Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Westerner's Radio Theater #026

Today's selection is another episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch.

Gene Autry caused me to dry a lot of dishes.  The way Mom would get me to help was to put the radio on a shelf above the sink during Autry's show and "invite" me to dry while she washed.   Thanks Gene, and many thanks to you Mom, for the wonderful memories.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

$7 million runway extension OK'd for New Mexico spaceport

The nearly two-mile-long runway at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico will have to be extended to accommodate Virgin Galactic's sleek rocket-powered spacecraft, spaceport officials confirmed Thursday. New Mexico Spaceport Authority board members voted during a regular meeting Wednesday to extend the runway by another 2,000 feet. Spaceport America is the world's first terminal, hangar and runway built specifically for commercial space travel. Virgin Galactic, which will be the spaceport's anchor tenant, determined through a battery of test flights and simulations that more room would be needed for landings under certain circumstances. Stretching across a flat dusty plain 45 miles north of Las Cruces, the runway is designed to support almost every aircraft in the world, day-to-day space tourism flights and payload launch operations. It is 42 inches thick and includes a 14-inch layer of concrete. The extension will cost $7 million, Wilson said. Money will be reassigned within the spaceport's $209 million taxpayer-financed budget to absorb the cost of the change...more

Song Of The Day #805

OpenDrive is working again.  I uploaded two schottisches yesterday but couldn't get either to work.  So Ranch Radio has strung them together for you.

Hugh & Karl Farr - Cider Schottische
Spade Cooley - Rochester Schottische

San Juan Mine and San Juan Generating Station settle case at $10M

The owners of San Juan Generating Station and San Juan Mine filed a $10 million court settlement Wednesday with the Sierra Club to settle allegations of water pollution coming from the power plant and coal mine. The companies agreed to expand a system to recover groundwater and build a slurry wall to keep coal byproducts out of water. "This is definitely a great step forward for protecting clean water, especially in this area of the state," said Rachele Huennekens, a San Francisco-based spokeswoman for the Sierra Club. The companies also agreed to fund several projects aimed at improving water quality in the area. The projects include river restoration efforts on the Navajo Nation, a regional microbial source study and a selenium reduction study. Mine operator BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal Co. and power plant operator Public Service Co. of New Mexico agreed to the settlement, filed in U.S. District Court in New Mexico. It must be approved by a judge to take effect. "While we disagree with the suit's allegations, we recognize there is value in a settlement that avoids further litigation and provides additional environmental benefits," PNM Resources chief executive Pat Collawn said in a prepared statement. "Rather than litigating the case, it is more prudent to settle and use the funds to invest in an additional water recovery system that would augment the current system and add value and functionality." The settlement amounts to an estimated $10.2 million, PNM said. If approved, approximately $6 million will fund the water recovery system and $2 million will pay for the other environmental projects. Another $2.2 million will cover Sierra Club's attorney and expert fees...more

Greek Americans: NM is the largest "debtor" state

IN MAKING their latest deal to save the euro on July 21st, the 17 members of the single currency took another small step towards a fiscal union. America made that leap 220 years ago, when the new federal government took on the debts incurred by individual states in their revolutionary war against Britain. That debt, wrote Alexander Hamilton, America’s greatest treasury secretary, was “the price of liberty”. Europe still has a long way to go before it is as fiscally united as America. It could not contemplate anything like the transfers that America’s federal system allows. Take Virginia, for example. In 2009, according to the Census Bureau, the federal government spent $155.6 billion in this state where the revolutionary war was won. But the Internal Revenue Service collected only $58.6 billion in federal taxes. Virginia, in effect, ran a deficit of $97 billion. Indeed over the 20 years from 1990 to 2009, according to calculations by The Economist, it ran a cumulative deficit of over $590 billion. That amounts to about 145% of Virginia’s 2009 economic output, similar to the debt-to-GDP ratio of Greece. If America were like the euro area, Virginia would have to bear the burden itself. But as part of a fiscal union, it can rely on others to help. Virginia is not however the most “indebted” of America’s states, according to these calculations (see chart). That honour falls to New Mexico, which has a 20-year deficit worth over 260% of its GDP. Puerto Rico, which is a territory, rather than a full state, has an even bigger debt ratio...more

HT:  Paul Gessing

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bluegrass Pioneer Earl Scruggs Dies At Age 88

It may be impossible to overstate the importance of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs to American music. A pioneering banjo player who helped create modern country music, his sound is instantly recognizable and as intrinsically wrapped in the tapestry of the genre as Johnny Cash's baritone or Hank Williams' heartbreak.

Scruggs died Wednesday morning at age 88 of natural causes. The legacy he helped build with bandleader Bill Monroe, guitarist Lester Flatt and the rest of the Blue Grass Boys was evident all around Nashville, where he died in an area hospital. His string-bending, mind-blowing way of picking helped transform a regional sound into a national passion.

"It's not just bluegrass, it's American music," bluegrass fan turned country star Dierks Bentley said. "There's 17- or 18-year-old kids turning on today's country music and hearing that banjo and they have no idea where that came from. That sound has probably always been there for them and they don't realize someone invented that three-finger roll style of playing. You hear it everywhere."

Country music has transcended its regional roots, become a billion-dollar music and tourist enterprise, and evolved far beyond the classic sound Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys blasted out over the radio on The Grand Ole Opry on Dec. 8, 1945. Though he would eventually influence American culture in wide-ranging ways, Scruggs had no way of knowing this as he nervously prepared for his first show with Monroe. The 21-year-old wasn't sure how his new picking style would go over.

"I'd heard The Grand Ole Opry and there was tremendous excitement for me just to be on The Grand Ole Opry," Scruggs recalled during a 2010 interview at Ryman Auditorium, where that "big bang" moment occurred. "I just didn't know if or how well I'd be accepted because there'd never been anybody to play banjo like me here. There was Stringbean and Grandpa Jones. Most of them were comedians."

There was nothing jokey about the way Scruggs attacked his "fancy five-string banjo," as Opry announcer George D. Hayes called it. In a performance broadcast to much of the country but unfortunately lost to history, he scorched the earth and instantly changed country music. With Monroe on mandolin and Flatt on guitar, the pace was a real jolt to attendees and radio listeners far away, and in some ways the speed and volume he laid down predicted the power of electric music.

Tut Taylor, a friend of the Scruggs family who heard that first performance on the radio in his Georgia home, called it an unbelievably raucous moment "a lot like some of the rock 'n' roll things they had, you know. But this was a new sound. It was a pretty sound and a welcome sound."

Scruggs' use of three fingers — in place of the limited clawhammer style once prevalent — elevated the banjo from a part of the rhythm section — or even a comedian's prop — to a lead instrument that was as versatile as the guitar and far more flashy.

Country great Porter Wagoner probably summed up Scruggs' importance best of all: "I always felt like Earl was to the five-string banjo what Babe Ruth was to baseball. He is the best there ever was, and the best there ever will be."

Steps Set for Livestock Antibiotic Ban

The Obama administration must warn drug makers that the government may soon ban agricultural uses of some popular antibiotics that many scientists say encourage the proliferation of dangerous infections and imperil public health, a federal magistrate judge ruled on Thursday. The order, issued by Judge Theodore H. Katz of the Southern District of New York, effectively restarts a process that the Food and Drug Administration began 35 years ago, but never completed, intended to prevent penicillin and tetracycline, widely used antibiotics, from losing their effectiveness in humans because of their bulk use in animal feed to promote growth in chickens, pigs and cattle. The order comes two months after the Obama administration announced restrictions on agricultural uses of cephalosporins, a critical class of antibiotics that includes drugs like Cefzil and Keflex, which are commonly used to treat pneumonia, strep throat and skin and urinary tract infections. Siobhan DeLancey, an F.D.A. spokeswoman, would not say whether the government planned to appeal. “We are studying the opinion and considering appropriate next steps,” she said. In a separate move, the F.D.A. is expected to issue draft rules within days that ask drug makers to voluntarily end the use of antibiotics in animals without the oversight of a veterinarian...more

Here's some more info from Courthouse News Service:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must re-evaluate whether cattle farmers can continue using antibiotic-laced feed to address cramped and unsanitary livestock conditions, a federal judge ruled.
Watchdog groups say the FDA gave its approval to fortify feed for healthy livestock with "preventative" antibiotics in the 1950s.
But the FDA found in 1977 that "subtherapeutic" doses of penicillin and tetracyclines - at levels too low to treat disease - contributed to development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could be transferred to humans.
The National Resources Defense Council estimates that these infections, known as "superbugs," kill 70,000 people in U.S. hospitals annually.
In the wake of the 1977 study, the FDA issued Notices of Opportunity for Hearing (NOOHs), to begin the process to withdraw the previous approval, but the regulators never followed through.
When a group of nonprofits led by the NRDC filed suit to compel completion of the withdrawal proceedings in May 2011, the FDA tried to rescind the NOOHs.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz said Thursday that the maneuver did not do the trick.
"The FDA has not issued a single statement since the issuance of the 1977 NOOHs that undermines the original findings that the drugs have not been shown to be safe," the 55-page order states.
Katz ordered the FDA to move forward with those hearings.
"Specifically, the commissioner of the FDA or the director of the [Center for Veterinary Medicine] must re-issue a notice of the proposed withdrawals (which may be updated) and provide an opportunity for a hearing to the relevant drug sponsors; if drug sponsors timely request hearings and raise a genuine and substantial issue of fact, the FDA must hold a public evidentiary hearing," Katz wrote. "If, at the hearing, the drug sponsors fail to show that use of the drugs is safe, the Commissioner must issue a withdrawal order."

And the AVMA issued this response

 "AVMA acknowledges the growing concern regarding antimicrobial use and resistance in animals and people, and supports the judicious use of antimicrobials to maximize public and animal health benefits while minimizing risks," AVMA chief executive officer Dr. Ron DeHaven said. "The judicious use of antimicrobials plays a key role in preserving the health of our nation's food animals and the safety of our nation's food supply. Many agree that there is a need for greater veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food-producing animals, and AVMA is currently working with FDA to develop practical means to increase this veterinary oversight."
DeHaven cautioned, however, that any decision to withdraw approval or ban any antimicrobial uses should be based on solid science and risk-based assessment and not on anecdotal reports and speculation.

Song Of The Day #805

Whoops. Looks like nothing I upload to OpenDrive today will play. Sorry.

Its time for a schottische on Ranch Radio. Here's Hugh & Karl Farr with the Cider Schottische.

Western senators want review of Forest Service strategy for replacing aging air tanker fleet

A group of Western senators says the U.S. Forest Service may not be moving quickly enough to build up and replace the fleet of aging planes that drop fire retardant on wildfires. The senators asked the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday to evaluate whether the Forest Service has done a good job of analyzing the types and numbers of aircraft needed, the cheapest way to get them, new technologies, and where the planes will be based. “Concerns have increasingly been raised that the federal agencies responsible for responding to wildland fires — the Forest Service and four agencies in the Department of Interior — do not have the appropriate number and mix of aircraft that will be needed for wildland fire suppression operations,” said the letter signed by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif...more

Government planning at its best:  Executive branch grounds 33 planes.  Executive branch puts millions of acres off limits to aerial spraying because of endangered species.  Legislative branch, which created the endangered species law, is concerned about replacements so asks another part of the Legislative branch to investigate.

Result?  Report will be written, millions will be spent and the West will burn.

No room for EPA ‘strong-arming’

Michael and Chantell Sackett wanted to build a house on some land they owned a few blocks from Priest Lake in Bonner County, Idaho. Little did they know at the time that their efforts would attract the attention of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators and ignite a national discussion on the Obama administration’s regulatory strong-arm tactics.
    The Sacketts’ “violations” seemed benign: They filled a half-acre of wet land on their property with dirt and rock and began the building process. A few months later, they received a”compliance order” from the EPA demanding that they immediately restore the site in accordance with the EPA’s Restoration Work Plan or face fines of up to $75,000 a day.
    The Sacketts asked the EPA for a hearing, as they did not believe their property was subject to EPA review. The Sacketts said their property was not adjacent to the lake, and the half-acre of wet land was not “navigable water” within the meaning of the Clean Water Act. They said the landfill they used, therefore, was not an “illegal discharge” into “navigable waters” banned by the Clean Water Act.
    The EPA denied the request for a hearing, and a federal district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their request for review of the policies that had deprived them of “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” in violation of the Fifth Amendment.
    Having nowhere else to go, the Sacketts made a Hail Mary appeal to the Supreme Court. Amazingly, the court heard the case and on March 21 issued a rare unanimous decision ordering a review of what it called the EPA’s “strong-arming” tactics.
    After reviewing the facts and the stretched definition the EPA gave to “navigable waterways,” the Supreme Court acted strongly and decisively...

Mr. Shapiro then writes:

This case is hugely significant, as it is a rare, unanimous rebuke to an overreaching federal government. That all nine justices, including two Obama appointees, would agree the administration was “strong-arming” is quite astounding. Moreover, that a unanimous court would reverse the action of two lower federal courts demonstrates a rather strong disconnect and serious emotional revulsion to the heavy-handedness of the administration in this case.
We can only hope this judicial rebuke of strong-arm regulators will extend beyond the EPA, as Obama administration regulators are consistently demonstrating the same kind of government strong-arming the EPA used in this case. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent 30 armed agents to raid a Tennessee Gibson guitar factory, taking inventory and property, apparently because some bureaucrat in a cubicle wrongly thought Gibson had violated another country’s laws, in spite of the fact that the other country, India, hadn’t been consulted. The National Labor Relations Board tried to give labor unions negotiating power by hassling the Boeing Co. for building a job-creating factory in South Carolina. Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Heritage Foundation, the Obama administration has rushed through four times the amount of rules issued by the George W. Bush administration in the same amount of time...

We all share the "revulsion", so let's hope Shapiro is right about the significance of this decision.

Obama’s French auto bailout

Ronald Reagan said, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” General Motors is learning that lesson the hard way. Now that GM is a ward of the state after being bailed out by Uncle Sam, it has to drive forward with all kinds of bad business schemes pushed by Washington bureaucrats, such as the expensive, electric Chevy Volt consumers don’t want. The latest wrong turn is GM’s move to buy a large stake in troubled French automaker Peugeot. The taxpayers who bailed out GM just got sold a lemon. This is a bad deal on its face. Government Motors is paying $420 million to get 7 percent of Peugeot, which, like GM, has been struggling to make financial ends meet for years. Peugeot lost $578 million and sales were down 8.8 percent in 2011. There’s no mystery why. Anyone who spends any time across the Atlantic knows these French rides are marred by mediocre performance, iffy quality and uninspired styling...more

Obama to urge Congress to give oil tax credits to ‘green energy’ companies

In his first public statements since returning from South Korea, President Barack Obama is scheduled to urge Congress to end “big oil” tax credits and give that money to “green energy” companies. Obama is expected to make the plea to lawmakers on Thursday morning in the Rose Garden at the White House as part of his effort to double down on his administration’s much-criticized investments into clean energy. This week, the Senate has been debating a bill sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, that would do exactly what Obama wants — end $21 billion in tax breaks over ten years to BP, Exxon, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. About half of that money would be redirected to plug-in vehicles, biodiesel, wind energy and home weatherization. The rest would go toward deficit reduction. But critics claim the bill could raise gas prices as the oil companies are forced to make up for the lost money. Even two Democratic senators and a former Obama Treasury official agree that ending the tax incentives for the five big oil companies would do nothing to bring down gas prices. The president, who has proposed ending the tax breaks in his past three budgets, began pushing the idea again in mid-March as gas prices soared across the country...more

Welcome to Idaho Wolf Poster

Obama’s campaign push for biofuels evokes Carter’s 1980 State of the Union address

Last week on the campaign trail at Ohio State University, President Barack Obama told a crowd of 2,600 students that drilling for more oil was not the solution to the energy problems of the United States, saying that wind, solar power and synthetic fuels were what were needed for the future. “We’ve added enough oil and gas pipeline to circle the entire earth and then some,” Obama said of oil exploration. “The problem is not that we’re not drilling or that we’re not producing more oil.” Throughout his tour of Ohio and other key battleground states vital for re-election in November, the president touched on similar themes and touted his biofuels initiatives. A key liberal ally — the League of Conservation Voters — assisted in the effort, launching a six-figure TV ad campaign promoting alternative fuels. Experts told The Daily Caller that the retail politics of alternative energy haven’t changed much, if at all, since President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 State of the Union — in which he asked Congress to budget for more spending on solar energy and for the nation’s “most massive peacetime investment in the development of synthetic fuels.” The politics, they said, are not likely to change any time soon either...more

The Second Oil Revolution

The world was reinvented in the 1970s by soaring oil prices and massive transfers of national wealth. It could be again if the price of petroleum crashes -- a real possibility given the amazing estimates about the new gas and oil reserves on the North American continent. The Canadian tar sands, deepwater exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, horizontal drilling off the eastern and western American coastlines, fracking in once-untapped sites in North Dakota, and new pipelines from Alaska and Canada could within a decade double North American gas and oil production. Given that North America in general and the United States in particular might soon be completely autonomous in natural gas production and within a decade without much need of imported oil, life as we have known it for nearly the last half-century would change radically...more

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Minnesota Non-Profits Receive $440,000 to Fight Keystone XL Pipeline

Three Minnesota environmental non-profit advocacy groups have received nearly half a million dollars in out-of-state foundation funding to oppose the Keystone oil pipeline project, according to a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota analysis. The California funding to state groups comes as a surprise, since Keystone’s proposed route does not include Minnesota. The Tides Foundation, based in San Francisco, has distributed nine grants totaling $439,500 to three Minnesota non-profits through 2010, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and grant disclosures listed online. No records were immediately available for 2011, when the campaign targeting the pipeline picked up momentum...more

Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again

What is happening to global temperatures in reality? The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years. Monthly values of the global temperature anomaly of the lower atmosphere, compiled at the University of Alabama from NASA satellite data, can be found at the website The latest (February 2012) monthly global temperature anomaly for the lower atmosphere was minus 0.12 degrees Celsius, slightly less than the average since the satellite record of temperatures began in 1979. The lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned. The burning of fossil fuels has been one reason for an increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere to around 395 ppm (or parts per million), up from preindustrial levels of about 280 ppm. The direct warming due to doubling CO2 levels in the atmosphere can be calculated to cause a warming of about one degree Celsius. The IPCC computer models predict a much larger warming, three degrees Celsius or even more, because they assume changes in water vapor or clouds that supposedly amplify the direct warming from CO2. Many lines of observational evidence suggest that this "positive feedback" also has been greatly exaggerated. There has indeed been some warming, perhaps about 0.8 degrees Celsius, since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age in the early 1800s. Some of that warming has probably come from increased amounts of CO2, but the timing of the warming—much of it before CO2 levels had increased appreciably—suggests that a substantial fraction of the warming is from natural causes that have nothing to do with mankind...more

Song Of The Day #804

Ranch Radio had a Swingin' Monday and a Tuesday Polka, so it only seems fitting to have a Waltzing Wednesday.

Today's waltz is dedicated to the memory of one of my heroes: Dick Manning.  This was one of Dick's favorites, The Bandera Waltz.  This version was recorded in 1949 with Rex Allen doing the vocal and Jerry Byrd on steel.

Dick was one of the most courageous men I ever knew.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

EPA's War On Energy, Americans Continues

The Obama administration is pushing the first rules ever to cut carbon dioxide emissions in new U.S. power plants. It's a move that's sure to make energy a lot more expensive for everyone. Everyone, of course, likes cleaner air. But the new rules are so draconian that they will lead to an end of the construction of any power plant that uses coal. The rules will force new power plants to put expensive new equipment to capture and bury emissions underground. If it sounds easy, it isn't. In fact, the equipment doesn't even exist yet. Despite this, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is going ahead with the energy-unfriendly plan. "Every model that we've seen shows that technology as it develops will become commercially available certainly within the next 10 years," Jackson said Tuesday. We wonder, what happened to the Obama administration's "all of the above" strategy? Why aren't we using all of our resources — including coal?...more

Medieval Warming Period Cools Climate Change Alarmism

Climate change alarmists either ignore the existence of the Medieval Warm Period or say that it was regional rather than global. A new report, however, shows that the warming was worldwide. The Medieval Warm Period is a profound problem for those who claim that man's 20th- and 21st-century carbon dioxide emissions are warming the earth. If an era as warm or warmer than today did indeed exist 500 to 1,000 years ago, before man had invented the CO2-emitting internal combustion engine, then it weakens their claim that any warming occurring now is due to human activity. The reality of such a period is a strong sign that climate change is both natural and cyclical, not moved by man's modern habits. In fact, confirmation of the Medieval Warm Period not only dilutes the alarmists' argument, it virtually kills it. So rather than deal with it, they act as if it never happened. They want to try to make it, as one message among the Climate-gate emails suggested, "go away."...more

'Hanoi Jane' Fonda Cast as Nancy Reagan for Movie

In what can be described only as a nontraditional casting, Jane Fonda has been picked to play Nancy Reagan in a new film about a White House butler whose 34-year career spanned the presidencies of Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Variety reports that director Lee Daniels has picked the woman known as Hanoi Jane for her activism during the Vietnam War to portray Mrs. Reagan in the film “The Butler.” The movie is based on a story by Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood, who chronicled the life of Eugene Allen, a butler who started at the White House in 1952 and retired in 1986. Forest Whitaker is reported to be close to finalizing a deal to portray Allen, and Oprah Winfrey is in talks to play his wife, according to Variety. Variety reports that no cast deals are in place yet, but Daniels is finalizing financing for the film, which may start production in the summer. NewsMax

Betcha thought this was a joke.  Unfortunately its not.

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Arizona lawmakers push to take over federal land

Another "sagebrush rebellion" is spreading through legislatures in Arizona and other Western states with a series of formal demands that the federal government hand over title to tens of millions of acres of forests, ranges and other public lands. Arizona could claim as much as 25 million acres -- all federal land in the state except military bases, Indian reservations, national parks and some wilderness areas. If the federal government fails to comply by the end of 2014, the states say they will begin sending property-tax bills to Washington, D.C. While the original sagebrush rebellion grew out of conflicts over management of federal lands, often as specific as keeping a forest road open, the new takeover movement owes more to "tea party" politics, with a strong focus on reducing the scope of federal influence and opening land to more users. Supporters say federal agencies have mismanaged the land and blocked access to natural resources, depriving the states of jobs and revenue from businesses ready to develop those resources. With the state in control, the backers say, loggers could return to forests where endangered species halted work decades ago and miners could regain access to ore outside the Grand Canyon. The new sagebrush rebellion appears to do just that, attempting to seize most federal lands. That was the goal, ultimately unsuccessful, of the last rebellion in the late 1970s and 1980s, when Arizona, Nevada and other states passed legislation seeking to take control of federal lands. What rankled those rebels and those behind today's effort is the sheer size of the federal government's land holdings in the West. In Arizona, the government owns 48 percent of the state's total area, according to a 2004 analysis by the U.S. General Services Administration. In Utah, the total is 57 percent; in Nevada, 85 percent. "We know firsthand what it means to have limited access to and control over our natural resources. It is interfering with our Western way of life," said U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican who was part of the 1980s takeover attempt and who endorsed the latest proposal earlier this month...more

This story says the House Rules Committee killed the Arizona bill yesterday afternoon.

Utah Gov. Herbert signs bill demanding state control of federal lands by 2014

Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill Friday that demands the federal government relinquish control of public lands in Utah by 2014, setting the table for a potential legal battle over millions of acres in the state. House Bill 148, which easily passed the Legislature, is saddled with a warning from legislative attorneys that there is a high probability it will be found unconstitutional. But Republican lawmakers and Herbert are optimistic about their chances in court, especially if they can persuade other western states to pass similar legislation. Ideally, state and federal officials should work together to improve access and increase development opportunities and improve conservation on public lands, Herbert said. Alternatively, the state’s congressional delegation would be able to work through Congress to give the state more control. If those approaches fail, Herbert said a lawsuit to answer the constitutional question needs to remain an option. “It’s not a slam dunk, but there is legal reasoning and a rational thought process,” Herbert said. “But this is the first step in a long journey. There is a lot of education needed to raise awareness.”...more

And the Salt Lake Tribune really doesn't like it.  Wonder what they'd say if the feds were regulating them?

Song Of The Day #803

We had a Swingin' Monday and that helped. Think I need a Tuesday Polka to get over the hump.  Here is Buster Martin's Bronco Busters playing Herbie's Steel Guitar Polka.

The tune is on the 27 track CD Wanderers Swing: Texas Dance Hall Music.

Green recipient of $126 million stimulus under investigation for insider trading

A company awarded $126.2 million in stimulus taxpayer funds from the U. S. Department of Energy is under investigation for insider trading according to a federal subpoena obtained by CBS News. The company, San Francisco-based Ecotality, makes and installs chargers for electric cars. The company received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission in October of 2010. The president of Ecotality North America Don Karner was sent an additional subpoena in December of 2011, which specifically asks for any and all documentation surrounding the public announcement of the first Department of Energy grant to the company for $99.8 million on August 5, 2009. The government also wants all communication regarding the federal grant from at least four Ecotality employees and two board members including the company's CEO Jonathan Read. Karner was required to supply documents to the SEC by early January. As part of the $99 million grant, the company is supposed to install 14,000 electric car chargers in five states. To date the company says they have installed 6,400, less than half. Electric cars are not rolling off production lines at the expected rate and sales have not been as strong as hoped...more

Government planning at its best: All them electric car chargers but no electric cars.

Insider training: When you're done screwing the taxpayer then go get the investors.

Planned Pipelines to Rival Keystone XL

Enbridge Inc and Enterprise Products Partners LP will more than double the capacity of the Seaway Pipeline, easing a major oil glut in the United States that has led to an unprecedented distortion in crude markets. The expansion would add 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) of capacity to the Seaway system, raising its capacity to 850,000 bpd by mid-2014, Enbridge said in a statement. The company also plans to increase the size of its Flanagan South Pipeline from Flanagan, Illinois to Cushing, Oklahoma, to a 36-inch diameter line with an initial capacity of 585,000 bpd. The estimated cost on the Flanagan line would increase to $2.8 billion from $1.9 billion. Enbridge's share of the cost of the Seaway pipeline twin line and extension is expected to be about $1 billion. The companies are racing to unlock a glut of crude in the U.S. Midwest, which has built up over the year due to rising supplies from Canada and North Dakota...more

Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys

At 2:11 p.m., as two ambulances waited with motors running, 10 horses burst from the starting gate at Ruidoso Downs Race Track 6,900 feet up in New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains. Nineteen seconds later, under a brilliant blue sky, a national champion jockey named Jacky Martin lay sprawled in the furrowed dirt just past the finish line, paralyzed, his neck broken in three places. On the ground next to him, his frightened horse, leg broken and chest heaving, was minutes away from being euthanized on the track. For finishing fourth on this early September day last year, Jacky Martin got about $60 and possibly a lifetime tethered to a respirator. The next day, it nearly happened again. At virtually the same spot, another horse broke a front leg, pitching his rider headfirst into the ground. The jockey escaped serious injury, but not the 2-year-old horse, Teller All Gone. He was euthanized, and then dumped near an old toilet in a junkyard a short walk from where he had been sold at auction the previous year. In the next 24 hours, two fearful jockeys refused their assigned mounts. On average, 24 horses die each week at racetracks across America. If anything, the new economics of racing are making an always-dangerous game even more so. Faced with a steep loss of customers, racetracks have increasingly added casino gambling to their operations, resulting in higher purses but also providing an incentive for trainers to race unfit horses. Mr. Martin’s injury occurred in a state with the worst safety record for racetracks, a place where most trainers who illegally pump sore horses full of painkillers to mask injury — and then race them — are neither fined nor suspended and owners of those drugged horses usually keep their winnings. The failure of regulators to stop that cheating is reflected in the numbers. Since 2009, records show, trainers at United States tracks have been caught illegally drugging horses 3,800 times, a figure that vastly understates the problem because only a small percentage of horses are actually tested...more

Udall revives push for national horse racing standards following New York Times investigation

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall on Monday revived his push for uniform federal standards aimed at making the horse racing industry safer following a New York Times investigation into a deadly and debilitating year — for both horses and jockeys — at tracks in New Mexico and elsewhere around the country. Udall, D-N.M., said the newspaper’s findings paint a “very disturbing” picture of the industry in the United States and New Mexico in particular. The Times’ analysis also found that five of the six tracks with the highest rate of incidents per 1,000 starts last year were in New Mexico — Ruidoso Downs, Sunland Park, Zia Park, The Downs in Albuquerque and SunRay Park. “The Times expose has shined a glaring light on the need for national standards in a sport that reaps gambling profits, but has lacked proper oversight for decades,” Udall said. Udall and Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky introduced legislation last spring seeking to impose a national ban on performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing. Despite voluntary reforms offered by the industry over the years, Udall said legislation is the “only viable way” to address doping problems within the sport...more

With Udall, the "only viable way" is always federal control.  Next up:  MMA, Boxing & Rodeo.

Obama Refuels Jimmy Carter's Failed Energy Policies

Carter: We can't substantially increase our domestic production. The cost will keep going up.

Obama: We can't just drill our way to lower gas prices.

Carter: We must face an unpleasant fact about energy prices. They are going up, whether we pass an energy program or not.

Obama: Anybody who says we can get gas down to 2bucks a gallon just isn't telling the truth.

Carter: We are running out of gas and oil.

Obama: We cannot sustain a future powered by a fuel that is rapidly disappearing.

Carter: We can protect ourselves from uncertain supplies by reducing our demand for oil.

Obama: If we really want energy security and energy independence, we've got to start looking at how we use less oil.

Carter: We must start now to develop the new, unconventional sources of energy we will rely on in the next century.

Obama: With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil.

Carter: I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20% of our energy coming from solar power.

Obama: I want to make sure when these guys are grown up that they're seeing solar panels all across the country.

Carter: Conservation is the quickest, cheapest, most practical source of energy.

Obama: Making our buildings more energy-efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money.

Carter: If we fail to act boldly today, then we surely face a greater series of crises tomorrow.

Obama: We have to make a serious, nationwide commitment to developing new sources of energy and we have to do it right away.

Carter: These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay.

Obama: It's time to end the taxpayer giveaway to an industry that's never been more profitable, (and) invest in clean energy that's never been more promising.

Carter: This is an effort which requires vision and cooperation for all Americans. ... I can't tell you that these measures will be easy.

Obama: Energy independence will require an all-hands-on deck effort from America. ... This will not be easy, and it will not happen overnight.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunters use helicopters to target nuisance wild pigs on Florida ranch

The helicopter hovered low over a thicket of cabbage palms, its rotor whop-whop-whopping, rattling the fronds and flattening the grass as two men sitting in the passenger seats fore and aft pointed shotguns out the open side. Suddenly, a wild hog darted out of the brush and began to run across the pasture. One of the hunters aimed and pulled the trigger, knocking the animal down with a load of buckshot. The chopper rose and continued west across the 5,000-acre ranch, seeking more targets. By dusk, five hunters flying in two chartered “pork choppers” had shot about 20 hogs in 2 1/2 hours. Two ground-support crews in pickup trucks recovered two carcasses and killed a third hog that ran in front of one of the trucks. No one was certain how many of the animals had been killed, wounded — or simply stung by pellets. “A bloody testosterone fest,” hunter Bob Diwozzi said afterward. Added Steve Polanish: “It was neat. It was different. There is a sport to it as far as leading and they’re running. They have the advantage with the cover out there.” The five hunters and a friend who rode with the ground crew each paid $1,000 to hunting guide Jeff Budz of Okeechobee, who lined up the helos and secured permission from the rancher. Budz said his aerial hunting parties have taken about 125 hogs from the ranch in the past five weeks. “This is the new norm,” he said of “pork chopper” hunting...more

Read more here:

Song Of The Day #802

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio, but yours truly is fighting a personal problem with some Big Boys and state bureaucrats. Not happy. Would like to settle this the old way, but the wheelchair may be a slight impediment.  So I'm trying, very hard, to let go of the "rough side" and instead take the "high road".  So our song today is High Road performed by Swing Soup

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

This old house

 by Julie Carter

Weathered lumber sagging and leaning, gaping holes with wind battered tin that once served as a roof and a grove of trees as dead as the house they surround marks the spot where life once had a pulse.

This old house, as with countless others just like it, stands as testimony to a generation that has all but faded into the blowing sands of time.

The worn structure is silent, almost brooding. Door and window frames shadow box a dark emptiness that beckons a passerby to look closer.

Wind whistles through the spaces that once held warmth and light. The passing of time allows imagination more than memory to create a history for the old homestead.

The sounds of laughing children as they run through the house and out the back door can be heard if you let your mind travel to where those whispers of the past are stored.

The screen door flies open to the limit of its worn spring, and then snaps back with a hollow slam. That sound is repeated continuously until a reprimanding shout from Mom ends the chaos.

The kids, still laughing, head for the barn where they can continue their play without the danger of extra chores as penalty for their noise and door slamming.

A clothes line, three wires and long enough to require a center support, is fully loaded with fresh-washed bedding, towels, jeans and shirts in six sizes and a large assortment of socks and underwear.

Looking weary and worn, Mom throws out the last of the wash tub water, aiming it toward the wild rose patch growing aimlessly along one side of the house. She undoes her apron, hangs it on the porch rocker and wanders to her garden where she will continue to coax life from the vegetables she planted a month earlier.

Chickens scratch in the dirt beyond the wood pile, a hound lays in the shade of a nearby cottonwood tree while birds above him chirp and keep time with the rustling of the leaves.

The worry of survival and the joy of appreciation feed the timeless emotion of hope in the couple, which as we all know, “springs eternal.” She hopes for a better life for her children and he hopes to see them grown.

There was never a road map for life for them in the day-to-day function of living. The homestead represented a new beginning but gave no promises for an ending. 
In my youth, I slammed my share of screen doors and ducked the work in the garden by disappearing over the hill with my brothers. I saw my mother tired beyond her years and my dad aged with worry hidden by his laughter and the sparkle of his eyes as seen under the shadow of his sweat-stained hat.

I am a product of that same meandering method of survival and never-ending hope for better.  That in itself has always given me strength for perseverance and belief that out there ahead of me is something better.

Like the darkness looming behind the worn out walls of a falling homestead, so calls the heart and souls of that generation. Don’t lose the lesson of the living and take with you the secrets of tomorrow.

Come closer, look within.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The Chameleon Paradigm

Mission Creep
The Chameleon Paradigm
Breach of Legislative Intent
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Private property owners in the West must understand the definition of the words coordinate and cooperate in terms of ‘federal speak’. Before the grand passion laws, those federal environmental laws that redefined resource management emphasis from intrinsic to extrinsic (see The Grandest of Special Interests for an explanation), the definition of coordinate and cooperate were known by school children by at least the sixth grade. Today, more people are realizing the words were transformed into pacifying measures to assure citizens of the West their interests in local matters would be upheld.
            The Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) is a good example. The Western states agreed to allow the mandate by the Founders to be changed from a matter of disposal of lands to a matter of retention if certain promises were made. One of the promises was the guarantee that local governments would be allowed to ‘coordinate’ planning that impacted their communities and areas of jurisdiction.
            What local governments have come to realize is coordination is demonstrably transferred and, and another promise in the laws, ‘cooperating status,’ is nominally emphasized. Cooperating status, though, has also been corrupted. In order to achieve such status, an obstacle course must now be negotiated.
            ‘Esplain Plees’
            Most federal agency plans are discovered by reading about the action in the Federal Register. When a question is asked, the respondent is reminded he must seek cooperating status in order to have input. To secure cooperating status, a land use plan must be created. As such, an individual has no official standing. Recognized land use plans come from a governmental body. 
            In the text of FLPMA or NEPA or ESA there in no suggestion that cooperating status is conditional. That interpretation has been invented by the agencies charged with the management of the federal land.
            Moreover, cooperating status doesn’t mean much in actual planning. All the condition implies is that after project is conceptualized and designed comments can be submitted by the cooperator.
            Who cares to comment on a project that has been conceptualized, planned, and set in motion? The spirit of the laws implied that local input would be sought and upheld in the planning process.
That is why ‘coordination’ became the important measure. Coordination implies that local input is involved from start to finish. The falsehood promulgated on the public is this promise doesn’t happen … it has never happened … and it must be avoided if the environmental agenda is to be advanced.
            Mission Creep
            The Forest Service has no resemblance to the great land agency it once was. A simple evaluation can be made by tracing the mission of the agency in its organic act to the mission of today.
The codified mission was simplistic. The agency was “… to secure favorable conditions of water flows and a continuous supply of timber for the citizens of the United States …”
Today, that mission statement does not appear at all in the official Forest Service Website. In fact, an observer is perplexed as to which organic act actually directs the agency. There is certainly no emphasis of securing a continuous supply of timber. As we will learn shortly, the demand to secure favorable conditions of down stream water flows is also meaningless.
Congressman Rob Bishop held a field hearing for the House Subcommittee for National Parks and Federal Lands in Nevada recently. He and Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei found an expanding divide between local needs and agency direction.
For example, travel management plans being imposed by the Forest Service on the West have had little local input. Since travel management is important to local economies, the congressmen were confounded. Where was input in the plan as required by the promise of local coordination?
The three major industries in Elko County, Nevada are mining, agriculture and tourism. Each of those segments opposed the plan as set forth by the agency. It was also revealed the plan was sent to the state for preservation and antiquity approval issues. The plan was rejected and sent back four times.
Invited panel members representing coalition of counties, livestock, Indian tribes, ATV interests, and county commissions further rejected the plan. The record indicates there is little evidence by the agency for local concerns. In fact, there is an arrogance that is stifling.
This can be seen in the Intermountain Region’s policy on water rights. Congressman Amodei questioned the agency policy of demanding private water rights from livestock operators upon grazing permit renewals. There has been no delegation of authority by Congress for such actions. Where the agency manufactured the authority was not answered by Regional Forester, Harv Forsgren, but he did clarify the rationale.
Since the Forest Service claims ownership of all watering facilities in the Region, it is their contention that they must share in the ownership of corresponding water rights. They are demanding the transfer of those rights from the permittee before a new permit is issued.
The Point
The promise of local control is a hoax and there is THE agenda in play. The promise of coordination is reserved by the various NGOs and complicit federal bureaucrats who now oversee the process.
The law, and especially FLPMA, was forced upon the West on the basis the government would retain ownership of lands, but the communities would be central in the planning process. That was vital. Those communities had only one card to play and that was to be at the table, to initiate workable solutions that would allow their communities to prosper and grow, and to have the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms other Americans are granted.
There is no such freedom. It is being denied and engineered in the very processes that the agencies claim protect local interests. The process is simple.
Any local input is given lip service. The actual genesis of ongoing plans are derived and coordinated by NGOs and ideologically driven bureaucrats. That is the true measure of coordination as it exists today.
The breach of first order
The Gila National Forest in New Mexico continues to be the model of forest mismanagement that America must change. That is the case for many reasons, but the most important is the absence of any measure of adherence to the original mission.
Let’s review the Forest Service mission … “to secure favorable conditions of water flows and a continuous supply of timber for the citizens of the United States …” That is a simplistic order.
In the Gila, there is no longer a commercial timber business. In fact, forest management and the expansion of designated Wilderness and de facto wilderness management policies have so negatively impacted timber quality that future opportunities are critically impaired. The mandate for timber as a prerequisite to the agency’s existence is in breach.
Likewise, the mandate of securing downstream water flows is also in breach. In the decade of the ‘50s, the Gila River watershed was producing on the order of 300,000 acre feet annually. Today, that number rarely exceeds 150,000 acre feet.
Bureaucrats will argue it is another clear example of climate change induced by man. Critics will say that no fire, no sheep, no lumbering, and dramatically reduced cattle numbers will ultimately set the stage for water starved stands of trees at 1500-2500 per acre today as opposed to the historical populations of 50. They will also note that growth points are now 12-60 feet into the forest canopy resulting in a dramatic reduction of complexity at wildlife use levels.
The truth is the Forest Service cannot stand on its foundational prerequisites. It has no alternative but to justify its existence on the basis of mission creep driven by selected and elitist agenda manipulation all couched under the guise of public input. The directional process is not coming from the citizens whose livelihoods are predicated on resource use … nor is their wellbeing an issue.
The public scoping decisions are driven by the environmental movement and that comes from the illusory process of gathering priorities from a defined American segment. The enabling legislation has long been perverted and dishonored.
Indeed, there is a need for a congressional investigation. It needs to be focused on the damage this and the other land management agencies have heaped upon an American public who have trusted the actions of their government … who have tried to play by the rules, and … who have had to continually adjust their meager freedoms to accommodate an environmental hoax of astounding proportions.
The federal land agencies need to sit in critical judgment and assessment of their existence. They are an economic calamity, they have failed their mission, and they have circumvented all forms of governmental oversight and control except from those parties that have disdain for the productive pursuits … and the presence of mankind.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Until Congress acts otherwise, the original law is the mission … not the environmental agenda.” 


The sad part is FLPMA became law with the support of Western Senators and Rep's, and the American National Cattlemen's Association and the Public Lands Council.  It created quite a storm in NM, and NM withdrew from the PLC.  This all led to led Rep. Harold Runnels and Senator Domenici introducing legislation which eventually became Sec. 8 of PRIA.  That's the language calling for consultation, cooperation and coordination with respect to allotment management plans.  The original version of the Domenici-Runnels bill was written in my office in Las Cruces and required the concurrence of the permittee.  That got watered down in the legislative process to the "3 C's".  Federal lands ranching has never been the same since the passage of FLPMA, as was the intent of those at Interior who spent years pushing this bill.

Baxter Black: Must society know origins of life's basics?

American, Canadian, European and, I assume, Australian citizens are becoming increasingly detached from the realities of life’s three essential necessities: food, fuel and shelter. Most 21st century urban children have no connection to the food on their plate, the gas in their car, the wood in their wall or the copper in their iPod. But my question is, “does it make a difference?” I’ve bought and worn out more tires than my share, but I have not given one iota of thought to what rubber looks like in the wild. Maybe they pick tires off trees. Do they have a life of their own? Is there a tire culture? Let me break down our challenge: Approximately 45 percent of our population doesn’t vote. I suggest an equal number don’t care where their food, fuel and shelter comes from. I would also posit another 10 percent of the urban population has enough scientific and biological knowledge to offer an informed opinion about modern food, fuel and shelter techniques...more

Taming the EPA monster

Slowly, inexorably, the monster is being driven back to its lair. Its days of terrorizing villagers may soon be over. I wish I were talking about the federal government, but it’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), better known as the Environmental Protection-or-else Agency. At one time, it was a harmless little back-alley operation that stumbled upon a secret growth formula, downed the whole vat and began wreaking havoc. You won’t find this account on the EPA’s official website, but you will find ample evidence of the monster’s ambitions to control the world, such as its quest for “environmental justice.” On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court slapped the monster right across the chops in Sackett v. EPA. An Idaho couple, Chantell and Mike Sackett, were building a home but fell victim to an EPA compliance order in 2005. Their building permit was revoked after the EPA charged that they had violated the Clean Water Act by filling in their lot with rocks and dirt. “The Sacketts were denied any hearing to contest the Compliance Order by the EPA,” American Civil Rights Union general counsel Peter Ferrara wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. “[T]he Sacketts can ignore the EPA’s Compliance Order … That course entails incurring EPA fines of as much as $750,000 per month, $9,000,000 for a year.” The court’s unanimous decision, which overturns - yet again - a wacky 9th Circuit ruling, will allow the Sacketts to appeal the order in court instead of going through a lengthy, expensive wetlands-permit process. They might still lose, but at least they won’t be bankrupted fighting a tyrannical bureaucracy. Created on Dec. 2, 1970, the EPA began with an executive order from President Nixon that combined several clean-water and other anti-pollution agencies into one basket. The full Congress never officially approved the monster’s creation, although the plan was vetted by Senate and House committees. The newborn EPA had a budget of just more than $1 billion and 4,084 employees. Not bad for a startup. This past week, EPA Administrator Janet P. Jackson told two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees that the EPA’s 2013 budget request is $8.3 billion, a 1.2 percent decrease from 2012. The agency has 17,000 employees...more 

Obama's Pipeline to Nowhere

The Democrats under Obama are bankrupt of ideas. And Obama’s latest ineffectual shot at having it both ways on energy is the moral equivalent of declaring Chapter 13 bankruptcy on energy-policy. You see, Obama’s newest, bestest commitment to energy security for the US is in touring the half of the Keystone pipeline that’s being built without his permission. That’s because the part of the pipeline under his control isn’t being built because it was denied a building permit by none other than BHO himself. “The Obama administration denied a permit for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada,” reported the LA Times in January, “leaving the door open for the builder to reapply this year but prolonging a bitter political fight that has raged for months and energized each party's political base.”  That’s right. He denied the part of the pipeline he controlled, but wants credit for the part he can’t kill off...more 

He hopes its a pipeline back to the White House.

Wolves at center of UNM event - video

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - They howled at the University of New Mexico Friday in honor of the university's mascot and the role of the Mexican gray wolf in the state.
Wolf Fest 2012 features booths from more than 25 nonprofit and campus organizations.
Beyond celebrating the wolves' role in the school and the state's heritage, some of those groups were promoting the wolf reintroduction program in southwestern New Mexico.
That program has been very controversial.
Ranchers have fought it because the wolves have attacked livestock.
Some wolves have been found shot to death.

Wolves at center of UNM event:

Song Of The Day #801

Ranch Radio will keep dusting off old 78s for our Gospel tune today:  Arthur Smith's Krackerjacks and Get On The Right Side of Jesus

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act gets hearing in D.C.

Montana rancher Dusty Crary doesn't want the federal government to change anything about the Rocky Mountain Front — and that's exactly why on Thursday he asked Congress to pass the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, which would add protections to the land. "We just realize that unless you put it in writing, there is no guarantee that it will stay the same," the Choteau cattle rancher told senators at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. The subcommittee is part of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., introduced the Rocky Mountain Heritage Act in October. If approved, the act would add 67,000 acres of new wilderness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, and designate another 208,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land as conservation management areas. Under the bill, the conservation management area designation would limit road building, while allowing current motorized recreation and public access for hunting, fishing, biking, timber thinning and grazing. No oil or gas leases exist in the area covered by the proposed law, and the area already is permanently closed to new exploration and development, so there would be no impact on the oil and gas industry, according to proponents of the measure...more

Exxon Valdez sold for scrap metal

The ship once known as the Exxon Valdez, whose 1989 grounding and oil spill fouled a 400-mile-long stretch of Alaska coastline,  has been sold for scrap and will be cut up in Indian. The shipping publication Tradewinds reported on the less-than-stellar end to a ship that did billions of dollars worth of damage, particularly to the fisheries of Alaska’s pristine Prince William Sound. The Exxon Valdez triggered one of America’s great environmental disasters, and serves to this day as a reminder that Big Oil is capable of big-scale mishaps. On March 24, 1989 — Good Friday — the Exxon Valdez veered off course after departing for the oil port of Valdez and slammed into Bligh Reef.  Its captain, Joe Hazelwood, had been drinking at a Valdez bar before departure. The 213,300 dead-weight ton ship fetched a price of $16 million to be cut up for scrap...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #025

Up first today is The Dinner Bell Roundup from March 26, 1946 and hosted by Cliffie Stone.  Can you imagine a Los Angeles in 1946 that likes this kind of music?  The program fades during the Merle Travis guitar solo but otherwise is in good shape.  That is followed by a June 22, 1952 episode of The Cisco Kid.

Cliffie Stone

Ty Murray Brings Bull Riding to the Pit

For the 16th year in a row, the Professional Bull Riders are coming to Albuquerque. The Ty Murray Invitational returns to the Pit this weekend. Murray, the nine-time world champion and PBR co-founder, hosts the event, which features the top 35 bull riders in the world, the past four world champion riders and world champion bull Bushwacker. More than 25,000 packed the Pit last year in a coronation of New Mexico cowboys. L.J. Jenkins of Texico and Ryan McConnel finished first and second. Jenkins won two of the three rounds and led from start to finish...

Friday, March 23, 2012

State allows pumping of groundwater from rural Nevada

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has something to put in its pipeline once again. Nevada's top water regulator on Thursday granted the authority permission to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from four rural valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties. That is about two-thirds as much water as authority officials were seeking, but it's 5,200 acre-feet more than they got the last time around. The decision from State Engineer Jason King comes roughly two years after the state Supreme Court struck down two previous rulings that granted the authority almost 79,000 acre-feet a year from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. Las Vegas water officials originally applied for almost 126,000 acre-feet of unappropriated water in the four valleys as part of a larger plan to siphon groundwater from across eastern Nevada. They hope to deliver the water to the Las Vegas Valley someday through a multibillion-dollar network of pumps and pipelines stretching more than 300 miles. King also called for at least two years of scientific data collection before any water is exported from Spring Valley or the other basins. Also, he ordered the authority to develop state-approved groundwater flow models and a monitoring and mitigation plan to protect against harmful effects on other water users and the environment. But rancher Hank Vogler said no amount of safeguards can protect rural Nevada once the pipeline is built and the water starts flowing south. "I don't think there's anyone with a big enough checkbook to stop it then," said the 63-year-old Vogler, who has lived and worked in Spring Valley for almost half his life. "No one is going to have the appetite to say, 'Oh, shucks, we made a $15 billion mistake. Let's shut it down.' "...more

Nevada Pipeline Opponents Slam State Engineer Grant of Rural Water Rights to Southern Nevada Water Authority

Nevada State Engineer Jason King Thursday granted the Southern Nevada Water Authority rights to pump up to 83,988 acre-feet of the groundwater from four eastern Nevada valleys drew a swift and stern response from pipeline opponents, who called the ruling “excessive and ill-considered.” Simeon Herskovits, attorney for the pipeline opponents, said the ruling will be attacked in state courts. “We believe that the State Engineer has ignored or dismissed compelling hydrological evidence that we and other protestants submitted – evidence that clearly showed that there is no unappropriated water available in Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar Valleys. Pumping the granted water rights from Spring Valley would be unsustainable, environmentally destructive and illegal groundwater mining,” said Susan Lynn, coordinator of the Great Basin Water Network. “We will consider our options carefully but this ruling will not go without challenge.” “Pumping and exporting 12 billion gallons of groundwater annually from Spring Valley will dry up springs and harm existing water rights both in Spring Valley and down-gradient in Snake Valley, into which the groundwater flows,” said protestant Abigail Johnson. “The amount of pumping this decision allows would lower the groundwater table by up to 200 feet, and equilibrium in the water table will not reached for centuries, with strong likelihood of irreparably harming Nevada’s only national park.” Simeon Herskovits, attorney for Great Basin Water Network and other pipeline opponents, said the acceptance of the so-called “monitoring and mitigation” process promised by the SNWA was particularly problematic given that few, if any, specifics exist for how that would be done...more

Calling All Carnivores - Why Is Eating Meat Ethical?

 by Amanda Radke in Beef Daily

Calling all carnivores! The New York Times (NYT) wants to hear from you! In a 600-word essay, a panel of judges wants to review why you believe eating meat is an ethical choice. This is certainly an interesting writing prompt, one that will surely ignite some passionate responses, and I hope you’ll take time to participate.
Now, be warned: the panel of judges may be a bit biased. NYT says they have “assembled a veritable murderer’s row of judges -- some of the most influential thinkers to question or condemn the eating of meat.”
Collectively, the judges are all those who have denounced eating meat and have many anti-animal agriculture positions, so words from farmers and ranchers may be quickly ignored. Judges include: Peter Singer, author of “Animal Liberation"; Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma"; Jonathan Safran Foer, author of “Eating Animals"; Mark Bittman, NYT opinion writer who focuses on the American diet; and Andrew Light, author of “Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relationships.”
Despite the obvious slant of the jury, I believe ranchers should be present for this particular conversation. Essays can be sent to and are due by April 8. Winners will be featured in an upcoming issue of NYT. For complete contest rules, click here.

Here are a few things I will focus on in my essay.
  1. Proper animal care is the responsibility of everyone in the beef production chain. Beef ranchers recognize that ensuring animal well-being is the right thing to do and critical to their operation’s success.
  2. From pasture to plate, animal welfare is a top priority, and there are six programs ranchers follow to properly care for their livestock including: the Beef Quality Assurance Program, Producer Code for Cattle Care, Humane Handling of Cattle in Transport, Humane Slaughter Act, Temple Grandin’s proper livestock handling audits and continued research on animal well-being conducted by USDA’s Ag Research Service and the National Animal Health Monitoring System.
  3. Families are behind the foods we eat; 98% of farms are family-owned and operated. A teen growing up on a Michigan dairy farm may have milked the cow that produced your favorite yogurt; a farmer in Iowa may have harvested the wheat to make your favorite breads; a rancher in South Dakota may have sold quarters of beef from the 4-H steer to the local restaurant in town; and a cotton farmer in Georgia may have grown the product to create your favorite t-shirt. Food doesn’t come from a grocery store; it comes from people who care. Get to know these people and hear their stories. Their ranching practices are based on sound science, family values, solid ethics and moral integrity.
  4. I’m Amanda Radke, a fifth-generation beef producer from Mitchell, SD. I feel confident in eating healthy steaks and burgers because they're produced in a manner that comports with my strongly held beliefs in caring for the animals and the environment. To me, beef is an ethical choice we can all feel great about eating, and in America, we are blessed to have an abundance of food choices at the grocery store. So whether you eat organic, natural, grass-fed or conventional beef, the options are great and the safety and nutrition is never compromised.
These are my top four points I plan to include in my essay. What would you say in yours?