Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gunmen kill 4-year-old boy in Mexican border city

A 4-year-old boy was killed by gunmen while he was playing outside a neighbor's house in Ciudad Juarez, considered Mexico's murder capital and the most dangerous city in the world, police said. Alan David Carrillo was playing with a friend when a group of gunmen opened fire on the house, the Ciudad Juarez municipal police department said in a statement. The boy's relatives rushed him to a clinic, but he died a few minutes after arrival at the medical facility. Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, has been plagued by drug-related violence for years...more

Mexican Spillover Violence: The Riddles Grow

The two new cases of spillover violence, on October 30 and November 24, took place in Texas, more than 300 miles apart. Both produced murky and conflicting reports. Each involved a different Mexican crime cartel, on different kinds of missions. These probes by foreign criminals onto U.S. soil were apparently unrelated, and only coincidentally close in time. But there is still the deeper riddle. Could the incidents be predictors of thing to come? Do they foreshadow a general tendency to bring violence north across the border? For decades Mexican drug smugglers have had marketing links inside the United States, but the large cartels have kept most of their fighting in Mexico. There has been the unwritten rule: antagonizing U.S. law enforcement isn’t worth the risk. But this is only a custom, and customs can change. The drug war itself might be defined as a gradual breakdown of norms and inhibitions. The two recent incidents ask once again: How far will the cartels go?...more

Burrito Bust Puts NM Prison on Lockdown

The presence of a burrito caused a full prison lockdown in New Mexico Tuesday, leaving some concerned and others laughing. Officials at the Valencia County Detention were ordered to lockdown the facility after is was discovered that a guard had smuggled a burrito into the prison, intending to give it to an inmate. The prison warden Joe Chavez said he believed the guard and inmate were attempting a dry run to see if it were possible to bring in contraband via burritos. Chavez told KOAT TV that after more than 20 years ‘this is a first that I saw someone smuggle in a burrito.’...more

Guard was fired, no burrito contraband was found, don't know what happened to the Bandito Burrito.

Arizona gun club offers photos with Santa, rifles - New contest at The Westerner

An Arizona gun club is offering a chance for children and their families to pose for photos with Santa while holding pistols and military-style rifles. One image shows Santa in a wingback chair with a snowflake background, a Christmas tree behind him and flanked by an $80,000 machine gun and a tripod-mounted rifle. Next to Santa is a man standing behind a boy, who is holding an unloaded AR-15 with an attached grenade launcher. Ron Kennedy, general manager of the Scottsdale Gun Club, says the business got the idea for the photo op last year when a club member happened to come in dressed as Santa and other members wanted their picture taken while they were holding their guns...more

This calls for a new bunch of Christmas carols, like:

I Saw Mommy Shooting Santa Claus

Silencer Night

Rudolph, The Rifle Totin' Reindeer

Joy To The Winchester

Jingle Shells, Jingle Shells

You get the picture and let's have a contest.  Who can come up with the best gun-related Christmas carol.

Put your entry in the comments section or email them to

Winner will receive World-Wide Recognition on The Westerner!

Oregon Sheriff continues stand against Forest Service

by Sarah Foster

Two months ago Gil Gilbertson, the sheriff of this rural county in southern Oregon, drafted a 10-page report exploring the origins and extent of federal power within a state and emailed his findings to various parties, asking for comment.  Since the report was in rough-draft form he was somewhat surprised that it went viral, but it shows there are a lot of people hungry for information about how much power (particularly law-enforcement power) the federal government actually wields within a state, where that power comes from, and the limits to that power.  Gilbertson continued his research and recently completed a 13-page revised and updated version, retitled: Unraveling Federal Jurisdiction within a State. It is highly footnoted with references to statutes and court decisions.  This a “must read” for anyone concerned about infringements against the 10th Amendment and federal encroachments in general – like road closures, Wild Lands and Monument designations, mining and other resource uses. In other words, this is for anyone and everybody with an interest – no matter how casual -- in accessing the public lands, either as a “resource user” (a rancher or miner) or simply a casual vacationer who enjoys weekend camping. “If you’d told me two years ago that I would be writing such a document, I would have probably walked away from you shaking my head,” the sheriff notes in the introduction. “This paper is a result of a clash with the federal [U.S. Forest Service] law enforcement in this county, from citizens complaining of what can only be described as harassment and violations of their rights,” he explains. “The first time I approached the USFS the door closed regarding any discussion. The USFS advised me to file a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. “ Eventually Gilbertson was able to discuss the issue with the Forest Service. “Most of my questions were answered except for one: Where does the USFS’s authority come from? (bold-face in original). The answer(s) were surprising.”...

Stringing Up Gibson Guitar

On a sweltering day in August, federal agents raided the Tennessee factories of the storied Gibson Guitar Corp. The suggestion was that Gibson had violated the Lacey Act—a federal law designed to protect wildlife—by importing certain India ebony. The company has vehemently denied that suggestion and has yet to be charged. It is instead living in a state of harassed legal limbo. Which, let's be clear, is exactly what its persecutors had planned all along. The untold story of Gibson is this: It was set up. Most of the press coverage has implied that the company is the unfortunate victim of a well-meaning, if complicated, law. Stories note, in passing, that the Lacey Act was "expanded" in 2008, and that this has had "unintended consequences." Given Washington's reputation for ill-considered bills, this might make sense. Only not in this case. The story here is about how a toxic alliance of ideological activists and trade protectionists deliberately set about creating a vague law, one designed to make an example out of companies (like Gibson) and thus chill imports—even legal ones...more

Senator suggests state takeover of forests

The state should take over the national forests and dramatically accelerate logging to thin forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires, said state Sen. Sylvia Allen and a group of people affected by the massive Wallow Fire during a recent press conference and hearing at the state capitol. The group posed in front of a flatbed truck with a huge tree charred in the summer fire that consumed 730 square miles in the White Mountains. She called for the state to take over the forests if the Forest Service doesn’t act immediately to undertake thinning on a massive scale. “All of our people up on our mountain are from all political persuasions, and I would say confidently that 95 percent of them are behind what we are trying to do. They want to save our forests,” said Allen, a Snowflake Republican and Senate President Pro Tem whose district includes all of Rim Country. “If the Forest Service will not act now,” said Allen, “then the state of Arizona needs to step up on this emergency and take over management of our forest lands.”. “If they don’t get to those places where the trees have been killed, they are going to start falling over and it’s going to become a fire hazard again,” said Whitney Wiltbank, whose family has owned the Sprucedale Guest Ranch for 70 years. He spoke at a Nov. 17 press conference that preceded a Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on forest management issues...more

Badly-Needed Alaskan Oil Is Kept From Market By Obama Decision

The same administration that says we can and should get oil from the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is blocking a bridge needed to get it to market on environmental grounds. The NPRA, 23 million acres of North Slope wilderness, was established in 1923 by President Harding to ensure a reserve of oil for the U.S. Navy. Obama has cited it as an example of areas where the oil companies could drill but are reluctant to, knowing full well his administration has walled off preferred areas offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The problem is that at least one oil company, Conoco Phillips, has said it will go after the oil and gas in the NPRA, estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to hold 2.7 billion barrels of oil and 114.36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. To get it out, Conoco Phillips wants to build a road bridge and pipeline over the Colville River on the edge of the NPRA to get drilling supplies in and the oil and gas out. The Army Corps of Engineers, backed by the usual environmental suspects, says a pipeline under the river, which is frozen half the year, is preferred even though the oil company has said it would be less safe. The oil firm argues that since the pipeline will carry a mix of oil, gas and water, it would be at greater risk of corrosion and leaks under the water. An above-ground pipeline would be easier to monitor and maintain. But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has impeded domestic energy production anywhere he can on environmental grounds, supports the Corps' decision...more

Wolf killed in southeastern Montana had traveled far

Rancher & 98 lbs.  wolf
In what is the first documented wolf incident in far southeastern Montana since reintroduction, a male black wolf was shot by a Hammond-area rancher Sunday after it attacked his sheep. The 2-1/2-year old wolf was far from home — 300 miles by air. That’s not unusual, said Mike Jimenez, wolf recovery project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming. “It’s a prime age for dispersal,” Jimenez said, as a male seeks a breeding partner. Although the average distance that wolves will go when seeking a mate is closer to 50 to 65 miles, one wolf in 2008 traveled roughly 3,000 miles in a journey from near Bozeman to Vail, Colo. Others have been documented traveling from Idaho to Oregon and from Montana to British Columbia. “They’re impressive when they get a mind to move,” Jimenez said. The 98-pound wolf killed near Hammond had been collared last winter north of Jackson, Wyo., as a member of the Gros Ventre wolf pack...more

Imnaha wolves strike again

Two Zumwalt area ranchers lost cows to the Imnaha wolf pack in separate attacks sometime around the Thanksgiving holiday, state wildlife managers confirmed yesterday. In a brief email response to the Wallowa County Chieftain on Nov. 28, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said wolves were determined responsible in both incidents. A tracking collar indicated that the alpha male of the Imnaha pack, referred to as OR-4, was in the area at the suspected time of the attacks, according to area ranchers, who say ODFW notified them of the wolf's proximity. The cows were preyed upon while grazing in privately owned pastureland on the Zumwalt Prairie about 25 miles east of Eggleson Corner. Zumwalt area rancher Charity Ketscher said she went to let her dog outside Thanksgiving night and noticed that he seemed spooked by something. Wolves crossed her mind. The next morning Ketscher and her husband, Phillip Ketscher, received a text message from ODFW notifying them that wolves were near their ranching operations. The report came as no surprise to the Ketschers because they could hear the wolves howling that morning as Charity prepared breakfast...more

CMT honors 5 top country stars; Hank Jr. pulls out

Brad Paisley fully endorses the format of the CMT Artists of the Year celebration. Paisley was one of five country music stars honored Tuesday night during a taping of the second annual event, joining Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift. He loved the idea of already knowing he was taking a trophy home when he showed up. But it was Hank Williams Jr. who turned in the night's most buzzed about moment, leaving the stage quickly mid-song after singing his part during a duet with Aldean. Williams' spokesman Kirt Webster said after the taping that Williams left because he didn't feel like he was giving an adequate performance while joining Aldean on his song, "Tattoos on This Town." Williams told the show's producers the night was meant to honor Aldean, a friend. Turning in a poor performance would only ruin that effort, Webster recounted. Aldean did a second run-through of the song after Williams left without problem. The singer praised Williams as a hero in an interview before the show and said it had been fun hanging with him during rehearsal. "It was really kind of funny watching him go about music the way he does," Aldean said. "He's kind of like, 'OK, this is the way y'all do it. I'm going to do it the way I do it.' It's just the way it is. And you go, 'It's Hank,' you know. 'Make it sound like you want it to sound, bro.' But he's awesome. I don't know what else to say about the guy. He's the real deal as far as country singers go." Williams has been in the news quite a bit recently. A political analogy he made on television involving President Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler led to the pulling of his "Monday Night Football" theme song by ESPN. But he rallied and turned it into something of a public-relations victory, issuing a new song and appearing on "The View" where he found a sympathetic reception. He soon joined Paisley and Carrie Underwood earlier this month on the Country Music Association Awards, stealing the show with a single word...more

Horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in US

Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a ban on funding horse meat inspections. Pro-slaughter activists estimate a slaughterhouse could open in 30 to 90 days with state approval. The meat would be shipped to Europe or Asia. United Horsemen President Dave Duquette says no site has been picked yet but he's lined up plenty of investors who have expressed interest in financing an American-owned slaughterhouse. Congress cut off funding for horse meat inspections in 2006 but lifted the ban earlier this month after a federal report found more horses had been neglected and abandoned since the economic downturn started...more

Yup, they'll soon be turning Ol' Paint into a Pinto Pot Pie.

National climatologists project more Texas drought in 2012

If weather patterns hold true, ranchers will find it just as hard to feed and water herds next year. Farmers will find just as much dust in their fields. Homeowners will see continued watering restrictions that could get even tighter, and fires will rage in areas not already burned. Bill Proenza is director of the National Weather Service southern region. "The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center is looking ahead and seeing similar conditions setting up again for the upcoming year," Proenza said. About 100 climate scientists from several states gathered in Fort Worth to look ahead. They don't like what they see...more

Texas, New Mexico both claim Billy the Kid gravesites

Any fan of outlaw lore needs to visit the graves of both Billy the Kids or, if you prefer, Billies the Kid. Only one is Billy, of course; the other's just kidding. New Mexico and Texas will eternally feud over which is which. One grave is just outside Fort Sumner, N.M., where one William Bonney was buried after being shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881. The other is in Texas -- in Hamilton, just down the road from Hico, the hometown of one "Brushy Bill" Roberts, who claimed that Garrett shot the wrong guy and he, in fact, was Billy the Kid. This Billy the Kid died of a heart attack in 1950 while walking down the street in Hico. ''See Billy the Kid's Real Grave," reads the sign leading down the lonesome road off U.S. 60 west of Clovis, N.M. Yeah, these folks have heard about the other Billy, and they don't much like it. Down the road is the gravesite and the Billy the Kid Museum (3501 Billy the Kid Road,; $3.50), which contains cowboy memorabilia, wanted posters, news clippings, posters of the many Billy the Kid movies and, of course, a stuffed two-headed calf. Outside is the gravesite, which contains the remains of Bonney and his pals Tom O'Folliard and Charlie Bowdre. The names of all three are on one marker. A second is dedicated just to Bonney, inscribed: "Billy the Kid. Bandit King. He died as he had lived." A sign next to the grave says that this tombstone was stolen in 1950, turned up in 1976 in Granbury (yes, the one in Texas) and was stolen again in 1981 and found in Huntington Beach, Calif. Now it's inside an iron fence, shackled firmly to the ground...more

Song Of The Day

Sorry, can't get OpenDrive to work again this morning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

With Ken Salazar, peering into the Department of the Interior

The Washington Post interviews Secretary Salazar:

What life experiences have helped shape your views on leadership? Growing up in a very rural and remote area in Colorado’s San Luis Valley – one of the poorest counties in the United States – essentially created the framework of values from which I operate. I stand up for the little guy. I fight discrimination at all levels. I fight for an inclusive America. I recognize that my own American dream was one which eluded my parents, but they gave it to me because of education. I don’t believe that the American dream should be reserved for those who are born into the elite or somehow have been given an advantage over others. My growing-up experience is probably the most important thing that guides my priorities and my work today. How do you prioritize your challenges and your time? From day one, I’ve had three very clear goals. They guide how I spend my time and they guide where I prioritize the work that I do. They are energy, conservation and Native Americans. On the energy front, we’ve created a virtual revolution on renewable energy on public lands where nothing existed before. On the conservation side, we are moving forward in a very difficult environment because of funding issues to continue a conservation and preservation agenda that will be a very robust one. And on the Native American front, we have turned a new page in the 400-year history of the interface between the American settlers of this country and the nation’s first Americans. That’s included a new relationship where the sovereignty of tribes is in fact recognized...

EDITORIAL: Time to stock up on light bulbs

Within four weeks, it will be a crime to manufacture a 100-watt version of Thomas A. Edison’s brilliant invention. Thanks to a Democratic Congress and the signature of President George W. Bush in 2007, anti-industrial zealots at the Energy Department received authority to blot out one of the greatest achievements of the industrial age. They’re coming for our light bulbs. Know-it-all bureaucrats insist that foisting millions of mercury-laden fluorescent tubes on the public is going to be good for the planet. The public obviously does not agree. Voting with their wallets, people have overwhelming favored warm, nontoxic lighting options over their pale curlicue imitators. Beginning Jan. 1, Obama administration extremists will impose massive financial penalties on any company daring to produce a lighting product that fully satisfies ordinary Americans. The Republican House hasn’t done enough to stop this. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, added language to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to prohibit the ban’s implementation. A Senate committee deleted this sensible amendment in September, and it’s been quite a while since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has allowed an up-or-down vote on a funding bill. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership hasn’t made this a priority. Many in the GOP remain cowed by the fraudulent claim that these are just harmless “energy standards” and opposing them would be a crime against the environment. The reality is that this ban is yet another example of the sort of job-destroying regulations that enrich the administration’s friends at the expense of consumers. Specifically, the rules turn a 50-cent light bulb into a purchase of $3 or more...more

And that ain't all. In case you forgot, look at what they are already doing...

Rampaging bureaucrats aren’t just satisfied with foisting inferior light bulbs on the public. The Energy Department uses the force of the federal government to redesign an entire suite of consumer products to meet their personal preferences. In nearly every case, their meddling makes things worse. Current regulations micromanage the function of ceiling fans, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, faucets, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, lamps, pool heaters, power supplies, refrigerators, room air conditioners, shower heads, stoves, toilets and water heaters. Enough is enough.

18 congressional leaders join bipartisan opposition to listing of dunes sagebrush lizard

A bi-partisan letter from 18 congressional leaders opposing the proposed listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act has been submitted to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, according to a press release. Federal wildlife officials are set to deliver their decision on the dunes sagebrush lizard in December. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., is among the 18 representatives who signed the letter. The letter also calls for at least a six-month delay of a listing decision to gather more credible science and to allow for current conservation efforts to enroll additional participants and to grow a private funding base. "Given the growing body of evidence, we ask that the Fish and Wildlife Service not list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered or threatened," the Representatives wrote in the letter. "If the Service feels that it cannot make that determination at this time, then at a minimum, we request that it delays its final decision by at least six months to take into account the rapidly evolving state of facts on the ground." The letter continued: "As with all listings, the crux of our concerns is the science underpinning this decision; there simply is not enough information to credibly argue that the species is declining. There are also important questions about the science on which Fish and Wildlife based this proposed listing." The science available to the Fish and Wildlife Service warrant the listing has continued to come under question, drawing a similar letter from Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman, both Democrats representing New Mexico. The congressional leaders note in their letter that there is a study out that shows that the lizard's population has actually increased by a factor of 2.4 in areas where oil and gas wells were present compared to an increase by a factor of 1.6 in areas without wells...more

Also see NM senators seek delay in lizard decision.

Era of energy subsidies is over

Bill Clinton famously said, “The era of big government is over.” Well, it didn’t work out that way. But something truly remarkable is happening in our national conversation about energy subsidies: outrage, mounting opposition and, we hope, a swift end. This would be great news for taxpayers and consumers. Subsidy folly has been bipartisan and commonplace. For the past three decades, both parties have intervened in the energy industry. In 1978, a Democrat-controlled Congress and President Carter created an investment tax credit for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. In 1992, a Democrat-controlled Congress and Republican President George H.W. Bush passed the production tax credit for electricity produced from wind and biomass. Then in 2005, a Republican-controlled Congress and President George W. Bush passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included massive tax subsidies for seemingly every energy source under the sun, including alternative vehicles, advanced nuclear power and, of course, solar power. The latter legislation created the infamous Department of Energy loan-guarantee programs that produced the ongoing Solyndra scandal. After three decades, what have we learned? c Energy subsidies distort the free market by funneling billions in taxpayer dollars to politically favored energy sources and technologies, preventing market prices from signaling the optimal source for particular energy uses. c Subsidizing energy sectors drains the federal treasury and forces the consumption of higher-cost energy sources. c Politically allocated capital typically flows to politically connected companies or to large companies that could develop innovative technologies on their own dime. The $535 million Solyndra scandal has reinforced all of these lessons and helped shine a light on the energy-subsidy debate, exposing those who maintain government is the solution to our energy needs. The good news is that with the support of the American people, politicians now are speaking the truth...more

Grazing strategy could be key to reducing wild land fires, researchers say

New Mexico State University researchers and experts from other universities are looking into the possibility that a targeted grazing strategy for range cattle could significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. "Behavior of wildfires is affected by the abundance of what we call 'fine fuels,'" said NMSU rangeland expert Derek Bailey. "Our assumption is that moderate levels of grazing can be used to strategically reduce the levels of fine fuels and correspondingly limit impacts and economic losses of wildfire." Bailey teaches in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences and is the director of NMSU's Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center north of Las Cruces. He and other investigators are halfway through a three-year study on targeted grazing. Targeted grazing at four locations in New Mexico and Arizona involves manually herding cattle into more rugged and remote areas of fuel buildup and determining if the availability of forage, along with the strategic positioning of protein supplement blocks, encourages the animals to spend a higher percentage of their time away from the overgrazed areas around their water source. Preliminary results suggest that the combination of herding and strategic supplement placement can effectively reduce biomass of fine fuels, Bailey said...more

A citizen activist forces New Mexico's dairies to clean up their act

Which, in a way, was why I had come -- to learn how and why this loner became the driving force behind a movement that brought the state's mega-dairies to heel. The dairy industry is New Mexico's largest agricultural sector and an influential lobbying force. Although the state Environment Department has long worked with dairies to reduce pollution, change has been slow: Almost 60 percent of the state's dairies have polluted groundwater with manure runoff, yet not one has begun the required cleanup. Now, thanks largely to the pressure brought to bear by Nivens, his allies, and an Environment Department employee named Bill Olson, New Mexico has passed some of the most progressive dairy-related water regulations in the West. Citizens have campaigned against dairy pollution in Idaho, Washington and California. Yet despite grassroots support for tighter controls, industry has largely succeeded in slowing or even loosening regulations. New Mexico's new rules may inspire other states to take the responsibility for limiting factory-farm pollution into their own hands, activists say...more

Indian land-leasing reforms announced

Reforms to remove roadblocks to business activities in Indian Country ranging from home purchases to renewable energy projects were unveiled Monday by the Obama administration. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar described the proposal in historic terms and added it is hard to overstate what the changes should mean for Indian Country. "The proposed changes are the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years and will have a real impact for individuals and families who want to own a home or build a business," Salazar said. He said the proposed reforms would replace a current process that allows the Bureau of Indian Affairs to do nothing and let applications languish. Land held in trust by the federal government on behalf of tribes cannot be bought and sold. If a tribe or tribe member wants to build a house on it or use it for a business or industry, the Interior Department must approve a "lease." Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., welcomed the announcement. "This is a major step in the right direction," said Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and reportedly the only enrolled member of a tribe now serving in Congress...more

Also see U.S. Targets American Indian Land for Wind, Solar Projects for more specifics on the reforms.

Census: American Indian populations are on the rise

Populations of American Indians and Alaska Natives are growing, both in numbers and in percentage of the total U.S. population. Once comprising less than one-half of 1 percent of the total population, the two groups are expected to reach 2 percent by 2050, according to 2010 Census data. The two populations increased by 1.1 million people or 26.7 percent since 2000, the data shows, as compared to a 9.7-percent growth in the overall population. The nation's population of American Indians and Alaska Natives is 5.2 million, or about 1.7 percent of the total population. By 2050, the projected population is expected to be about 8.6 million, including those who are more than one race. Businesses owned by this group grew in number more than 237,000, generating $34.5 billion in annual revenue. The largest number of firms owned by American Indians and Alaska natives — nearly 46,000 — is in California, and the top cities are New York, Los Angeles and Gallup. Nearly a third of these businesses are involved in construction, repair, maintenance and personal services, according to Census data. Census data also reveals the following trends regarding American Indians and Alaska Natives:

# 28 percent of people age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.

# 73 percent of residents of the Navajo Nation age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.

# 77 percent of people have at least a high school diploma or GED; 41 percent of people have a bachelor's degree.

# The median age of American Indians or Alaska Natives who are no other race is 29 years.

# Median household income is $35,000.

# 28.4 percent of individuals are living in poverty. The general population is at 15.3 percent.

# 29 percent of individuals lack health insurance, as compared to 15.5 percent of the general population.

# More than 156,000 American Indians or Alaska Natives are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Read more here

Program aims to decrease feral hog numbers

The hunt is on. Feral hogs have wrecked havoc on Texas land and rooted profits out of farmers' and ranchers' hands. Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimated that annual economic damage caused by feral hogs is $500 million. So' last year Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) decided to add some extra incentive for hunters and landowners to come together to reduce the ever-increasing population of feral hogs. According to the TDA website, the 'Hog Out' program is designed to encourage counties across the state to make a concentrated and coordinated effort to reduce the feral hog population and the damage they cause. All counties that submitted a notice of intent to participate began capturing and counting hogs Oct. 1 and will continue to do so through Dec. 31. The five counties that earn the most number of points through the capture of the feral hogs and education programs put on during this period of time will be awarded monetarily. According to the TDA, the highest-scoring county will be awarded $20,000; the second-highest will be awarded $15,000; the third highest will be awarded $10,000; and the fourth- and fifth-highest will be awarded $7,500 each. Points are earned toward the grant in two ways. One is educational programs on feral hog abatement and the other part is the actual taking of the feral hogs either by shooting or trapping...more

Zeta soldiers launched Mexico-style attack in Harris County

The mission was supposed to be a textbook "controlled delivery" - a routine trap by law enforcement officers using a secret operative posing as a truck driver to bust drug traffickers when their narcotics are delivered to a rendezvous point. Instead, things spun out of control. Shortly before the marijuana delivery was to be made Monday afternoon, three sport-utility vehicles carrying Zetas cartel gunmen seemingly came out of nowhere and cut off the tractor tailer rig as it rumbled through northwest Harris County, sources told the Houston Chronicle. They sprayed the cab with bullets, killing the civilian driver, who was secretly working with the government. A sheriff's deputy, who was driving nearby in another vehicle, was wounded, possibly by friendly fire. For some at the scene, it seemed all too similar to what has been playing out in Mexico, where drug cartels operate with near impunity as they clash with each other and with the military and police. "We are not going to tolerate these types of thugs out there using their weapons like the Wild, Wild West," said Javier Pena, the new head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Houston Division. "We are going after them." "Everybody is surprised at the brazenness," Pena continued as he stressed a full court press by the DEA, the sheriff and police. "We haven't seen this type of violence, which concerns us."...more

Monday, November 28, 2011

Homeland Security funded camera network will focus on jaguars

Starting next year, jaguars will be the target of an extensive network of remote cameras placed across Southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico. In a three-year, $771,000 project that has been greeted warmly by environmentalists but warily by cattle growers, University of Arizona researchers will try to learn more about the status and presence of the endangered animal. Fifteen years after the jaguar was listed as endangered in the U.S., this project will try to determine how often it roams from Mexico to the United States and back, said Melanie Culver, the project's principal investigator and a geneticist for the U.S. Geological Survey and the UA's School of Natural Resources. Funding is from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Other possible results of the research include: • Pinpointing movement corridors for jaguars across the mountainous borderlands region. • Understanding more about how other wildlife relates to jaguars, and about the region's general biodiversity. • Helping the federal government determine prime jaguar habitat, and prepare a federal recovery plan for the species. • Learning how much impact the U.S.-Mexican border fence, illegal immigrants, and vehicles and equipment used to pursue immigrants has on the animal...more

This must be from the bribe...excuse me...mitigation money going from the Border Patrol budget to Interior.

Aging Sagebrush Rebel Keeps up Fight Against Feds

A 75-year-old lawyer who fought private property rights battles alongside Idaho U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth and her Nevada rancher husband Wayne Hage in the 1990s is still cultivating the Sagebrush Rebellion's roots. Fred Kelly Grant has been slowed by age and heart surgery, but he's in demand from counties — and tea partyers who attend his $150-per-person seminars — as conservative elements in the West's continue to clash with the federal government. California's Siskiyou County is paying Grant $10,000 to help block removal of four Klamath River dams. Montana and Idaho counties have enlisted him to trim hated wolf populations and thwart U.S. Forest Service road closures. What Grant preaches is "coordination," the theory that federal agencies by law must deal with local governments when revising their public land travel plans or protecting endangered species. Grant insists he's not reviving the discredited "county supremacy" movement, in which a Nevada county once threatened federal employees with prosecution. "This is not nullification," simply ignoring federal mandates, he told The Associated Press. "Coordination is working within the system to try and make the system work."...more

BLM auction in Salt Lake City will test new environmental reforms

This month's federal oil and gas lease auction will be a crucial first test in Utah of new environmental mandates implemented by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Even though the 11 parcels snatched up by a pair of companies have gone through environmental analysis by the Bureau of Land Management prior to the auction, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other groups lodged a protest. That protest could result in a courtroom battle where a judge would determine if the BLM did an adequate amount of review up front. "This is the best sale we've had as far as the maximum price per acre," said Kent Hoffman, the agency's deputy director of the land and minerals division. Hoffman said the parcels offered this month have been altered since the 2008 auction, with some changes made that include considerations for sage grouse habitat. The 2010 reforms are resulting in a much longer period of time for parcels to be offered at auction, though industry interest is on the uptick, Hoffman said. Hoffman said an indication of that agency slowdown is the disparity between the number of parcels the industry nominates for possible development and the actual number of parcels the agency is able to release for bid — which is substantially lower...more

Forest Service spends $1.2 million for fish-friendly bridge

Chokepoint and bottleneck are terms often heard in regard to traffic congestion, but not often with fish. But a steep, dark, narrow culvert under Idaho 21 created aquatic gridlock for fish and other water creatures traveling Five Mile Creek about 11 miles east of Lowman. The Idaho Transportation Department and U.S. Forest Service's solution was to remove the 300-foot-long, 72-inch-wide culvert and replace it with a 125-foot-wide bridge, opening up Five Mile Creek. Restoration of the fish passage will allow bull trout and other fish and aquatic organisms better navigation and re-establish Five Mile Creek’s connections to the South Fork of the Payette River, according to ITD. The $1.2 million project, paid for by the Forest Service, is scheduled to wrap up by early December. Crews will return in the spring to complete seeding, paving and roadway approaches, and other minor work....more

Salazar: No new federal limits on target shooting

The Obama administration said Wednesday it will not impose new restrictions on recreational shooting on public lands, a Thanksgiving gift for thousands of gun owners and hunters concerned about a draft plan to limit target shooting near residential areas. The policy, proposed this summer, could have closed millions of acres of federal land to gun use, a prospect that caused alarm among gun owners, particularly in the West, where target shooting on public land is a longtime tradition. Hunting season for deer and other game begins around Thanksgiving in many states. Officials said they were trying to ensure public safety in rapidly growing areas of the West, where some residents have clashed with gun owners who use public lands for target practice. In a memo obtained by The Associated Press, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department supports opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal land. "By facilitating access, multiple use and safe activities on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management helps ensure that the vast majority of the 245 million acres it oversees are open and remain open to recreational shooting," he wrote. The memo directs BLM Director Bob Abbey to "take no further action to develop or implement" the draft policy on recreational shooting...more

Is there an election coming up soon?   Expect this to resurface if Obama is re-elected.

Group Doesn't Like Land Swap Proposal for Jesus Statue - video

The controversy over a statue of Jesus Christ on Big Mountain near Whitefish continues this week. The religious statue is on US Forest Service land at the Whitefish Mountain Resort. Earlier this fall, the Freedom From Religion Foundation called for the statue to be removed. US Representative Denny Rehberg proposed a land swap to keep the statue, but move it off Forest Service property. The group says it does not like the idea, saying it's a public handout to the church. The statue has been on the mountain for 50 years as a World War II monument...more

Here's the KFBB-TV video report:

Aspen Times series: Challenges grow, funds shrink in Aspen's public forest lands

Jerry Gerbaz remembers the days when he would play on the dirt road that would eventually become Highway 82 in front of his family's midvalley ranch roughly 10 miles west of Aspen. Vehicles were few and far between. Gerbaz, 73, still lives on a corner of the ranch his grandparents started homesteading in 1897. It's an understatement to say he's seen a lot of changes in the valley and the surrounding White River National Forest. He recalls an era when more sheep and cattle populated the national forest than well-heeled skiers or thrill-seeking mountain bikers visited it. Gerbaz used to help take his family's 1,000 ewes and their lambs up to federal grazing allotments in the Rocky Fork and Chapman areas in the Fryingpan Valley prior to construction of Ruedi Reservoir. They would guide their flock up Woody Creek, through Lenado and over to the Fryingpan Valley in mid-June. “We'd never see anyone,” Gerbaz said. National forest use in the 1940s, '50s and even into the '60s was largely utilitarian. The valley floor was full of working ranches and virtually all of them had permits to graze their cattle, sheep or both in summer pastures on public lands. While Aspen's reputation as an international ski resort was growing, industrial-strength tourism hadn't hit yet. Aspen was so little known while Gerbaz was growing up that the Maroon Bells were advertised as a place of stunning beauty “approximately 40 miles from Glenwood Springs,” he recalled. Now, of course, Aspen is an internationally famous resort and recreation reigns supreme. “The U.S. Forest Service was a land of many uses. Now it's the land of no uses,” Gerbaz said...more

Rancher struck with Texas fever pushed to travel west

Born in a log cabin in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Aug. 20, 1872, Robert Vincent Taylor was the sixth of 11 children born to William Carroll and Martha Jane White Taylor. In 1891, Robert and several of his cousins followed the path of many other young Tennesseans, including David Crockett, who became struck with Texas fever and pledged their future goals on going west to the Lone Star State. "In 1891 most of the Texas-bound boys from Tennessee could not afford the cost of traveling to Texas, so they agreed with ranchers and farmers to work for some period of time to repay the cost of transportation," said grandson Carol O. Taylor. "The first stop was at Italy, Texas, south of Dallas." Carol said his grandfather kept all his correspondence in a trunk. "It was filled with letters and receipts dating from February 1891 until 1944." Robert soon returned to Texas and took a job grubbing cactus on a ranch near Wichita Falls. He later went to work for the Fort Worth Stockyards selling cattle insurance. When Robert decided to further his education, he went to Kansas City and attended a dental college. After graduation as a dentist at 36, he graduated from the McKillip Veterinary College in Chicago. "His reasoning for a double degree was because at that time a horse with a bad tooth was usually just shot as nobody had thought of working on teeth in animals," Carol said. "I found an interesting receipt in Granddad's letters stored in the old trunk," Carol said. "For castrating a horse, then pulling the owner's tooth, he charged a total of $7.50."...more

Song Of The Day #722

 Its Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is Ricky Calmbach performing Its Too Late To Lie.  The tune is on his 2005 CD A Step In The Right Direction.

Bloomberg bans "pampered pussies" in famed hotel lobby - video

The city Department of Health & Mental Hygiene has sunk its claws into another beloved New York institution — The Algonquin hotel’s lobby cat. Matilda III — the latest in an illustrious line of free-roaming Algonquin felines — has been banished from the lobby lounge, leaving guests fruitlessly searching for her under chairs and sofas. Prodded by Nanny Bloomberg, the DOH has been socking restaurants with steep fines for minor violations — and slapping dreaded “C” ratings on places where no one was known to get sick. Some places are taking no chances, eliminating popular features before the DOH can strike them down. The party-pooping agency recently nudged Sardi’s to eliminate cheese snacks at its bar. Now, thanks to a DOH “reminder,” poor Matilda is on a leash behind The Algonquin’s check-in desk, or out of sight on a higher floor. The city’s favorite feline, a blue-eyed ragdoll, took up residence last winter. She’s the 10th Algonquin cat since Rusty, a k a Hamlet I, moved into the hotel, legendary home of the “Round Table” literary salon, in 1932. The pampered pussies are as much a part of The Algonquin’s cozy confines as the oak paneling and upholstered chairs and sofas...more

Here's the NY Post video:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FDA Declares Rick Perry a Vegetable

In a decision that raised some eyebrows in the nutrition community, the Food and Drug Administration announced today that it had declared Texas Governor Rick Perry a vegetable. The decision, effective immediately, means that a serving of Mr. Perry would be approved for school lunches across the nation. In an official statement, Mr. Perry said he was “surprised and honored” by the FDA’s decision. “As a vegetable, I am honored to join the other three food groups,” said Gov. Perry. “Meat, dairy, and… nope, can’t do it. Oops.”

Borowitz Report

I'm a fan of Rick Perry, but this is funny as hell.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The West of my imagination
  by Julie Carter

"Whatever it was Lucy longed for, whatever was whispered by the wind and written in the mystery of the waste of sage and stone, she wanted it to happen there at Bostil's Ford. The desert and her life seem as one, yet in what did they resemble each other - in what of this scene could she read the nature of her future."
    This particular Zane Grey classic novel was a bestseller in 1917 and has been in demand ever since. The timeless story of Wildfire, a magnificent temperamental stallion with fierce speed, is a story set in a West that framed the imaginations of youth and adults alike.
    Everyone wanted to claim this untamable horse and was willing to do the unthinkable to capture him. This gave the plot all the elements of evil, villains and heroes that made the story powerful, exciting and one of Grey's masterpieces.
    As I raced through the mountain meadows of my childhood home aboard the "Wildfire" of my life, I could be Lucy in the middle of some imagined adventure. I could be lost in the mountains, surrounded by nature's splendor with only my horse for a hero.
    These journeys into a world created by my mind were part reality, part day dreams. They were nurtured by the summers that seemed to go on forever, filled with hours upon hours of reading.
    Books - that medium that took me away from the remoteness and isolation of my life as it budded into teen hood and sought answers to life beyond the present. And yet my preference in genre was that which fed into the life I already lived.
    I spent every hour with Flicka through all three volumes of Mary O'Hara's books. It was me "in" the book every time I picked it up to devour more of the story.
    Walter Farley's bestselling "Black Stallion" series with the magnificent horse and his young owner, Alec Ramsay, ramped up my imagination and took me to places in the world I could only see through the words on the pages.
    And in reality, every horse I rode had the potential for that adoring, loyal relationship. When I read the words, I felt the emotions, heard the sounds, and recognized the smells of a sweating horse after a long run or felt the soft blow of his breath as he snorted a greeting.
    I don't have any idea what it was like for a kid living in the suburbs of a city or a fourth-floor apartment to read the same books that I read. Perhaps his imagination allowed him the same escape to the West without living in it, but I know mine had a Technicolor that only reality could enhance. I lived where others read about.
    Today, when I read those kinds of stories, they return me to those same settings where now my imagination meets memory.
    The sun as it sets behind a red sandy bluff, the smell of a juniper wood campfire, the sounds of a gurgling stream, the rustle of leaves in a stand of Aspens - written in one world by the author, providing instant mental transportation for me back to my world.
    There, I can still hear the sounds of my horse picking his way down a rocky trail, the sounds of iron shoes clacking against the stones and the creak of the leather in the saddle as it strains against the back muscles of the animal beneath it.
    Zane, Walter and Mary and I have a whole lot more in common than I realized those many years ago, and it all began with the West of my imagination.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The Contemptible Select Committee

The growing Republican Debacle
The Contemptible Select Committee
The Farm Bill
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     Football is a great institution.  It is there that Americans, regardless of differences, learn to love the smell of the freshly clipped fields without outside influences or prejudices.  Those who experienced the smell of turf pushed up through those facemasks now regard those times with great nostalgia.  Regardless where their lives take them, they will be  . . . football players. 
     Pound for pound, one of the greatest players of all time smelled the grass in the rocked confines of James Stadium in Silver City, New Mexico.  Paul Hunter had to pour lead in his pants to ever weigh 180 pounds, but he went on to play professional football in an era that rewarded players only by extending the opportunity of playing for the pure joy of the sport.
     In Paul’s book, Gold – Is where You Find It – Gold Mines – Golden Era – Gold Metals – Golden Opportunities, I was reminded that he and I, without any collaboration, seem to find it difficult to formulate a single title for anything.  Perhaps it has something to do with a shared heritage . . . the smell of the clipped grass of James Stadium.  It is not the titles, though, that are so profound in Paul’s thinking.  It is his ability to reduce complicated issues into simple and profound words.
     It is amazing how many times I have opened Paul’s book and the same page emerges. It reads, “Even a robber understands that if they are to stay in business, they have to rob people with full cupboards.  They are soon out business if they rob people with bare cupboards.” 
     If only our government understood those words.
     Robbing the cupboard
     The Super Committee has demonstrated to us the failure of our government.  We are clearly seeing the tyranny from leaders who are ushered into Washington and ultimately don’t have the political will and courage that is takes to defend the promises made when the folks back home entrusted them with their vote.
     We are learning that the closed door sessions of those politicos threw a pretty wide loop in the length and breadth of their historic talks.  Those who believe government must be grown because of fear and distrust of the people remained true to form.  We know they will rob the cupboard until there is nothing left. 
     It is the others those who identify themselves as advocates who believe it is the people who are the true stewards of the public interest that are worrisome.  Those Republicans are showing all the signs that when the real battle is upon them they act no differently from their political foes.  We must then assume one thing.  They are ineffective in the dynamics of the Washington gridlock.
     The continued onslaught
     I don’t like the terms Super or Select Committee.  Neither truly reflects the contemptuous abrogation by Congress to avoid the nasty appearance of partisan impasse.  If you will pardon the indulgence, I will henceforth refer to the body as the Directorate of Internal Collective Subordination (DICS) because collective subordination by Washington leadership is a long practiced approach to governance.    
     What the DICS have concluded is they will agree to tax increases on the basis that there remains an appearance of a united front on the promise of long term spending cuts.  They have also sanctioned more clandestine spending.
       The Democrats are willing to go along with the charade knowing they can play rope-a-dope and life will go on without recourse to any promises made (they also know that a big portion of the pending $1.7 trillion mandatory cuts if there is no resolution will affect the Defense budget).  The Republicans are signaling that their strategy is simply a measure to get to the 2012 elections when the numbers will likely be better for any action on their part. 
     The Farm Bill
     There is leaked evidence that the upcoming Farm Bill will be a depository of a portion of the secret spending intentions.  The full extent of the planned adjustments to the Farm Bill will play out over time, but the Farm Bill itself must be discussed in a greater national debate.  It is a Trojan horse of biblical proportions.
     First, it is no longer a ‘Farm Bill’.  Of the titles in the draft well less than half actually impact conservation issues.  The majority have become social reform and redistribution schemes.    
     Less than half of the USDA budget can now be characterized as being anything close to farm related expenditures and a big portion of the latter can be arguably described as environmentally driven.  Fully 52% of the budget as reflected in the new Farm Bill will be paid toward nutritional programs . . . food stamps. 
     In August, 2011 the number of recipients in the food stamp program included 45.8 million Americans.  This is up 28.9 million Americans since 2000.  At the rate of historical growth in the food stamp program, the entire nation can be expected to be on food stamps three years into the next century (this calculation is likely understating the rapidity of the growth in the program because it does not include the premise of at least one nutritional think tank that three of ten Americans now in need of food stamps are not even in the program)!
    Another measure of how to describe the Farm Bill as it is now trending is to understand that $148 billion of the budget is going to nutritional programs and $144 billion is going to other expenditures of which part are remotely related to farming.
     The cancerous dilemma
     I find myself at odds with the majority of my colleagues in support of farm programs.  I fear them and I view it as a mechanism to trap agriculture in a spiraling freefall into ever increasing federal involvement.  There is also some real world experience at play.  In the crops I was associated with in the majority of my career, there were no federal programs.  In every case, they were as profitable as or more profitable than any crops without such programs.  There was also the absence of governmental interaction.  Until I experienced the difference, I had no idea how much easier my life had been.    
     The Farm Bill itself is the case in point.  The problem farmers find themselves in when defending the Farm Bill is that they can no longer take a position against the peripheral expenditures of the Bill.  If they do, they run the risk that their argument will boomerang and come back and to bite them.  Whether they like it or not, they have become unwilling supporters and coconspirators of the one of the greatest of the government growth programs, the socially driven and redistributive food giveaway programs.  The producer proponents are in dangerous no man’s land, and the longer this calamitous union of missions exists the more difficult it will be to separate and terminate the hoax.
     This is serious business
     Through all the hoopla of the danger our country faces in the burgeoning deficit spending, a strong argument can be made that no progress has been made.  Not a single course of action has been set in place to counter the long term cataclysm that we face.  The nation knows what to expect with the Democrats in Congress.  Their tracks will be covered by the prevailing press and they will willingly rob the cupboard until it is completely bare.
      The nation is also becoming convinced the Republicans are no better.  It was Thomas Jefferson who described the division of political beliefs that the Republicans espouse to support . . . the belief that the sovereign individual is the honest and lasting cornerstone of the public’s best interest.  Since the midterms of 2010, though, there is the gnawing realization that these late season Republicans are simply pretenders willing to play the game until all their armies are staged, all their warehouses are full of provisions, and all the moons are aligned.
     The problem is they may not get that chance.  In fact, they may not deserve to get that chance.  Great battles have been won not on the basis of preparedness, but on the basis of diligent resolve and willingness to risk everything.  The Republicans in Washington are simply playing the game and it is not sitting well with the folks in the hinterland . . .  the folks who have to keep trying to stock the cupboards.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “Let’s envision a process whereby every member of Congress is issued a number.  Until the budget is balanced, every Friday afternoon one of those numbers is drawn, and, on the front steps of the Capital, the leader holding that number is publicly sacrificed . . . no, not a matter of capital termination, but simply dismissed from Congress and sent home without any wages, benefits, or allowances to return.  How long would it take to balance the budget?”   


Spending is the problem. Everyone understands this except Congress, the President and the rest of the DC Deep Thinkers. 

Every hour of every day the feds spend $188 million they don't have.  That means if you spent 5 hours preparing Thanksgiving dinner, the feds would have spent the so-called $1 billion in "cuts".  And they couldn't even do that.

War on the West - A Report from the Front Lines

by Rena Wetherelt   

    Congress never appropriated funds to introduce an “experimental species” of wolf, but during the Clinton Administration’s so-called War on the West, the Interior Department was undeterred.  In 1999, Don Young Alaska’s Congressman, asked the General Accounting Office to audit the Pittman-Robertson Fund.
     The GAO audit revealed that in the mid-nineties $60,000,000 dollars or more in excise taxes collected from sportsmen on their firearms and ammunition purchases had been used unlawfully by US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Among other things the money was used to pay bonuses to top people, open a California office and to travel to Canada, trap and relocate arctic wolves into the Northern Rockies ecosystem.  It turns out the US Fish and Wildlife Service not only pilfered funds, even import laws were broken as wolves were brought across the Canadian border. 
    Ranchers and local people on behalf of their livelihoods and the native timber wolf, using their own resources, filed lawsuits to stop US Fish and Wildlife Service from releasing the Canadian wolves - to no avail. A federal judge allowed the record of hundreds of wolf sightings to be ignored.  The pleading of livestock producers was dismissed. 
    Over two years, with help from Defenders of Wildlife, scores of what turned out to be diseased wolves were released around the region using sportsmen’s funds without congressional appropriation.  Over the last 15 years, eating their way through once healthy deer, black bear, grouse, moose, big horn sheep and elk populations, the wolf has spread death, terror and spores of a potentially deadly wolf worm to a five state area.  Anguished locals watched the destruction of pets, livestock and what was a national treasure, the great game herds of the northern Rockies. 
    Local people now come face to face with packs of 15 or more monster-sized wolves, showing no fear.  Under-counting by tribal, state and federal agencies, regulatory goal-post moving and judicial activism from the federal courts kept outdoorsmen from controlling the wolf population or even protecting their livestock on private property without prosecution.  Use fladry, they were told!  Grown men cried in public, telling what they had seen.
    Earth Justice, the law firm which holds Consultative Status to the United Nations, sued the Department of the Interior twice to prevent the experimental wolf’s removal from the Endangered Species List, using the Citizen Suit Provision of the Endangered Species Act.  Their bill for attorney’s fees amounting to around a half a million dollars was paid by the American in taxpayer.  Defenders of Wildlife, the lead plaintiff, whose Executive Vice President was the head of US Fish and Wildlife Service during Clinton’s Administration and dozens of other “environmental groups” receive taxpayer dollars in the form of “relief” awarded by federal judges when they win these lawsuits.  Karen Budd-Falen says she has found billions.
    Congressional action in response to outcry from the rural people finally ended the Court’s and US Fish and Wildlife Service’s control of the experimental wolf in parts of Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington just this year, yet wolves are listed as endangered in the rest of the nation.  These wolves were never endangered.  They are a Species of Least Concern.  They have done untold damage to our once healthy ecosystem.  The machine that put wolves here was criminal.
    With enormous Canadian wolves running rampant through populated areas, people must be free to defend themselves and their property, their pets and livestock.  Sportsmen must be allowed to take to the field to reduce wolf numbers.  The poor Russian people, once they were disarmed by their government resorted to fladry - rags tied on the fence in hopes it would frighten wolves away.  After World War II, Russian soldiers were sent to the north to kill wolves, but not before their uncontrolled numbers spilled across the ice to our hemisphere.
    Nurse Rachett’s of the political set are using the Endangered Species Act as a bludgeon against their fellow countrymen, destroying private property rights, putting forested communities at risk, even sending our neighbor’s kids overseas to die instead of producing our own oil.  No amount of suffering is going to be too much for them.  The media watchdog has been asleep, allowing this scandal.  Let’s repeal the Endangered Species Act, and the state legislation categorizing wolves as anything other than a menace that can be shot on sight.

Rena Wetherelt grew up on a cattle ranch in eastern Montana.  After a career in broadcast advertising, both radio and TV, she now works as a videographer, telling the stories of the rural people of the northwest.  Her TV magazine Sky Country Journal airs on certain Sundays throughout the region.  Check local listings for Sky Country Journal beginning in December 2011.  “Like” Sky Country Journal on facebook to keep in touch. 
This is a link to a collection of clips from Season 1.

Originally posted at Canada Free Press.  Posted here with permission of the author.

Violence tests U.S. prohibition

By Ted Galen Carpenter

     Nearly five years ago, Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, declared war on the country's powerful and vicious drug cartels. His strategy of using the military against them initially enjoyed widespread domestic popularity, as well as Washington's strong support, but it has failed to yield results. Some 42,000 people have perished in the resulting violence, and the cartels seem more powerful than ever.
     The Mexican people are increasingly disenchanted with the drug war, and influential political figures are urging a different approach. Some say the government should negotiate a truce with the cartels. Others, most notably Calderón's predecessor, Vicente Fox, are bolder, advocating drug legalization to deprive the criminal enterprises of their vast black-market profits.
     Unquestionably, the current prohibitionist strategy is not working, and it has produced horrific unintended consequences. Mexico's carnage has reached the point where even respected analysts worry that the country could become a failed state. And leaders in the United States and Central America fear Mexico's chaos is posing a serious threat to its neighbors.
     The first concern is the less immediate one. There are powerful barriers to Mexico's failure as a state, including a stable political system with three significant parties, a sizable legal business community with a major stake in preventing chaos, and the extremely influential Catholic Church. Those institutions are not about to cede the country to the drug cartels.
     Still, there is plenty to worry about. The government's writ is shaky and eroding in several important regions. That is especially true of the area along the U.S. border, through which the most valuable drug trafficking routes pass. Cities such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez have become full-blown war zones, as has the entire state of Tamaulipas, directly south of Brownsville, Texas.
     Even previously peaceful areas have been convulsed by battles among the cartels and between them and the government. Mexico's leading industrial center, Monterrey, once hailed as perhaps the most peaceful city in Latin America, is now a major front in the drug war. The principal tourist meccas are no longer untouched, either. Acapulco has experienced several wild gun battles in broad daylight, and the cartel presence is so pronounced that residents sarcastically refer to the city as Narcopulco.
     There are as yet only limited instances of Mexico's violence seeping into the United States, but its spread southward, into Central America, is already a reality. The cartels have become entrenched in most of the region's countries, and they control vast swaths of its territory. Guatemala had to declare a state of siege along its Mexican border, and the leaders of Honduras and El Salvador warn that their countries are also in grave danger. Central America, off Washington's security radar since the end of the Cold War, is on the verge of making a dramatic reappearance.
     The United States, as the principal market for illegal drugs, faces a crucial choice as the turbulence mounts in Mexico and Central America. Illegal drugs constitute a $300 billion-a-year global industry, and the Mexican cartels account for $30 billion to $65 billion of that. Those vast revenues enable the cartels to bribe, intimidate, or kill their opponents almost at will.   
    Prohibition is simply driving commerce underground, creating enormous black-market profits that attract the most ruthless criminal elements. Whether Washington stays or abandons its prohibitionist course will certainly influence countries around the world.
     Legalizing drugs is a controversial idea, and even its supporters concede that it's not a panacea. But Vicente Fox puts it well: "Radical prohibition strategies have never worked." People should consider legalization, Fox argues, "as a strategy to strike at and break the economic structure that allows gangs to generate huge profits in their trade, which feeds corruption and increases their areas of power."
     It is time for a reasoned debate about alternative strategies to deal with the growing turmoil south of the border. The current approach has failed, and the fire of drug-related violence is threatening to consume our neighbor's home and endanger our own.  

Ted Galen Carpenter is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of the forthcoming "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America."  

Cato's new study, Undermining Mexico's Dangerous Drug Cartels, can be viewed online here or downloaded in pdf format here.

Along Mexican border, US ranchers say they live in fear

While walking along a dirt road bordering his property, a South Texas farmer complained about living in fear of Mexican traffickers smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants across his land. He would later ask his visitor not to reveal his identity, for his safety and that of his family. "I'm a citizen of the United States. This is supposedly sovereign soil, but right now it's anybody's who happens to be crossing here," he said. "I'm a little nervous being here right now. Definitely don’t come down here after dark." The farmer said a federal law enforcement agent told him to buy a bulletproof vest to use while working in his fields. Whenever he goes out to survey his agricultural operations, he always tells his office where he is headed, and he has purchased a high-powered rifle. "One of the basic points of the federal government is to protect the people of this nation to secure the border, and they're not doing that," he complained. The Obama administration and many local officials have said the U.S.-Mexican border is safer than ever and that reports of violence on the American side are wildly exaggerated. But the farmer scoffed at that argument. "I walk this soil every day and have since I was old enough to come out on my own," he said. "In this part of Texas, it is worse than it's ever been." Law enforcement agents say they are seeing more aggressive efforts by Mexican traffickers operating in the Rio Grande Valley. In South Texas alone, the traffickers smuggle hundreds of tons of drugs a year into the United States by floating them on rafts across the Rio Grande, then transporting them by car, truck or on foot — often across private land — into the United States...more

Song Of The Day #721

 Ranch Radio's gospel tune this Sunday morning is Row Us Over The Tide by Kathy Kallick.

The tune is on her 17 track CD My Mother's Voice.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oil Rigs Bring Camps of Men to the Prairie

TIOGA, N.D. — As much as the drilling rigs that tower over this once placid corner of the prairie, the two communities springing up just outside of town testify to the galloping pace of growth here in oil country. They are called man camps — temporary housing compounds supporting the overwhelmingly male work force flooding the region in search of refuge from a stormy economy. These two, Capital Lodge and Tioga Lodge, built on opposite sides of a highway, will have up to 3,700 residents, according to current plans. Confronted with the unusual problem of too many unfilled jobs and not enough empty beds to accommodate the new arrivals, North Dakota embraced the camps — typically made of low-slung, modular dormitory-style buildings — as the imperfect solution to keeping workers rested and oil flowing. In recent weeks, Williams County, where thousands of previously approved camp beds have yet to be built, and Mountrail County, where one-third of the population is living in temporary housing, imposed moratoriums on man camp development. McKenzie County, where the growth had been particularly untamed thanks to the absence of any zoning rules, is even considering breaking with a century of tradition and requiring building permits. Leaders in these communities say they will use the reprieve to draft new fees for the camps to support fire and ambulance services; write tighter rules, like background checks, for residents in these facilities; and require performance bonds to ensure that the modular buildings aren’t simply abandoned whenever the boom turns bust...more

Wolves, national wildlife refuges on the line - Pearce Attack

This year, however, is shaping up as a terrible one for wildlife in New Mexico and elsewhere in the West. Besides the obvious consequences of drought, the shriveled thinking of the political class has become especially noxious. Wildlife is under official attack. The administration of Governor Susana Martinez enthusiastically endorses animal trapping that can torture, maim, and kill animals — including wolves. Her political appointees have withdrawn state efforts to cooperate with the U.S. Fish and Game Service on the wolf reintroduction project. Meanwhile, on the federal level, Rep. Steve Pearce (Republican, New Mexico 2nd Congressional District) is a national leader in the effort to de-fund a wide range of programs that benefit wildlife. Among his targets: the Endangered Species Act, National Wildlife Refuges, and (of course) the Mexican gray wolf, a subspecies of canis lupus...more