Saturday, August 31, 2013

PETA: Eating Chicken Wings During Pregnancy Could Affect Baby Penis Size

In a letter to the founder of the National Buffalo Wing Festival, PETA recently requested that pregnant women be banned from participating due to findings published by the Study for Future Families: "Eating poultry during pregnancy may lead to smaller penis size in male infants." According to PETA's Linday Rajt, this shrinkage allegedly results from a chemical compound found in the meat.  

 Woman's Health Magazine, however, refuted the claim by explaining that the study didn't evaluate chicken consumption, but rather how prenatal phthalate exposure affects boys reproductively in a variety of ways. Only one of which was penis size:

It is true that, according to the Study for Future Families’ research, boys born to moms with the highest levels of phthalate exposure (defined as those in the top 25th percentile) were more likely to have shorter penises than those born to moms with the lowest levels of phthalate exposure (those in the bottom 25th percentile).

Why? Phthalates may decrease the amount of testosterone a boy is exposed to in his mother’s womb, hindering his reproductive development. This has been linked to a host of issues, such as a higher likelihood of undescended testicles and a smaller anogenital distance (the distance between the anus and the genitals; this measure has been associated with feminization). In rodent studies, prenatal phthalate exposure in males has also been correlated with lower sperm counts later in life and even infertility.

You gain exposure to phthalates in lots of ways, such as when you use certain personal care products, when you eat out of plastic containers, and when you consume anything on the list of many, many foods that contain phthalates, says Shanna H. Swan, Ph.D., a professor in the department of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who conducted the research PETA cites. What’s more, chicken doesn’t even rank particularly high on the list of foods containing phthalates (spices are actually at the top of the list, according to one German study). “I think any link between eating buffalo wings—even by pregnant women—and the size of their son’s genitals is very tenuous,” says Swan.

Is it true that wings and weenies, poultry and penises are a bad mix? 

Colonel Sanders should be ashamed.  What's in those 11 herbs and spices anyway?

And if that's not enough, now we have look out for those Chinese Commies too. 


Why Big, Intense Wildfires Are the New Normal

The large wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has already consumed more than 184,000 acres, and shows no signs of slowing down. The blaze, which has been dubbed “Rim Fire,” is now the largest fire in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and one of the largest in California’s history. (Related: “With Rim Fire Near, a Look at Yosemite’s History With Fire.”) The Rim Fire is one of more than 30 blazes currently churning across the West. And a combination of higher temperatures, untamed underbrush, less rain, and more developments in the region means that the number and intensity of wildfires is likely to increase in the coming years, says Don Wuebbles, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois. “This probably is the new normal,” he says. All wildfires need three things to burn: ignition, fuel, and the right climate, says Erica Smithwick, the director of Landscape Ecology at Penn State University and an expert on fire patterns. “But if you play with any of these things, you’re going to manipulate the fire,” she says...more

A lot about global warming, drought, fire suppression, and human development; zip about Forest Service management.

Federal court upholds California's foie gras ban

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that California can keep in place its ban on the sale of foie gras. In doing so, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals signaled that a lawsuit filed by foie gras producers seeking to invalidate the California law was on its last legs. The appeals court said the producers of the delicacy — the fatty liver of a force-fed goose or duck — "failed to raise a serious question that they are likely to succeed on the merits" of the lawsuit. The producers wanted the appeals court to lift the ban while their lawsuit is under consideration in a Los Angeles federal court. The three-judge appeals panel rejected the producers' arguments that the ban illegally interferes with commerce and is too vaguely worded, among other claims, indicating the court's doubts about the underlying lawsuit in the process. The ruling upheld a lower court decision, which expressed similar skepticism about the lawsuit filed last year by Canadian and New York producers of foie gras. Nonetheless, Marcus Henley, the operations manager of New York's Hudson Valley farm, said he and his lawyers would continue to fight the California law. Henley said lawyers would appeal Friday's ruling while continuing to argue in the Los Angeles district court for the invalidation of the California law. "This isn't like fireworks, nobody is being harmed by foie gras," said Henley, who noted some California consumers continue to legally order foie gras online...more

Friday, August 30, 2013

Editorial - Rim Fire points to poor forest-management practices

The immensely destructive Rim Fire threatened San Francisco's water and municipal power system, tore through important wildlife habitat and lapped at valued treasures in Yosemite National Park, including giant sequoias. The real calamity is that humans are likely to blame for the destruction. Steps should now be taken to create a plan to avoid the fire-management mistakes that helped bring about the raging inferno.

There will never be a way to completely eliminate forest fires. And they should not be completely eliminated, for they serve an important role in a forest ecosystem. In fact, in the past few decades, science has developed a more enlightened view of forest fires that trumps fears that the blazes kill off forests, creating wastelands for generations. Most people now understand that fires are needed in forest environments to create new growth, even though that means killing off some flora.

But the old way of preventing forest fires, and fighting those that spring up, still perseveres. And misguided management hindered by a lack of funds, combined with drought conditions in a tinderbox area of the Sierra Nevada, helped create the perfect conditions in which the Rim Fire rapidly spread...

A truly natural forest has a range of differently sized trees that sprouted and grew during different years. The unnatural forest created by the Forest Service was of a uniform size, and it was allowed to grow dense without thinning due to a lack of funds, a former Forest Service worker told The Los Angeles Times.

At the same time these new trees were growing atop the area's steep hillsides, the federal government was sticking with old fire-suppression guidelines that date back to World War II and had more to do with protecting trees for lumber than healthy forest management.

 In some national parks, including Yellowstone and Yosemite, naturally occurring fires that didn't threaten structures or people were allowed to burn. And in other places, prescribed burns were used to mimic natural fires. But outside the national parks, putting out fires quickly was the norm and prescribed burns were rare. In places such as the area where the Rim Fire has spread, built-up undergrowth helps the blazes spread quicker and burn hotter, incinerating young-growth trees, such as all those planted pines.

Calif. lead bullet ban could burn down more forests

Efforts by California state officials to ban lead bullets in an effort to protect the environment could actually end up hurting it, according to critics. A bill in the California State Assembly introduced by Democrat Anthony Rendon would ban the use of lead bullets by hunters in California, which environmentalists argue would help protect endangered species like the California Condor. Hunters would be forced to use non-lead alternatives, like copper bullets. However, government research shows that solid-copper bullets have a much higher propensity to ignite fires than lead core bullets. “We found that bullets could reliably cause ignitions, specifically those containing steel components (core or jacket) and those made of solid copper,” reads a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service. “Ignitions of peat also occurred with a small set of tests using solid copper bullets and a granite target,” added the study. “Thermal infra-red video and temperature sensitive paints suggested that the temperature of bullet fragments could exceed 800°C. Bullet fragments collected from a water tank were larger for solid copper and steel core/jacketed bullets than for lead core bullets, which also facilitate ignition.” Lead ammunition occupies 95 percent of the ammunition market and has a low propensity of sparking and igniting, according to Orrock, and mandating that hunters can no longer use such bullets in the state would artificially increase the market share of copper bullets — increasing the risk of wildfires...more

Obama administration offers gun control steps, including curbing some imports, closing loopholes

Striving to take action where Congress would not, the Obama administration announced new steps Thursday on gun control, curbing the import of military surplus weapons and proposing to close a little-known loophole that lets felons and others circumvent background checks by registering guns to corporations. Four months after a gun control drive collapsed spectacularly in the Senate, President Barack Obama added two more executive actions to a list of 23 steps the White House determined Obama could take on his own to reduce gun violence. With the political world focused on Mideast tensions and looming fiscal battles, the move signaled Obama's intent to show he hasn't lost sight of a cause he took up after 20 first-graders and six adults were gunned down last year in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. One new policy will end a government practice that lets military weapons, sold or donated by the U.S. to allies, be reimported into the U.S. by private entities, where some may end up on the streets. The White House said the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to be reimported since 2005; under the new policy, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms. The Obama administration is also proposing a federal rule to stop those who would be ineligible to pass a background check from skirting the law by registering a gun to a corporation or trust. The new rule would require people associated with those entities, like beneficiaries and trustees, to undergo the same type of fingerprint-based background checks as individuals if they want to register guns...more

The rules of grazing

The death last week of over 100 sheep grazing in the Palisades Range on United States Forest Service land heated up the debate about grazing private cattle and sheep herds on public land. According to Warren Ririe, natural resources specialist with the intermountain region of the United States Forest Service, conservation groups claim that the practice is a subsidy to the ranching industry while ranchers say that taking herds out to public lands is more expensive than running them on private land. According to Billie Siddoway, of the Siddoway Sheep Company that lost 176 head of sheep in a rare stampede and pile-up following a wolf attack, it depends. The Siddoway Sheep Company grazes their 10,000 head of sheep on a variety of lands including their own 60,000 acres, other private lands they rent and their allotments in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Siddoway said the expenses associated with each plot of land vary. They pay a premium to graze their sheep on the stubble of protein rich crops on private land. Grazing allotments in the national forest come with their own set of expenses. According to Ririe, the rancher is responsible for most of the cost of constructing the infrastructure associated with grazing herds including fencing and watering areas. They must also maintain the infrastructure and be able to be able to temporarily corral and water sheep on their private property. However, according to Jon Marvel, executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, a conservation group that seeks to end grazing on public lands, it’s not a question of how much it costs the rancher. The price of a permit does not correspond to the value of public land and grazing leaving American taxpayers subsidizing ranching in the national forest. Marvel said river guides on the Salmon River pay a portion of their profit to operate commercially on the public waterways, while ranchers pay a minimal fee for a permit...more

Wolf Hunting Season Opens in Idaho Today

The 2013-14 wolf hunting season opens throughout the state on Friday, Aug. 30, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said. The season runs through March 31, except in the Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork zones and in that portion of Unit 16 in the Dworshak-Elk City Zone north of the Selway River where the season closes June 30. The wolf hunting season is open year-round on private land only in the Panhandle Zone. An individual may buy up to five wolf hunting tags per calendar year, but hunters may use only two wolf tags in some parts of the state in a calendar year. The wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15 in all but four wolf zones, and Unit 10A of the Dworshak-Elk City Zone opens to trapping Feb. 1. Wolf hunting tags are $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents and are valid for a calendar year...more

Yellowstone National Park bison population sees increase to 4,600

Yellowstone National Park biologists recently completed their annual summer bison count and now estimate the population at about 4,600 bison, a 9 percent increase from the previous year's 4,200. However, this year's increase was smaller than between 2011 and 2012, when the population grew by 14 percent. Around 3,200 bison belong to the northern herd and the rest are in the central herd. About 700 calves were observed this June, compared to 600 last year. The population estimate will be considered as part of the bison management strategy, according to a park news release. This year's population spike was in spite of a winter hunt that eliminated 250 bison. In years past, the park has justified some bison harvest based upon a management limit of 3,000 bison inside the park. However, the partners of the Interagency Bison Management Plan are considering a proposal to allow some bison to roam year-round in limited areas outside the park. That proposal could reduce the number inside the park without requiring hunts or slaughter...more

Looks like their "management strategy" is to foist the problem on somebody else.

Rancher solves water problems with old technique

There's no question we have a major water problem in Southern Arizona; We see destructive floods during the monsoons and not enough water during the rest of the year. Tucson News Now went to a ranch deep in the Chiricahua Mountains and saw a man who's using nature to help solve the water problems. 67-year-old Jho Austin has run this ranch with his wife for 31 years. His ranch in the town of Pearce shows a simple, but successful way to bring the land back to life. They use rocks to help control water, and ultimately turn brown areas into green areas. "It's a process that's been used for thousands of years," he said. "The Egyptians made papyrus baskets. The Indians did this. Ancient civilizations have done this for years." The process doesn't have a fancy name nor a big price tag. Rocks are piled in areas where the water runs when it rains, and the loose rock structures slow down the water and allow it to sink in a bit before it moves on. Eventually, areas that were rock or gravel become full of vegetation. Austin showed us a particular part of his ranch, and said the area used to flood a few times a year and then it would dry up. "It had water in it maybe 20 percent of the time, Austin said. "We started putting these loose rock structures in here, and it's gone from being water in it 20 percent of the time to water in it 80 percent of the time." Austin says there are about 20,000 structures on the ranch. Most of the structures are rocks piled on top of each other and some are rocks that are kept stable by wire baskets...more

There's a TV news report at the link provided above.


"Republicans don't know how to defend morally an individual's right to achieve wealth and to keep it, and that is why they fail. ... It's part and parcel with their ambivalence over the individualist heritage of the nation. ... One of the things that people have to understand is that the American Revolution was truly an epic revolution in the way individuals were perceived in relation to the rest of the society.  Throughout history individuals had always been cogs in some machine; they'd always been something to be sacrificed for the king, the tribe, the gang, the chieftain, the society around them, the race, whatever, and the real revolution, in America especially, was a moral revolution.  It was a moral revolution in that ... suddenly, with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the individual, his life, his well-being, his property, his happiness became central to our values, and thatis what really made America unique.  People came here from all over the world to try to escape the kind of oppression they had and experienced in the past. They came here for freedom; they came here for self-expression and self-realization, and America offered them that kind of a place."
-- Robert Bidinotto

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1089

Buck Owens & Dwight Yoakam - Streets Of Bakersfield (1988)  Homer Joy wrote this song in 1972.  For an interesting interview with Joy where he describes the events that lead to his writing the song and how Buck Owens recorded it within 8 hours of it being written, go here.  Dwight Yoakam had said for years that Buck Owens was his favorite performer.  To find out how Yoakam coaxed Owens out of retirement, who picked the song for recording and what went on in the recording studio, go here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Colorectal Surgeon Song

Sent to me by Phil Harvey, Jr.

Judge in Horse Slaughter Case Corrects Mistake; No Next Round Date Set

Federal District Court Judge M. Christina Armijo has amended her order temporarily banning horsemeat packing in the U.S. because it was too broadly drawn. Armijo’s original Aug. 2 temporary restraining order said USDA was ordered to suspend or withhold the provision of “meat inspection services” to Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation until further order of the court. Armijo officially amended the temporary restraining order Wednesday to order USDA “to suspend or withhold the provision of horse meat inspection services to Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation until further order of the Court.” And although the judge’s Aug. 2 order promised a hearing on the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary injunction, it has not yet been scheduled. There has been a blizzard of filings over the request to change the temporary restraining order and the injunction bond.  In the blizzard of paper now before the court, however, perhaps the most dramatic is the declaration from Ricardo De Los Santos, general manager of Valley Meat in Roswell, NM.
“Valley is a small locally operated Hispanic business that lacks the resources to protect itself from the economic harm sought to be done to it by the large multi-million activists groups that are seeking to enjoin USDA from facilitating Valley’s lawful agribusiness operation,” he states. De Los Santos says Valley has spent $150,000 retrofitting its plant for equine operations and is now out almost $22,000 per day in gross revenue for each day the court prevents it from processing horse meat. “The actions of Plaintiffs have trapped Valley with no alternative but to devote its extremely diminished and dwindling resources toward litigation and the bare minimum needed to keep the plant in a ready state should the hurdles imposed by Plaintiffs and this Court be removed,” his declaration states. The Yakama and Navajo Indian nations are intervenors on the side of the defendants in the cases in part because of their concern about the damage being done to tribal and public lands by the swelling populations of wild horses...more

JaNeil Anderson

Yosemite fire, others feel federal budget squeeze

by Joe Garafoli, San Francisco Chronicle

    As the Rim Fire continues to roar in and around Yosemite National Park, a debate is buzzing over how much political gridlock in Washington is affecting the ability to prevent and fight wildfires across California and beyond.
    Some elected officials, including Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., are blaming the federal budget sequestration - the offspring of a congressional deal to trim the deficit with 5 percent, across-the-board cuts to all federal programs except for a few, including Social Security, veterans' benefits, food stamps and Medicaid.
    The U.S. Forest Service said the automatic cuts meant it was unable to hire 500 firefighters or buy 50 to 75 new engines and two water-carrying aircraft.

Fire prevention

    It also meant not clearing brush and performing other fire-prevention actions on 200,000 acres across the country. In California, 92,968 acres are identified for fire prevention this year - roughly 17,000 fewer acres than the year before, according to Forest Service officials.
    At the Department of the Interior, it has meant hiring 100 fewer seasonal firefighters nationally.
So far, 3.6 million acres have burned across the country, a pace that could top the 5.9 million acres on average that have burned over the past decade.
    With California experiencing its driest year on record, more fire battles are looming.
"The firefighting resources are stretched pretty thin," said Bill Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents more than 110,000 federal workers in 37 agencies, including the Forest Service.
    Dougan, a native Californian, spent 31 years at the Forest Service, including time fighting fires in his home state.
    "We need our politicians to get back to Washington and do their work and get more money where it is needed to fight these fires," Dougan said...
    The Forest Service exhausted its fire suppression budget this month, forcing it to borrow $600 million from its other departments. It is the sixth time in the past decade that the agency has been forced to make such an intra-budget transfer.
    If it continues to spend $100 million a week fighting fires, Dougan said, the agency could have to reconfigure its budget again in mid-September - meaning more cuts to popular Forest Service programs.
Many Americans might soon start to see the effects of that budget transfer when they show up at national parks. Fewer federal dollars could mean not fixing a dilapidated fire pit at a park site or deferring maintenance on toilets or not repairing trails.

Toilets...can't they just make like a bear?  Why travel miles to get to the woods and then require some namby-pamby, urbanized toilet?  You can't graze livestock, drill for oil and gas, mine or cut timber in the forest anymore, but by damn you can still take a shit there.  I think.

Look, I'll be the first one to say the 5% across the board cuts were because Congress was chicken hearted.  First, it wasn't enough. Second, Congress should prioritize the programs and fund or not fund them accordingly.  In this instance they are forcing the Forest Service to do the prioritizing for them.

On the other hand the sequester is better than no cuts at all.  And look how the Forest Service has reacted to these severe economic and budgetary times.  Their FY 14 budget request asks for increases in...research and land acquisition.  They can't manage what they have but they want more.

Sorry, but I couldn't identify their budget for toilet maintenance.


Arizona, 21 other states to have federal timber payments reduced

The federal government will deduct more than $860,000 from its timber payment to Arizona this year, some of the more than $15 million the U.S. Forest Service said it will withhold from 22 states. A Forest Service letter to governors last week said the deductions are needed to keep the agency’s budget in balance after the cuts from the federal budget sequestration that took effect earlier this year. “We regret having to take this action, but must ensure that the Forest Service meets the requirements” of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in the letters. Oregon was hit the hardest by the cuts, missing out on nearly $4 million this year. In all, the cuts hit 41 states and Puerto Rico, ranging from Oregon down to North Dakota, which lost $32.13 in its timber payment. The payments have been made for decades by the Forest Service with proceeds on the sale of timber on federal lands. Each state’s share is determined not by the amount of timber taken from the state but under a formula set in the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which also sets rules for what states can spend the money on. The timber payment cuts were first announced in March, when Tidwell told the states that they could either repay the federal government then with money they had received in fiscal 2012 or have it deducted from their payments this year. But the Western Governors’ Association has argued that the federal government does not have the right to take back money that was distributed to states in 2012, before federal budget sequestration took effect...more

On Fracking Rules, It’s States vs. Feds

WILLISTON, N.D.—How can you be in a relationship with someone who doesn't want to be in a relationship with you? That's the challenge facing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell when she recently visited with oil executives here and sought to explain why the federal government thinks it's necessary to regulate drilling operations. "I appreciate what's happening in the Bakken," Jewell told reporters after touring a Continental Resources drilling rig on the Bakken rock-shale formation deep below Williston earlier this month. "I also know my job is overseeing the resources owned by the federal government. I have to develop these resources safely and responsibly in a way that also supports domestic energy production. It's a tricky balance." Call it polite friction. Jewell said the regulations are necessary. The oil executives present said that the regulations are wholly unnecessary. The relationship among the federal government, energy companies, and state regulators is getting more tense as the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling unleashes one of the world's biggest oil and natural gas booms—and all of the environmental questions that come with it. Indeed, the federal government is writing regulations controlling oil and gas drilling throughout the country even though many states—including North Dakota—already have rules on the books. It's a position that draws criticism from industry officials, and some in the states, who complain that too much red tape will constrain economic benefits...more

The USDA Rabbit Police

by Diane Katz

There’s no good way to deliver this disturbing bit of news except to come right out with it: Marty the Magician and others in the business of pulling a rabbit from a hat are under strict orders from the federal government to develop a “contingency plan” for handling their critters in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

And, no, a recipe for Hasenpfeffer won’t suffice.

Said plan will be evaluated once a year, when enforcers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) make their annual unannounced bunny home inspections. Oh, and all magicians are required to carry a copy of the contingency plan at all times and make it available for inspection while in “travel status.” After all, animal owners might want to consult the rabbit-rescue protocol amid the chaos of saving their families from a deadly hurricane or tornado.

With the July 29 compliance deadline looming, the USDA recently sent Marty the Magician (aka Marty Hahne of Springfield, Missouri) an eight-page communiqué detailing requirements for the plan, which must:
  • Identify common emergencies most likely to occur,
  • Outline specific tasks required to be carried out in response to each of the identified emergencies,
  • Identify a chain of command and who (by name or by position title) will be responsible for fulfilling these tasks, and
  • Address how response and recovery will be handled in terms of materials, resources, and training needs.
All of which means that Marty must prepare for all the calamities that could possibly befall Casey the Rabbit while making the rounds of more than 150 performance venues he visits each year, including schools, libraries, churches, and homes.

Drop in barge use may factor into dam debate

Four dams on the Lower Snake River essentially managed to turn Lewiston, Idaho, into a port city about 400 miles inland. But some farmers shipping their wheat to market are turning from the river to rail as a more-efficient, lower-cost option. As a result, a decline in shipments by barge on the Lower Snake River, under way for decades, has accelerated. The overall decline in shipping on the river adds a new element to the regional debate on taking out four dams on the Lower Snake. Built beginning in the 1950s to provide hydropower, irrigation and navigation all the way from Lewiston to the mouth of the Columbia River, the dams have been in the cross hairs of a regional dam-removal debate for decades. Together, they provide 4.3 percent of the region’s total energy production, and irrigation to a few very large growers on the Lower Snake, in addition to navigation to Lewiston, the most inland port on the West Coast. The debate over the future of the dams will reopen soon, when federal agencies offer yet another proposed operating plan for the federal Columbia River power system, in hopes of finally receiving agreement from a federal judge that the dams don’t jeopardize the survival of threatened and endangered salmon. The dams have been operated on provisional approval since the 1990s as plan after plan has been shot down by judges dissatisfied that federal managers are adequately protecting salmon from extinction. The most recent, Judge James Redden, now retired, said of the Lower Snake River dams last spring: “I think we need to take those dams down.” He refused to comment further...more

Measles-Like Virus May Be Killing Dolphins

From New York to Virginia, dead dolphins have been washing ashore in unusually large numbers this summer. As of Aug. 20, nearly 300 stranded bottlenose dolphins had been reported in the region, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nearly seven times more than normal in some places. As experts continue to investigate the cause, the leading contender is an infection called morbillivirus. Related to human measles and canine distemper, the virus seems to cause sporadic epidemics among dolphins. Many years, there are no detected cases, but when the virus hits, it can hit hard. The last epidemic struck off the Atlantic coast in the winter of 1987-88, killing more than 740 animals from New Jersey to Florida. For now, there is no official announcement to confirm that morbillivirus is the culprit in the current outbreak, though experts involved in the investigation say that the virus has been confirmed in at least some of this year’s stranded dolphins...more

Denver museum closes Indian massacre display

Colorado’s new state history museum closed an exhibit on the Sand Creek Indian massacre, one of the state’s darkest chapters, after descendants of the slaughter’s survivors demanded changes in how it is portrayed and complained that they weren’t consulted about the display. A U.S. Army force led by Col. John M. Chivington swept into a sleeping Indian village along Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado on Nov. 29, 1864. Troops killed more than 160 Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of them women, children and the elderly. Officials at the time insisted the attack was to avenge American Indian raids on white settlers and kidnappings of women and children. Dale Hamilton, a descendant of Chief Sand Hill, one of the survivors, said curators of the History Colorado Center museum in Denver didn’t consult tribes about the display, which opened in April 2012. The exhibit was closed in June. Tribal historians found some dates were wrong, excerpts from letters left out crucial details, and the exhibit attempted to explain American Indian-white settler conflicts as a “collision of cultures,” claimed Hamilton, of Concho, Okla., where he lives with Cheyenne and Southern Arapahoe tribes. “This wasn’t a clash of cultures. This was a straight-up massacre. All we are looking for is respect for our relatives who were murdered,” Hamilton said...more

Long history behind ranchers’ marking of livestock

by Lee Raines, Elko Daily Press
Brands are one of the most interesting tools used by livestock people. Each brand is different from all the others and often conveys the character of its owner.
The origin of branding livestock dates from 2700 B.C. Paintings in Egyptian tombs document branding oxen with hieroglyphics. Ancient Greeks and Romans marked livestock and slaves with a hot iron. Hernando Cortez introduced branding from Spain to the New World in 1541. He brought cattle stamped with his mark of three crosses.
The original Spanish brands were, as a rule, complicated, and beautifully rich in design, but not always practical. The early American ranchers wanted more simple designs that were easy to remember, easily made, that did not blotch, and that were hard to alter.
Brands are recorded by state livestock agencies in many states. The agencies record ownership and the location where you place the brand on the animal. You may not register a particular brand if the same symbols and location have already been registered by someone else in your area. Horse brands and cattle brands are often registered separately. It is important not only to register a brand correctly but to keep it active. Like most registrations, brand registrations do expire.
The most popular locations for brands on horses are the left or right hip or the left or right shoulder. Other less common locations are ribs, stifles and jaws. Cattle are usually branded on hips and ribs.
BLM-gathered mustangs have multi-character freeze brands on the left side of their necks. Registered Arabian horses have the same type of brand on the right side of the neck. Thoroughbred horses have registration numbers tattooed under their upper lips.
Branding is very important in proving ownership of lost or stolen animals. An unbranded animal is called a “slick,” and is almost impossible to legally identify.
There has never been anything to take the place of a visible brand as a permanent definitive mark of ownership and deterrent to theft. Other methods, such as implanted computer chips are positive identification, if a new owner is aware of them, but hot or freeze brands are highly visible and hard to alter.
Done correctly, your brand will always bring your animals home. Livestock people say “a brand’s something that won’t come off in the wash.”

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1088

Alvis E. "Buck" Owens was born in Sherman, Texas on August 12, 1929, but raised in Mesa Arizona.  He taught himself guitar and quit school in the 8th grade.  Owens co-hosted a radio show called Buck and Britt in the 40s and moved to Bakersfield in 1951.  He signed a recording contract with Capitol in 1957 and also served as a session musician backing up Tennessee Ernie Ford, Faron Young, Tommy Duncan, Tommy Collins, Wanda Jackson, Del Reeves and others.  In 1958 he formed The Buckaroos (with Merle Haggard on base) and they had 3 songs make the top ten, but his first #1 song was Act Naturally, which is today's offering.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Teen survives first confirmed wolf attack in Minn.

It's being called the first confirmed attack of a person by a gray wolf in Minnesota history, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Now, a 16-year-old Solway boy is home recovering from a vicious bite wound to the head. It happened early Saturday morning at the West Winnie Campground on Lake Winnibigoshish in north central Minnesota. The campground is operated by the U.S. Forest Service and was temporarily closed following the wolf attack, reports CBS affiliate WCCO in Minneapolis. The gray wolf, also known as a timber wolf, was captured by trappers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The wolf was shot and killed to permit testing for rabies at the University of Minnesota veterinary diagnostic lab. The attack happened shortly after 4:00 a.m. as Noah Graham was down by the beach and preparing to fall asleep outside a tent in the campground. He was there with a group of friends from his church on a weekend outing. That's when the 75-pound male grey wolf clamped its jaws onto his skull and wouldn't let go. Scott Graham, Noah's father, say the attack was quiet and sudden. "The wolf just came up behind Noah, he didn't hear anything, and it just grabbed him by the back of the head and wouldn't let go," Graham said. The sharp teeth of the wolf left a laceration on the rear of Noah's skull which required 17 staples to close. In addition, he has several puncture wounds behind his left ear. Scott Graham says his son is doing fine and has already begun a regimen of shots to fight off the potential for rabies. "He had to physically pry the jaws of the wolf get it off of him. And once he got it off of him and he was up, the wolf stood there growling at him," he said. "And he had to shout at it and kick at it to get it to go away," he said. Still, the question is why did this lone wolf attack a human - which they typically avoid?...more 

 They want to know why and here is what they claim:

After the animal was eventually captured and killed, a cursory examination showed the wolf had a deformed jaw. That could explain why it had difficulty pursuing food in the wild and more dependent on scavenging for meals in the campground.

A deformed jaw.  Now everyone should understand that only a "deformed" wolf is a threat to humans.

Meadowood Barn Renovation Impacted By Sequestration (BLM owns horse stables?)

It’s not square one, but the long-awaited renovation of the horse stables at Lorton’s Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area will take longer to get off the ground than expected. The Bureau of Land Management, which owns the property, has been impacted by federal sequestration and the previously allotted $800,000 for the project is in question.  BLM has scrapped the Environmental Assessment of the barn, and in the meantime plans to make improvements to the septic, water and electrical systems. There is $200,000 available for these improvements. A contractor is currently conducting a feasibility study for future barn operations, followed by a new environmental assessment. The feasibility study is expected to be finished by the end of this year...more

The BLM really has problems with horses, don't they.  

At first I thought this would be about wild horses; but no, BLM owns the property near Lorton, Va. and leases it out:

In April, barn manager Allison Mills signed a one-year lease that will be continued on a month-by-month basis when it expires on March 31, 2014. Mills’ previous contract limited the number of horses allowed on the property to 15, and while her new agreement allows 30 horses, the number of horses living at the barn remains at 15.
So what, exactly is this place.  This website says:

The Stables at Meadowood, managed by Allison Mills, CAS Company Management Services, LLC, offers horse boarding and riding lessons. The equestrian facility is located on the Bureau of Land Management's Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area.  It includes an indoor riding arena, and outdoor riding arena with jumps, a round-pen, two wash stalls, a farrier shed, and miles of beautiful trails at Meadowood and in the adjacent Pohick Regional Park.
Yes, you can go on federal land and board your horse, get riding lessons, etc.  Why is BLM in this business?  BLM's  has a website Q&A which says:

BLM acquired the Meadowood property in 2001 through a land exchange with lands that were part of the former Lorton prison complex. In addition to 800 acres, the property contained a 30+ year old horse stable with related structures. At the time of acquisition, the stable housed only privately-owned, boarded horses.
If ever there was a piece of federal property that should be disposed of, this is it.  If they can't stomach disposing the 800 acres, at least sell the acreage containing the stables and surrounding facilities.  That would save us the $800,000 that may or may not be sequestered, plus the $200,000 for improvements and whatever else they are spending.  Then add to that the revenue generated from the sale.

On my 1st tour of duty in D.C. I lived near the Lorton Prison and commuted.  Congressman or there staff could easily inspect the place.  Or is that the problem?  Wonder who is stabling their horses there?

One other thing:  If it wasn't for sequestration we wouldn't know about this.  Let's hope Congress has the guts to hold tough on the budget.  If they do, no telling what we'll find.

In the meantime, follow the lead of the Forest Service:

Forest Service parcels fetch $7.01 million at auction

Editorial - Improper behavior equals improper regulations

We have commented many times, both on this page and in The Sportsman’s Corner, that improper behavior during outdoor activities will result in over-reaching government intervention into our lives.
The regulatory agencies of the federal government have consistently garnered more power. The regulations imposed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency and many others have effectually added laws that have never been part of the legislative process. And, in many cases, those most impacted by those onerous regulations had little to do with the reasons they exist. A select few immoral, uneducated, and thoughtless people are giving the power-hungry regulators just what they want – more power and more regulations.
Not so many years ago a forest ranger conjured up visions of a tall manly person standing in a tower with a pair of binoculars watching for wisps of smoke. Now we are more likely to think of someone carrying a gun, handcuffs and a portable radio while manning a roadblock or standing by while a piece of heavy equipment plows up rocks and dirt to close off a trail that some hunter may want to use to get to a downed elk. There are more than 700 law enforcement officers working in the forests of our country.
BLM is not much different. Not that long ago the BLM responsibilities were largely accomplished through a bureaucratic process of paperwork dealing primarily with timber, forage, mining and energy development. Now, that agency has more than 200 uniformed officers and about 70 “special investigators” who deal with our public lands, mostly in the western United States. These are federal law enforcement people that are in many cases enforcing laws that we used to depend on our sheriffs to enforce. They are getting involved in alcohol related crimes almost as often as they are involved in resource management problems.
The sad thing, in our opinion, is that the actions of those ignorant few we mentioned above have either directly or indirectly caused many of the regulations, which in turn created more power, which then justifies more personnel, which soon creates a need for justification of the personnel by implementing more regulations, which manifests quickly as more power, which… Well, you get the picture.
When some goofball goes out to a piece of property that is under the blanket of protection of the BLM and shoots up a bunch of glass bottles and leaves the glass scattered upon the ground, the reaction of a regulatory agency is to outlaw glass. If that does not work, they will outlaw shooting, and if that does not work, they will outlaw people with guns. They will listen intently to the “scardey cat” that is upset over the sound of gunshots and completely ignore the fact that most people do not act unreasonably when they are target shooting. There is no evidence of the good guys left behind. That is the whole idea.
When some idiot with a souped up all terrain vehicle decides to create a series of ugly trenches up the side of a hill, some interfering tree hugger will undoubtedly find a forum whereby he or she will likely shout into a sympathetic ear and insist that the BLM outlaw the use of ATVs. And the regulators will too often listen to the tree-hugger without giving much credence to the majority, because, there again, the good guys are not leaving behind a lot of evidence that they are the majority and they are not standing up near often enough and proclaiming that fact.
Instilling a sense of responsibility is the first step in countering this constant effort to keep the public off of public lands, and that training must start at home and it must be both effective and punitive.

Cannibalism: Is climate change causing polar bears to eat each other?

Polar bears were listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2008, following a petition by environmental groups. The decision was upheld in the D.C. Circuit Court early in 2013, after a challenge by the State of Alaska, sport hunters and other special interest groups. The polar bear listing represented the first animal placed under ESA protection solely as a result of climate change, which is the cause of melting Arctic sea ice where polar bears live and hunt for food. Cannibalism and infanticide is one of the dark sides of nature and it is not uncommon in many species, but scientists report an increase in polar bears feasting on cubs and females in recent years. Stories of such gruesome activities go back to the late 1800s, but challengers say there are more sightings now due to increased accessibility by researchers with cameras. Recent disturbing eyewitness accounts reported by Discovery Channel told of males taking cubs and attacking females in their dens. One scientist says polar bears, the largest of the bear species, do it “just because they can.” Dr. Susan J. Crockford is a zoologist, who claims polar bears kill each other for a number of reasons. Excerpt from her website: “Male bears kill newborn cubs in the spring to bring females into estrus – so that they are able and willing to mate again with the new male (this only works until perhaps early June at the latest); 2) females may eat their young (probably at any time of year) when they can’t get other food; 3) males will kill adult females, smaller bears and cubs at any time of year and eat them – whether they are thin or fat, truly hungry or not – just because they can.”Nonetheless, other researchers believe starvation is driving polar bears to turn on their own as food becomes less reachable due to melting ice. Dr. Ian Stirling of Environment Canada has been studying polar bears for more than 40 years and he believes early ice melts are the cause of more cannibalism reports. Ice floes melt in summer, with many disappearing totally, making hunting for the bear’s favorite food of seals more difficult, which forces them to roam further and settle for less; like sea birds and their eggs...more

Law Protects Bison Alongside Cows, Elephants, Llamas

Texas animal owners can rest assured that their cows, pigs, horses — even rhinos and elephants — are protected under the state's agriculture code if they wander off their property. But until the most recent legislative session, bison were not safe. Senate Bill 174, authored by state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, changes that. The bill adds lost bison to the list of possible “estray livestock” protected by state law, meaning if they break through a fence — as some strong animals are wont to do — whoever finds them must try to locate their owner. If that doesn’t work, local authorities must hold the livestock; they can sell them at a public auction if they remain unclaimed for more than two weeks. “Bison producers in Texas were pretty well left out when it came to a legal structure for handling stray animals,” said Donnis Baggett, who has a ranch near College Station with more than 50 bison on it. “We’ve got a big chunk of our money tied up in those animals, and we can’t afford for some yahoo to shoot them if they have [happen] to get out.” Baggett said including bison under state law is even more important as the industry grows, both within Texas and nationwide. The demand for bison meat, considered healthier than beef from cattle because of its lower fat and calorie content, has skyrocketed in the past decade, along with the price. “It used to be kind of a foodie thing, but it’s more mainstream now," Baggett said. "You can get a bison burger at Fuddruckers, last I heard."
Most Texas bison ranchers have small herds, so losing even a few animals is a big deal. Baggett said a single 1,000-pound bison is worth about $2,300. The drought is also taking its toll, with a shortage of grazing prompting more and more animals to take off in search of food. Dennis Wilson, the sheriff of Limestone County just east of Waco, testified against the law on behalf of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas. He said hiring cowboys to round up lost or escaped cattle is easy enough; bison are more dangerous to capture. His office would be responsible for holding the bison while trying to locate the owner, he argued, incurring additional risk and expense...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1087

We continue with the Bakersfield Sound.  Here's Merle Haggard with his 1964 hit Strangers.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Some school districts quit healthier lunch program

After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program, complaining that so many students turned up their noses at meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that the cafeterias were losing money. Federal officials say they don't have exact numbers but have seen isolated reports of schools cutting ties with the $11 billion National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for meals served and gives them access to lower-priced food. Districts that rejected the program say the reimbursement was not enough to offset losses from students who began avoiding the lunch line and bringing food from home or, in some cases, going hungry. "Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn't eat," said Catlin, Ill., Superintendent Gary Lewis, whose district saw a 10 to 12 percent drop in lunch sales, translating to $30,000 lost under the program last year...more

Interior Sec. Jewell: ‘Not thankless, but controversial’

In a sit-down afterwards with, the former Seattle executive and outdoors activist spoke of a job she described as “not thankless, but controversial.” On Thursday, she’ll be out listening to Alaska villagers in the remote Aleutian Island hamlets of King Cove and Cold Bay, refereeing a dispute that has reached the shores of Congress. The Cold Bay villagers want to run a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge that would give quick access to an airport for medical emergencies. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, support the road. Conservation groups oppose it. An Interior Department environmental analysis has recommended against the road. The decision, punted by her predecessor Ken Salazar, falls in Jewell’s lap. She’ll have other similar decisions. The Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives has become a burial ground for conservation and preservation bills. Congress has not added one acre of parkland or wilderness since 2010. With Congress paralyzed, the Obama administration gets calls to use the President’s authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act and designate national monuments. It’s what Obama did earlier this year when even the non-controversial San Juans bill bogged down in the House. “I suspect the opportunities will present themselves,” Jewell said. “As often happens, they may or may not find success in Congress, and people approach the President at that point.” In Idaho, advocates in Congress have spent years seeking more protection for the White Cloud Mountains — one of the great beauty spots of the American West — only to be thwarted. Ex-Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus, a former Idaho government, wants Obama to designate a monument. The rock faces of Castle Peak are also tricky political ground. A pair of Republicans, Sen. Jim Risch and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson have worked the issue, to no avail. Simpson is facing a Tea Party challenger in the 2014 Republican primary...more

Mexican Gray Wolves Gain Protection in Arizona, New Mexico

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose increased recovery territory for Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico and will drop plans to capture wolves entering these two states from Mexico, under two agreements reached today between the agency and the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. The agency has agreed to finalize a rule to allow direct release of captive Mexican gray wolves into New Mexico and to allow Mexican wolves to establish territories in an expanded area of the two states.“These agreements should breathe new life into the struggling Mexican wolf recovery program and expand the wolf’s habitat here,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Mexican gray wolf is an icon of the Southwest and I’m thrilled it will have better protection.” One settlement was reached in a lawsuit challenging a permit the Service granted itself in November 2011 authorizing the trapping and indefinite incarceration of any wolves entering Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico. The Mexican government has been releasing endangered Mexican gray wolves a several miles south of the border, and these wolves could establish territories in the United States at any time. Under the agreement reached today, the Fish and Wildlife Service rescinded the permit and agreed that it lacks the authority to issue a permit to capture fully protected endangered gray wolves entering the United States from Mexico.The second agreement concerns a revision to a 1998 rule for managing about 75 wolves that have been reintroduced into a small area in central Arizona and New Mexico called the “Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.” After years of delay, the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to change the rule to allow direct release of wolves into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, where there is extensive habitat, and to expand the area where wolves are allowed to establish territories to include all of Arizona and New Mexico between Interstate 10 and Interstate 40. Under the agreement this rule will be finalized by January 12, 2015. The current rule requires that wolves from the captive pool can only be released in Arizona, and they are captured if they establish territories outside the current recovery area. Scientists and conservationists are objecting to the fact that the rule will still require capture of wolves that cross I-40 or I-10 from the recovery area...more

West on the brink of wild horse crisis

by By Brad Plumer The Washington Post

The West is on the verge of a serious horse crisis. That’s the upshot of a new paper in Science, which argues that the wild horse population is growing so fast that the government could soon be unable to manage the herds.

Here’s the back-story: There are currently some 33,000 wild horses roaming freely on public lands in the western United States, descendants of horses brought by Spanish conquistadors. Under a 1971 law, the Bureau of Land Management is supposed to protect these horses and make sure their numbers don’t get out of hand — so that they’re not destroying the ecosystem or dying of starvation.

But that’s easier said than done, and BLM has long struggled to bring the horse population down to the mandated level of 23,622. There are, after all, only a few thousand people willing to adopt horses each year. And Congress has largely restricted the slaughter of healthy horses.

So, in recent years, BLM has been rounding up excess horses and shipping them off to long-term “retirement” facilities — mainly private ranches in Kansas and Oklahoma. The problem is that this is hugely expensive: There are now 45,000 horses in these facilities, and BLM’s horse budget has soared from $19.8 million in 2000 to $74.9 million in 2012.

Lately, Congress has started reining in spending here. BLM has announced that it will remove fewer horses from public lands. At the same time, the wild horses keep breeding, with unmanaged herds able to triple in size in just six to eight years.

Put it all together, and it’s a looming disaster.

The Science paper, written by Robert A. Garrott of the University of Montana and Madan K. Oli of the University of Florida, calculates that if current trends continue, BLM would have to spend some $1.1 billion over the next 17 years just to keep storing horses in these long-term facilities — a level far beyond anything Congress seems willing to contemplate.

Wild Horses, We'll Eat Them Someday

...When traces of horse meat were found in supermarket products in the U.K. in January, many consumers were appalled, but nobody got sick. And, let's face it, given the "pink slime" that’s passed off as hamburger these days, shouldn't we be looking for low-fat, sourceable, low-cost protein anywhere that we can find it? As I've explained before, while horse is primarily eaten in Asia today, it has a long culinary history in the West, from sauerbraten to pastissada de caval. And while it remains on menus in Europe, at least as a specialty item, Americans are reflexively opposed to the whole idea, primarily on how-dare-you-eat-something-with-a-name grounds. (Sometimes violently opposed -- a Philadelphia restaurant that announced in February it was planning to serve a Sicilian horse dish claims it received a series of bomb threats.)

Large-scale butchering of U.S. horses, for export or for animal food at circuses and zoos, ended a half-dozen years ago after Congress de-funded slaughterhouse inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nearly 100,000 horses were killed in 2005 -- mostly aged companion and farm animals whose working days were behind them. Since then, horses destined for processing have endured lengthy train trips to abattoirs in Mexico and Canada where, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "U.S. humane slaughtering protections do not apply.”

Congress ended the ban on inspection financing in 2011, but the Department of Agriculture has dragged its feet, and suits and countersuits from slaughterhouse owners and animal-rights groups have left the whole issue in a legal morass. On Aug. 2, a federal judge in New Mexico granted the Humane Society a restraining order against renewed inspections that would have started this month.

Opponents say that butchering horses is worse for the environment than killing cows, with more offal and blood runoff. That may be true, but it seems manageable through engineering. Another common argument against human consumption is that companion and farm horses can be as doped up as Major League outfielders: "There are few regulations on the drugs given to horses," says Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, "and we cannot risk introducing dangerously toxic meat into our food supply."

That would seem the perfect argument for shifting the industry toward the wild horse population, which isn't likely getting juiced up while foraging on public lands. Lifting the bans on slaughtering wild mustangs and introducing them into a well-supervised and humane slaughter program seems the logical way to stop the population explosion and ease the BLM's cash crunch. Would you rather have these creatures overwhelming their ecosystem and dying of starvation, or served as tartare with a quail egg at your corner brasserie?

Tobin Harshaw writes editorials for Bloomberg View.

Federal Agencies Fail to Get Data on Needed Firefighting Aircraft, Audit Finds

The US Forest Service and the Department of Interior have repeatedly failed to collect information identifying the number and type of firefighting aircraft they need, and have not documented the performance of the fleets they currently have in use, according to a new federal audit. “Since 1995, the Forest Service and Interior have cumulatively produced nine major studies and strategy documents related to their firefighting aviation needs, but the agencies’ efforts to identify the number and type of firefighting aircraft needed have been hampered by limited information and collaboration,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a highly critical audit report. “In particular,” GAO said, “these efforts did not include information on the performance and effectiveness of firefighting aircraft and involved limited collaboration between agencies and with stakeholders in the fire aviation community.” While there have been numerous calls for the US Forest Service and Interior to collect aircraft performance information, neither agency did so until 2012, when the Forest Service began a data collection effort. “However, the Forest Service has collected limited data on large air tankers and no other aircraft, and Interior has not initiated a data collection effort,” GAO said. “In addition, although firefighting aircraft are often shared by federal agencies and can be deployed to support firefighting operations on federal and nonfederal lands, the agencies have not consistently collaborated with one another and other stakeholders to identify the firefighting aircraft they need.”...more

Court Rules Against Montana Law Bucking Federal Gun Rules

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled against state laws designed to buck federal gun rules — but advocates welcomed the court's decision for leaving open the possibility of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday agreed with a lower court's decision against the 2009 Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which also has been adopted in other pro-gun states. The laws attempt to declare that federal firearms regulations don't apply to guns made and kept in that state. The Justice Department successfully argued that the courts have already decided Congress can use its power to regulate interstate commerce to set standards on such items as guns. Some gun-control advocates sided with the federal argument, saying that "firearm freedom acts" would allow felons to obtain guns without background checks and make it harder to trace guns used in crimes. The Montana Shooting Sports Association said it had expected the appeals court would rule against the law. The group's president, Gary Marbut, argued in the case that he wanted to manufacture a small, bolt-action youth-model rifle called the "Montana Buckaroo" for sale in Montana. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms preemptively told Marbut such a gun would be illegal under Montana law. "This was about as good of a ruling as we could have expected from the 9th Circuit. We must get to the U.S. Supreme Court to accomplish our goal of overturning 70 years of flawed Supreme Court rulings on the interstate commerce clause," Marbut said in a release. "Only the Supreme Court can overturn Supreme Court precedent." The state of Montana has intervened in support of its law. The case also attracted the support of Utah, Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming...more

Colorado county's secession plan would split Erie in half

For Erie, the burgeoning secession movement in northeast Colorado is doubly troublesome as half the town lies in Boulder County while the other half is in Weld County, which last week referred to the November ballot a measure that will ask voters whether they want to break away from Colorado and form a new state, dubbed North Colorado. The Weld County commissioners join their counterparts in seven other counties in rural northeastern Colorado -- including Logan, Phillips, Kit Carson, Washington, Yuma, Cheyenne and Sedgwick -- in placing on the ballot a 51st state initiative. Proponents of the campaign say they are pursuing secession because of rural residents' extreme dissatisfaction with laws the legislature passed this year, including oil and gas bills, gun-control bills and a bill that doubled the amount of energy rural electric cooperatives had to obtain from "green" sources. Erie, with 20,000 residents, is largely suburban with single-family homes marching off toward the horizon in all directions. Trustee Paul Ogg, who lives on the Weld County side of town, said Erie probably has more in common with Boulder County and the Denver metro area than small rural towns in the northeast corner of the state. But he said there are plenty of residents in town, especially on the Weld County side, who sympathize with their eastern brethren. Ogg said he heard plenty of consternation from constituents after gun accessories manufacturer Magpul Industries Corp. announced earlier this year that it would abandon its Erie headquarters and relocate to another state in the wake of a series of gun-control laws passing in the state. "There are people in Weld County who are far more conservative than I thought when I first got elected," Ogg said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1086

This week will be devoted to the Bakersfield Sound referred to by Steve Wilmeth in his most recent column.  So what is the Bakersfield Sound?  Robert Price described it as "an amalgam of Western Swing, stripped-down rockabilly, hillbilly and Norteno."  He also says, "in the late 1940s, Bakersfield became a center of West Coast music, created by the economic refugees of the Dust Bowl and the postwar migrations of shipyard and aircraft-factory workers."  Some called it Nashville West.  Wikipedia says:
The Bakersfield sound was developed at honky-tonk bars[3] such as The Blackboard, and on local television stations in Bakersfield and throughout California in the 1950s and 1960s. The town, known mainly for agriculture and oil production, was the destination for many Dust Bowl migrants and others from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and other parts of the South. The mass migration of "Okies" to California also meant that their music would follow and thrive, finding an audience in California's Central Valley. One of the first groups to make it big on the west coast was the Maddox Brothers and Rose, who were the first to wear outlandish costumes and make a "show" out of their performances. Bakersfield country was a reaction against the slickly-produced, string orchestra-laden Nashville Sound, which was becoming popular in the late 1950s. Artists like Wynn Stewart used electric instruments and added a backbeat, as well as other stylistic elements borrowed from rock and roll. Important influences were Depression-era country music superstar Jimmie Rodgers and 1940s Hollywood swing musician Bob Wills.[1] In 1954 MGM recording artist Bud Hobbs recorded "Louisiana Swing" with Buck Owens on lead guitar, Bill Woods on piano, and the dual fiddles of Oscar Whittington and Jelly Sanders. "Louisiana Swing" was the first song recorded in the style known today as the legendary "Bakersfield Sound". In the early 1960s, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, among others, brought the Bakersfield sound to mainstream audiences, and it soon became one of the most popular kinds of country music, also influencing later country stars such as Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart, Brad Paisley, The Mavericks, and The Derailers.

Today's tune is Wishful Thinking by Wynn Stewart, who also had such hits as Playboy, Big Big Love, Another Day Another Dollar, Shaw Marie and It's Such A Pretty World Today.

 Wishful Thinking was recorded in Hollywood on 9/15/1959 and released as Challenge 59061.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Desert tortoise faces threat from its own refuge

For decades, the vulnerable desert tortoise has led a sheltered existence. Developers have taken pains to keep the animal safe. It's been protected from meddlesome hikers by the threat of prison time. And wildlife officials have set the species up on a sprawling conservation reserve outside Las Vegas. But the pampered desert dweller now faces a threat from the very people who have nurtured it. Federal funds are running out at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center and officials plan to close the site and euthanize hundreds of the tortoises they've been caring for since the animals were added to the endangered species list in 1990. "It's the lesser of two evils, but it's still evil," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service desert tortoise recovery coordinator Roy Averill-Murray during a visit to the soon-to-be-shuttered reserve at the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley last week. Biologists went about their work examining tortoises for signs of disease as Averill-Murray walked among the reptile pens. But the scrubby 220-acre refuge area will stop taking new animals in the coming months. Most that arrive in the fall will simply be put down, late-emerging victims of budget problems that came from the same housing bubble that put a neighborhood of McMansions at the edge of the once-remote site. The Bureau of Land Management has paid for the holding and research facility with fees imposed on developers who disturb tortoise habitat on public land. As the housing boom swept through southern Nevada in the 2000s, the tortoise budget swelled. But when the recession hit, the housing market contracted, and the bureau and its local government partners began struggling to meet the center's $1 million annual budget. Housing never fully recovered, and the federal mitigation fee that developers pay has brought in just $290,000 during the past 11 months. Local partners, which collect their own tortoise fees, have pulled out of the project...more

This is a small example of the way things ought to be, i.e., if the private sector declines so should the federal sector. 

On the other hand, this is all b.s., as the FWS  budget is over $1.4 billion with 9,290 full-time employees.  So don't tell me they don't have the resources to protect the tortoise.

Why is $200 Million Worth of Pipe Sitting in a North Dakota Field?

National Journal’s Amy Harder saw America’s energy boom firsthand on a trip to North Dakota. She followed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell down busy roads filled with trucks packed with equipment and supplies for oil rigs that are producing oil from the Bakken shale. From busy restaurants to booked hotels, there was shale oil-fueled economic growth everywhere. Well, almost anywhere. Her trip took her to Gascoyne in the southwest corner of the state where she saw 218 miles of pipe sitting quietly among wildflowers in an 83-acre field. “There's millions worth of pipe sitting on the ground when it should be in the ground," Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) told Harder. $200 million of pipe to be exact. That pipe should be part of the Keystone XL pipeline moving Canadian heavy crude from oil sands and Bakken crude from hydraulic fracturing to refineries on the Gulf Coast. But President Obama refuses to approve Keystone XL even though it’ll create thousands of jobs, help state and local economies, and improve energy security while having minimal environmental impact...more 

Idaho gold miners frustrated by new EPA permit

Prospectors hoping to pluck gold from the bottom of Idaho’s rivers face many obstacles. First there’s water and earth to move. Then there’s the suction dredge they must haul to the river and pull against the current. Not to mention finding an unclaimed stream that hasn’t had all its gold nabbed. Be sure, too, you’ve got your state permit. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the hot dogs, tents and your permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ensuring you’re not violating the Clean Water Act or the Endangered Species Act. That last one is a head-scratcher to Brad Dey, president of the Snake River Chapter of the Gold Prospectors Association of America. The state permit has worked well for decades, he said. It was a hoop to jump through, but it wasn’t a burden. “Unfortunately, there’s no more hoop; they’ve just completely shut it off,” he said of the new EPA permit required since May. The permit is necessary to protect water quality, preserve the habitat of Idaho’s endangered species and comply with the Clean Water Act, say EPA officials and conservationists. Angry miners aren’t correctly thinking about the permit that the Idaho Conservation League pushed the EPA to implement here, said Justin Hayes, the league’s program director. It is a shield that gives them a legal and environmental certainty for their exploration, Hayes said. Many miners, though, say the permit – a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit – is a federal overreach, creates a lengthy and complicated process and closes or restricts many popular gold streams. It is keeping many miners from doing what they love, Dey said...more