Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Problem Solved: Panda Poop & Biofuels

The waste of one of the world’s most endangered animals may hold the key to producing biofuels. Brown and grad student Candace Williams discovered something amazing in panda excrement. They analyzed the fresh feces of bamboo-eating pandas at the Memphis Zoo. They found microbes in panda droppings break down super-tough plant materials — grasses, corn stalks and wood chips. “Once you have the bacteria you can grow them outside of the intestinal track of the panda,” Brown said. Eventually the scientists want to try engineering the digestive enzymes on a large scale so plant waste could be used to make biofuels, instead of relying on food crops like corn. “Being able to produce a biofuel from two waste products is pretty incredible,” Williams said...more

Looks like one of those new "green jobs" may be recycling Chinese bear shit.

It's probably the reason behind this recent crime spree: Men accused of stealing $60,000 in toilet paper.

‘Smart Collar’ in the Works to Manage Wildlife Better

The collar of the wild is coming. And in the same way that the smartphone changed human communications, what might be called the “smart collar” — measuring things that people never could before about how animals move and eat and live their lives — could fundamentally transform how wild populations are managed, and imagined, biologists and wildlife managers say. The collars, in development in academia and intended for commercial production in the next few years, use a combination of global positioning technology and accelerometers for measuring an animal’s metabolic inner life in leaping, running or sleeping. From the safari parks of Africa to urbanized zones on the edge of wildlands across the American West — places where widespread interest in the devices has already been voiced, scientists said — the mysteries of the wild might never be the same. “What you end up with is a diary for the animal, a 24-hour diary that says he spent this much time sleeping, and we know from the GPS where that was,” said Terrie Williams, a professor of biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and one of three co-investigators on the project. “Then he woke up and went for a walk over here. He caught something over here. He ate something and we know what it was because the signatures we get for a deer kill vs. a rabbit kill are very different.”...more

Elko County wants end to 15-year-old trout case

Never one to back down from a fight with the U.S. government, northern Nevada's rural Elko County has been feuding with federal land managers for decades over environmental protections they say go too far. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to lawyers for the government and the environmental groups they've been battling for 15 years that the county's district attorney thinks it's time to end a legal skirmish over protecting a threatened fish and controlling a national forest road. "There is nothing left to fight about," Deputy District Attorney Kristin McQueary said about the dispute that pitted a citizen work crew called the Shovel Brigade against the Endangered Species Act. Mother Nature started the whole thing in 1995 when the Jarbidge River flooded its banks and washed out the final 1.5-mile stretch of the remote road that winds up a steep narrow canyon. The road dead-ends at a wilderness area where motorized vehicles are prohibited in the rugged mountains near the Nevada-Idaho line, about 70 miles west of Utah. The Forest Service initially made plans to repair most of the road, but backed off when Trout Unlimited objected based on concerns about the impact erosion from the road work would have on bull trout. The agency abandoned the idea altogether when then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt declared the fish threatened in 1998 in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Nevada. That's when the Elko County commissioners decided to take matters into their own hands and make their own repairs to the road they claimed belonged to the county in the first place, not the feds...more

Looks like the end for the Shovel Brigade.

The bear who dared: Awesome polar animal descends 300ft cliff in a bid to scavenge eggs from some VERY surprised birds

For birds nesting on a precarious cliff, the last visitor they might expect to see would be a hulking polar bear clambering down to join them. Yet this bulky beast somehow managed to descend a craggy precipice in Russia’s remote Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya. The young male risked life and limb scavenging for eggs along the 300ft-high rock face thronged with hundreds of squawking Brunnich's Guillemots...more

Maybe there's hope for me after all

New investigations at an iconic cave site on the Channel Island of Jersey have led archaeologists to believe the Neanderthals have been widely under-estimated. Neanderthals survived in Europe through a number of ice ages and died out only about 30,000 years ago. The site at La Cotte de St Brelade reveals a near-continuous use of the cave site spanning over a quarter of a million years, suggesting a considerable success story in adapting to a changing climate and landscape, prior to the arrival of Homo sapiens. The La Cotte ravine has revealed the most prolific collection of early Neanderthal technology in North West Europe, including over 250,000 stone tools. These include stones with sharpened edges that could be used to cut or chop, known as hand axes. The huge amounts of carefully manufactured tools show just how technologically skilled early Neanderthal groups were...more

Heritage Action Scorecard Released: NM Reps get scores of 0, 0, 6, 10 & 75%

Heritage Action has released their Legislative Scorecard. According to their press release:
Heritage Action’s legislative scorecard currently encompasses 30 votes and 5 co-sponsorship scores in the House and 19 votes and 4 co-sponsorship scores in the Senate. The votes cover the full spectrum of conservatism, and include legislative action on issues both large and small. 13 Senators and 27 Representatives received scores above 85%.

For NM the scores were:

Bingaman - 0
Udall - 0
Heinrich - 6
Lujan - 10
Pearce - 75

Can you video the police?

Yes, according to an August 26th unanimous opinion from the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Glik was exercising clearly-established First Amendment rights in filiming the officers in a public space, and that his clearly-established Fourth Amendment rights were violated by his arrest without probable cause."

Jeffrey P. Hermes blogs about it here and provides this background:

For those of you not familiar with Simon Glik's case, Glik was arrested on October 1, 2007, after openly using his cell phone to record three police officers arresting a suspect on Boston Common. In return for his efforts to record what he suspected might be police brutality -- in a pattern that is now all too familiar -- Glik was charged with criminal violation of the Massachusetts wiretap act, aiding the escape of a prisoner and disturbing the peace.

Gun Inquiry Costs Officials Their Jobs

The Obama administration on Tuesday replaced two top Justice Department officials associated with an ill-fated investigation into a gun-trafficking network in Arizona that has been at the center of a political conflagration. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the resignation of the United States attorney in Phoenix, Dennis K. Burke, and the reassignment of the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Kenneth E. Melson. The two officials became the highest-profile political casualties yet in the fallout from a disputed effort to take down a weapons-smuggling ring based in Arizona and linked to Mexican drug cartels...more

Family arrested in gun bust; feds raid LC, Deming stores

A family with gun stores in Las Cruces and Deming was arrested early Tuesday on federal charges they were illegally selling guns and ammunition to Mexican cartel members. Rick Reese, a federal firearms licensee and the owner of New Deal Shooting Sports II on Amador Avenue and New Deal Shooting Sports in Deming, his wife Terri and their two sons Ryin and Remington were arrested Tuesday morning in Las Cruces. The four reportedly sold weapons allegedly favored by Mexican cartels - 27 AK-47-type rifles, three AR-15 rifles, two .50 caliber rifles, and two 9 mm pistols - to undercover agents after their alleged smuggling activities were discovered, according to the indictment. In the 30-count indictment, which was unsealed Tuesday, Rick Reese, 55, Terri Reese, 48, 24-year-old Ryin Reese and 19-year-old Remington Reese are charged variously with conspiring to smuggle firearms and make false statements, firearms smuggling and money laundering from April 2010 until July 2011...more

Great drought taking toll on Oklahoma cotton

The Great Drought of 2011 continues in Oklahoma with brutal effects. Record breaking temperatures are still underway and based on recent forecasts will continue. It appears that we will have virtually no surviving dryland fields produce harvestable yield. Because of the extreme environment, reduced yield due to fruit shed and small boll size will plague many irrigated fields this year. Many factors are involved in this situation. Insect issues were not involved. Poor fruit retention can be attributed to heat stress and drought...more

Song Of The Day #651

Tick from the Piney Woods of East Texas has castigated Ranch Radio for not recognizing Kitty Wells' 92nd birthday yesterday.  Shame on me.  Well's 1952 hit It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels was the first time a woman had topped the country charts and we bring it to you today.  She also had some hits singing duets with Red Foley so I've also included their 1954 recording of One By One.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Daryl Hannah arrested in Keystone XL pipeline protest

Actress Daryl Hannah has been arrested in front of the White House along with other environmental protesters who oppose a planned oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The sit-in Tuesday involved dozens protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. It would go through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.Before she was arrested, Hannah told The Associated Press the protesters want to be free from dependence on fossil fuels. The group calls for clean energy investments instead. Hannah says they hope President Barack Obama will not bow to oil lobbyists.Hannah sat down on the sidewalk near the White House and refused orders from U.S. Park Police to move.She has been arrested in the past for environmental causes. AP

You never can trust a mermaid...

The Animas river is ailing

The Animas River flows into Durango like the vena cava into the heart, carrying our lifeblood, sustaining our way of life. But the river is sick, and it is getting sicker every day. A giving waterway, the Animas has silently borne demands placed on it ever since the first settlers populated its banks. Native inhabitants of the region, by contrast, used it little. First came hard-rock miners exploiting the immense riches of the San Juan Mountains in the 1860s. Later, mining produced radioactive tailings from uranium milling. The wounds left by mining still bleed contaminants into the Animas. In fact, toxic discharges have worsened in recent years, raising the specter of a major federal cleanup effort. Less alarming, but still of growing concern, are wastes – herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, pet excrement – that ooze from the region’s growing population like sweat from pores. Then there is our thirst and the water siphoned to slake it...more

This is part of a series at the Durango Herald. Other titles so far are:

Want water? Take a number

More than a century of measurements

Demands on the Animas River

Fatal bear attack in Yellowstone is the second this summer

A Yellowstone National Park hiker whose body was found last week was mauled and killed by a grizzly bear, authorities confirmed Monday. The hiker was identified as 59-year-old John Wallace of Chassell, Mich. He was traveling alone and had pitched his tent in a campground along the Mary Mountain Trail on Wednesday. His body was discovered Friday morning by two hikers. An autopsy conducted on Sunday confirmed that Wallace died of traumatic injuries from a bear attack. "There was no witness to this incident and we really don't have a lot of information to help us determine why this attack may have occurred," said Al Nash, park spokesman. He said park rangers are conducting fly-overs of the area where the attack occurred. "The next step is to see if we can find a bear, and then determine if that is the bear involved in the incident," he said. "That might help them figure out why this attack happened at all." Wallace is the second person to die of a bear attack in the park this summer. In July, a female bear attacked and killed a 57-year-old Torrance man...more

Alaska appeals federal court ruling upholding endangered species protections for polar bears

The state of Alaska is appealing a federal ruling that upholds a 2008 decision to give polar bears federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Alaska Attorney General John Burns says the federal government’s decision was based on “uncertain predictions of future threats” of habitat loss, not on observed threats or declining bear numbers. Gov. Sean Parnell says the bear population has more than doubled in the last 40 years and doesn’t merit special protections. The state says it filed its appeal notice Friday...more

The region’s whackin’ and stackin’ griz this year

The recent news about charges pending against a North Idaho Man for the May 8 killing of a grizzly bear in his yards wasn't an isolated case. The region had a virtual grizzly killing spree in May as two grizzly bears also were shot and killed in western Montana, according to a story by The Missoulian. An antler hunter shot a sow grizzly bear — orphaning two cubs — in the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials. In a separate incident, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Wildlife Management Program said a 2-year-old female grizzly was shot and killed by a Ronan-area landowner as it went after his chickens. The young grizzly shot near Ronan was the fourth bear lost from the Flathead Indian Reservation's grizzly population in 10 months due to grizzly-chicken encounters...more

Notice to all Grizzlies:  It's ok to attack a man's livestock, cuz he'll be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if he tries to protect his property.

Warning to all Grizzlies:  Stay the hell away from tribal chickens.  Those Flathead's will blow you away and use your grizzly grease to cook up their chicken wings.

Question to Authorities:   What the hell is a "grizzly-chicken encounter"?   Is it kinda like a "windshield-moth" encounter? 

Study seeks to quantify cost of endangered species

The state of Alaska wants to study — and quantify — the economic costs of Endangered Species Act listings. In a solicitation for proposals, the commerce department said there has been a "constant expansion" of use of the act since the 1970s and that potential or actual listings in Alaska have stopped, slowed or threatened development. It said implementation of the act has had "substantial" economic effects but that the study will seek to determine the size of those resulting from designations under the ESA. There is a $350,000 budget for the project. The notice, issued Thursday, said the study's author should seek to have the results published in a "respected, peer-reviewed journal." They also would be discussed in public forums. Responses are due by Sept. 19. The contract would run through the end of the fiscal year, with the state having the option to extend it. Wanetta Ayers, director of the department's Division of Economic Development, said Friday that it is incumbent upon the state to understand the barriers stemming from ESA designations, and to be able to articulate those. She said a goal of the study is to try to determine how designations affect business decisions and what the costs for state or local government to be involved are...more

FWS Must Restore 'Lost Credibility,' New Director Says

The Fish and Wildlife Service must work to restore its credibility with the public and establish a framework to ensure that science, not politics, drives endangered species listings, according to the agency's new director. Dan Ashe, a 16-year agency veteran who took the helm at the end of June, said his primary goal as director is to create an environment within FWS built around a commitment to science and excellence in public service. "At our core, we continue to recognize that we are a scientific organization, and that we are committed to the fundamental practice of science as a bedrock in the organization," Ashe said in a sit-down interview this week with Land Letter. Regaining public confidence in the agency's commitment to science will take time, but Ashe said big changes have already occurred under the Obama administration...more

Wind Power Is Dying

While the U.S. is dumping billions of dollars into wind farms and onshore and offshore wind turbines, this energy source is being cast aside as a failure elsewhere in the world. Some 410 federations and associations from 21 European countries, for example, have united against deployment of wind farms charging it is “degrading the quality of life.” The European Platform Against Wind farms (EPAW) is demanding “a moratorium suspending all wind farm projects and a “complete assessment of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of wind farms in Europe.” The EPAW said it objects to industrial wind farms which “are spreading in a disorderly manner across Europe” under pressure from “financial and ideological lobby groups,” that are “degrading the quality of life living in their vicinity, affecting the health of many, devaluing people’s property and severely harming wildlife.” A petition for a moratorium has been sent to the European Commission and Parliament, said EPAW chairman J.L Butre. France, earlier his year ran into opposition to its plan to build 3,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind turbines by 2020. That year is the target date the European Union set for providing 20 percent of its energy through renewable sources. An organization called the Sustainable Environment Association, opposes wind power, saying the subsidies will “not create a single job in France.” In Canada, Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) has launched a province-wide drive against wind power...more

Calif. could be first state to ban foam containers

Restaurant owner Gary Honeycutt says a push in California’s Legislature to ban the plastic foam containers he uses to serve up takeout meals could cost him thousands of dollars in an industry where profit margins are razor thin. BJ’s Kountry Kitchen, in the heart of California’s farm country, uses about 26,000 of the 9-inch foam clamshells a year, mostly for takeout by the customers who come in for the restaurant’s popular breakfast omelets. “We put cheese on those omelets. And when we put the cheese on, it’s really hot and bubbly and it goes right through the biodegradable stuff,’’ he said. He said he expects his costs would more than double if the state requires him to use only biodegradable cartons. The bill by state Senator Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat, would prohibit restaurants, grocery stores, and other vendors from dispensing food in expanded polystyrene containers beginning in 2016. If signed into law, the measure would make California the first to institute a statewide ban on such containers...more

Underground river stretching 3,700 miles found under the Amazon

A huge underground river appears to be flowing thousands of feet beneath the Amazon, Brazilian scientists have claimed. Valiya Hamza of Brazil's National Observatory said researchers found indications that the subterranean river is 3,700 miles long, about the same length as the Amazon on the surface. Mr Hamza said the discovery of the possible underground river came from studying temperature variations at 241 inactive oil wells drilled in the 1970s and 1980s. He said "thermal information" provided by the state oil company Petrobras allowed his team to identify the movement of water 13,100 feet beneath the Amazon. The Amazon, the earth's second-longest river, is by far the largest in terms of water flow, draining a large part of South America...more

Meetings planned on desert bighorn sheep proposal

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has scheduled two public meetings in southern New Mexico to discuss a recommendation to delist desert bighorn sheep from the state's threatened and endangered species list. The meetings will be the evening of Sept. 6 in Deming and Truth or Consequences. Desert bighorn sheep were listed as a state endangered species in 1980 when the population was estimated at fewer than 70. Through management efforts including releases, selective predator control and support from numerous wildlife conservation groups, the population estimate is now 645. Officials say that far exceeds the delisting criteria under the state Wildlife Conservation Act. The state Game Commission will have to make a final decision on the recommendation to delist the sheep. AP

Rancher does own road work, sends Pima County the bill

Andy Smallhouse earlier this summer turned left at Frustrated, went right on through to Fed Up and kept going until he landed on Doing Something About It. The 38-year-old rancher, whose family has run the Carlink Ranch out in Redington, on the far northeast side, for five generations, said it's never been easy getting the county to maintain the seven or so miles of dirt road it's responsible for out there. But with increasingly limited transportation-maintenance dollars, it's been all but impossible. Smallhouse said he had at least three meetings with the county, even though it's almost a two-hour drive each direction. "We get a lot of promises, and then nothing ever happens," he said. He said that he and the other ranching families pay taxes but get very little back in services. And in order to maintain their businesses, whether they're selling cattle or hay or lumber, they've got to have roads to haul it on. "It got to the point that people wouldn't buy my hay because it was tearing up their vehicles." So Smallhouse did what any self-reliant rancher type might do. He rounded up two workers and graded the road himself with the equipment he uses to repair the roads on his own ranch. And then he sent a bill to the county for $2,530 under the heading: Emergency road grading...more

Song Of The Day #650

The tune on Ranch Radio today is You Gotta Have A License by Tommy Collins.

TSA Agent Admits to Aiding Accused Drug Dealer

A former federal security officer has admitted helping a man accused of running a drug ring evade security and smuggle money through the Buffalo Niagara Airport. Minnetta Walker was arrested in March. She admitted Friday in federal court helping the man get around airport security scanners, The Buffalo News reported. Walker, 43, had been suspended from her job as a behavioral detection officer for the Transportation Safety Administration. As a behavioral detection officer, Walker was trained to observe and analyze human behavior and had unrestricted access to the airport and its security stations. Sometimes, she'd direct travelers she appeared to know, including Frank, away from security lines where body image scanners or pat-downs might detect large sums of cash, and escort them to their gates so they wouldn't be pulled aside for random inspections, authorities said. She'd also alert travelers to the presence of undercover law enforcement officers, authorities said...more

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pearce to attend emergency tree cutting; Cowboy Dinner & Dance postponed so folks can support Otero County

Otero County “Emergency Plan” Launches Local Environmental Resource Management

Cloudcroft, NM (August 26, 2011) Congressman Steve Pearce will participate in Otero County’s emergency tree cutting plan on September 17, 2011. Cutting will take place on one acre of the Lincoln National Forest near Cloudcroft in efforts to clean up the forest and decrease the spread of fires.

“This is an important day for New Mexico,” said Pearce. “I look forward to joining in this effort to restore common-sense forest management to New Mexico. It has been an uphill battle to begin logging again in New Mexico, but September 17th will mark the beginning of increased public safety and local environmental resource management. Fires have devastated overgrown forests, and it is time to take back our forests and protect our families. I commend the Otero County Commissioners for their efforts to bring the power back to local government.”

The Otero County Commission voted in June to create an emergency plan, allowing the county to forego U.S. Forest Service policy and cut trees in the event of an emergency. They created an 80,000-acre plan that calls for responsible management to protect local watershed and prevent fires that have threatened Cloudcroft for many years.

Otero County Commissioner Ronny Rardin has spearheaded efforts to thin the forest around Cloudcroft. “This is not just about a tree,” said Rardin. “It’s about the fact that our county has been in a declared state of emergency for quite some time now because of severe drought. Our forest has been overcrowded for too long. We are going to show the world what an acre of forest land should look like.”

The public is invited to attend the event, which will take place during Cloudcroft’s annual “Lumberjack Day” festivities at 12:00 noon on September 17th.


Hidalgo County Cowboy Dinner and Dance Postponed in Support of Otero County’s Emergency Tree Cutting Plan

Animas, NM (August 30, 2011) The 3rd Annual Hidalgo County Cowboy Dinner and Dance, scheduled for September 17, 2011 in Animas, NM will be postponed in support of Otero County Commission’s emergency action plan to assume responsibility of forest management in Lincoln National Forest. Cutting of the first tree is planned on September 17, 2011.

“For years Otero County has been trying to get the U.S. Forest Service to properly manage National Forest lands in their county. Now they’re drawing a line in the sand. Either the Forest Service starts actively managing the National Forest in Otero County or the county will”, states Judy Keeler, President of Hidalgo County Cattle Growers and one of the sponsors of the dinner/dance. “We’ll be there to show our support on September 17th when Congressman Peace and the Otero County Commissioners cut down the first tree” she

The music for the fourteen Cowboy Dinner and Dances held since August 2008 has been provided by Joe Delk and Bucky Allred with The Delk Band and other musical friends. The events are held in honor of rural families, rural traditions and our rural heritage. There has never been an admission charge for these events. Financial support is only through donations.

“The multiple-use of our federal lands is crucial for our local economies and counties have got to stand up and assert their authority to insure involvement in the management decisions of federal agencies, especially when it impacts the socio-economic fabric of the community. Hidalgo County folks will gladly forgo this year’s dinner/dance fundraiser to stand up for Otero County’s decision to take back their forest” states Delk.

Cowboy Dinner & Dance fundraisers are held to support the efforts of the Gila Livestock Grower’s Association and the Catron County’s Americans for Preserving our Western Environment to raise funds to fight the actions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction program. The citizens of Catron County are bearing the disproportionate share of the socio-economic burden of this absurd program.

Judy Keeler says, “Come to Cloudcroft on September 17, 2011 to show your support”!


Seattle Green Jobs Program Gets $20M, Creates 14 Posts, 3 Homes Upgraded

A green jobs program in one of America's greenest cities is being called a bust 16 months after a $20 million federal grant to weatherize homes in Seattle ended up putting just 14 people to work in mostly administrative jobs and upgrading only three homes in the area. "The jobs are not there," Todd Myers, who wrote the book "Eco Fads," told Fox News. "So we're training people for jobs that don't exist."...more

Protection of 2,000 miles of river proposed to save Willow Flycatcher

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to keep the Willow Flycatcher from going extinct by protecting 2,000 miles of stream, including portions of Tonto Creek, Roosevelt Lake and the Verde, Gila and Salt rivers. In response to a lawsuit, the Fish and Wildlife Service more than doubled its previously proposed critical habitat for the tiny, insect-eating songbird that winters in the tropics before undertaking an epic journey to build its summer nests in thick, streamside vegetation throughout the Southwest. The designation of critical habitat doesn’t affect the use of private land, but does require the federal government to do anything it can to protect the areas critical to the bird’s survival. The Fish and Wildlife Service originally proposed designating about 1,500 miles of river as critical habitat, then dropped the number to about 737 miles as a result of lawsuit threats by the Arizona Cattle Grower’s Association. The Willow Flycatcher nests in dense, streamside vegetation, mostly in stands of willows and other native riparian vegetation. Cattle grazing can cause big changes in such areas if ranchers let cattle gobble up willow saplings in the spring. Most ranchers graze their cattle on federally-owned land, which means the listing of critical habitat could dramatically affect their operations...more

House Republicans Seek to Remove U.S. Funding for UN Climate Efforts

House Republicans are applying a search and destroy tactic to international funding for global warming this budget season. It goes like this: Ax any line items with the words "climate change." Their primary targets are a pair of crucial United Nations initiatives designed to slow warming worldwide and educate policymakers about the evolving science of climate change. On the chopping block for 2012 are millions in funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's leading scientific advisory body on global warming. The IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore in 2007, and governments often use its periodic reviews of climate risks to set targets for reducing carbon emissions. The GOP-led effort would also cut all U.S. funding for the 19-year-old U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the main forum for the global effort to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases. UNFCCC climate treaty talks are mired in longstanding rich-poor rifts and mistrust of the United States for its refusal to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and accept binding emissions limits...more

American Indians more affected by climate change

American Indian tribes may be disproportionately affected by climate changes as compared to the general population, a National Wildlife Federation study found. The study, released this month, found that American Indians and Alaska Natives in North America are more vulnerable to climate changes because they are more heavily dependent on natural resources and live closer to the land than does the general population...more

Saving the polar bear and saving the children hasn't worked out too well for them, so they'll have a go at the Native Americans.   Maybe this will catch the public's eye, and for sure the grant spigots will be turned on and the lobbying will commence.   Get ready for another crying indian in all your favorite media outlets.

Iron Eyes Cody is no longer with us so maybe they'll use Al Gore Instead.

And by the way, all the ranchers I know "are more heavily dependent on natural resources and live closer to the land than does the general population."  Does the National Wildlife Federation think anglo ranchers are raising their cattle in the suburbs?

Looks like I was right about the grants and the lobbying:

The National Wildlife Federation released the study in collaboration with the Tribal Lands Program, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, National Congress of American Indians, Native American Fish & Wildlife Society, National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Rights Fund and the University of Colorado Law School. The study asks Congress to increase funding to allow the Bureau of Indian Affairs to seek solutions. It also stresses the need for the federal government to enforce tribal rights to natural and cultural resources and calls on tribes to use their sovereign authority to address climate change and plan appropriately...

They're looking for a solution from the Bureau of Indian Affairs?  Now that's a laugh.

No, they want the BIA to fund grants.  It's about more $$ for federal grants, not global warming.  It's certainly not about the well-being of Native American ranchers.   Call it TARP for Teepees.

Free-ranging market could save wolves

Get your rifles ready: Wolf season opens in Montana and Idaho in early September, and for as little as $11.50 you've got a better chance than ever of bagging this toothy predator. In July, Montana doubled its kill quota to 220, and Idaho, well, it has declined to set a quota. Wyoming plans to treat wolves as predators in most of the state, allowing them to be killed on sight starting next fall. If all goes according to plan, the Rocky Mountain​ wolf population will be knocked down 60 percent from its peak of 1,733 in 2009. This is obviously a perfectly sound strategy for preserving an iconic American species, which taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars breeding and feeding. No, not wolves, but public-lands ranchers, whose livestock graze on federal property and who are increasingly concerned about attacks by free-ranging wolf packs. During this 15-year saga over wolves in the West, which pits conservationists against cowboys, it was easy to miss that the most outspoken cattlemen were not simply asking to guard their private property from deadly intruders. They were defending their right to pay rock-bottom prices to let their cattle graze unchaperoned on 162 million acres of federal land. Conservationists were forced to claim these open spaces, vilifying ranchers and hunters and tying up federal regulators in a two- year lawsuit that was ultimately circumvented by Congress. Federal grazing policies seem designed to foster conflict rather than cooperation. The future of both wolves and ranchers depends, in part, on reforming our archaic and noncompetitive system through a shift to transferrable federal grazing permits sold on a regulated market...more

Cheney tells inside story of how he bucked administration on 2nd Amendment

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s autobiographical book offers new information about a rare instance of Cheney breaking with his own administration’s official policy on a Second Amendment appeals court ruling, angering a top aide to then-President George W. Bush. Cheney describes in his book that he staunchly disagreed with the administration’s Justice Department’s amicus brief not fully supporting the appeals court ruling on the issue. The administration argued that the ruling was too broad and asked the Supreme Court to send the case back to the lower courts. “This stance seemed inconsistent with the president’s previous position on the second amendment and it was certainly inconsistent with my view,” Cheney wrote. Therefore, Cheney, in 2008, in his capacity as president of the Senate and not vice president of the United States, signed an amicus brief with other members of Congress — after an aide for Republican Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison approached Cheney’s office — expressing support for the appeals court decision. Not everyone in the West Wing was thrilled, Cheney recounts...more

New immigration policy

The White House announced a relaxed immigration policy Friday which allows illegal aliens to remain in the U.S. without being deported. An administration spokesman said you can't just move twelve million people to another country. That's not true, Mexico did it...Argus Hamilton

No hope ahead: Wheat crop outlook predicts spare winter for ranchers - video

As the record drought continues to suck the life out of the Texas soil, the ranchers that haven't left their business behind are in a fight for survival. "I'm getting sick of the heat!" exclaims Falls County farmer and rancher Billy Maresh. It's the phrase that's quickly replacing "howdy" as the official Texas greeting. As plants wither and cattle herds dwindle, the hardest stretch may yet be ahead. With feed for cattle already in record demand, a dismal outlook for oats and wheat -- the winter grazing crops -- means no relief in sight. News Channel 25 met with Morris in a dusty pasture just outside the town of Rosebud, where a legion of watchful grasshoppers stand guard over acres of parched earth, waiting to devour any green that dares to defy the sun's angry rays. "The temperature on the ground is probably 150 degrees," says Maresh. "You can probably cook an egg on it, you can imagine grass can't grow."...more

Here is the TV news video report:

Moffat County families continue ranching tradition begun by ancestors

Colorado families who have owned and operated their farms or ranches for at least 100 years took center stage Friday at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. The 25th annual Centennial Farms Celebration, which took place Friday, recognized 18 families. In honor of the event, Gov. John Hickenlooper proclaimed the day as “Colorado Centennial Farms Day.” “These long-standing farm and ranch families play an integral role in preserving important aspects of Colorado’s history,” Ed Nichols, Colorado Historical Society president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “In spite of the pressures of growth, changes in farming methods, drought and economic conditions, these families have maintained their way of life while many historic barns and other agricultural sites around the nation are disappearing at an alarming rate.” Given the nature of the agricultural industry, keeping a ranch in the family is no easy feat. Still, as members of longtime ranching families in Moffat County can tell you, it is rewarding...more

McCauley-McCamant Pine Springs Ranch

The McCauley-McCamant Pine Springs Ranch is located southeast of Winslow, and is still in operation today. The McCauley family is responsible for bringing the very first rodeo to Winslow. Pictured here are Dewey McCauley (the tall man in the black hat) and his ranch hands, along with his Chinese immigrant cook. McCauley was not only a rancher, but also an attorney in the area. AzJournal

I wonder if they had a permit for those guns.

Song Of The Day #649

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here are the Texas Tophands playing 12th Street Rag western swing style.

You'll find the tune on the 27 track CD Diggin Texas Swing 1946-1955 by Krazy Kat records.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The ‘country’ in country kitchens

by Julie Carter

The further the world gets into this new millennium, the more foreign country living becomes to the majority of the world.

This was brought home to me most recently when a group of women I know fulfilled the duty of answering a death in the family with a well-accepted process that occurs in ranch country.

When there is a death in a ranch family, the neighbor women rally at the home of the bereaved. They come bearing a casserole, water and toilet paper -- all essentials for the crowds of people about to descend. They also come prepared to do cleaning duty.

It’s not that ranch homes are always in need of these merry maids, but because they exist amidst blowing dirt from pastures and corrals, are subject to a parade of muddy boots and a wide variety critters, there is almost never a time that at least the top layer of dust doesn’t need knocked off and a mop run over the kitchen floor.

However, the number of ranch wives available for the task has dwindled over the years and the cleaning crew is sometimes foreign to the everyday state of a country kitchen.

Asking of the only ranch woman present, “What is that doing here?”

“Oh that. It is a pair of wire pliers.”

“Should they stay on the desk?”

“Probably. She’ll need to find them where she left them.”

“Oh, that is a vaccine gun and yes it should stay in the kitchen window.”

“Don't use too much water; all we’ve got is what we brought.”

“Don't throw that away. You change pipeline valves with that. And, yes the valve core-getter goes back into the ash tray.”

If you browse the magazines such as “Country Woman,” please know that "country" has several different meanings. I not only have never had a ranch kitchen that comes even close to resembling those glossy page photographs, I don't know anyone out here in the "country" who does. The ranch kitchens I am familiar with have a “lived-in” look to them.

The dining room, which usually means, "where the table resides,” is the heart of any country home. When company comes, it is where they sit and converse. That is solid country tradition.

And the ambiance and decor? Several stacks of mail waiting to be sorted, livestock papers from four states and auction notices for the next six months fill one corner. Those must be guarded and save for “just in case.” Usually there is an envelope or a newspaper with phone numbers written on them that come with specific, "don't throw these away" instructions.

Vaccine guns in various stages of cleaning and repair take up a small side table. The ever-important Rolodex serves as the centerpiece on the table right next to the toothpicks. Both are critical to the head cowboy’s moods. Having to look for them is not acceptable.

An assortment of boots and shoes guard the doorway. His, hers and a small-fry size make it an Olympic event to get in the door and not trip. The broom stands against the wall ready to shove out the chunks from the corrals that inevitably escape a heel or a pant leg bottom. And pet tracks, justified with, "Honest Mom, they just came in by themselves."

Country is synonymous with warm, welcome hospitality. In the middle of nowhere, it means don't mind your boots, I was going to clean later anyway. It means warm food and hot coffee and as my grandmother used to say, "Come on in, the latch string is always hangin' out!"

Julie can be reached for comment at

I like this from Julie's Facebook page:

"The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson. "

American Education

The Cupboard is getting bare
American Education
What Happened to Ms. Jones?
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     I heard a retired education administrator talk the other day.  He seemed to have all the answers, but what he said is still a mystery.  Optics, and metrics, and baselines, and enough mumble jumble that he certainly seemed to convince himself and others . . . until the discussion switched to retirement.
     Who’s Rich?
     The conversation got to the point of economics of teaching, and, as if on cue, the song and dance about how teaching was a tradeoff with the private sector having the advantage in earnings.  The co-host of the radio talk show asked the educator a question about retirement earnings.  How much did he earn was the question, but he never actually answered.  
     He gave a hypothetical response of how much a teacher could earn based upon time and earnings at the time of his retirement.  The result in his example came out somewhere near $65,000 annually.  Not rich you say?
     The private sector alternative
     If a private sector citizen is planning for a retirement after 30 years and intends to make $65,000 annually without a hiccup he needs to have packed away a sizeable stock portfolio or a yet bigger savings account.  In the private world, a 30 year career would put the citizen at age 55 or thereabouts.  Think hard.  How many of your friends in the private world have retired at age 55?
     If a savings account is the vehicle to retirement, the private citizen would have to have built a net worth of nearly $2 million in his 30 year career.  If it was a stock portfolio his investments would not have to be quite that amount, but certainly he would have had to average sinking over $20,000 per year into good investments or a well managed fund in order to achieve enough security to retire at 55.  It takes an awfully good job to consistently sweep that much money off annually.  It also takes a very well managed fund to secure the end game of a planned pre-social security retirement goal.  That is why folks in the private world don’t retire at 55.
     The money pit
     The United States is borrowing $4 billion per day.  The estimate of total unfunded liabilities at the federal level may be as high as $114 trillion at this time.  At the rate of current economic activity, that represents 10 GDP years to support those liabilities.  Our hypothetical early retiree from the private sector would be hard pressed to think he could ever retire if his liabilities equaled 14 years of his income. 
     The retired administrator concluded his segment on the airwaves by reminding young folks that a career in education still presented a rewarding opportunity.  He did the expected by restating yearly earnings wouldn’t match those of the private sector, but I suspect a whole lot of folks are beginning to see that verbal charade for what it is.  When the reality is that a permanent fund of upwards of $1.8 million must be in place to support each retirement, the idea of rich takes on a whole different meaning.
     Try equating that to the general population in the private sector.  In the real world, retirements after 30 year careers have been mere figments of the imagination.  They don’t happen because economic realities simply don’t add up out where the cupboards are robbed to keep this big machine afloat.
     Comparisons are automatic
     The data shows that the American educational system is the most capital intensive system in the world.  What we also hear incessantly when quality education is discussed is the need to for more funding.  Americans have been far too patient in dealing with that response.  Two things come to my mind when I hear it.  One is Ms. Jones and the other is another notch on the charade stick.
      Where oh’ where have the Ms. Jones’ of the world gone?  My Ms. Jones was a grade school principal.  She was the most terrifying human being in the history of the world.  She and the school secretary ran the school.  They ran it all without discussion. 
      There were no such things as equal rights and societal sensitivity.  There were no such things as maternal leave, disability allowances, or in service days, either.  What you could expect was fresh milk from T&M dairy, the pledge of allegiance, the occasional local radio snow day announcement that girls were allowed to wear pants to school, and Hunter’s’ Holiday.  Priorities were north and south!
     If you didn’t behave in class, there was that march down the hall to visit with Ms. Jones.  Worse yet was if she came to the room and hauled you out in front of the class.  If you have ever twitched a horse, you know the attention you paid to Ms. Jones’ every move as she directed you effortlessly with your ear twisted and all circulation cut off. 
    Everybody was scared to death of her.  Tough boys broke down into tears having to face her and answer her questions.  Maybe it was the look she gave you or maybe it was the split bat with holes drilled in it that hung on her wall.
     If you weren’t performing in class it meant a call from the school and a discussion with Ms. Jones and your summoned parents.  There we sat there across the desk from her taking a thrashing without saying much.
     That experience was only a bubble off the horror scale of what you faced from your parents afterwards.  There are those that now believe that it wasn’t so much your wellbeing that they were concerned with it was the prospect of going back in there to face that principal again.  They were afraid of her, too!
    She was an equalizer, she balanced all things, she didn’t let parents interfere with quality education, and  . . . she was the best friend we ever had.
     The loss of substance
     If the truth was known, Ms. Jones, the school superintendent, Mr. Gaines, and the school board could have run the county as well if there had been a few more hours in the day.  Nobody in my memory ever lined up to go battle the school board over some movement or cause.  If you walked in there to read the right act to Chester Williams, Mansel Mortensen and those other school board members you might find yourself back outside.  If you were lucky it would have been through the open door and not a closed window!
     That kind of local control is gone.  For too long, the educational process has run its surroundings rather than its surroundings running it.  The NEA and the Department of Education have transformed a system that was once predicated on the individual student to a process that is fragmented by social rule of the commons.  Sure the explanations are made and all the buzzwords are used with alacrity, but decisions are orchestrated through career path professionals and bureaucrats rather than no nonsense, old style educators.
     There may be worse examples of the transformation of a system that was managed efficiently by the likes of Ms. Jones and Mr. Gaines to a system run by the NEA and the modern educational bureaucracy, but they are few and far between. 
     If the recent debacle in Wisconsin is a precursor of things to come, it appears that from every angle the educational system is bloated, it is corrupt, it is poorly managed, and, notwithstanding the rhetoric, the education of the individual student is not the highest priority.  When the constant cry is an incessant call for more funding, it is time to fix the system . . . it is broken.
     Back to basics
     A place to start is to send all highly educated administrators to a remedial seminar in nursery rhymes.  Three of the rhymes would each require a short treatise which would be graded.  The first would be ‘Chicken Little’, the second would be the ‘Goose that laid the Golden Egg’, and the third would be ‘Fox in the Henhouse’. 
     Next, there would be the announcement that, henceforth, all retirement funds would come from savings from annual budgets, personal retirement accounts, and future earnings of students.  At the end of 30 years, all educators would have the option to consider retirement.  There would no longer be any multipliers or automatic assurances.  It would be based solely on this combination of factors.
    Perhaps, the preparedness of individual students  . . . would become the priority.            

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “I looked up to two respected men of the land in my past . . . Roy and Smokey.  In separate discussions I asked them when they took their last vacation and each of them pondered and remarked, “Well, I don’t think I ever took one.”  They lived in the real world . . . and neither retired.”

When Heroes Become Bureaucrats

Why cops and firefighters stood by as a man drowned in San Francisco Bay

by Steven Greenhut

On Memorial Day, a suicidal man waded into San Francisco Bay outside the city of Alameda and stood there for about an hour, neck-deep in chilly water, as about 75 bystanders watched. Local police and firefighters were called to the scene, but they refused to help. After the man drowned, the assembled “first responders” also refused to wade into the water to retrieve his body; they left that job for a bystander.

The incident sparked widespread outrage in northern California, and the response by the fire department and police only intensified the anger. The firefighters blamed local budget cuts for denying them the training and equipment necessary for cold-water rescues. The police said that they didn’t know if the man was dangerous and therefore couldn’t risk the safety of their officers. After a local TV news crew asked him whether he would save a drowning child in the bay, Alameda fire chief Ricci Zombeck gave an answer that made him the butt of local talk-show mockery: “Well, if I was off duty, I would know what I would do, but I think you’re asking me my on-duty response, and I would have to stay within our policies and procedures, because that’s what’s required by our department to do.”

If you stand a better chance of being rescued by the official rescuers when they are off duty, it naturally leads people to question the purpose of these departments, which consume the lion’s share of city budgets and whose employees—in California, anyway—receive exceedingly handsome salaries. In Orange County, where I worked for a newspaper for 11 years, the average pay and benefits package for a firefighter is $175,000 a year. Virtually every Orange County deputy sheriff earns, in pay and overtime, over $100,000 a year, with a significant percentage earning more than $150,000. In many cities, police and fire budgets eat up more than three-quarters of the city budget, and that doesn’t count the unfunded liabilities for generous pension packages, which can top 90 percent of a worker’s final year’s pay. It’s hard to argue that these departments are so starved for funds that they’re entitled to stop saving lives.

After I wrote a newspaper column deploring the Alameda incident, I received many e-mails from self-identified police officers and firefighters. Though a few were appalled by the new public-safety culture they saw on display, most defended it; some even defended Zombeck’s words. Many made reference to a fire in San Francisco that week that had claimed the life of at least one firefighter. The message was clear: Don’t criticize firefighters, because they put their lives on the line protecting you. There’s no doubt that firefighters and police have tough and sometimes dangerous jobs, but that doesn’t mean that the public has no business criticizing them—especially as they become infected with the bureaucratic mind-set spread by public-sector union activism. The unions defend their members’ every action; to the extent that they admit a problem, they always blame tight budgets.

The unions that represent first responders also have a legislative agenda to reduce oversight and accountability. I recall when a state assembly member closely aligned with public-safety unions contacted me about a union-backed bill that was too egregious even for his taste. Sponsored by a firefighters’ union after a district attorney prosecuted an on-duty firefighter for alleged misbehavior that led to a death, the bill in its original form would have offered immunity to firefighters even for gross negligence on the job. The legislation failed after the media started paying attention and ignited a contentious public debate. Perhaps the outrage at the Alameda incident will likewise cause a far-reaching discussion—one that helps restore the principle that the real constituency for public safety is the public, not bureaucrats and government workers.

Steven Greenhut is the director of the Pacific Research Institute’s Journalism Center, editor-in-chief of, and a columnist for the Orange County Register.

Originally posted at City Journal.

CEO of Gibson Guitar a Republican donor; Democrat competitor uses same wood

On Thursday I posted an article about the US Fish & Wildlife Service shutting down the Gibson Guitar factory in Downtown Memphis to serve search warrants in an ongoing investigation. That article said they were investigating the "use of woods banned from commercial use for environmental reasons."

However, the Gibson Guitar Co. has issued a press release, some of which is excerpted below:

On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants...The wood the Government seized on August 24 is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier and is FSC Controlled, meaning that the wood complies with the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, which is an industry-recognized and independent, not-for-profit organization established to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC Controlled Wood standards require, among other things, that the wood not be illegally harvested and not be harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights...

The press release also contains this little jewel:

The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.

About all this, Andrew Layton writes:

This unfortunate event begs the question, Why Gibson?

Putting aside the presumably misguided motivation to enforce another sovereign nation’s laws, why would a homegrown American company be the target of the Department of Justice in the first place?

It’s worth pointing out that Henry E. Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s Chief Executive Officer, is a donor to a couple of Republican politicians. According to the Open Secrets database, Juszkiewicz donated $2000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN07) last year, as well as $1500 each to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Juszkiewicz also has donated $10,000 to the Consumer Electronics Association, a PAC that contributed $92.5k to Republican candidates last year, as opposed to $72k to Democrats. (The CEA did, however, contribute more to Democrats in the 2008 election cycle.)

When warrants as ridiculous such as these are issued and executed, there appears no other reason than because the company or individual at hand is being targeted, not because there is any sort of wrongdoing. As a company, Gibson is a legendary. They’ve done nothing wrong, except, apparently, deigning to have a Republican CEO.

The plot thickens, however.

One of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Company. The C.E.O., Chris Martin IV, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the DNC over the past couple of election cycles. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood.” In case you were wondering, that is the exact same wood in at least ten of Gibson’s guitars.

I used to prefer the Martin.

With CIA help, NYPD moves covertly in Muslim areas

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found. These operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying. The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as "rakers," into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They've monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as "mosque crawlers," to monitor sermons, even when there's no evidence of wrongdoing. Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what's going on. Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD's intelligence unit. A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency's payroll, was the architect of the NYPD's intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency's spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States. And just last month, the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters...more

So you have the feds providing funds and training to local law enforcement to circumvent federal law. Then when it comes to asset forfeiture you have local law enforcement working with the feds to circumvent state law (which usually directs the money to the general fund instead of to the law enforcement entity).

And these are the folks we have entrusted to uphold the Constitution and faithfully and fairly enforce the law? We are witnessing a changing mentality in the law enforcement community.

NYPD confirms CIA officer works at department

New York's police commissioner confirmed Thursday that a CIA officer is working out of police headquarters there, after an Associated Press investigation revealed an unusual partnership with the CIA that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying. But he and the CIA said the spy agency's role at the department is an advisory one. Speaking to reporters in New York, commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged that the CIA trains NYPD officers on "trade craft issues," meaning espionage techniques, and advises police about events happening overseas. Kelly also said he was unaware of any other U.S. police department with a similar relationship with the CIA. "They are involved in providing us with information, usually coming from perhaps overseas and providing it to us for, you know, just for our purposes," Kelly said. CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said the agency does not spy inside the United States and also described the relationship with the NYPD as collaborative. "Our cooperation, in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is exactly what the American people deserve and have come to expect following 9/11," she said. A months-long investigation by the AP, published Wednesday, revealed that the NYPD has dispatched teams of undercover officers, known as "rakers," into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They've monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as "mosque crawlers," to monitor sermons, even when there's no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims. Many of the operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD's intelligence unit after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks...more

Yvonne the cow still on the run in Germany, but field of clues is found

Three months after Yvonne went on the run, the hunt for Germany's most famous fugitive is heating up after a search party discovered a sign of her wanderings – a field littered with cowpats. Yvonne, a six-year-old dairy cow, escaped from a Bavarian farm in May days before she was due to be slaughtered. When the local authorities in Mühldorf gave hunters permission to shoot her on sight, animal rights activists waded in. Gut Aiderbichl, an animal sanctuary in Austria, paid Yvonne's owner €600 (£530), vowing to bring the cow to safety before she was knocked down by a Bavarian bullet. Her whereabouts have now become a national obsession in Germany, with one tabloid offering a reward of €10,000 for her safe return. Her story has spread across the world. On Wednesday Gut Aiderbichl said it had had media inquiries from Abu Dhabi and South Africa, where a psychic claimed to have communicated with her. Indians had been stressing Yvonne's holiness. Despite the publicity, Yvonne remains at large. An animal whisperer from Switzerland failed to coax her back from the Bavarian forest using telepathy; Ernst, the bull with a "deep baritone moo" and manly musk, also proved strangely resistible...more

I guess they don't have cowboys or cowdogs in Germany.

Song Of The Day #648

The Gospel song this morning is by Benny Barnes and he's been Talking To The Lord.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gore: Eat less meat to fight warming

Al Gore wants society to ditch meat-heavy diets and go organic to combat global warming. "Industrial agriculture is a part of the problem,” Gore said Friday during an interview with FearLess Revolution founder Alex Bogusky. “The shift toward a more meat-intensive diet,” the clearing of forest areas in many parts of the world in order to raise more cattle and the reliance on synthetic nitrogen for fertilizer are also problems, he added. Instead, Gore advocated organic farming and relying on “more productive, safer methods that put carbon back in the soil” to produce “safer and better food.” The former vice president also criticized climate change skeptics, urging those who support curbs to greenhouse gases to “win the conversation” when it comes to global warming. He compared the struggle against climate skeptics to the fight against racism during the civil rights movement...more

Rabies Confirmed in a Skunk from Chaves County

The New Mexico Department of Health is warning pet and livestock owners in Chaves County and throughout the state to make sure their dogs, cats, horses, and other valuable livestock are vaccinated against rabies after a skunk that was behaving abnormally in Roswell, New Mexico tested positive for the disease.
Animal control is currently investigating possible exposures in the neighborhood where the skunk was found. Currently, no people or animals are known to have been exposed to the skunk. “In New Mexico, bats, skunks and foxes are reservoirs for rabies and can transmit rabies to people, pets, livestock or other wild animals. We are urging everyone to vaccinate your pets and livestock against rabies; vaccination is one of the most effective public health tools we have to prevent humans from being exposed to rabies,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres. Several skunks from southeastern New Mexico have been diagnosed with rabies. This year, there have been eight rabid animals reported in New Mexico including the rabid skunk in Chavez County, a rabid horse and four rabid skunks in Eddy County, one rabid skunk from Lincoln County, and a rabid dog in Roosevelt County. It is essential for pet owners to vaccinate their pets and to seek veterinary care if any of their pets become ill, especially if they have had contact with any wild animals including skunks...more

Friday, August 26, 2011

Meet the goat who likes to paint

At first, the animal produced only, erm, gruff drafts but now it has honed its skills enough to wow visitors at the zoo where it lives. And it seems Peep is part of a new hoof movement in the art world, as its friends at McGovern Children’s Zoo in Houston, Texas, are also a dab hand with a brush. The first goat at the US attraction to paint was two-year-old Domino. But the real star, according to zoo keeper Amber Zelmer, is billy goat Trent. ‘He caught on really quickly so helping him to make the paintings a bit better wasn’t hard at all – it took less than a month,’ she said. ‘The first task was teaching the goats to touch the canvas with the paint brush once they had it held in their mouth. ‘Then we just added paint and we had goat art.’ The finished canvases have proved popular at zoo fundraising events...more

A reptile messes with Texas

A five-inch reptile has enough power in its tiny claws to hurl thousands of Americans into unemployment lines. It shows how the greenie Obama administration places a higher value on sand-dune lizards than it does on domestic energy production and jobs. Federal bureaucrats with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) want to put this critter, also known as the dunes sagebrush lizard, on the Endangered Species List. Their proposed rule could halt oil and gas production and agriculture, which account for 30 percent of the jobs in a prospering region of Texas. Sen. John Cornyn has been fighting to stop this from happening. “There has not been a cost-benefit analysis,” the Texas Republican told The Washington Times. “Are we going to elevate this little lizard above people and their welfare? And jobs? Or is there some sort of balance required?” Dunes sagebrush lizards are found in the Permian Basin area of Texas and New Mexico, which is the top energy-producing region of the United States. To save the tan-colored reptiles’ sand-dune home, the government wants to declare the area off-limits to everything including buildings, roads, wells and pipelines. Lizard-loving liberals at the Interior Department even want to “remove brush (not shinnery oak) that invades into the habitat preferred by sand-dune lizards.” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs appealed to the agency to consider economic realities before putting the lizard on the endangered list. She pointed out that the Lone Star State is home to one-quarter of the U.S. crude oil reserves, most of which is found in the Permian Basin. New regulations would put the kibosh on energy exploration in West Texas for up to five years, driving oil and gas prices even higher...more

"Lizard-loving liberals" does have a certain ring to it.

USGS Ups The Ante On Shale

Despite efforts in the media and Congress to shut it down through fear and falsehoods, a new estimate of America's most promising energy source portends even more gas, oil — and jobs. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced Tuesday that the Marcellus Shale formation that straddles the northeastern United States may hold a staggering 84 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of recoverable natural gas, up significantly from the last official government estimate of 2 tcf made in 2002. The USGS said the estimate came from new information about the gas-rich formation underlying New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and from technical improvements in how wells are drilled and the gas is extracted. This news strikes terror in the hearts of environmentalists, and government ideologues simply cannot handle shale gas and the prospect of what it holds for the American future. Shale gas doesn't require a government subsidy like wind and solar energy do; it is profitable, abundant and versatile in that it can be used to power the grid and as a transportation fuel...more

BLM chief wants ‘fair return’ on mining

U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said Tuesday he believes hardrock-mining companies should pay a royalty for use of the public land, especially at this time of high gold prices. He said, however, that Congress isn’t showing much interest in the BLM’s latest proposal. The BLM’s budget proposal for 2012 proposes that new mining claims and new mining operations pay a royalty, but current operations and claims wouldn’t have to pay, he said during a roundtable with Elko media. Gold, silver and copper mines don’t pay a royalty under the 1872 Mining Law, while coal mines and oil and gas operations do. “This is one reason Congress needs to look at the 1872 Mining Law. It’s a disservice to the American public,” he said. Taxpayers should receive “a fair return” on their public land, Abbey said. The BLM budget asks Congress to reassess how mining is done on public lands and to look at a royalty, but Abbey said whether the royalty would be on net proceeds or gross proceeds would be up to Congress...more

Feds Give 4 States $5.8 Million to Protect Insect Habitat

Puritan tiger beetle
The U.S. Department of Interior announced this week that it is giving four states $5,802,180 in grants for projects that are designed in whole or in part to protect various types of threatened or endangered beetles. The largest of these grants is a $2,426,055 award to the state of Maryland to help protect the habitat of the Puritan tiger beetle, a threatened insect that inhabits beaches and bluffs along Chesapeake Bay in Maryland as well as along the Connecticut River in New England. The $5.8 million in grants that will help four states protect beetles are part of a group of 48 grants totaling $53.3 million that the Interior Department said on Wednesday will go to 17 states to develop conservation plans or purchase or preserve land determined to be habitat for species that have been listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act...more

Teacher faces 'weapons violations,' termination for showing children tools

A school in Barack Obama buddy Rahm Emanuel's city of Chicago is accusing a teacher of "weapons violations" for showing tools to a class of second-graders for a curriculum that required a "tool discussion." The Rutherford Institute say it's just too much, and they have written to Principal Valeria Newell Bryant at Washington Irving Elementary School in Chicago demanding that the case against teacher Doug Bartlett be dropped. "While we understand your desire to maintain a safe, healthy learning environment for your students and teachers, we submit that this goal is undermined when school officials view common, useful items in the hands of qualified, responsible teachers, as 'weapons' rather than tools," a letter to Bryant, signed by Rita M. Dunaway of the Rutherford Institute said today. The civil rights law organization said the school should respond no later than the close of business Friday. "We request that you immediately dismiss any and all disciplinary actions against Mr. Bartlett," the letter said. Bartlett, the report said, is being charged with possessing, carrying, storing or using a weapon after he displayed such garden-variety tools as wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers in his classroom. The "discussion" was called for by the curriculum in the school. "Despite the fact that all potentially hazardous items were kept out of the students' reach, school officials at Washington Irving Elementary School informed Doug Bartlett, a 17-year veteran in the classroom, that his use of the tools as visual aids endangered his students. Bartlett now faces disciplinary action and possible termination," the institute reported...more

Hell, If he'd a brought a pair of post hole diggers they probably would've declared him a terrorist.

Two Oklahoma Indian Tribes Contest State for Water Rights

The Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian tribes in Oklahoma have filed a federal lawsuit to protect water rights they say derived from long-ago treaties and to prevent exports of water from their traditional homelands without their permission. The dispute had been simmering for more than a year, since the export of water from Sardis Lake in southeastern Oklahoma to Oklahoma City was proposed in June 2010. The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday in United States District Court in Oklahoma City, accuses the State of Oklahoma of one-sided action to deprive the tribes of water rights they have held since the 1830s. It names the governor, the state water agency, Oklahoma City and that city’s water utility as defendants...more

Radical animal-rights group PETA launching x-rated porn site

A controversial new porn site by the world’s leading animal rights group could actually feed animal cruelty fetishes, according to one counselor specializing in recovery from porn addiction. Users of PETA’s new site, to be launched this year, will first be presented with pornographic galleries and videos, but shortly after they will be exposed to PETA’s graphic hidden camera investigations of animal mistreatment. “We are working on a XXX site and the content will be graphic — an off-limits video that people won’t expect. This will grab people’s attention and start a discussion to take action,” said PETA spokesman Ashley Burns. But according to Dr. Peter C. Kleponis, the assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Pennsylvania, “The people who would be really interested in this site are the people who have fetishes of hurting animals, who may have fetishes for bestiality, who associate animals with sex. “This is what it might actually increase.”...more


Cattle rustler sentenced to 99 years

An man with a prolific cattle rustling history spanning more than a decade was sentenced Wednesday to 99 years in prison for swindling bovines from a Mississippi rancher. Carl Wade Curry, 44, of Athens, Texas, was accused of stealing 400 head of cattle worth more than $200,000 last year. Hardeman County District Attorney Staley Heatly said Curry placed an order with a Mississippi man using a fake name and cattle company in Vernon, where the owner shipped the cattle. The owner contacted authorities when he did not receive payment. A jury took less than 30 minutes to both convict and sentence Curry. “He was going to mail me a check and he didn’t,’’ said rancher David Sanders of Starkville, Miss. “Then he was going to Federal Express it to me. Didn’t happen.’’ Testimony at Curry’s trial revealed he had stolen 2,097 head of cattle worth nearly $1 million since 2007. In April, Curry was sentenced to 20 years in a cattle rustling case in Smith County in East Texas, Heatly said. AP

Elbridge Gerry — pioneer, horse rancher, Indian trader — was ‘the savior of Colorado'

“The Savior of Colorado” was how Elbridge Gerry was described by his contemporaries during the summer of 1864. Yet, little is known about this early Coloradan and colorful frontier figure of Weld County. We know that he was a horse rancher and American Indian trader as of 1853 near the confluence of Crow Creek and the South Platte River, about 10 miles east of Greeley. He was also the grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Elbridge Gerry, for whom he was named. Prior to becoming the “first white settler of Weld County,” he worked as a mountain man for the American Fur Company toward the end of the fur trade era and at Bent's Fort. He wandered the Rockies trapping and trading until he settled near Fort Laramie and took a Sioux wife. He was renowned for his large Indian family and had amicable dealings with the Arapaho, Cheyenne and his Sioux relatives throughout his early career. Gerry lived in a world that was partly native and increasingly that of the presence of his new neighbors: pioneers, not unlike himself. As of April 1864, however, relationships with native tribes had drastically shifted. Between 1862 and 1864 the Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho united because of violations of the treaty to maintain their formal hunting grounds between the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers and began raiding outlying settlements. In the past, Gerry had successfully assisted the Colorado territorial government with Indian affairs by peddling goods to pacify the tribes. He was also familiar with them through his marriage and was regularly visited by trading parties who would trade for knives, blankets, ammunition and other goods. Late one evening, relatives of his wife appeared at the Gerry place, advising his family to flee, for there would be a war party 1,000 strong scouring the prairie...more