later discontinued its contract with the farmer, the lawsuit alleged. A federal judge's decision to dismiss Terry's complaint was upheld last year by the 6th Circuit, which ruled that the Packers and Stockyards Act was an antitrust statute. To sue under that law, a grower must show "proof of injury to competition," the opinion said...more

U.S. Cattle Herd at Lowest Since 1958 May Send Beef Prices to Record High

The U.S. cattle herd probably shrunk to the smallest size since 1958, and the drop in beef supplies may boost prices to a record, analysts said. Ranchers held 92.211 million head of cattle as of Jan. 1, down 1.6 percent from a year ago, according to the average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. That would be the smallest herd in 53 years, said Ron Plain, a livestock economist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. The government releases its semiannual report on the cattle herd at 3 p.m. today in Washington. “Cattle producers are being squeezed by tough finances and a soft economy,” Plain said. “The supply is just shrinking. Beef prices are likely to be record high in 2011, and it should be a record that will last.” Wholesale choice beef has jumped 23 percent in the past year to $1.731 a pound, and costlier meat may spur restaurants and grocery stores to pass along costs to consumers. The highest price was $2.0118 on Oct. 16, 2003, according to Bloomberg data from the government dating back to 2001. Shoppers may pay as much as 3.5 percent more for beef this year, the government has forecast...more

Barn owls are great hunters, poor builders

Man is always striving to come up with a better mouse trap. But, with all his technology at hand, his latest model pales in comparison to Ma Nature’s barn owl. Barn owls are truly a rodent’s worst nightmare. From head to toe, these birds come equipped with an arsenal unmatched in the animal world. Due to their dish-shaped face and offset ears, barn owls receive sound waves much like a satellite dish. They have the best hearing of any creature tested by science. This allows them to find rodents in total darkness and in tall grass. Their razor-sharp talons come with tiny, serrated edges and a vise grip that prey can’t wiggle from. Their wings are large for their bodies and have soft edges. This small wing load and silent flight provides a stealth bomber approach. In 1984, this writer noticed a pair of La Grande area barn owls having difficulty raising a brood of young in a nearby barn. Owls build a poor nest, so the eggs or half-grown young would often fall from this skimpy nest on a narrow beam. Reading a magazine article about owl nest boxes, I decided to erect a box. In just a few weeks, a healthy brood of young were discovered in the box and soon fledged. Neighbors tried a box with a resulting happy brood. Soon, local farmers heard of this and wanted boxes in their barns. The rest is history...more

She dressed our cowboys and ones in movies

Gloria Wallace wasn't about to close out her cash register until she made at least one sale. If it was a slow day at Wallace's Cowboy Outfitters in downtown Tucson, she'd grab an armload of cowboy shirts and walk down to the Santa Rita Hotel. The bar was a popular hangout for cattlemen in the early 1950s. It was where livestock auctions were held in, with the steers and quarter horses led right into the lobby. Wallace would chat up the ranchers as they nursed their beers until she persuaded one of them to buy a shirt. "She was a high-powered salesperson," said her daughter-in-law, Mary Jean Wallace. "She had so much spunk and life." "John Wayne used to go in the store and sit on saddles - and Lee Marvin; a lot of stars who came to town who were staring in cowboy movies had to go into the store and get fitted," said the Wallaces' daughter, Candace Roll. It wasn't unusual to find the likes of Wayne, Marvin and Ben Johnson sitting in the back of the store drinking coffee and chewing the fat, said Steve Wallace, whose father once fitted Raquel Welch with a pair of boots. "We used to get a lot of movie business," he said. "It was a different time. It wasn't uncommon to see (stars) wander in." In the '50s, ranching and farming were a way of life in Tucson, and Wallace's was a one-stop shop for cowboy boots, Western wear, horse tack, turquoise jewelry and specialty items sought after by rodeo queens and competitive riders...more

Song Of The Day #494

Yesterday I posted excerpts of Charlie Louvin's obituary along with some pictures. So today we will dedicate to Charlie Louvin. The first selection is the 1956 recording by the Louvin Brothers of In The Pines. The second is Charlie's 1965 hit See The Big Man Cry.

Ranchers, lawmakers introduce bill calling on feds to tighten border security

Exactly ten months after rancher Robert Krentz was gunned down on his property, fellow ranchers in the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association are calling on the federal government to tighten border security through a new bill introduced by Republican state senator Sylvia Allen. The bill, modeled on the association's 18-point Restore Our Border security plan, calls for thousands of additional National Guard troops, increased border patrol and improved technology for the Tucson sector. "Almost every week we're going to address the issue. Our border security is an absolute priority. We've got to secure the border before we can move forward with any issues concerning immigration," Allen said. Patrick Bray, executive vice-president of the association, said many ranchers are surprised and dismayed by the fact that Krentz's death, along with the murder of Agent Brian Terry only months later, didn't compel the Obama Administration to be more proactive in tightening the border. He believes one purpose of the bill is to increase awareness and continue calling attention to the problems at the border, given the many issues with which Arizona contends. "At this point in time, the severity of the issue remains, the safety of the issue remains and not much has been done," Bray told KGUN9 News. "[Ranchers] are starting to lose faith that the federal government will do something."...more

Iranian Book Celebrating Suicide Bombers Found in Arizona Desert

A book celebrating suicide bombers has been found in the Arizona desert just north of the U.S.- Mexican border, authorities tell Fox News. The book, "In Memory of Our Martyrs," was spotted Tuesday by a U.S. Border Patrol agent out of the Casa Grande substation who was patrolling a route known for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs. Published in Iran, it consists of short biographies of Islamic suicide bombers and other Islamic militants who died carrying out attacks. According to internal U.S. Customs and Border Protection documents, "The book also includes letters from suicide attackers to their families, as well as some of their last wills and testaments." Each biographical page contains "the terrorist's name, date of death, and how they died." Agents also say that the book appears to have been exposed to weather in the desert "for at least several days or weeks."...more

American Missionary Killed by Gunman in Mexico, Husband Says

A U.S. missionary working in Mexico who brought his mortally wounded wife to the border told authorities in the United States that gunmen in a pickup truck shot her in the head, police in Texas say. Nancy Davis, 59, died in a South Texas hospital Wednesday about 90 minutes after her husband drove the couple's truck against traffic across the Pharr International Bridge, according to a statement issued by the Pharr Police Department. The husband relayed to Texas authorities and U.S. Customs agents a frantic episode of the couple being fired upon in Mexico and then flooring their truck at top speed to border. Police described the couple as missionaries who travel extensively into Mexico. The scene echoed one described four months ago by an American tourist, who said her husband was gunned down by Mexican pirates on a border lake as the couple tried fleeing on Jet Skis...more

Political Catch Pen

In Government’s “Other” Gluttony Howard Rich says its not just the dollars and deficits but also the gov't's "voraciousness with respect to gobbling up our individual liberties."

GOP to Tea Party Targets: You're On Your Own

In The False Advertising Of ObamaCare IBD says that when it comes to the promises of holding down costs and keeping your currently policy, both are not true according to recent testimony by the Medicare Chief Actuary.

Fixing Bathroom Tiles on the Titanic is Fred Thompson's reaction to Obama's SOTU message.

Walter Williams says The Biggest Lie in American Politics is that corporations are conservate and pro capitalism.

And if you don't believe Williams, there is AFL-CIO, Chamber release joint statement to push infrastructure spending

The unemployment rate rose in 20 states last month as employers in most states shed jobs.

Tea Party Express Will Not Challenge Hatch in 2012, Calls Senator an ‘Original Tea Partier’ writes Robert Costa.

Michelle Malkin says The real snow job in D.C.: Obamacare waivers skyrocket to 729 + 4 states; 4 new SEIU waiver winners

A Center for Public Integrity report says HUD-Funded Housing Projects Wasted Money on Belly Dancers, Sex Offenders and Dead Residents

Senate rejects Tom Udall's attempt to overhaul the filibuster rules.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

House Members Make Bipartisan Push to Delist Gray Wolf

WASHINGTON – Today, a bipartisan coalition of House Members joined together to introduce legislation [H.R. 509] that will remove the Gray Wolf from consideration under the Endangered Special Act (ESA). The following four lead members Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Mike Ross (D-AR) are calling for new management regime for the gray wolf that will empower state and local officials to create and implement recovery plans on a state by state basis.

“The gray wolf isn’t endangered, which is why Republicans and Democrats alike are joining forces to end the misuse of the Endangered Species Act to advance extremist policy agendas,” said Rehberg, a rancher from Billings. “I heard from thousands of Montanans, and folks get it. They know that states are better at managing our own local wildlife than the federal government thousands of miles away. Unless there’s a darn good reason – and there’s not – the federal government has no business getting involved. Years of research, dedicated efforts by land owners and local officials, and the expert opinions of on-the-ground wildlife managers have been given a back seat to profit-motivated environmental groups. We need to end this abuse and solve an issue that should have been put to rest years ago.”

“Scientists and wolf recovery advocates agree – the gray wolf is back. Since it is no longer endangered, it should be de-listed as a species, managed as others species are--by state wildlife agencies-- and time, money and effort can be focused where it’s needed,” said Matheson.

“The ESA should be based on sound science, not a political agenda; but it is clear that Washington has caved to environmentalists determined to prevent the gray wolf’s delisting. We need a balanced and reasonable approach to wolf management that is carried out by the proper officials: Wyoming’s on the ground experts. As long as wolves continue to hurt Wyoming’s livestock owners and attack large game herds, I will continue to fight for this predator’s delisting,” said Lummis.

“Wildlife recovery is a very important and very sensitive issue and I believe the federal government should listen to state and local wildlife officials in these matters,” said Ross, who is also Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “Excessive wolf populations are having a devastating impact on elk, moose, deer and other species and each state has its own unique set of challenges. Both the Obama and Bush Administrations have already recommended the de-listing of wolves in many states and turning their management over to state wildlife agencies because it is the right thing to do to keep our nation’s sensitive ecosystem in balance.”

The following 12 Members are also original sponsors of the legislation:

1) Rob Bishop (R-UT)
2) Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
3) Paul Broun (R-GA)
4) Dennis Cardoza (D-CA)
5) Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
6) Dean Heller (R-NV)
7) John Kline (R-MN)
8) Mike Simpson (R-ID)
9) Greg Walden (R-OR)
10) Don Young (R-AK)
11) Dan Boren (D-OK)
12) Raul Labrador (R-ID)

Press Release

Charlie Louvin, a voice who moved country music generations, dies at 83

Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Louvin, a star of the Grand Ole Opry for more than a half century, died early Wednesday morning at his home in Wartrace, Tenn. He was 83 and suffered from pancreatic cancer. From the late 1940s through the early ’60s, Mr. Louvin and his brother Ira, performing as The Louvin Brothers, revived country music’s emotional, full-throated harmony tradition. They notched 10 top-20 Billboard country hits with classics such as “When I Stop Dreaming,” “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby” and “My Baby’s Gone,” part of a body of work that would later inspire artists including Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton. After the brothers disbanded, Mr. Louvin forged a solo career that included 16 Billboard Top 40 country hits in the ’60s. And in the new century, he rose yet again, receiving two Grammy nominations, playing the Bonnaroo rock festival and collaborating with the rock-ready likes of Cake, Cheap Trick and Elvis Costello. Asked in 2008 about his longevity in the music business, Mr. Louvin offered advice for those who would follow in his footsteps: “You need to smile a lot, sing your butt off and shake every hand that’s stuck in front of you.”...Born Charles Ezra Loudermilk in 1927 in Section, Ala., Mr. Louvin spent most of his childhood in rural Henager, Ala., growing up in a home with no electricity. Charlie and older brother Ira, the only boys among seven children, impressed family and locals by harmonizing with each other. The brothers spent hours listening to the Delmore Brothers, the Blue Sky Boys and any airing of the Grand Ole Opry. “When I was 14, Ira moved to Chattanooga with his wife and conned my daddy to allow me to come there and enter an amateur contest,” Mr. Louvin said in 2010. “We won the big prize, which was a one-minute show at 4:30 a.m. over WDEF, a 1,000-watt station. My daddy was up milking the cow and feeding the stock at that time.” The early morning work led to a gig in Jasper, Tenn., where the brothers made $100 each on their first night. “At the time, Ira was making $30 a week at the Peerless Woolen Mill at Rossville, Ga.,” Mr. Louvin said. “We thought, ‘This is it, we’ve got the world by the tail.’ ” They didn’t, though, and Mr. Louvin was drafted into the Army in 1945. When he returned from service in 1946, the brothers began playing music together again as The Louvin Brothers (“People tended to have trouble with ‘Loudermilk,’ ” Mr. Louvin told Charles Wolfe, author of In Close Harmony: The Story of The Louvin Brothers). They worked steadily in Knoxville, Memphis and Birmingham and recorded in Nashville, all the while trying to make the Grand Ole Opry. After nine auditions, the brothers joined the Opry in January 1955 and began a run of chart success.
1956: Ira, Chet Atkins & Charlie
“I was the idea man,” Mr. Louvin said in 2010. “It was my pleasant duty to write down anything that sounded like a song. Many times, (Ira) would finish a song, come to my house and say, ‘Get your guitar, I’ve got this finished.’ When he kicked it off, I could tell where he was going with the melody. I would do the melody and he’d do the harmony.” That formula worked well for Louvin Brothers classics including “When I Stop Dreaming,” “Cash on the Barrelhead,” “If I Could Only Win Your Love” and “You’re Learning.” While the Louvins’ early 1950s songs most often explored gospel themes, many of their hits were yearning ballads on unrequited love. The records at times featured electric guitars and other “modern” instruments, but the brothers’ vocal interplay was the sonic centerpiece. The Louvins were masters of the smoothly blended, “close harmony” style of duo singing. Ira’s creamy high tenor merged with Charlie’s lower-pitched, blanket-warm voice and created what Harris often calls “the third voice”: one singular sound created from two...

Read more about Charlie Louvin, including his solo career and his influence on Country Music in the Nashville Tennessean. His obituary closes with the following:

In December 2010, Mr. Louvin made his final onstage appearances, taping Marty Stuart’s television show on Dec. 2 and working East Nashville’s FooBar on Dec. 3. He collapsed during the Stuart taping but righted himself and carried on.

His appearance on The Marty Stuart Show will air for the first time at 7 p.m. Saturday on the RFD-TV channel.

“He was like a bulldog that day, just pouring it into the microphone,” Stuart said. “The last song he did was ‘Back When We Were Young,’ a Tom T. Hall piece. At the end, it was like a hymn, with all of us holding our breath.”

Shocking Electric Bills for Federal Buildings

Intrigued by the sight of entire vacant federal buildings illuminated at night, Andrea McCarren, a reporter for WUSA-TV, has spent the last several months monitoring the amount of money spent on electric bills for various departmental HQ's in Washington, DC.

Hundreds of nights and many Freedom of Information Act requests later, McCarren has announced her astounding findings.

Electric bill per month

Department of Labor = $1,000,000 (July 2010)

Department Health and Human Services = $799,000 (August 2010)

Department of Commerce = $794,000 (June 2010)

Department of Energy = $260,000 (average)

Read more

These are the same Fedzilla folks who are telling us to "go green" and "conserve energy".

Someday I'd like to see most of those lights go out and then we can bring back Dandy Don Meredith to sing "Turn out the lights, the party's over".

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he's staying

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he's not leaving his post any time soon. Salazar was not present at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, serving as the administration's "designated survivor" in the event of an attack or an accident at the Capitol. In a speech Wednesday to his department's employees, he warned viewers not to read too much into his absence. "It's not because I have any plans on leaving, because I don't," he said. "I guarantee you I have every intention of being your secretary for the Obama administration." Salazar was the subject of departure rumors last fall, given White House unhappiness with his performance during last year's BP oil spill...more

Obama’s Top Adviser on Climate and Energy Issues Is Leaving

President Barack Obama's top adviser on energy and climate matters is stepping down, two White House officials confirmed Monday. The departure of Carol Browner underscores that there will be no major White House push on climate change, given that such efforts have little chance of succeeding on Capitol Hill. Browner, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Bill Clinton, will be leaving the White House just as Republicans in Congress prepare to take on the Obama administration over global warming and the administration's response to the massive Gulf oil spill. Browner successfully helped negotiate a deal with automakers boosting federal fuel economy standards and requiring the first-ever greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles. She also pushed for billions of dollars for renewable energy in the economic stimulus bill. But the administration fell short on it key domestic priority of passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill to place a firm limit on the pollution blamed for global warming. Just after the November elections, which gave Republicans a majority of seats in the House, Obama admitted the legislation was dead...more

Pearce elected Chairman of Congressional Western Caucus

Photo by Haussamen
WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the Congressional Western Caucus joined together to unanimously name Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM) as the new Chairman and Congressman Dean Heller (R-NV) as Vice-Chairman of the Caucus for the 112th Congress. Outgoing Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) announced that he is stepping down to fulfill his duties as the new Chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.
“I thank my colleagues for the honor of leading this caucus,” Congressman Pearce stated. “For too long, many Members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and other groups and organizations have chosen to ignore the fundamental principles that are so important to our constitutional liberties. Nothing is more western than private property rights and the ability to work for a living, and these very freedoms have come under fierce attack. As chairman, I will defend the values that are the building blocks of the Republic. In my frequent travels around New Mexico, I am always reminded of the suffering faced by New Mexicans as jobs are taxed out of existence. I am absolutely convinced that now is time to take back our economic and constitutional rights. The time has come to lead the charge, rebuilding the industries and economies obliterated by overregulation, and speaking out for hard-working Americans. As Chairman, I will work diligently to unite Members who will focus the policy debate on common-sense environmental and natural resource policy.”...Press Release

Pinon Canyon: ‘No plans, no money’

Ranchers who have fought the Army's controversial plan to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site are getting help from unexpected directions — the federal budget deficit and a change in Army training doctrine. "There are no plans and no money to expand Pinon Canyon," Brig. Gen. James Doty, the acting senior commander at Fort Carson, told The Pueblo Chieftain editorial board Wednesday. "And that appears to be the situation for the foreseeable future. Certainly for the next few years." Doty acknowledged that he can't make any formal guarantees about the Army's training needs for the future, but said the practical reality is there isn't money in the Army's budget. Doty told the editorial board Wednesday that senior Army commanders have determined that no "live fire" exercises involving Army units of a battalion or larger will be done anywhere in the U.S. except at Fort Irwin, Calif., and Fort Polk, La. "That eliminates some of the pressure we've been under to expand Pinon Canyon," Doty said. Although the Army still intends to do brigade-sized maneuvers at Pinon Canyon, the live-fire components will be company-sized or smaller, the general said...more

I guess the 30 million acres owned by the Defense Dept. turned out to be enough after all. Funny how their "needs" change when there is no more money. Unfortunately, when the money comes back, so will the "need".

Design selected for I-70 wildlife crossing near Vail

Calling it a potential "model for the world," a panel of architects and engineers Sunday picked a New York firm's design for a wildlife crossing over Interstate 70 near Vail from an international field of 36 teams. The ARC International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition was aimed to help prevent collisions between cars and wildlife wandering onto I-70. Bear, bobcat, coyote, deer, elk, big-horn sheep and lynx are among the species involved in vehicle-animal collisions on Colorado roads, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The crossing, designed by HNTB with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, features a built-in drainage system, affordable materials and an easy-to-construct design that would allow crews to build it without shutting down traffic in both directions. Its broad expanse, chosen unanimously by the five-person panel, is covered in trees, grasses and shrubs to blend in with the natural habitat on either side of the interstate...more

With Colorado facing a $1.1 billion budget shortfall I doubt if this gets built anytime soon.

Interior notifying eligible Indians about Cobell settlement money

The federal government has begun notifying hundreds of thousands of Native Americans that they are eligible for money from a $3.4 billion class-action settlement Congress funded several weeks ago to resolve claims of trust mismanagement. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that Native Americans who qualify for payment should soon receive information through the mail about their legal rights. The department also has set up a website ( and toll-free number (1-800-961-6109), and plans "an extensive media campaign" using Native American print media, television and radio ads, and online advertising. Formal notice is part of the settlement being supervised by the courts...more

Oregon timber groups file suit over spotted owl recovery plan

Two Portland-based timber industry groups have filed suit alleging that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service improperly used outside advisors to help revise a recovery plan for the northern spotted owl. The Carpenters Industrial Council and the American Forest Resource Council say the wildlife service's use of advisory committees violated federal law. Meetings were conducted privately with no written notes or other records that can reviewed by the public, said Tom Partin, the resource council president. Partin said industry representatives worry the federal government's recovery plan for the spotted owl for the first time will include regulation or restriction of private timber land. For that reason, industry groups question the role of experts and advisors who are not federal employees, Partin said. "We're very fearful of what's going on with these groups," he said. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., alleges an owl habitat "modeling team" and a modeling advisory group were established without announcement, charter or description of their methods or purpose...more

Utah Lawmakers Propose M1911 As Official State Gun

State lawmakers are debating whether to designate a semiautomatic pistol as the official gun of Utah, despite protests from people who believe it's inappropriate because of recent mass shootings. The bill to make the Browning M1911 the official gun breezed through a committee hearing this week and is scheduled to be debated by the full House as early as Wednesday. Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer said the state should have the gun as one of its state symbols to honor John Browning, a Utah native who invented it in 1911. "He invented a firearm that has defended American values and the traditions of this country for 100 years," Wimmer told the House Political Subdivisions Committee...more

Texas Tech researchers find harmful bacteria in feral hogs

Hunters and ranchers are urged to be careful handling wild hogs after two groups of feral swine — one from the Panhandle, the other from Central Texas — tested positive for harmful bacteria. The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University made the warning on Wednesday Jan. 25. The bacteria, Francisella tularensis, can cause the tularemia, a potentially fatal disease for humans. A team of researchers from Tech tested about 130 feral hogs from Crosby County in the Panhandle and Bell and Coryell counties in Central Texas. Of the animals tested, 50 percent of the Crosby County pigs and 15 percent of the central Texas pigs showed evidence of current or past infection with the bacteria. Tularemia is commonly called “rabbit fever.” Rodents and wild game animals as well as mosquitoes, deer flies and ticks, can carry it. Most human infections become apparent after three to five days, and signs include fever, lethargy, anorexia and signs of septicemia. Lesions can form on the skin where infections start. It also can enter the body if infected body fluids come in contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. In some cases, the bacteria become easily airborne and can be inhaled...more

Supreme Court orders Martinez to publish rules

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Wednesday morning that Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration was wrong to halt the publication of rules in the state Register and issued a writ that compels Martinez’s office to publish the rules. This included a greenhouse emissions cap rule passed by the Environmental Improvement Board last year and a rule on dairy regulations had been passed by the Water Quality Control Commission in December 2010. Martinez had halted the publication of the rules with an executive order on her first day in office...more

Martinez’s pick for enviro chief: Environmentalists are communists

While appearing on radio host Alex Jones’ show in 2009, Harrison Schmitt said that leaders of the environmental movement are communists. Earlier this month, Gov. Susana Martinez selected Schmitt — a former U.S. Senator and astronaut — to head the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, which oversees environmental issues. “I think that there are individuals, [Obama science czar John] Holdren apparently among them, a very large number who have taken the — shall we say captured the environmental movement and turned it into what was previously considered the communist movement,” Schmitt said in a 40-minute interview with Jones. “And that’s just something that people of common sense are going to continue to have to counter and wake up enough so that they can take control of their government again.” Later in the interview, Schmitt expanded on the theme saying that this came to be after the fall of the Soviet Union...more

Supreme Court rules against White Peak land swap

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Monday that the controversial White Peak land swap violated the Enabling Act, which created the Land Grant Permanent Fund when New Mexico became a state in 1912. The ruling halted the land exchange, which has drawn widespread criticism, including from current land commissioner Ray Powell. “The Supreme Court concluded that these exchanges were pre-negotiated deals by the previous land commissioner that substantially constrained the potential for competition which is the essential element of a public auction,” Attorney General Gary King said in a statement...more

Where Westlands water flows, California’s agriculture follows

To many people -- particularly environmentalists and family-farm aficionados -- the Westlands Water District, on the dusty west side of California's San Joaquin Valley, conjures up an image of a sprawling empire of large-scale agribusiness. Roughly 600 farmers own land within the district, and grow a veritable cornucopia of tomatoes, almonds, pistachios, lettuce, cantaloupes, grapes, and other crops. Many farms here are huge, to be sure: One family farms at least 25,000 acres. But there are plenty of smaller farmers like 42-year-old Shawn Coburn, who grows 1,200 acres of mostly almonds. And to him, Westlands is an American Eden. "There's a long list of haters," says Coburn. But "we have the best dirt out there. It's the best ground in the world." There's only one problem. While the soil here may be good, there's not much water. At least not since 2007, when a federal judge drastically cut back farmers' water supplies to protect endangered fish in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river delta in the geographic heart of the state. A three-year drought began clobbering California that same year, making life even tougher for farmers like Coburn. In 2009, farmers in Westlands had their annual water supply rationed to just 10 percent of what they're entitled to under their contracts with the federal government. (More about that later.) Here and in neighboring irrigation districts, farmers were forced to idle, or "fallow," about a quarter-million acres of cropland because of drought and pumping restrictions, which cost them somewhere around $350 million in losses...more

Traceability rule represents big adjustment for food industry

In response to a new federal food safety law and growing consumer interest, vast amounts of new data are being generated about the complicated path that food takes from field to supermarket shelf. And, increasingly, some of that information is being offered to curious shoppers, who in some stores can wave a smartphone above an apple or orange and learn instantly where it was grown, who grew it and whether it has been recalled. They can even contact the farmer, if they feel moved. A provision of the federal food safety law passed last year requires that all players in the country's food supply chain be able to quickly trace from whom they received a food product and to whom they sent it. They'll have to maintain that information in digital form, creating deep wells of information that, in some cases, consumers could tap into through their computers or cellphones. The "one step forward, one step back" traceability requirement - for processed food and produce - is designed to make it easier for the Food and Drug Administration to identify the source of an outbreak of foodborne illness, trace its path and swiftly remove it from the food supply. The new requirement represents a major adjustment for some parts of the nation's food system, as the government imposes standards and electronic record-keeping on an industry where small players still rely on handshakes and paper invoices...more

Hotel lobby provides backdrop for steer auction

Amid the rhythmic chatter of auctioneer Wayne Jordan and occasional shouts from bidders, one spectator at the Plaza Hotel could hear the echoes of her youth. The sale of a prize steer by Haughton Ranch in the hotel lobby Wednesday afternoon as a marketing stunt and nod to history went off without a hitch. Norman was calm and co-operative and left only smiles from spectators in his wake. The winning bidder, Armstrong's Scott Innes, paid a premium price in the lobby festooned with cowboy and western art from the Horse Barn. The idea came from Tina Lange, a city councillor and part owner of the Plaza Heritage Hotel who was sporting six guns at her side - with a UPC on the butt (the gun, not her jeans). She was inspired by a photograph in the Plaza lobby from the sale of a champion bull in 1956, attended by the mayor, ranchers and dignitaries. And the little girl who snuck out of school 55 years ago to see it all. "I went to school and found a way to leave school," Ellen Smailes said...more

Song Of The Day #493

Ranch Radio is featuring songs from 1963 this week. The first song is Trouble And Me by Stonewall Jackson. That will be followed by a rock song. Why a rock song? Because the #1 tune on the pop charts in 1963 was by a band from Raton, New Mexico: The Fireballs. Here they are with Jimmy Gilmer doing the vocals on their big hit Sugar Shack.

The Political Catch Pen

CEI critiques a Gingrich speech to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Newt Gingrich Panders to Corn Belt, Eyes 2012 GOP Bid

Should Congress grant Obama the authority to have an "Internet Kill Switch"? Dennis Grabowski says no.

The Heritage Foundation experts respond to Obama at Reaction Roundup: Heritage Responds To The State Of The Union

Senate is thankfully negotiating away Tom Udall's proposed radical changes to Senate rules that even some Democrats can't support.

Fox News reports Government Unions Build Ranks, Court TSA for Membership.

Justice Scalia Addresses Tea Party-Organized Event says the AP.

The AP reports 10 States invoke "nullification doctrine" in health care fight.

Hello, Big Brother: Digital sensors are watching us

Odds are you will be monitored today — many times over. Surveillance cameras at airports, subways, banks and other public venues are not the only devices tracking you. Inexpensive, ever-watchful digital sensors are now ubiquitous. They are in laptop webcams, video-game motion sensors, smartphone cameras, utility meters, passports and employee ID cards. Step out your front door and you could be captured in a high-resolution photograph taken from the air or street by Google or Microsoft, as they update their respective mapping services. Drive down a city thoroughfare, cross a toll bridge, or park at certain shopping malls and your license plate will be recorded and time-stamped. Several developments have converged to push the monitoring of human activity far beyond what George Orwell imagined. Low-cost digital cameras, motion sensors and biometric readers are proliferating just as the cost of storing digital data is decreasing. The result: the explosion of sensor data collection and storage...more

Some of my rural friends are probably saying this is all happening in the big city. You just wait. There will be monitoring devices on every gate and cattle guard, and drones flying overhead all to enforce the terms and conditions of your permit.

D.C. expanding public surveillance camera net

Big Brother may already be watching you in the District, and he will soon have a lot more eyes trained in your direction. The city's homeland security agency is planning to add thousands of security cameras from private businesses around the nation's capital and the Metro system to the thousands of electronic eyes that authorities are already monitoring 24/7. D.C.'s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency has already centralized the feeds from more than 4,500 cameras operated by the District's department of transportation and school system. Those feeds are watched around the clock by officials from those departments who sit together in homeland security's Joint All-Hazards Operation Center. By bringing feeds from thousands more cameras to the central watching room through links to cameras at businesses such as banks, corner stores and gas stations, the District is joining other big cities like London, New York and Baltimore that in recent years have turned to cameras to fight crime and terrorism. But critics worry the District's government might be going too far...more

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sen. Mike Crapo: Wild Lands Order Circumvents Public, Congress

Members of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation are alarmed by the recent decision of the U.S. Secretary of Interior to order a “new tier of public land protection” that may circumvent the public, stakeholders and Congress, and could damage collaborative land management. Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raúl Labrador wrote Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today, asking him to further explain his Wild Lands directive, which was issued as an executive order. “In a state like Idaho – where two-thirds of the land is owned by the federal government – we have unique insight into the impacts that overly-prescriptive, inflexible land management policies can have on people and communities, as well as local and state government,” the Delegation members wrote. “That is why we believe that while increased levels of protection may be warranted for certain lands in certain circumstances, the people and parties that are most impacted must be at the center of the policy-making process.” The Idaho Delegation members said the order by Salazar calling on Bureau of Land Management employees to inventory public lands for “wilderness characteristics” could also place a “substantial burden” on agency workers and divert personnel and agency resources from current projects. They said the order could slow the permitting process for alternative energy projects, such as wind, solar and geothermal energy the nation needs, as well as planning for motorized recreation and grazing. There are also fears the order will damage the relationship between the agency and those who use the public lands and count on a collaborative process for decision-making by a top-down order like the Wild Lands directive...more

Federal judge upholds national forest's limits on motorized travel

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by groups wanting to reverse a U.S. Forest Service ban on motorized travel in a section of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The Badger-Two Medicine Travel Plan went into effect in October along the Rocky Mountain Front, limiting access by wheeled motor vehicles to 8 miles of roads and banning snowmobiles. The 2008 plan involves 186 miles of trails in the 130,000-acre area, which is sacred to the Blackfeet Tribe. The Forest Service said one of the reasons for the ban was that motorized recreation interfered with traditional Blackfeet Tribe religious practices, such as vision quests. U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon on Jan. 20 ruled that the plan was not flawed as the groups had contended. The groups claimed the Forest Service’s reasoning for the plan violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Haddon rejected the argument, saying the plan didn’t result in “a cathedral for the Blackfeet religion.” He added that “any individual, regardless of religion, may access Badger-Two Medicine … . The decision is devoid of any informed and reasonable perception that it endorses religion.” The judge also noted that the agency’s decision was based on protecting water and soil quality, and fish and wildlife habitat. One of the plaintiffs, Montanans for Multiple Use, said the group had “a long heritage of being able to access public lands for multiple-use purposes.” “What we’re seeing is a gradual, incremental and cumulative shutdown of our national forest to the average citizen who needs motorized access,” said Fred Hodgeboom, the group’s president...more

Forest Service May Be Liable for Unsafe Backfire

Property owners in rural Arizona can sue the Forest Service for not warning them that their homes were threatened by attempts to extinguish a wildfire, the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday. The federal appeals panel in San Francisco reversed a district court ruling that gave the agency immunity under the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The Bullock Fire raged through the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson in the early summer of 2002, burning more than 30,000 acres in and around the Coronado National Forest. Firefighters started a backfire - a blaze set intentionally to consume fuel in the path of a wildfire - near three private properties, but they failed to warn the owners or take any action to protect the properties, according to the ruling. The properties were clearly marked on Forest Service maps, and the owners had told the agency that their homes could be threatened. Each property was burned when the backfire jumped its intended boundaries. Property owners Silver Starr De Varona, John Ervin, and Gregory and Victoria Green sued the Forest Service for negligence under the FTCA, but the district court dismissed the case, ruling that the agency had immunity under the act's discretionary function exception. The exception lets federal agencies and employees off the hook if they can prove that their actions were "susceptible to a policy analysis grounded in social, economic, or political concerns," according to case law as quoted in the appellate court's ruling. Tuesday's reversal holds that the agency's failure to notify the plaintiffs of the backfire did not meet the exception's criteria. "We reverse the district court because, although no statute or agency policy dictates the precise manner in which the Forest Service must act when it lights a backfire, there is no evidence in the record that the Forest Service's failure to notify the property owners of the backfire it lighted was susceptible to a policy analysis grounded in social, economic, or political concerns," Judge Carlos Bea for the three-judge appeals panel (emphasis in original)...more

Forest rejects oil, gas leases in Wyo. Range

The Forest Service will not allow development on 44,720 acres of contested oil and gas leases in the Wyoming Range, officials announced Tuesday. Bridger-Teton National Forest supervisor Jacque Buchanan announced her decision with a statement, which sportsmen and conservation groups hailed as a victory in the quest to protect Wyoming’s most important wild places from energy development. The leases were proposed 35 miles southeast of Jackson in Sublette County. “After considering all the alternatives, and the environmental impacts associated with each, I have determined this is the best course of action,” Buchanan said. “No single factor led me to this decision. Rather, it was the combination of the sensitivity and values of the area, the magnitude of other activities currently underway or planned with potentially cumulative impacts, and the concerns of citizens, organizations and other agencies.” The Bridger-Teton originally set aside the land for leasing in 1990, and the BLM offered lease sales on the 44,720 acres in 2005 and 2006. Conservation groups and sportsmen appealed that decision to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, claiming the BLM justified the sale using outdated information...more

Lawsuit claims BLM approval of wind energy project violated laws

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Las Vegas claims the Bureau of Land Management violated federal environmental and American Indian cultural laws when the agency approved a wind energy project near Great Basin National Park. The 36-page complaint states that despite "very significant and unknown environmental and cultural impacts," the BLM gave "fast track" approval of the Spring Valley Wind project in White Pine County four miles from a cave where more than 1 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost in the fall, and near the sacred Western Shoshone swamp cedar site where Indians were massacred during the Goshute War of 1863. "BLM refused to conduct the full environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Instead, under pressure from high-level BLM officials and the industry proponent, BLM rushed through a short-cut analysis in order to meet arbitrary funding deadlines desired by the industry," according to the lawsuit filed by attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity, the Western Watershed Project, the Ely Shoshone Tribe, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe and the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. The lawsuit seeks to block the BLM from allowing Spring Valley Wind to go forward with "ground-clearing, site preparation and wind tower construction until such time as BLM has fully complied with law."...more

Miners to challenge illegal road citation

Miners in southern Oregon say they will support two other miners in a dispute over a U.S. Forest Service citation for allegedly creating an illegal road to access their mining claim. Bob Bernhardt of Grants Pass, who has a claim next to the two miners, told The Daily Courier the pair were cited incorrectly. Bernhardt told the newspaper the road was used during the massive Biscuit Fire in 2002. Kerby Jackson of the Southwest Oregon Mining Association says his organization will back the two miners, if needed. Last week, the Forest Service cited the two miners, saying the road was illegal. But the agency wouldn't release their names or any details such as possible penalties, citing the federal Privacy Act.  AP