Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sixteen Concerned Scientists - No Need to Panic About Global Warming

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed. In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?" In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts...more

New Data Could Renew Global Warming Debate

The release in England last week of temperature data suggesting the earth has been cooling off over the past 15 years is bound to set off a new debate over global warming, according to a report Sunday in the Daily Mail. According to the London newspaper, the data released by Britain’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit indicates that instead of facing rising temperatures the world may be headed for a “mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.” The Mail reported the data, which was collected over time from 30,000 measuring stations, indicates the warming trend may have actually ended in 1997 and is now headed in the opposite direction...more

Global Warming Activists Seek to Purge Unfriendly TV Weathermen

Concerned that too many “deniers” are in the meteorology business, global warming activists this month launched a campaign to recruit local weathermen to hop aboard the alarmism bandwagon and expose those who are not fully convinced that the world is facing man-made doom. The Forecast the Facts campaign — led by 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters and the Citizen Engagement Lab — is pushing for more of a focus on global warming in weather forecasts, and is highlighting the many meteorologists who do not share their beliefs. “Our goal is nothing short of changing how the entire profession of meteorology tackles the issue of climate change,” the group explains on their website. “We’ll empower everyday people to make sure meteorologists understand that their viewers are counting on them to get this story right, and that those who continue to shirk their professional responsibility will be held accountable.”...more

Senator wants accounting of groups reimbursed for suing government

Scrutiny of the Equal Access to Justice Act went bipartisan on Monday when Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., submitted a bill calling for a complete accounting of how much the fund pays people and groups that successfully sue the federal government. Last summer, House Republicans proposed their own EAJA overhaul, which would limit who can request reimbursements and also tracks the money paid out. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., supported that measure. In an interview on Monday, Tester said EAJA has been blamed for funding environmentalist lawsuits without looking at the full picture of the fund's uses. "Especially with Social Security and the Veterans Administration, we just don't have a lot of facts out there about how the money is being utilized," Tester said. "We don't know how it's impacting agency budgets. I thought it would be a good idea to get more information before we take steps to reform it." The Equal Access to Justice Act became law in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter and was permanently funded in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan. Under a paperwork reduction reform by President Bill Clinton in 1995, annual accounting of EAJA spending lapsed and was never reinstated. The result was that each agency handled its own requests and paid them out of its individual budget. Some agencies keep close track of the spending. A single call to the U.S. Forest Service Region 1 headquarters in Missoula produced a report of $1,984,981 in EAJA payments between 2000 and 2010. But calls to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were referred to the U.S. Department of Justice, whose spokesman said he couldn't find an accounting. While many environmental groups have received EAJA payments after defeating government agencies in court, the fund has also been used by business owners to challenge Occupational Safety and Health Administration decisions, veterans seeking benefits from Veterans Affairs, and security firms suing the Citizenship and Immigration Services...more

U.S. Forest Service streamlines appeal process; critics object

What's the difference between an appeal and an objection? When dealing with the U.S. Forest Service, it determines whether your complaint gets dealt with on paper or face-to-face. A recent change in Forest Service decisionmaking requires project opponents to argue their points much earlier in the process. Proponents of the change expect better, faster decisions on logging sales, special use permits and other activities on national forests. Agency sparring partners fear it limits people's ability to block bad decisions. "Frankly, we think it's going to be a huge improvement," said Keith Olson of the Montana Logging Association. "In order for somebody to become a litigant, they have to have involvement in the project. They can't come in at the 11th hour and throw a monkey wrench in the works." "I think it's kind of screwy," said Arlene Montgomery of Friends of the Wild Swan, an organization that's frequently tangled with the Forest Service. "The normal process is they scope a project, release an environmental assessment, you comment on that, they make changes. Then they issue a decision and you can appeal the decision...more

Environmental group to lawmakers: 'Don't drill and drive'

An environmental group is criticizing the House Republican plan to tie a new federal highway bill to increased offshore oil drilling. The New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said in a memo to reporters Monday that its message to lawmakers this week could be compressed to one sentence: "Don't drill and drive." GOP leaders in the House are planning to use revenue from increased offshore oil drilling to pay for their version of a new surface transportation bill that would last four years and cost $260 billion. Transportation advocates have sought a long-term reauthorization of highway and transit programs, which currently expire on March 31, but the NRDC said it should not come like this. The NRDC praised the Senate's plan to pass a two-year budget for highway programs that relies on more traditional sources of funding such as the highway gas tax as "bi-partisan."...more

Custer Battlefield Museum Files Lawsuit Against the United States In U.S. Federal Court of Claims

After years of harassment, false allegations, and wrongful persecution, Christopher Kortlander, founding director of the Custer Battlefield Museum, and the businesses he operates at Garryowen, Montana, have filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit in the U.S. Federal Court of Claims in Washington DC against the United States (1:11-cv-00601-MBH Kortlander et al v. USA). The lawsuit was filed in response to the actions of various law enforcement agents of the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the United States. Kortlander states that the purpose of the suit is to recover from the damages caused by years of malicious prosecution by the many federal agencies involved in two raids on his businesses and private residence. Even worse than the recently publicized federal harassment of Gibson Guitar Corp., Kortlander alleges that numerous federal agents from several agencies conducted an unremitting witch hunt against him, dating back to 1996. At that time, Kortlander dated the ex-wife of a BLM Special Agent who used his federal law enforcement authority to spy on the comings and goings of his ex-wife and Kortlander. Following Kortlander's report of harassment, the agent was reassigned out of the BLM and his law enforcement undercover team was disbanded. Since then, Kortlander says he has been targeted by federal law enforcement agents, with the intent of destroying his reputation as a dealer in historical artifacts, and forcing him to close the businesses he owns and operates in Garryowen, Montana, which includes the Custer Battlefield Museum that he founded in 1995. Said Kortlander, "Despite repeated raids on my home and my businesses, and the destruction of my personal reputation, I had done nothing wrong, and no criminal charges were ever filed against me," although, Kortlander says, the threat of impending multiple federal felony indictments were held over his head for nearly five years. "I'm still trying to force the government to return all the seized items," he added. "I'm not the only person this has happened to," Kortlander continued. "For every case like mine that is mentioned in the media, there are many more that never get noticed. Federal agents can and have destroyed the lives of many law-abiding citizens. If you run afoul of the administration bureaucracy, you can be targeted for financial ruin and public humiliation without the benefit of the Constitutional protections which a defendant enjoys when a case is filed for prosecution in the judicial branch of government. I'm determined to bring this misuse of federal power and taxpayer dollars into the light of day."...Press Release

Ex-foes aim for common ground on Idaho forests

The easy work for former adversaries in the Idaho timber wars was to start talking and develop trust. Now those environmentalists, foresters and loggers are testing the strong relationships they’ve forged in collaborative efforts state-wide. The Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership is tackling the hard issues about how much timber can be cut and thinned to restore healthy forests, and how that will be paid for. “So much of it comes down to what we are leaving behind,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer, senior associate for the Idaho Conservation League. “More and more, we’re having these discussions.” The collaborators are in Boise this week for two days of conferences aimed at finding common ground on thinning or cutting the forests of North Idaho. There is consensus among environmentalists and industry foresters that thinning the ponderosa pine-dominated forests makes them healthier, more resilient and more resistant to large-scale fires. Ponderosa pines make up most of the forests around Boise. There is less agreement about the stands of trees that grow in the wetter, higher elevations — “mixed severity forests” — that make up most of North Idaho. But forest science is beginning to suggest that these large areas of mixed-severity forests can, and perhaps should, be cut...more

Killer sheepdogs and five other top terrors of the backcountry

Anyone thinking about abandoning the safety and comfort of the big city for a trip to Colorado's savage backcountry, take heed. Not only might you be braving the caprices of nature and the hardships of an untamed wilderness, but you could also encounter a particularly fierce breed of sheepdog. According to this horrific account in the Durango Herald, the dreaded Akbash sheepdog from Turkey might even bark at you. The aggressive dogs, which are increasingly being used on Forest Service lands and elsewhere on the Western Slope, apparently do a damn good job of protecting their flocks from predators. But they've managed to alarm some hikers and mountain bikers, leading officials in Silverton to fret about their impact on the tourist trade. Mind you, there have been no accounts of people actually being mauled by these ferocious canines. The Forest Service doesn't even have any official complaints. But hikers and bicyclists have felt "intimidated" by their presence: "The dogs snarl and, according to some reports, chase them." Not exactly the same as being chased by a bear, a mountain lion, or one of the other predators the dogs are keeping at bay, but still. You can see how scary they are in this actual Forest Service photo of an Akbash...more

Mr. Prendergast then lists and discusses the five other top terrors of the back country, starting with #5, rocks and #4, trees and so on.  Hilarious stuff.

Don't Blame School Food For Obesity

Don't blame the on-campus sale of snacks for making kids fat. So says a study of 19,000 middle-schoolers. Shouldn't it be clear by now that good health starts at home? It's time to chill out about the Cheetos, if these or similar guilty pleasures are being sold at your kids school. It's not that they're nutritious. It's just that they're not the dangerous fat bombs that many dietary activists have made them out to be. And another thing: Don't expect school to teach your children how to eat. That's up to you, Mom and Dad. A newly published study by researchers at Penn State, using data on 19,450 children from fifth to eighth grade, found no link between weight gain and the availability of so-called "competitive foods." That label covers food such as soft drinks, candy bars and chips sold in vending machines or snack bars and not required to meet federal nutrition guidelines for school meals — in short, junk food. Most middle schools covered in the study sell it, often to raise money for athletics and other student activities. It's also a fat target for those who blame the food industry — rather than the choices people make with regard to diet and exercise — for the nation's obesity epidemic...more

Folklorist’s Global Jukebox Goes Digital

Alan Lomax 1942
The folklorist and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax was a prodigious collector of traditional music from all over the world and a tireless missionary for that cause. Long before the Internet existed, he envisioned a “global jukebox” to disseminate and analyze the material he had gathered during decades of fieldwork. A decade after his death technology has finally caught up to Lomax’s imagination. Just as he dreamed, his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February, and later some of that music may be for sale as CDs or digital downloads. Starting in the mid-1930s, when he made his first field recordings in the South, Lomax was the foremost music folklorist in the United States. He was the first to record Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, and much of what Americans have learned about folk and traditional music stems from his efforts, which were also directly responsible for the folk music and skiffle booms in the United States and Britain that shaped the pop-music revolution of the 1960s and beyond. Lomax worked both in academic and popular circles, and increased awareness of traditional music by doing radio and television programs, organizing concerts and festivals, and writing books, articles and essays prodigiously. At a time when there was a strict divide between high and low in American culture, and Afro-American and hillbilly music were especially scorned, Lomax argued that such vernacular styles were America’s greatest contribution to music...more

Song Of The Day #762

Ranch Radio's Western Swing Week brings you one of my favorites: Little Betty Brown by Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies. 

The tune was recorded in Chicago on Jan. 28, 1935.  Band members are:  Milton Brown, vocals; Derwood Brown, vocals and guitar; Ocie Stockard, vocals and banjo; Bob Dunn, steel guitar; Wanna Coffman, base; Cecil Brower, fiddle.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mexican wolf encounters on the increase

Earlier today I posted Crystal Diamond's account and pictures of her wolf encounter.

Laura Schneberger at Wolf Crossing has an excellent piece on this and other wolf encounters.  Here are some excerpts:

With the onset of the 2012 breeding season sightings, close encounters and home encounters have created a difficult situation for managers of the Mexican wolf program and they are not getting much slack from local governments and citizens. In December the program issued it’s first lethal control order after a female wolf with a long track record of livestock depredations and human habitation was found circling a private home at regular intervals where small children were exposed to her close presence. The same wolf had birthed a litter of hybrid pups the prior spring and FWS are still on the lookout for the one Mexican wolf hybrid that got away. They haven’t found it presumably it will add to the genetic mix that is the rare Mexican wolf. The remarkable thing about this control action is the fact that despite dozens of human safety encounters since the beginning of the program many of which involved their attraction to children, this was the first time the agency admitted lethal control was warranted for human safety reasons...

Crystal Diamond has suffered an unbelievable amount of slander in the local news media simply because she is in proximity of the expanding Mexican wolf population. The activists who have repeatedly attempted to destroy her credibility and reputation have deliberately avoided the factual reports on the situation that are available to them. Instead they choose to blame and attack a mom over the death of a problem habituated aggressive wolf.  The message is that this wolf was special, this wolf was presumably more special than Crystal’s small children and their safety and their freedom to exercise their rights on their own land at at their own home. This wolf is not special. Genetically this wolf was redundant to the population of Mexican wolves, which include over 400 in captivity...

Crystal’s Wolf Encounter

Saturday January 28, 2012

I was traveling east on Hwy 59 with my 2 young daughters in the car when my oldest, who frequently gets carsick, demanded a quick roadside stop. I pulled over just east of Poverty Creek and removed her from the vehicle. We walked around for several minutes so Cayden could get some fresh air after being sick on the shoulder of the road. The drivers door and back door were wide open. My 2 year old daughter, Reece, remained in the car crying hysterically to be removed from her car seat. After about a 5-6 minute stop, I loaded Cayden back in the car. I then walked around the back of the vehicle & towards my door when I saw a wolf standing in the middle of the road within 20 feet of my open car door. I ran to jump in my car & shut the door. The wolf, who had been standing still then walked up to the drivers side of my vehicle and stood a moment. Reece was still crying loudly. Using the camera feature on my phone I was able to capture several photos of the fearless behavior of this uncollared wolf. He'd pace in front of my vehicle from one side to the other, again and again. After watching each other for about 6-7 long minutes, the wolf seemed to tire of us and began to trot off to the south. As soon as I'd put the car in gear & move forward a few feet- it would quickly stop & curiously trot back to the car (the 2nd time he walked off, noticed movement, then returns to the road was captured on video recording). The standoff had now lasted roughly 12-15 minutes. Needing to get on my way, I slowly drove off. Leaving him sitting on the roadside shoulder, exactly where my 3 year old daughter had been sick just minutes before. This is the 2nd time in just over one month that a wolf has come within feet of my children.

Crystal Runyan Diamond
Beaverhead Ranch

Look at the size of that wolf!

Slow going for Mexican gray wolf recovery

The Mexican gray wolf population in the Southwest is hanging on, but continues to struggle partly because not enough wolves are being released from captivity, according to conservation advocates who would like to see federal biologists do more to recover the species. For the first time since 2006, the overall population grew, from 42 to 50. The government did not remove any wolves from the wild in 2010, but released just one wolf, captured in 2009, back into the wild. Mexican wolves, the smallest genetically distinct subspecies of the North American gray wolf, were eradicated from their native territory in in the U.S. by 1970. Recovery efforts started with an endangered species listing in 1976. The species was saved from extinction when the last five wild wolves were captured in Mexico to start a captive breeding program. The first captive-bred wolves were released back into the wild in 1998. The wolf population in the Southwest is designated as experimental and nonessential, which give wildlife managers more flexibility to address livestock depredations. According to the 2010 annual report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the 2010 end-of-year count confirmed 23 radio-collared wolves (16 adults, 4 subadults, and 3 pups). The population consisted of 10 packs (4 in Arizona, 6 in New Mexico). Twenty-seven uncollared wolves, including uncollared singles and groups, were documented throughout 2010. Seven packs produced wild-conceived, wild-born litters. This is the ninth consecutive year wild- born Mexican wolves bred and raised pups in the wild. According to the agency, 91 percent of the radio-collared individuals and 96 percent of all documented wolves were wild-born...more

New diet may keep wolves off cattle

Wildlife managers are running out of options when it comes to helping Mexican gray wolves overcome hurdles that have thwarted reintroduction into their historic range in the Southwest. Harassment and rubber bullets haven't worked, so they're trying something new — a food therapy that has the potential to make the wolves queasy enough to never want anything to do with cattle again. As in people, the memories associated with eating a bad meal are rooted in the brain stem, triggered any time associated sights and smells pulse their way through the nervous system. Wildlife managers are trying to tap into that physiological response in the wolves, hoping that feeding them beef laced with an odorless and tasteless medication will make them ill enough to kill their appetite for livestock. Cattle depredations throughout southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona have served as an Achilles' heel for the federal government's efforts to return the wolves. Conditioned taste aversion — the technical term for what amounts to a simple reaction — is not a silver bullet for boosting the recovery of the Mexican wolf, but some biologists see it as one of few options remaining for getting the program back on track after nearly 14 years of stumbling...more

Wolves: The view from the ranch

The protection of Oregon's heritage could perhaps be one of the best descriptions of those who are working in the Oregon livestock industry. Day after day, ranchers are working out on the land, raising their animals to produce a quality project. Preserving the land is part of that work – as the land is their livelihood. Not unlike it was for the first settlers in this state. Conservation, sustainability and protection of the land and the wildlife that count on it for food and water have been constant values for Oregon ranchers. When we look at issues that can have a significant impact on the makeup of our economy, our environment, even our way of life, it is important for Oregonians to consider the spirit that has driven this state. We understand that the best ideas for a problem come from those who are most involved. Local solutions that come from the individuals who best understand the many facets of a community, an area, or region can result in reasonable, fair and effective answers to some of our most difficult issues we face daily. Since the re-introduction of the Canadian Gray Wolf in the US, there has been millions spent to define management practices at the state and local levels. Yet, with all of that investment, we have not realized solutions that can provide responsible, professional, science-based management of the wolf population. The population of wolves overall has risen far beyond the levels that were planned for – and lack of locally based management plans have caused conflict and unnecessary spending of landowner, state and federal dollars – all over the United States...more

Great Lakes: Wolves no longer on protected list

It became official on Friday — gray wolves are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act and returned to management of the Great Lakes states. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced Friday morning that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region have recovered and that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) would publish a final rule in the Federal Register. It will remove wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and in portions of adjoining states from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants...more

Fierce sheepdogs raise worries

Turkish sheepdogs prized for their fierceness are raising concerns that they may be a little too tough for the southwest Colorado communities where ranchers are using them. The Akbash dogs weigh up to 120 pounds and are especially aggressive toward animals near the sheep they guard. That can include hikers and backcountry visitors — and some people are concerned that they are scaring away tourists. "We've had a lot of heat over these dogs," said Mayor Terry Kerwin. Hikers and bicyclists in the Little Molas Lake area have reported that the sheepdogs intimidate them. The dogs snarl and, according to some reports, chase them. A number of ranchers graze sheep, under guard of herders and dogs, on public lands in the summer and fall. "We cut our loss to predators by 60 to 70 percent when we introduced dogs," said Republican state Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio. He said he has been around sheep for 40 years. AP

Ranch to rope rays for solar power

A new solar project on the Bar VK Ranch, south of Silver City, will save rancher Gerald "Billy" Billings, $130 a month, plus gives him an additional $130 a month for the electricity it produces. With the help of funding from USDA Rural Development, Billings had a 42-panel solar panel array built that produces enough electricity to run a submersible pump that supplies water to roughly 18 stock tanks to help water his 200 head of cattle, plus the deer and antelope that wander across the ranch, and helps irrigate trees on the ranch. The project cost $60,522, but Bar VK received a $15,130 grant from the Rural Energy for America Program to help offset the cost, plus Billings said he received a 30 percent grant from the IRS, and will receive an additional 10 percent tax credit from the state. Add that to the rebates Billings gets from PNM by selling back extra power to them, and the project is expected to pay for itself in five years. "It still sounds too good to be true," Billings said Friday...more

California adopts “clean car” rules

California air regulators passed sweeping emission standards Friday that will require one in seven of the new cars sold in the state in 2025 be an electric or other zero-emission vehicle. The policy adopted unanimously by the California Air Resources Board mandates a 75 percent reduction in smog-forming pollutants by 2025, and a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from today’s standards. Supporters said there are health and global political implications with the new policy. The action was a clear effort to influence other states and Washington as automakers worked with the board and federal regulators on the greenhouse gas rules in an effort to create one national standard for those pollutants. Companies including Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and others submitted testimony Thursday in support of the new standards. Car dealers, however, expressed concern that the state is overestimating the demand for such vehicles...more

A bankrupt state doing its part to bankrupt the nation.

A big bet on electric vehicle manufacturing goes bust

For politicians betting on electric vehicles to drive job growth, the view from inside Think City's plant here is their worst nightmare: 100 unfinished vehicles lined up with no word on whether they will be completed. Only two years ago, the tiny Think cars (two can fit in a regular parking space) were expected to bring more than 400 jobs to this ailing city and a lifeline to suppliers who once made parts for gas-guzzling recreational vehicles. "We've said we're out to make Indiana the electric vehicle state. It's beginning to look like the state capital will be Elkhart County," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said in January 2010 in announcing government incentives used to attract Think to his state. Instead, the Hoosier State's big bet has been a bust. The plant is devoid of activity; there are just two employees. A Russian investor who recently purchased Think's bankrupt parent in Norway has been silent about its future. A government-backed Indianapolis battery maker that was to supply Think wrote off a $73-million investment in the car company and Thursday declared bankruptcy. Two unrelated electric truck makers Indiana planned to nurture have yet to get off the ground...more

Drought Crisis Leads To Increased Hay Prices

Cerillos Horse Shelter Sees More Horses Abandoned By Owners Wildfires and drought are to blame for regional hay prices skyrocketing, and it's leaving many horse owners in crisis mode as they said they struggle to feed their animals. "When you're feeding animals and the cost of feed goes up, starvation increases dramatically," said Jennifer Rios, the Horse Shelter's executive director. Rios said some owners are doing the unthinkable and abandoning their horses altogether. "Too often, (owners) are opening the gate -- and that means abandoned horses across the state," Rios said. It takes $50,000 a year to feed dozens of horses at the Horse Shelter in Cerillos, and Rios said because the cost of hay has almost doubled, it left more animals in need. Last year, the price of a hay bale ran about $7, now Rios said it's almost $12. "It's going to get worse before it gets better," Rios said. The challenge with the hay crisis is a horse like Isabow eats about a third of a bale per day, and with the increase, Rios said that's about a $100 a month. Rios said the impact of the hay situation isn't just impacting horses, it's also affecting cattle ranchers...more

Yosemite plan means fewer hikers on Half Dome

There was a time not long ago when a climb to the top of Yosemite National Park's Half Dome was a solitary trek attempted by only the most daring adventurers. Over the past decade, however, the route has been inundated with up to 1,200 nature lovers a day seeking to experience the iconic mountain that is stamped on the California quarter, stitched on a line of outdoor clothing and painted on the side of the park's vehicles. Now officials want to permanently limit access to the granite monolith, frustrating both hikers who journey there for a transcendent experience and advocates who say the plan doesn't go far enough to protect a place in a federally designated wilderness area. "At the end of the day, if the visitors and users of wilderness aren't willing to make sacrifices to preserve the wilderness character of these areas, then we just won't have wilderness. We'll have some Disney-fied version of it," said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. "If people want solitude in Yosemite, there's another 12,000 square miles to do that," counters hiker Pat Townsley, a Bay Area resident who has been to the top nine times...more

House Republican Says ‘Three Is A Trend’ in Another Stimulus-Funded Green Company Bankruptcy

The third federally subsidized green energy company to declare bankruptcy seems to indicate a pattern, said Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations. “One bankruptcy may be a fluke, two could be coincidence, but three is a trend,” Stearns said in a written statement. “Our investigation continues, and we are working to ensure taxpayers never are never again stuck paying hundreds of millions of dollars because of the administration’s risky bets.” Ener1, which makes batteries for electric vehicles, announced Thursday it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company had been awarded a $118.5 million from the Energy Department through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus...more

The great northern migration -- of U.S. cattle

For more than a century, through a dozen dry spells when lakes disappeared and the land died, thousands of cows from the Swenson Land & Cattle Co have roamed the fields of Texas. Yet the drought currently ravaging the southern Plains has done what the Dust Bowl could not: chased them off this land and driven them more than 600 miles north to Nebraska. Now, as the worst drought in a century stretches into its second year, these ranchers and many of their peers are herding their animals in record numbers to the Cornhusker State and other points north, in search of grazing land that is not parched - a shift that is fueling a dramatic economic and cultural reshaping of the U.S. livestock industry. "If we're going to survive, we have to go north," says Dennis Braden, general manager of Swenson Land & Cattle Co in Stamford, Texas, about 170 miles west of Dallas. "We have to go." While some Texas ranchers hang on, selling off their stock at an unprecedented pace that has reduced America's cattle herd to the smallest in 60 years, many are carving new homesteads out of some of the richest grassland in North America, a bid for survival that falls somewhere between surrender and hope...more

Arizona history: The Hashknife outfit, from rogues to riders

The Hashknife cowboys actually worked for the Aztec Land and Cattle Co., a New York investment firm. They rode the high desert of northern Arizona when most of the region was untamed, and they became a wellspring of tall tales. Peel back the veneer of violence, cattle rustling and range disputes, and in many cases the real villains were drought, falling cattle prices and a convoluted public-lands policy. The initial Aztec shareholders didn't know a lot about the cattle business. But livestock was considered a good investment in 1884, the year the company formed, Robert Carlock writes in his 1994 book, "The Hashknife." One board member, Edward Kinsley, had seen Arizona from the window of a train, state historian Marshall Trimble said. "As he looked out, there was virgin grass out there," Trimble said. "The grass was stirrup high, and he thought you could feed half the nation on the grass that was growing here." Aztec bought 1 million acres at 50 cents an acre from the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, which had acquired the land as a gift from Congress. To promote investment, the government gave railroads 40 sections of public land for every mile of track they laid. A section is 640 acres. "On paper, the Atlantic and Pacific became the largest private landowner in Arizona history," Thomas Sheridan writes in "Arizona, a History." Once Aztec had its land, it bought about 32,000 head from Continental Land & Cattle Co., a Texas outfit that marked its cattle with a brand that resembled the type of knife cowboy cooks used to cut vegetables -- the hash knife...more

DuBois Honored by the Western Swing Guild

Sometimes you wonder if anybody notices what you're trying to do.  Well, in this case somebody did.

Thank you to The Western Swing Guild.  You can check out their website here and while you're there sign up for their newsletter.  You Facebookers can find them here.

Song Of The Day #761

 It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers with their recording of Thousand Mile Blues.

The tune was recorded on Jan. 27, 1935 in San Antonio, Texas.  The artists on the recording are:  Bill Boyd, vocals and guitar; Walter Kirkes, banjo; Jim Boyd, vocals and base; Audrey Davis, fiddle; and Slomie Creel, piano.

Thanks again to the Western Swing Guild and needless to say, this will be a Western Swing Week at Ranch Radio.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Jack-of-all-trades, master of none

by Julie Carter

You’ve known a few. You might even be one. One of those guys who can do a whole lot of things with a little skill, but not any one thing that has put your name up in lights or made you hit the Fortune 500 list.

It’s more or less a general rule that most ranch cowboys today, out of necessity, are fairly capable with a hammer and saw, and a horseshoeing rasp.

When some mechanic skills are required, he can operate a crescent wrench, pliers, and maybe even figure the right sequence for a socket set. The proverbial jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

And while there seems to still be a good number of cowboys around, those that get to make their living at that trade are fewer and fewer.

Ole “Jack” makes the rent by being a housing contractor. Actually, he sort of makes the rent and is sort of a contractor.

Here a while back, he accepted a week-long job down in the deep tick-picking pine tree part of East Texas.

He was scheduled to be there on a Sunday evening to attend a mandated government safety meeting prior to the project start up. Jack, like most contractors in the trades, is totally incapable of referring to the men from OSHA without calling them those “safety ________s”. [expletive deleted]

Keeping his priorities in line, he spent all Sunday morning until sometime past noon at a roping plying his skills with that tool of choice. Afterward, he still had to drive the two and half hours back home, drop off his rig and horses and pick up his crew.

After everyone and everything was in its place, he and the crew proceeded to make the four-hour drive to the project, arriving about ten minutes before the safety meeting started.

Sure didn’t want to get there too early. It’s not like this isn’t something the entire lot of them didn’t need.

A few months prior, one of the hands had fallen off the roof while working on a house. That tumble resulted in a broken ankle.

Another one of these handy guys was taking apart a two-story scaffolding after a job finished up so that he could load the sections onto a trailer. However, he began his dismantling project on the ground level section.

After they had fished him out from underneath all of the scaffolding pieces that came crashing down on him after the top section lost its foundational pieces, they dusted him off and of course, asked the obvious.

“What in the tarnation [expletive substituted] were you doing?”

His sincere reply indicated that he felt it was too high up there to be taking it apart from the top. Hopefully this topic would be covered in the meeting. This is where you say, “You can’t fix stupid.”

Jack, however, is not a whole lot better in the safety department. Just last week he karate chopped a piece of tin, and was sporting some fresh skin glue that was holding his finger together.

Fortunately, the job startup had been postponed because of the delayed arrival of some equipment, buying Jack some healing time.

That OHSA dude was going to earn his pay on this one.

Julie can be reach for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

Landscape of Change

Dearth of Journalism
Landscape of Change
The Protection of the Innocent
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            The border conflict that has arisen has proven to be a very divisive affair. The process has played out across a wide swath of territory, but the stewards of truth, the Press, have been missing in action in their responsibility to extract the truth.
            Except for the last two years of the conflict, most American media failed to engage in substantive reporting. Even when Obama traveled to El Paso last year and gave the speech at the Chamizal criticizing those who refused to accept his administration’s position that the border was safer now than a generation ago, the prevailing message was repeated. ‘Those who claim the border is a dangerous place are simply fear mongers and have a political motive’.
            The irony of the moment was that directly behind the president was Juarez where 110,000 homes stand vacant and fully 40% of the businesses are gone. Only FOX and the internet sources of news consistently rejected the rhetoric and pressed for a more accurate assessment of the problem.
            The Pulitzer lost
            At the 2010 Apache (Arizona) public meeting hosted by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a dozen news outlets were present.  Reporters prowled the grounds talking to a few people. 
The reason the meeting was called, the horrific incident that took rancher Rob Krentz’ life, remains a complex international affair that seems to have little hope for resolution.  From the view of locals, little to nothing came from the event, and, in fact, even the much ballyhooed Forward Operating Base (FOB) so much in the discussion is now set to be built where the local effort objected.
The Krentz affair has become a microcosm of the border problem.  From every viewpoint, it appears the American public, who has duties, responsibilities, and investments on the border, are nothing more than a necessary evil of which the federal government must contend.
            The truth, though, continues to be revealed.  A civil conflict approaching the scope of Viet Nam rages. Even the whites of Mexican President Calderon’s eyes are starting to show as he grasps the fact that the cartel power will substantively impact his country’s upcoming elections. 
            A huge, international story has been neglected and minimized.  A valid, significant Pulitzer prize … has been missed.
            Ugly American Actions
            Without surprise, it has been revealed the DOJ will not stand by the letter of insistence of its absence of knowledge in the Fast and Furious Debacle, the unfathomable scheme allowing military weaponry to be smuggled into Mexican cartel hands. 
The report comes on the heels of the growing awareness of a parallel deal run by the same bureaucrats who appear to have supported and co-opted the laundering of cartel monies.  Of course, the feds are denying any such complicity, but such denial is growing wearisome. 
Their track record has simply become too checkered to be taken seriously.  Americans who stand in the hail of the border storm have long lost any expectation the federal actions will be structured on the behalf of their well being.  On the contrary, there always seems to be a political agenda that takes precedence.
The Realizations
The absence of responsible press assistance can be arrayed with clarity in several 2011 developments.  The most horrendous will be the lip service given to the plight of innocent Mexicans who have been the victims of the drug war.  Those stories will find their way into the outlets on starts and stops, but will likely not get too much play until the human and animal right activists develop a profitable niche for their nonprofit activities.  The press will then likely find cause to press the stories of the cartel war atrocities on a regular and expanding basis.
It is interesting to array the events that were revealed and developed by Americans who face the border without a safety net.  A recent example was the GAO disclosure of the Arizona wildfires started by illegals.  The truth of that matter was known from the onset by local citizens. 
Even the Forest Service initially verified the facts, but the matter was discounted and then muzzled by the State Department who determined international relations were more important than truth.  Americans who knew the truth were rewarded by suggestions they were spreading unfair accusations.
The death of Brian Terry prompted the ultimate disclosure of Fast and Furious, but it was American gun store owners who began to worry about their own well being that opened the door to reveal the truth.  Thank goodness, civil servants within ATF came forward and verified the facts. The whole world now knows of the federal actions that were denied with resolute vigor.  Like the truth of the fires, those denials have been disclosed for what they were.
The expansion of the drug war, though, is being dissected into even more incremental revelations.  Perhaps the most significant part of the puzzle has been the disclosure of those conditions that allowed the development of the trade routes that allowed the delivery of drugs and human contraband into the United States.
            Citizen versus State created Ethos 
The smuggling corridors are central to the entire conflict.  Without those trade routes, the drug business would not have grown into the dangerous industry it is.  It wasn’t the government who revealed what and why such smuggling routes were so detrimental to the security of the nation. It was New Mexicans at risk who methodically attempted to describe reasonable logic to sway Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to modify his legislative insistence for more border wilderness.
Private Americans finally described the characteristics of the corridors that allowed for expansion and control of the smuggling trade.  It was from their work that each and every non-urban corridor can now be described and predicted. It wasn’t their senator who had the moral obligation to ensure their safety and limit any likelihood that their stance was legitimate.
Likewise, it wasn’t the prevailing press, and a huge question must be asked.  What is the structural evolution in the science of journalism that has occurred to create a separate value system, a distinct set of standards, and a common belief system that is dismissive of individual sovereignty?
The problem is Universal
The same question is being asked around the world.  In the UK, the BBC is finally being taken to task by a number of respected authorities.  Their disenchantment on the reliability of that press is being built around the absence of objectivity surrounding the ‘Race to all things Green’, but their most basic question is legitimate, timely, and universal. 
“If we believe in a free country and a free press, why do we have a state (and politically driven and sponsored) broadcasting system?”
We are asking the same question.
The collective reporting on the drug war in Mexico and the implications of its expansion by border smuggling corridors on the American border is a moral and journalistic failure.  It is a contradiction of words over actions and philosophy rather than objectivity.  Until the last two years, it had been a regional skirmish of inconvenience.  It had been controlled and manipulated by voices that had nothing to lose.
Journalistic Science
Scientific journalist, David Whitehouse, is one of the voices starting to rise above the tide.  In recent writings, he has started asking his colleagues where the moral authority in their work has gone.  He is saying things that make sense to those of us who have started bypassing the traditional source of news because we have lost confidence in it.
“Science journalism is not about taking sides,” Mr. Whitehouse remarks.  “It’s about asking serious questions and acting as a legitimate proxy to those who cannot ask the questions.”
Good journalism must ferret out and reveal the true measure of the evidence.  It cannot simply defer to the guidance of prevailing movements. 
“Least of all,” Whitehouse concludes, “can they (journalist of public trust) look to movements for guidance any more than a teacher should ask a first grader how she should be taught to read.”
The War
Meanwhile, the war in Mexico rages.  It rages because the drug cartels continue to grow their business through lucrative trade routes that are protected and expanded by the actions of our government . . . actions that have been implicitly sanctioned and condoned by the press. 
The real problem now facing this country is what to do with Mexico.  That government cannot fix itself.  If the cartels are successful in swaying their 2012 elections, the problem is no longer a police action.  It is what unprotected Americans on our border have been saying . . . it is past time to seek impartiality and make sure the border is protected . . . the principles of journalism and science have betrayed us for too long.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Border Americans are learning a great lesson.  If they cannot trust their leaders . . . they must trust themselves.”

The Pipeline to Nowhere

From the recent decision to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to Solyndra-like 'green energy' initiatives, CFIF"s Renee Giachino discusses the Obama Administration"s failed energy policies.

Climategate 2.0: New E-Mails Rock The Global Warming Debate

A new batch of 5,000 emails among scientists central to the assertion that humans are causing a global warming crisis were anonymously released to the public yesterday, igniting a new firestorm of controversy nearly two years to the day after similar emails ignited the Climategate scandal. Three themes are emerging from the newly released emails: (1) prominent scientists central to the global warming debate are taking measures to conceal rather than disseminate underlying data and discussions; (2) these scientists view global warming as a political “cause” rather than a balanced scientific inquiry and (3) many of these scientists frankly admit to each other that much of the science is weak and dependent on deliberate manipulation of facts and data. Regarding scientific transparency, a defining characteristic of science is the open sharing of scientific data, theories and procedures so that independent parties, and especially skeptics of a particular theory or hypothesis, can replicate and validate asserted experiments or observations. Emails between Climategate scientists, however, show a concerted effort to hide rather than disseminate underlying evidence and procedures. The new emails also reveal the scientists’ attempts to politicize the debate and advance predetermined outcomes. “The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s included and what is left out” of IPCC reports, writes Jonathan Overpeck, coordinating lead author for the IPCC’s most recent climate assessment. “I have been talking w/ folks in the states about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose” skeptical scientist Steve McIntyre, Mann writes in another newly released email...more

Energy Tax Breaks Proposed, Despite Waning Support for Subsidies

Assisted by technological innovation and years of subsidies, the cost of wind and solar power has fallen sharply — so much so that the two industries say that they can sometimes deliver cleaner electricity at prices competitive with power made from fossil fuels. At the same time, wind and solar companies are telling Congress that they cannot be truly competitive and keep creating jobs without a few more years of government support. Their efforts received a boost on Thursday from President Obama, who called for a package of tax credits for renewable power as part of a broader energy plan that he outlined while on a campaign swing through Nevada and Colorado. But the lobbying by the wind and solar industries comes at a time when there is little enthusiasm for alternative-energy subsidies in Washington. Overall concerns about the deficit are making lawmakers more skeptical about any new tax breaks for business in general. And taxpayer losses of more than half a billion dollars on Solyndra, a bankrupt maker of solar modules that defaulted on a federal loan, has tarnished the image of renewable power in particular...more

A Unanimous Privacy Victory in U.S. v. Jones

In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court has held that attaching a GPS device to a vehicle and then using the device to monitor the vehicle's movements constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. What does this case mean for broader privacy protections under the Fourth Amendment? The Cato Institute's Jim Harper and Julian Sanchez assess the ruling.

Song Of The Day #760

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is Little Black Train by the bluegrass group IIIrd Thyme Out.

The tune is on their 12 track CD Grandpa's Mandolin.

Hispanic leaders call for protection of public lands

Hispanic leaders from throughout the state have banded together to call for congressional leaders to enact federal legislation to protect public lands in southern New Mexico, such as the Organs; the Robledo Mountains, near Radium Springs; the Potrillo Mountains, and Sierra de las Uvas. Twenty-nine Hispanic leaders, including former governor Jerry Apodaca and former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid - both Las Cruces natives - have signed and sent a letter to Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrats, and Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., to support the proposed Dona Ana County Conservation and Protection Act, introduced into the U.S. Senate last year...more

You can view the letter here.

The first thing you will notice is nowhere in the letter do they endorse or call on anyone "to support the proposed Dona Ana County Conservation and Protection Act."  The act is not mentioned.  Instead they call for the lands to be "protected", which can be done in several ways without designating them as wilderness.

The Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces is listed twice as a signor of the letter. Once by John Munoz, as President, and again as the organization in general.  They have also endorsed the Bingaman bill which would designate 232,000 acres of Wilderness on or near our border.  One must continue to wonder why they take this position.

Government surveys demonstrate that only 3% of those visiting Wilderness areas are Hispanic and the most recent research finds that counties with the Wilderness designation had lower per capita income, lower total payroll, and lower total tax receipts than was the case before the designation was made.  So again one must ask:  Why does the Hispano Chamber support a land designation that is minimally used by the Hispanic population and that has a negative economic impact on our community?

Juarez Cartel threatens to kill “one officer daily”

On Wednesday, banners could be seen all over Ciudad Juarez touting the fact that several prosecutors and police officers have been murdered throughout the city in the last month. The banners also directly accused Juarez Police Chief Julian Leyzaola of corruption and conspiring with the Sinaloa Cartel. The banners also threatened the life of Chief Leyzaola as well as those of his officers. The banners read: “This is for Leyzaola. If you continue supporting the imitators and only arrest our people we will kill one officer daily so that the citizens will know how corrupt you are.” “Leyzaola = a criminal with a badge. Sincerely, Nuevo Cartel de Juarez”...more

Zetas ‘hitman’ trial details assassination cell activity in U.S. and Mexico

A federal grand jury in Laredo, TX, convicted a Zetas-linked “hitman” on a raft of conspiracy, racketeering and weapons charges on Jan. 25, after hearing testimony that outlined activities of the gang’s vicious assassination cells on both sides of the southern border. During Castillo-Chavez’ trial, said the FBI, jurors heard testimony from several Zeta hitmen who committed murders in Laredo, TX, as well as Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and Monterrey, and Nuevo Leon, in Mexico. In addition, said the agency, several defendants who testified as witnesses for the government detailed cocaine and marijuana trafficking from Mexico to Dallas, Texas, and New York City. Further testimony outlined murders and attempted murders committed by “sicario” (assassin) cells in Laredo between June 2005 and April 2006. The United States also presented telephone interceptions which described in detail the gruesome murders and disposal of the bodies of two U.S. citizens kidnapped and killed in Nuevo Laredo, said the agency...more

Mexico's Murderous Drug War Spills Over U.S. Border

Eighteen months ago, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was excoriated for warning of spillover from Mexico's war reaching our soil. Well, beheadings are becoming common now. Yet that war is still ignored. Leading the charge in the summer of 2010, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank blasted Republican Gov. Brewer for claiming that Arizona's "law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded." Brewer did admit she was in error at the time, but that's not what really interested Milbank and his fellow media minions. Just one problem, though. Brewer may have jumped the gun months ago, but cartel beheadings have become a reality in Arizona — and are now jumping to other states. Four months after the Arizona governor spoke, the first grisly cartel beheading occurred — in Arizona. Martin Alejandro Cota-Monroy's body was found Oct. 10, 2010 in Chandler, in what police believed had been a revenge attack for stealing cartel drugs. A year later and 600 miles north in Oklahoma, the victim was not a person involved in the drug trade, but a 19-year-old human trafficking victim, Carina Saunders, who was killed by suspected cartel members to frighten another teenager into joining the cartel. Three months later, in Tucson, another headless body was found on a desolate stretch of road. What's seen here is the very swift regularization of crime that, until recently, was thought to be Mexico's problem. Just Friday, the Mexican government reported that the 2,276 war-related deaths in Mexico's Chihuahua state alone topped all civilian deaths in Afghanistan in the first 11 months of 2011 (2,177). A civilian in the state of Chihuahua had a nine times greater chance of being killed than an Afghan...more

Killing field was training ground used by Zetas

A Zetas hit man on Wednesday offered a peek into the slaughter that took place in the small Mexican town of San Fernando, where the remains of 200 bodies were unearthed last year, testifying how new cartel recruits were trained to kill there. “They would show new recruits how to kill,” testified Wenceslao Tovar, 26, an admitted Zetas sicario, or hit man. “They would give them a machete. If not, they'd give them a sledge hammer and they'd tell them to kill the people they had tied up.” Those who successfully completed the training were treated to a party that included a raffle with winners getting watches, vehicles and cash, Tovar said. Those who couldn't kill were made halcones, the Spanish word for “hawks,” used to describe cartel lookouts, he said. Tovar's testimony came in the trial of Gerardo Castillo Chavez, a 25-year-old from Mexico, on charges that he took part in killings and assaults in 2006 as part of a drug conspiracy. But testimony in the first day of trail went far beyond Castillo Chavez's alleged involvement with the Zetas...more

Arizona strikes back: State investigates feds over gun-running

Arizona's state legislature will open its own investigation into the Obama administration's disgraced gun-running program, known as "Fast and Furious," the speaker of the state House said Friday. Speaker Andy Tobin created the committee, and charged it with looking at whether the program broke any state laws — raising the possibility of state penalties against those responsible for the operation. Mr. Tobin will announce the committee's jurisdiction at a press conference in Phoenix on Monday. The committee is charged with looking into the facts about the program, what impact it had on Arizona and whether any of the state's laws were broken. A report is due back by March 30...more