Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On my way to the hospital to get Sweet Sharon and bring her home!

It will be nice to once again have a woman at my beck and call 24/7.

EDITORIAL: Obama’s goofy green gas

President Obama says there are no “silver bullets” that can shoot down gasoline prices that have skyrocketed from $4 a gallon to $5. Nevertheless, he’s seized upon algae - his fuel of the future - as a solution. It may be inventive to turn turtle food into gas, but until turtle shells sport racing stripes, America’s drivers are likely to prefer petroleum products to power their rides. With access to boatloads of taxpayer cash, the Obama administration addresses every energy problem with a “green” solution. The Pentagon ordered the Navy to purchase 450,000 gallons of algae fuel for jet-fighter training exercises this summer. Rather than pay $4 a gallon for conventional jet fuel, though, the service must shell out $16 a gallon for green gas. In the meantime, one Navy supplier, Solazyme, has begun to steer away from biofuels and toward beauty products and nutritional supplements in order to survive. Uncle Sam sunk $22 million in stimulus cash into the San Francisco-based company to construct a biofuel factory in Louisiana. With gas prices hovering in the $3 range until the recent spike, the firm wasn’t able to turn a profit, posting a $15.6 million loss in the last quarter of 2011. Mr. Obama has poured taxpayer funds into other trendy technologies, but failures have outweighed successes so far. Colorado-based Range Fuels, which received $162 million in federal and state loans for production of cellulosic ethanol, proved a spectacular disappointment. The company built a new factory in Georgia to produce up to 100 million gallons of ethanol from wood chips. The firm didn’t produce a drop of marketable fuel before going bankrupt in January 2011...more

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wolves roaming in residential areas, feds finally take action

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel plan to kill three or four wolves that have brazenly approached homes in neighborhoods in and south of Jackson. Wildlife managers most likely will track the wolves to a remote part of their territory with a helicopter and use tranquilizer darts to subdue them, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf manager Mike Jimenez said. Once the animals are captured, they’ll likely be given a lethal injection, he said. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials had considered relocating the animals, but decided against it, Jimenez said. A video posted on YouTube Feb. 23 is said to show two wolves crossing a homeowner’s yard in west Jackson. The two wolves, one black and one white, come within a few dozen feet of the home. The recent wolf activity comes after an incident in January when a Jackson resident photographed three wolves near his home in the Indian Trails subdivision. The two incidents are among numerous sightings, beginning in late December, that show the wolves have made residential areas part of their territory, Jimenez said. The wolves likely are attracted to the area by elk in the nearby Snake River bottom, he said. So far, the wolves have not killed pets or livestock, but Jimenez said he’s received “many, many calls,” most from people who are worried about wolves in their neighborhood. “We don’t think it’s appropriate for healthy wolf management to have wolves expanding into housing developments,” Jimenez said. “We’ve been watching it for a month and what we see is that it’s progressing in the wrong direction...more

One of the wolves had a collar that was working. They set back and watched for a month as the wolves got within 10 feet of homes. Thankfully no children or pets were harmed. But they watched for a month...

4 conservation groups petition Calif. for gray wolf protection

The only gray wolf in California arrived after heading south out of Oregon last year while his brother headed east into Idaho, moves that sealed each of their fates. The brother is dead, shot illegally by a hunter this month, but in the Golden State wildlife advocates are demanding lifesaving protections for the lone wolf known as OR-7. A GPS satellite maps the wolf's travels, and he is the first of the predators to roam within the state's boundaries since 1924, when the last gray wolf was killed by a trapper intent on making the West safe for cattle. On Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Fish and Game Commission to protect gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act. Though gray wolves are protected by the federal act, listing the wolves in California would mean wildlife officials must consider a recovery plan. If the wolf were protected it would press authorities to determine how many wolves would be needed to populate a given area before it would not be considered endangered. It would include a plan to deal with rancher conflicts over livestock depredation, tools for ranchers to use to avoid conflicts, and monitoring for disease such as distemper and rabies...more

White House Says Keystone Pipeline Still Possible

The White House today stepped up its counteroffensive against GOP attacks on President Barack Obama’s energy record, announcing that a Canadian oil firm was resubmitting its Keystone XL pipeline plan for a federal permit. Carney also announced that TransCanada would build a pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf of Mexico to “help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight-year high. Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs and encourage American energy production. We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.”...more

Song Of The Day #783

Ranch Radio's song today goes out to his beautiful wife, who is already tired of getting poked, CT'd and other such things and is ready to come home from the hospital.  I could only find one song in my library about being homesick and that included chickens, but it turned out to be a good one:  Sonny Dawson - Homesick.  It's from a Covered Wagon Jubilee transcript.

Documents: PETA kills more than 95 percent of pets in its care

Documents published online this month show that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization known for its uncompromising animal-rights positions, killed more than 95 percent of the pets in its care in 2011. The documents, obtained from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, were published online by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a non-profit organization that runs online campaigns targeting groups that antagonize food producers. Fifteen years’ worth of similar records show that since 1998 PETA has killed more than 27,000 animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, VA. In a February 16 statement, the Center said PETA killed 1,911 cats and dogs last year, finding homes for only 24 pets...more

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rep. Nunes Turns On California Spigot

Is sanity finally coming to California's Central Valley? America's breadbasket has long been victim of capricious water cutoffs to "save" the environment. A bill in Congress puts an end to this man-made drought. It should pass. Rep. Devin Nunes of Visalia, Calif., has come forward with a legislative remedy for the policies that have turned fertile fields into hollowed-out dust bowls in the name of "being green." Nunes' Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Reliability Act goes to a vote in the House Wednesday and if it passes, it will guarantee that water the farmers paid for finally gets to the parched Central Valley. It will put an end to the sorry stream of shriveled vineyards, blackened almond groves and unemployed farm workers standing in alms lines for bagged carrots from China. The insanity of the current policies against some of America's most productive farmers in one of the world's richest farm belts is largely the work leftist politicians from the wealthy enclaves of the San Francisco Bay Area. This group has exerted its political muscle on the less politically powerful region that produces more than half the fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. — with $26 billion in annual sales. "The bill restores the flow of water and establishes a framework for meaningful environmental improvements. It is a repudiation of the left's assault on rural communities, which began with the decimation of the West's timber industry and now is focused on Central Valley agriculture," Nunes told IBD. The stand-alone bill, H.R. 1837, marks the first time Central Valley water shortages and the federal role in creating them will be considered directly in Congress...more
Had to put my wife, Sweet Sharon, in the hospital this afternoon.  She has pneumonia.  The Westerner may be scarce this week.

Texas hunting ranchers fight for right to save African antelope species

A court case filed by one animal rights group may cause three endangered species to become extinct. The three species of African antelope — the scimitar-horned oryx, the addax and the dama gazelle — are already nearly extinct in their native Africa. But they are thriving on the plains of Texas, mostly on ranches where hunters pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of hunting them. For decades this practice has meant roughly 10 percent of the herd on any given ranch is culled annually, with the proceeds allowing the ranchers to continue to feed and breed these animals. But animal rights activists generally oppose all hunting, including hunts on exotic game ranches. They have successfully sued to have it stopped, and now the ranchers are faced with a dilemma: How do they continue to support animals which they have no economic reason to keep, but are prohibited from killing? Since 2005 an exemption to the Endangered Species Act has allowed ranchers to raise the three species, and hunters to stalk them, without a special permit. In all, Texas ranchers had about 1,800 of the animals in 2004. With the exemption in place, those numbers swelled to more than 17,000 by 2011...more

Canada: Bounty on cattle thieves being boosted

A rope and a good sturdy branch are no longer an option, or an effective deterrent for the lowlife curs stealing cows in Alberta. Yes, cattle rustling still occurs here in the not-so-wild west, with more than 6,000 head stolen annually by thieves prowling the prairies for heifers to heist and sell. With beef prices soaring, the number of animals vanishing is on the rise — and with the noose outlawed, cold hard cash is seen as the best weapon against modern-day rustlers. “If you do the math, I’ve lost pretty close to half a million bucks, when you figure cows that would have calves and so on and so forth,” said Aaron Brower, a rancher and victim of repeated rustlings. “Since 2004, when we first started noticing it, there’s been 25 calves here, 30 bred cows there — I’m at 164 losses so far, with 44 head this year alone.” Stories like Brower’s are the reason the Western Stock Growers’ Association announced Sunday the reward for nabbing Alberta cattle thieves will immediately increase by up to 5,000%. The old reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of cattle crooks wasn’t cutting it — and so the association is establishing the new reward, which will be doled out through the RCMP and Crime Stoppers...more

Song Of The Day #782

 It's Swingin' Monday!   Ranch Radio is renowned for its refined taste and bringing you the world's finest music.  We continue our reputation for high-brow harmonies with today's selection:  Cliff Gross - Hog Pen Hop.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

It starts with the green hands

by Julie Carter

National FFA Week is celebrated every year in the month of February, bringing out the pride of blue and gold all across this country.

In 1928 a group of farmers founded FFA with a mission to prepare generations ahead for the challenges of feeding a growing population. In doing that, they taught the youth of each generation that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting, but is a science, a business and an art.

FFA - The letters stand for Future Farmers of America; however, in 1988 the official name of the organization was changed from Future Farmers of America to The National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity of agriculture. It was not just about farming.

Today FFA addresses those diversities by helping young FFA members develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad array of career paths.

FFA focuses on leadership, management, character, teamwork and communications. FFA increases awareness of the worldwide technological importance of agriculture and its contribution to the well-being of all of us.

And it all starts with the Greenhands -- youngsters at the sixth or seventh grade level who, wide-eyed, see their upper classmen in their FFA blue jackets emblazoned with the FFA logo and in bright yellow letters boldly claiming a state and school of origin.

The crisp white shirts and blue ties above black slacks or skirts make a statement for the professional side of the organization, accented with a proper handshake, and a mannerly "Yes ma'am or no sir" when spoken to.

They carry clipboards and evaluate everything from turnips to tulips, crops to livestock, and meats to marketing during the season of “judging” competitions, now called Career Development Events.

They learn parliamentary procedure, public speaking and that agriculture is a global business, not just menial labor directed from a tractor seat.

They build, weld, cultivate, work, study and create projects that earn awards and acclamation throughout their FFA career.

It is a process they are guided through by FFA advisors that truly see them as the hope of the future and the heart of a solid America.

Tirelessly these men and women groom each young "crop" of FFA hopefuls by sparking their interest and enticing a desire to learn. They find youthful enthusiasm in the young Greenhands as they help them understand that limits are to be pushed and high levels of accomplishment lay ahead of them.

Every May, there is a harvest among individual FFA chapters. The results of a year of work are recognized before friends and family. The young members find a determination to do more, do better next year. The older members realize that hard work has a payoff determined only by an individual drive to succeed.

FFA stole my heart a decade ago and every year I revel in the improvements I see in the young men and women it grows. FFA feeds youth like the sun feeds plant growth. In the program, there is something for each one of them to grab onto and own a piece for themselves.

My hat is off to the FFA and off to the advisors who spend their lives molding these great kids. Off to the volunteers that make it work from the background and the parents who support and believe in it.

And most of all, hats off to the kids who are what FFA is all about.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Moonlight: Equine Elegance

Equine Elegance
The Passage
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     The drug war in Mexico was long ago removed from any suggestion of a simple police action.  It is a ferocious upheaval of human endeavors that threatens to disrupt any normal existence in Mexico for a generation.  With more civilians being killed on a proportional basis than Afghanistan, it is has become a horrendous historical event.
     The border towns have been ravaged by cartel intrusions.  Whole communities have been displaced.  Families have been shattered.  Normal patterns of life that existed only a few years ago are but memories.  The only word that properly describes the life of Mexicans today is . . . war.
     Equine Disruption
     The human toll is a dominating feature of the war, but it is only one facet of the greater problem.  The horse world of Mexico is being shredded.  This is most apparent in the competitive jumping world.  Today, few events are being scheduled.  The lives of the riders and the horses are threatened. 
     The cartels have added the extortion racket to their drug smuggling.  It is not just wealthy Mexican families that have faced the kidnappings and business extortion.  Stories are now coming out of places like Juarez where street vendors have been killed for failing to make weekly protection demands of 100 pesos . . . less than $20.
     Lives of young riders are at risk simply because they are associated with what is perceived to be wealth driven endeavors.  The English riding world is included in that target list. 
     A Growing Mexican Presence in Jumping
     In recent local jumping competitions on the American side of the border, gatherings of Mexicans who have fled Mexico can be seen watching and discussing the proceedings.  They will tell you the American approach to the sport is new to them.  They are learning a new discipline.
     Whereas in America, the Hunter-Jumper disciplines are judged by style and time, Mexican riders have lived in a world where competitors vie for wins strictly on the fastest times and the absence of faults. From those ranks have emerged some of the world’s most elite Olympic riders.
     The Mexican horses are different, too.  They are dominated by warm bloods that tower over the American thoroughbreds and quarter horse crossed horses.  Both sides are learning from an unexpected new union of cultures.
     The Plight of the Horses
     The presence of the Mexican horses at local events is in itself a story.  Those horses have experienced a gauntlet of risks that have become terrifying.  They are not exempt from any of the abuses and dangers that the Mexicans themselves are facing.
     Not only do they face the uncertainty of the protocol of any cross border entry, they face the danger of the extortion and drug smuggling reality of Mexico.  Half of those horses today never make it to their northern destination.  They are killed, they are held for ransom, they simply disappear, and they are being intercepted and used in running drugs across the border.  The unfathomable cruelty of cutting them open and inserting drugs into their bodies is a cartel norm.  It is a horrifying disclosure of events that shock even the most calloused observer.
     In the recent Scottsdale Classic, a big Hanoverian mare carried a young rider, Mayci Lee, to a class championship.  At 17.2 hands and excess of 1600 pounds, the horse found the turns of several of the classes a bit too tight for her stride and style.  Her demeanor with the .8 meter jumps also demonstrated her absence of patience for the short jumps.  The big jumps fit her personality and her talents.
     This mare, Moonlight, is one of those lucky Mexican horses that made the journey north.  Her former owner, a young Mexican girl who will be identified as Isabella for security reasons, competed at high levels across Mexico.  She is considered one of the bright young riders of that country.
    The decision to move the horse north came as the violence surrounding the horses escalated.  Her family agreed that the best plan of action was to engage security to guard the horse and accompany it to its destination.  The night they crossed the border the mare was in the only trailer of a total of nine that started the journey and made it.  The others horses were either seized or killed. 
     The meeting
     The first time we saw the mare, the horse entered in a local competition near El Paso.  Isabella was in the United States on a temporary visa with two things in mind.  The first was to find a permanent and safe situation for the horse, and the second was to seek any chance of an extended asylum and away from the dangers she faced in Mexico. 
     The horse drew attention for several reasons.  First, she was the only horse in the show that was shown in a mechanical hackamore.  Second, she was a tremendous athlete.  Huge, slick and powerful she attacked the course with aggressive willingness.  Her demeanor with the two young women, Isabella and her friend who was in the United States for the same reason, was also interesting.  She was very affectionate with them, and, particularly, the rider.  This changed abruptly when a stranger, especially a man, approached.  She would back her ears in defiance. 
     As the show ended our oldest granddaughter walked over and started talking to the girls.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, the young owner was surprised at the mare’s reaction.
     The courtship
     Shortly after the show, the mare turned up at the stable where our granddaughters had horses.  The situation allowed the young Mexican national to associate with them and they rode together.  Soon, our granddaughter was invited to ride the horse.  They clicked.
     With the need to care for the horse while she returned to Mexico, Isabella approached our granddaughter.  Of course she would watch over the horse, and, at the end of the week, all Mayci wanted to do was to be with the mare.  Her mother couldn’t keep her off of her. 
     When Isabella returned, she was interested in how the week had gone.  She listened intently as the events of the week were excitedly described.  When she learned that her attendant was only 13, though, she was shocked.  “I leave this mare with a 13 year old!” she proclaimed in her mix of English and Spanish response.  The way she had acted and ridden the horse she thought she was 17.
     For another month, Isabella visited with the family and watched the relationship.  She asked that Mayci exercise the horse.  She worked with the two of them as they jumped.  She offered instruction and advice.
     The gift
     During the 2011 NMHJA Albuquerque Beach Party, the young Mexican rode the big mare for perhaps a final time in competition.  Her attempt to extend her visa and or secure a sports visa had been unsuccessful.  She faced the likelihood of being forced to return to Mexico and all of the dangers that it presented to her.
     Her run put her at the top of the class with no faults.  She was smiling as she exited the arena slapping the big mare on the neck and leaning over hugging her.  “I am so happy,” she had proclaimed.
     I stood by her talking as more horses entered the ring and jumped the course.  Isabella surprised me when the conversation immediately shifted to Mayci.  She told me that other than herself Mayci had been the only person the horse had responded to in the manner she had.  “She is a tough horse and doesn’t like many people,” she had said.  “I knew Mayci was special.”
     As the event ended, we were all together with our hands on the mare.  No ears back or teeth showing, the mare welcomed our presence as we stood anxiously waiting for the results.  First place was announced.  Also with no faults, another horse edged the mare by a fraction of a second.  Isabella shrugged and smiled cheerfully.
     “Hey, it’s okay,” was the Spanish translation.
     The second place horse was announced.  Horse . . . Moonlight.  Rider . . . our young Mexican friend.  Owner . . . from Las Cruces, New Mexico . . . Mayci Lee.
     Without our awareness, the talented young Mexican rider had found the home she was seeking for the horse.  We did not know until the public address announcement.  Not a dry eye existed in our circle.  The horse was safe.  She would continue to compete . . . and she will be loved. 

Mayci on Moonlight
 Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “Mayci and Moonlight competed for the first time together with a win at the Albuquerque Harvest Classic.  Their second competition was the win at the Scottsdale Classic.  Moonlight demanded that the next event be back among the big jumps.  She likes them better . . . and, oh, yes, Mayci’s Spanish is improving.  Moonlight prefers to converse in Spanish!”

A version of this article appeared in Range Magazine.  For a subscription to Range Magazine please call 1-800-RANGE-4-U or subscribe at the web site.  This is The Westerner's favorite western publication so you should check it out and subscribe.

Getting Hosed at the Pump

 by Greg Crosby  

Gas prices are going up. A lot. Already the cost of a gallon of gas has increased by 51.4 cents over the past year. By this summer don't be surprised to see $5.00 a gallon prices at the pumps. That will mean anywhere from $85.00 to $100.00 or more to fill up your tank. But before you start cursing out the big evil oil companies again, let me tell you that it's a lot more complicated than that. Several factors are at work here.
    Even though we've had a warmer than normal winter across the country resulting in less demand for heating fuel (which usually means larger supplies of oil in reserve, and should translate to lower prices for us) our gas and oil prices have skyrocketed. As Fox's Lou Dobbs has pointed out, this is because oil companies HAVE NOT stockpiled the oil that we didn't use; they have sold it overseas to developing nations like China and India and jacked up prices to us here at home. But this is only half of the story.
    President Obama is complicit in this rip off. He is simply fulfilling one of his campaign promises to turn the U.S. into a more "green energy" friendly country. Investors Business Daily has pointed out that during his presidential campaign, Obama admitted he didn't have a problem with sky-high gasoline prices, he just "would have preferred a gradual adjustment."
    The idea is to make traditional energy sources such as gasoline and oil so expensive that it will force the public into using alternative fuels. His energy secretary, Steven Chu, told the Walt Street Journal before joining the administration that "somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."
    In a follow-up article, ABC News interviewed a scientist who had worked with Chu, Lee Schipper, who estimated that European gas prices were at about $7 to $9 per gallon back in 2008...

And check out these two nuggets on electric cars:

     Obama has said that he wants to "reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil," but what he really wants is to reduce the country's dependence on ALL oil, both foreign and domestic and put us all into electric cars. You might not think that is such a bad idea, and you might be right except for one little thing - the electric cars use more energy and are worse for the environment than the internal combustion engine.  
    A new British study suggests that electric vehicles might not be as green as environmentalists think. Because of pollution from the factories that make batteries, an electric car has a bigger carbon footprint than a gas-burning vehicle until it's traveled 80,000 miles, according to the research, which was financed by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.
    Not only that, but findings from researchers at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, show that electric cars that have been studied in China have an overall impact on pollution that could be more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles.
    Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Shuguang Ji, analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, focusing on dangerous fine particles. What Cherry and his team found defies conventional logic: electric cars cause much more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars...


Understanding Unalienable Rights

By Michael Shaw  

Why do we use the term unalienable instead of inalienable? Inalienable rights are subject to changes in the law such as when property rights are given a back seat to emerging environmental law or free speech rights give way to political correctness. Whereas under the original doctrine of unalienable rights, these rights cannot be abridged.

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines unalienable as "not alienable; that cannot be alienated; that may not be transferred; as in unalienable rights" and inalienable as "cannot be legally or justly alienated or transferred to another." The Declaration of Independence reads: 
“That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” 
This means that human beings are imbued with unalienable rights which cannot be altered by law whereas inalienable rights are subject to remaking or revocation in accordance with man-made law. Inalienable rights are subject to changes in the law such as when property rights are given a back seat to emerging environmental law or free speech rights give way to political correctness. In these situations no violation has occurred by way of the application of inalienable rights - a mere change in the law changes the nature of the right. Whereas under the original doctrine of unalienable rights the right to the use and enjoyment of private property cannot be abridged (other than under the doctrine of “nuisance” including pollution of the public water or air or property of another). The policies behind Sustainable Development work to obliterate the recognition of unalienable rights. For instance, Article 29 subsection 3 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights applies the "inalienable rights" concept of human rights: 
“Rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations.” 
Many call for a "Civil Society" which argues for a statutory framework that does not give recognition of the imbued nature of unalienable rights.   Modern dictionaries blur the difference, as does modern intellectual thought. The modern definition of unalienable is the same as the historical definition of inalienable. The contemporary blurring of the meaning of unalienable and inalienable is evidence of the process of dictionary evolution that Orwell forecasted in “1984.”

Understanding Unalienable Rights by Michael Shaw
Michael Shaw is President of 


Michael Muirhead has already commented on Facebook about this post:

Michael Muirhead

However, the Founders used the word "unalienable" as defined by William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1:93, when he defined unalienable rights as: "Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and therefore called natural rights, such as life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture." other words a person may do something to forfeit their unalienable rights...for instance the unalienable right to freedom which can be forfeited by the commission of a crime for which they may be punished by their loss of freedom. However, once they are freed after serving their punishment their right is restored.
c. 1645, from French inaliĆ©nable, from in- +‎ [[Category:English words prefixed with in-|]] aliĆ©nable (“alienable”).[1]

U.S. v. Jones: The Battle for the Fourth Amendment Continues

by John Whitehead

    In a unanimous 9-0 ruling in United States v. Jones, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. But what does this ruling, hailed as a victory by privacy advocates, really mean for the future of privacy and the Fourth Amendment?
    While the Court rightly recognized that the government’s physical attachment of a GPS device to Antoine Jones’ vehicle for the purpose of tracking Jones’ movements constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, a careful reading of the Court’s opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, shows that the battle over our privacy rights is far from over.
    Given that the operable word throughout the ruling is “physical,” the ruling does not go far enough. The Court should have clearly delineated the boundaries of permissible surveillance within the context of rapidly evolving technologies and reestablishing the vitality of the Fourth Amendment. Instead, the justices relied on an “18th-century guarantee against un-reasonable searches, which we believe must provide at a minimum the degree of protection it afforded when it was adopted.”
    As Justice Samuel Alito recognizes in his concurring judgment, physical intrusion is now unnecessary to many forms of invasive surveillance. The government’s arsenal of surveillance technologies now includes a multitude of devices which enable it to comprehensively monitor an individual’s private life without necessarily introducing the type of physical intrusion into his person or property covered by the ruling. Thus, by failing to address the privacy ramifications of these new technologies, the Court has done little to curb the government’s ceaseless, suspicionless surveillance of innocent Americans.
    In the spirit of the Court’s ruling in US v. Jones, the following surveillance technologies, now available to law enforcement, would not require government officials to engage in a physical trespass of one’s property in order to engage in a search:

Drones — pilotless, remote-controlled aircraft that have been used extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan—are being used increasingly domestically by law enforcement. Law enforcement officials promise to use drones to locate missing children and hunt illegal marijuana plants, but under many states’ proposed rules, they could also be used to track citizens and closely monitor individuals based on the mere suspicions of law enforcement officers. The precision with which drones can detect intimate activity is remarkable. For instance, a drone can tell whether a hiker eight miles away is carrying a backpack.

There's them drones again.  Whitehead goes on to list and discuss seven other devices or methods of government surveillance.

Report: Homeland Security lied to Congress about spying on citizens

Already facing inquiries from the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform concerning possible perjury revolving around the Fast and Furious fiasco, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano appears to be in deeper trouble in light of a report stating that her agency lied to Congress about alleged spying on citizens who have not been charged with crimes. Secret documents recently published by The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) show that Homeland Security officials misled Congress when they claimed that the agency had not contracted with any entity to monitor social networking sites for signs of citizen discontent with government policy. The documents show that DHS did, indeed, enter into a contractual agreement with General Dynamics to monitor the Internet for signs of opposition to policies of the Obama Administration:

 Altogether, the documents released by EPIC in January and in February reveal that the Department is paying defense contractor General Dynamics to monitor the Internet for “reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities,” including “reports that pertain to DHS and sub agencies — especially those that have a negative spin on DHS/Component preparation, planning, and response activities,” among other things.

DHS paid General Dynamics 11.4 million dollars to keep tabs on citizen comments on the Internet about government policy. Ginger McCall, who serves as director of EPIC's Open Government Project, stated in a letter to a congressional subcommittee that Homeland Security's surveillance of citizens reaches far beyond monitoring for terrorism or natural or man made disasters:

“The DHS testimony, as well as the documents obtained by EPIC, indicate that the agency is monitoring constantly, under very broad search terms, and is not limiting that monitoring to events or activities related to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or manmade disasters,” McCall explained to lawmakers. “The monitoring is designed to be over-broad, and sweeps in large amounts of First Amendment activity. The DHS has no legal authority to engage in this monitoring.”


Number of Civil Drones to Eclipse Military Ones?

Energy companies have been testing small, unmanned aircraft as potential pipeline and drilling rig monitors. The Interior Department has more than 40 unmanned aerial systems that it uses to monitor wildlife and fires. And NASA scientists have sent retired Air Force drones to collect atmospheric data on high-altitude, cross-ocean missions that would be too long and dangerous for human pilots. In many cases, the systems are safer and cheaper than manned aircraft. In others, they are able to do things that were simply impossible before. “The phrase that the military uses is that UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] are for the ‘dull, dirty and dangerous’ jobs,” said Gretchen West, executive vice president of the industry group Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. “Ultimately, we see the civil market being larger even than the defense market.” But civilian use of drones has been tempered so far by provisional Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules that allow only civil entities like government agencies or universities to fly small systems within line of sight—and only with specific approval. Broader use could pose major safety problems, and FAA has grappled for years with how to allow more flights while protecting other aircraft and people on the ground. Now, the agency is preparing a proposed rule to release this spring on small unmanned systems, which many observers say is a first step toward transitioning the powerful technology to civilian use. The energy industry and other groups also are relying on drones to keep an eye on wildlife. In an early energy industry-drone experiment in 2008, Walker teamed up with Shell to test whether unmanned aerial systems could help monitor wildlife in offshore areas where the company planned to work. Part of Shell’s permit requires the company to halt its seismic surveys if whales or other protected wildlife are nearby, and Shell wanted to figure out the best way to watch for the animals.  Federal agencies are also discovering the benefits of using the systems to monitor wildlife. In 2009, scientists with NOAA used unmanned systems to survey ice seals in areas of the Bering Sea that are difficult to reach with piloted planes. There, the drones’ stealth proved to be a plus. Some flights were so quiet they brought back pictures of seals at rest, said Robyn Angliss, deputy director of NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle. That lets scientists take better counts and leaves sensitive species undisturbed. “We’re just at the beginning,” said Michael Hutt, who oversees the Interior Department’s drones at the U.S. Geological Survey. “It feels a lot like when we were just introducing GPS, and then all of a sudden, GPS became commonplace. Once this technology gets out there, it’s going to just explode.”...more

You see the Interior Dept. already has 40 drones.  How many does the EPA, Forest Service, Corps of Engineers, etc. have?  The FAA is issuing certificates for federal agencies to use drones, on both a short-term and long-term basis.

European government agencies are already spying on farms.  This report from BBC news says:

Imagine a perfect walk in the country, a few years from now - tranquillity, clean air, birdsong in the trees and hedgerows, growing crops swaying in the breeze. Suddenly a model plane swoops overhead. But there is no-one around manipulating radio controls. This is not a toy, but a drone on a photographic mission. Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres up in space, the same patch of land is being photographed by a satellite, which clearly pinpoints individual trees and animals. What is there to spy on here? No secret military installations, just farmland. But Europe's farms cost taxpayers billions of euros in subsidies each year, and EU agricultural inspectors are turning to technology to improve their patchy record on preventing fraud and waste.

Congress should issue a report on each domestic agency that has drones or contracts for the use of drones, showing the number of drones and the purposes for which they are being used.  Congress should also require an annual report from each agency on their use of drones.  As Mr. Hutt from Interior says the use of drones is "going to explode" and haphazard funding without accountability won't cut it.

Pentagon-inspired border plan elicits congressional support

Congressional overseers say they support a new strategy to monitor the Southwest border with military-grade aircraft and other existing surveillance tools as a substitute for a botched $1 billion virtual fence. Some Republicans also praise the Homeland Security Department for considering the deployment of Pentagon drones no longer being used in overseas wars. DHS officials on Feb. 16 issued a revised solicitation for the first round of new border technology that centers on defense or industrial "predeveloped" machinery that has been through the production line. The 10-year, $1.5 billion project is intended to keep drug smugglers, terrorists, illegal immigrants and other suspicious individuals from entering the United States. Some DHS-owned drones -- unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft -- currently survey Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Corpus Christi, Texas; and several other border areas. Military helicopters and airplanes returning from overseas this year will replace many National Guardsmen along the Southwest border, DHS officials recently announced. But drones are not part of that fleet. Miller said demilitarized unmanned aircraft, robots and land vehicles all should help guard the U.S.-Mexico border. Before this month, the department's previous technology solicitations aimed to prop up a series of interconnected towers, wide-area cameras, ground radars and data feeds that could share information. Now officials have simplified their ambitions. They aren't interested in networking everything just yet. They've decided they don't need the radars. And cameras need only detect walking humans from up to five miles away, not seven and a half miles away, as previously required. They want, at most, six stand-alone towers suited to the terrain and weather of each surveillance point. The more sophisticated features can be added over time, officials said.

Sounds good right?  Well, just keep on reading:

While lawmakers this week seemed satisfied with the new technical approach, some noted that Homeland Security still may be biting off more than it can chew. DHS, an amalgam of 22 agencies joined a decade ago, struggles to supervise large contracts, according to numerous studies by the Government Accountability Office. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an email that "the department's new emphasis on deploying proven technologies to the border is appropriate." But, he added, "I am concerned by a recent GAO report that found the current technology deployment plan doesn't incorporate performance metrics and that DHS has not documented its justifications for deploying different kinds of technologies to different parts of the border. The last thing we need is a repeat of some of the mistakes that resulted in the cancellation of SBInet." GAO auditors in the fall derided DHS officials for neglecting to articulate a rationale for each step of the strategy and for failing to calculate a cost range should unforeseen events occur, such as schedule slips. The new SBInet offshoot comes on the heels of the U.S. Coast Guard's failed modernization project called Deepwater, which went $5 billion over budget, and a computerized immigration casework system that, after exhausting $700 million and more than five years of labor, still has not materialized...more

So what do you do with a federal agency that has wasted $7 billion dollars?  Why you give them $1.5 billion more to waste.  Instead of more money they need to bust up DHS and do it quickly.

Song Of The Day #781

 Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday is Gonna Be Moving by Hurricane Creek.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Timber group blasts Interior Sec. Salazar Oregon visit

Ken Salazar, President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, was in Medford, Oregon this week to tour the “Pilot Joe” demonstration project and hold a Town Hall meeting where he sought to downplay the impact of a new Northern Spotted Owl critical habitat designation and announced yet another lengthy administrative forest planning process for 2.5 million acres of western Oregon forests managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), including the Oregon & California (O&C) Grant lands. This latest announcement comes nearly 2 ½ years after Secretary Salazar illegally withdrew the 2008 Western Oregon Plan Revisions. Ever since, Oregonians have heard a host of unfulfilled promises. “This latest bunch of PR is just another example of this Administration’s inability to grasp the realities facing the forests and rural communities of western Oregon,” said Tom Partin, President of the American Forest Resource Council (AFRC). “Instead of taking concrete steps to implement a meaningful timber program based on sound science, Secretary Salazar has outlined a flawed strategy based on one failed pilot project.” When the Secretary came to Roseburg in October, 2010, he talked about two pilot projects spanning 20,000 to 30,000 acres that would be both ecologically and economically viable. The Pilot Joe project was narrowed from the potential 50,000 acre scope of the Applegate Watershed to a mere 245 acres...more

Utah governor backs plan to sue unless feds relinquish land

Gov. Gary Herbert said he supports a proposal demanding that Congress relinquish control of federal lands within Utah and suing for damages if it does not comply. Herbert said the federal government agreed to sell off its holdings in the state when Utah was granted statehood, with 5 percent of the proceeds going to schools. He said it has failed to live up to its bargain. "The federal government needs to answer the question: ‘Why have you not disposed of the property?’ " he said during his monthly KUED news conference. "It’s been to our economic detriment, and we ought to get an answer to that and if that means we go to court, ultimately, then so be it." Several Republican legislators are proposing a package of bills that would demand the federal government relinquish about 33 million acres in the state — about two-thirds of the entire landmass — and set a deadline of the end of 2014 to comply. If Congress fails to act, the lawmakers are seeking $3 million to launch a legal battle to force the federal government to pay damages. "They’ve just decided unilaterally that they’re going to breach the contract," Herbert said. "We ought to find out why and if there’s some compensation they should give to us for that breach of contract. "Herbert said not having access to so much federal land has undermined Utah’s tax base and hampered economic development....more

Communities help pay for ecosystem services provided by forests

Strontia Springs Reservoir, 30 miles south of Denver, Colo., looks like water you'd want to scoop up in your dipper. Sunshine and pine reflect off its aqua-blue surface. But 16 years ago, it looked more like a latte clogged with cinnamon bark. In 1996 and 2002, major forest fires scorched the Upper South Platte River watershed. In the aftermath, heavy rains washed debris, burned logs and more than 750,000 cubic yards of sediment into the reservoir, which supplies over 7,000 acre-feet of drinking water annually to Denver. Denver Water -- the utility that supplies 1.3 million people in the metro area -- spent more than $26 million dredging Strontia Springs, treating the water and reseeding the watershed's forests. The U.S. Forest Service spent millions more to reinforce hillsides, reseed and plant trees. But the damage to the city's drinking water could have been much worse: Just 150,000 acres burned out of the 2.5 million acres in Denver's watersheds. In hopes of avoiding future expensive wildfires, in 2011, Denver Water and the Forest Service signed a $33 million cost-sharing agreement for watershed restoration. The average residential water user will pay an extra $27 over the course of five years to match the Forest Service's $16.5 million allocation. The money will fund tree-thinning and prescribed burns on 38,000 acres...more

Obama energy policy cripples justice for Native Americans

President Obama’s heavy-handed energy regulations and Big Green’s egregious legal delays have crippled the ability of tribal leaders to create jobs and stifled their development of Native American resources. Alaska’s Republican Rep. Don Young, long a friend of tribal leaders and Alaska Native officers, recently introduced the Native American Energy Act, a proposal to reduce government barriers and streamline burdensome procedures, particularly approvals from Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Six representatives from various tribes testified last week at the bill’s hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Mike Olguin, vice chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, set the theme: “We are the best protectors of our own resources and the best stewards of our own destiny, provided that we have the tools to use what is ours.” Wilson Groen, president and chief executive officer of Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, said the Navajo Nation fully supports this reform, calling current procedures “costly and inflexible,” taking about a year and a half to get a drilling permit on Navajo Nation lands...more

Song Of The Day #780

Blues is Blues, but the RFD Blues is definitely country blues.
Ranch Radio brings you Jimmie Dolan's 1950 recording of The RFD Blues.
The tune is on his 31 track CD Juke Box Boogie.

Durban Climate Change Conference Promises UN Court Oversight

The world community stepped away from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa two short months ago with promises that all nations will submit to the climate control supremacy of the UN – by 2020. In the interim, developed (i.e., Western) countries will be required to pay into a $100 billion a year Green Climate Fund – run by the UN – ostensibly to help offset the “costs” to countries affected by climate change. More ominously, a Climate Court of Justice is to be established to oversee and enforce the new emissions mandates. At the same time, while thousands of scientists openly oppose the political conclusions drawn by UN policymakers on man-made climate change, Canada became the first industrialized nation to exit the UN’s Kyoto global warming treaty. But they didn’t just withdraw quietly. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper put a fine point on it: "To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car, and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agricultural sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory, and building in Canada.” "Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change," Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent elaborated. "If anything, it's an impediment. A new agreement with legally binding commitments for all major emitters that allows us as a country to continue to generate jobs and economic growth represents the path forward."...more

Thursday, February 23, 2012

High court overturns ruling on PPL dams

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday struck down a Montana court decision that had said PPL Montana owes the state more than $50 million in rent for operating hydroelectric dams on state-owned riverbeds. The nation’s high court said the Montana Supreme Court erred when it ruled in 2010 that the rivers underneath the dams are navigable, and therefore owned by the state and subject to rent payments. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Montana court ignored earlier federal rulings that say separate “segments” of a river must be examined for navigability — and that some or all of the river segments in the PPL case are clearly not navigable. If a section of river in Montana or any other state is found to be navigable at the time of statehood, the state owns the riverbed. PPL has argued that the rivers around its 10 dam sites are not navigable. The U.S. Supreme Court decision, however, doesn’t end the nearly nine-year-old case. It sends it back to the Montana courts to examine whether stretches of the Missouri, Madison and Clark Fork rivers are navigable, according to the standards defined by the high court...more

Go here to read the decision.

Sapphire in the Rough - NM Stimulus Project

The federal government awarded Sapphire Energy, a green energy concern, more than $100 million for a project that is behind schedule, has only created a fraction of its expected jobs, and is, according to some experts, at least a decade away from creating a viable product. Founded in 2007, Sapphire is working to develop algal biofuel—a replacement to crude oil made from algae and able to be refined into gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.
Sapphire raised $100 million from private investment firms, including ARCH Venture Partners. Bob Nelsen, a founding partner of ARCH, served on Obama’s National Finance Committee during the 2008 campaign. The company has received $104.5 million from the federal government, roughly half of which were 2009 stimulus funds from the Department of Energy, to build an algae-based biofuel operation in Columbus, New Mexico...more

The high priests of eco-destruction

Rick Santorum is right. Pushing back against Democrats' attempts to frame him as a religious menace, the GOP presidential candidate forcefully turned the tables on the White House: "When it comes to the management of the Earth, they are the anti-science ones." Scrutiny of the White House anti-science brigade couldn't come at a better time (which is why Santorum's detractors prefer to froth at the mouth about comments he made four years ago on the existence of Satan). It's not just big-ticket scandals like the stimulus-subsidized Solyndra bankruptcy or the Keystone pipeline debacle bedeviling America. In every corner of the Obama administration, the radical green machinery is hard at work -- destroying jobs, shredding truth and sacrificing our economic well-being at the altar of environmentalism. --Take Obama's head of the National Park Service, please. While serving as the Pacific West regional director of the NPS, Jon Jarvis was accused of at least 21 instances of scientific misconduct by Dr. Corey Goodman, a high-ranking member of the National Academy of Sciences. Extensive information about Jarvis' alleged role in cooking data about a California oyster farm's impact on harbor seals at Point Reyes was withheld during the 2009 nomination process. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ignored complaints and follow-up from both Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Sens. James Inhofe and David Vitter. The National Research Council determined that the NPS had "selectively" slanted its report on the oyster farm. The federal Marine Mammal Commission found that "the data and analyses are not sufficient to demonstrate a causal relationship" between the farm's operations and harbor seal health. In a letter blasting the NPS for bullying the small oyster farm, Feinstein -- normally a reliable eco-ally -- concluded earlier this month that the "crux of the problem is that the Park Service manipulated science while building a case that the business should be shuttered."...

Columnist Michele Malkin lists more "anti-science" activities by Obama's brigade with water, endangered species and oil drilling, and then offers this powerful conclusion:

People of faith aren't what's bedeviling America. Blame the high voodoo priests of eco-destruction in Washington who have imposed a green theocracy on us all. Science be damned.

When it comes to trouncing civil liberties and distorting science for political reasons, Obama has out-Bushed Bush.

Luxury NOAA undercover boat got more use as pleasure cruiser

Federal fish cops in Seattle bought a $300,000 luxury boat to spy on whale-watching tours — but didn't go through an appropriate bidding process, held barbecues onboard, ferried friends and family across Puget Sound to restaurants and resorts, and used the boat for what one visitor called "a pleasure cruise." When confronted, one federal employee in Seattle misled inspectors about how the vessel was used, and one interfered with federal investigators, according to an internal investigation by the Commerce Department. Those documents were released Friday by U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass. At issue is a 35-foot, 14-passenger boat purchased by federal agents with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) using money seized from fishermen who violated the law. The fisheries service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has a law-enforcement branch employing special agents with the same powers as the FBI. They police the Endangered Species Act and other crimes against marine creatures, from poaching to fishing commercially in closed waters or out of season. The boat ultimately was used for just 119 hours, according to the documents, and remains moored in Western Washington. "The sad truth is that it was a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats," Brown said on the Senate floor Friday...more  

The IG report is here.

Predators, weather kill nearly 23,000 sheep and lambs in 2011

In the next couple months, three things are a given for Montana sheep ranches: shears will buzz and fleece will fly, ewes will have their lambs, and then weather and coyotes will take their toll. Spring is when sheep are most vulnerable, both because their young are easy pickings for predators and because their shorn coats make them vulnerable to Montana's sometimes-deadly cold. In dollars, the losses can be significant. In 2011, sheep ranchers lost 22,900 animals to bad weather and coyotes, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. NASS released the numbers late last week. Total deaths were 48,000, a $7 million loss, which includes deaths by other predators and nonpredator-related deaths from illness and infection. The number of animals was the same as the previous year's, but the cash loss was 38 percent higher, reflecting the record high prices for lambs and wool in 2011. Weather killed 13,100 animals...more

Song Of The Day #779

 Ranch Radio brings you one of those sad, sad country songs about a terrible event.  Here's the Carlisles singing about a Female Hercules.

The tune is on their 34 track CD Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight by Bear Family Records.

NM Junior Livestock Foundation Benefit Roping

Vendors exhibit products at Roosevelt County Ag Expo

Local farmers and vendors said they shared an overall enjoyable experience at this year’s annual Roosevelt County Ag Expo. The two-day event ended Wednesday. For Roosevelt County farmer and rancher Randy Lieb, the expo presented a great opportunity for him to stay abreast of what new products are available as well as price increases for supplies. Lieb enjoyed looking at John Deere tractors and seeing what new seeds and farm equipment were there. Lieb says he was surprised in price increases in seed and fertilizer and the information he received about the scarce availability of hay grazer and seed sorghum forage. Wayne Baker of the Portales Rotary Club attended the expo this year to help raise funds with their chuck wagon lunch Tuesday. “The Rotary had one of the best pork chop lunches that we ever had,” Baker said. The Rotary Club cooked about 700 pork chops and sold out nearly an hour before the lunch was scheduled to end. Baker says that never happened before...more

Another Global Warming Advocate Caught Falsifying The Truth

There are no laws that say that the global warming alarmists can't feel strongly about their beliefs. There are, however, ethical lines. And they keep crossing them. The history of the Great Global Warming Scare is filled with exaggerations, deceit, unnecessary hype and cover-up. It's all OK, say the alarmists, because they are concerned with the greater good, and if they have to cheat a bit, well, then the ends justify their means. This attitude was evident in the climate-gate e-mails. Rather than deal with the truth that man-made global warming is a scam, or simply unproven scientific speculation, researchers discussed hiding "the (temperature) decline" and using a "trick" that would help them make their point that human activity is harming the planet. There was also the attempt "to make the MWP (medieval warm period) go away in Greenland" in the researchers' data because they contradicted the swindle they are trying to pull off. Things were so bad that one researcher expressed concern that "the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it." It apparently went unheeded by the alarmist community. The alarmists' inclination to cheat was also made clear in the screeching defense of the discredited "hockey stick," the celebrated chart that supposedly shows global temperatures sharply increasing in sync with the industrial age. Those are but a few of many examples of their duplicitous, at times deceitful, behavior. And now comes one Peter Gleick, a climate scientist who misrepresented himself — lied — in an effort to trap the Heartland Institute, a think tank on the record as a strong skeptic of the climate change claim...more