Thursday, July 31, 2014

Study blames lost calves on panthers

Since Florida's frontier days when cattlemen drove their herds through the state's vast fields and forests, ranchers and native panthers have been natural enemies. The ranchers seek to nurture and protect their calves, while the panthers see them as prey. Human development won the battle, driving the large, tawny cats to the brink of extinction before successful efforts to restore them began decades ago. But with Florida's panther population recovering, some ranchers complain the protected 6-to-7-foot long predators are once again killing their calves. Now, university research supports that claim, at least in one part of southwest Florida. A University of Florida researcher hired by federal wildlife officials has found that panthers are killing calves in an area where the predatory felines are thriving. Her study, the first to quantify the kills and losses, was given to The Associated Press exclusively. The research marks the first step toward the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considering a program that would pay ranchers for preserving acres of panther habitat, instead of undertaking the impossible task of verifying every kill. "Ranchers will tell you that they suspected panthers were killing their calves, although no one knows how many they're losing," said Caitlin Jacobs, the university researcher who staked out a ranch for the better part of two years. "It's hard to find the calves — when panthers kill they drag the prey into the forest and cover it with brush to hide them from scavengers."

Seeking justice for Corazón: jaguar killings test the conservation movement in Mexico

Eight years ago, a female jaguar cub was caught on film by a motion-triggered camera trap set in the foothills of canyons, oak forest, and scrubland that make-up the Northern Jaguar Reserve, just 125 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border. "This first-ever glimpse of a jaguar cub revealed the importance of this area's protective habitat and would catalyze the Northern Jaguar Reserve's expansion to the 50,000 acres that are safeguarded today," noted the Northern Jaguar Project (NJP) in Tucson, Arizona in a press release. Three years later, in 2009, the jaguar reappeared on film as an adult. They called her "Corazón" for the distinctive heart-shaped spot on her left shoulder. During the next five years, she was photographed 30 times on the reserve and became an icon for those working to expand conservation efforts in the area. In 2012, Dr. Rodrigo Medellín and PhD student Ivonne Cassaigne, researchers with the Instituto de Ecología at UNAM (Mexico's national university), began working to safeguard and monitor jaguars as they moved across unprotected areas adjacent to the Northern Jaguar Reserve, in partnership with a group called La Asociación para la Conservación del Jaguar en la Sierra Alta de Sonora. They were thrilled when they captured Corazón (or "Jaguar Female 01") and fitted her with a satellite GPS collar. But on February 25, 2014, the collar transmitted a mortality signal, and an email was sent to the UNAM researchers noting that no movement had been detected for more than five hours. Corazón was lost. Using Corazón's last known GPS location, a field technician traced the signal to her collar and found Corazón's carcass burned to conceal the crime of her illegal killing. Her $4,000 satellite collar—the device responsible for documenting the crime of Corazón's murder—was also destroyed, according to a UNAM bulletin. When tracking the last movements of Corazón back to her den, the footprints of a cub were found. Sadly, researchers believe this cub would have been unable to survive without its mother. Medellín told that while there is only one jaguar currently known in the U.S. (in Arizona), Mexico's jaguar population remains viable at around 4,000 individuals, a number his team verified in a 2012 published study. "We're still in good shape," Medellín told "We have the right conditions to secure the future of the jaguar as a species in the country. But unfortunately the wheels are still turning very slowly."...more

The saga of Blas Payne, a Big Bend cowboy legend

...Payne, who died in 1990 at age 88, was a cowboy - "the best cowboy I ever saw,” said the late Joe Graham, a ranch-life anthropologist at Texas A&M-Kingsville and a Big Bend native. State Comptroller Susan Combs knew him from when she was a little girl growing up on her family’s Brewster County ranch. Payne worked for the Combs family for 70 years. “He was super-good with horses, super-good with cattle. He prided himself on the weight his calves got,” Combs told me not long ago. She and her husband named their middle son, Blaise Nicholas Duran, after the old wrangler. The Paynes, several of whom still live in the Big Bend, are Black Seminoles. Their 18th-century ancestors were African-American slaves who fled plantations in South Carolina and found refuge among the Seminoles, who had lived for centuries pretty much unprovoked in the Everglades of Spanish Florida. When the United States acquired Florida and forced the Seminoles to resettle in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), the Black Seminoles, by then an integral part of the tribe, moved with them. In the 1840s, a group of them, fearful of being kidnapped by slave traders, made their way across Texas and into northern Mexico. The Mexican government gave them a land grant near Musquiz, a village a few miles southwest of Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras, in exchange for protecting settlers against Apache and Comanche raids. When the Civil War ended, the U.S. Army made a similar offer, and a number of Black Seminoles crossed the Rio Grande. Although the army reneged on the land offer, two generations of Black Seminoles served with distinction as scouts for the buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry. They knew the land, they knew horses and they were expert trackers. Although the Black Seminoles never received the land they’d been promised, the army allowed them to settle with their families on Fort Clark near Brackettville - until, that is, their unit was dissolved in 1914. Expelled from the fort, their homes razed, they scattered across West Texas, where a number of them caught on as cowboys. (Anybody who’s seen movie director John Sayles’ “Lone Star” has a passing acquaintance with the Black Seminoles in Texas.) Among those who settled in the Big Bend was Blas Payne’s father, John Payne, who arrived in 1914 after being involved in the Mexican Revolution for a couple of years. He worked for several Brewster County ranches before becoming foreman of the Combs Ranch, a job he held until he died in 1941. Blas was born in 1901 and, like his father, was a cowboy his whole life. Ike Roberts, a retired third-generation foreman on the legendary Catto-Gage Ranch, told me about Blas’ most famous exploit, when he was 15 years old. The teenager was building dirt tanks for the Combs Cattle Co. in the spring of 1916 when he got word that Mexican revolutionaries had crossed the river and attacked the villages of Boquillas and Glenn Springs. In Glenn Springs the raiders burned several buildings and fought a three-hour battle with a small force of American soldiers stationed in the area. A second band robbed a general store, made off with the company payroll at a Boquillas silver mine and took two men hostage. Four Americans were killed in the skirmish. As Roberts tells the story, young Payne was worried that the Mexicans were headed toward Marathon, some 25 miles away. On his own, he managed to round up “a remuda” of 200 horses near the river, evade the Mexican rebels and ride all night with the horses through rough country to warn the settlers. “Those Seminoles were all good horsemen,” Roberts said...more

Rainfall totals for July inching toward record

Bursts of rain fell across the state Tuesday, leaving some major precipitation totals, as well as the potential for more storms today and into this week. With Tuesday’s rainfall totals, it’s become one of the wettest Julys on record, according to meteorologist Andrew Church of the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office. “Depending on how much we get here, we could be moving up the ladder toward the wettest July,” Church said. Many parts of the state were hit with significant rainfall Monday night and into the morning, including Newkirk east of Santa Rosa, which received 7.05 inches. Santa Rosa got 3 inches, according to the weather service. The Roswell airport saw 2.23 inches fall. “There was a lot of good rainfall,” said meteorological technician Troy Marshall. The rain comes as New Mexico suffers through its fourth year of drought. Church said after recent rainfall, most parts of the state that were at extreme drought levels will be lowered to “severe” drought levels. “It’s been making a lot of improvements,” Church said...more

Commission will consider joining prairie chicken suit at next meeting

The Curry County Commission will consider an authorization for the county to join a lawsuit that’s been filed in Oklahoma to counter the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened. The request to participate as a plaintiff in the complaint for violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act was tabled during the county commission meeting on July 25. Commissioner Wendell Bostwick abstained on the vote to table, with commissioners Frank Blackburn and Robert Sandoval voting in favor. The decision was tabled because commissioners Ben McDaniel and Tim Ashley were absent. The request will be up for consideration again during the Aug. 5 meeting. A Melrose farmer and rancher, Bostwick has been the most outspoken county commissioner against the April 10 listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. Bostwick said it’s important to fight the lesser prairie chicken listing, which he said is bound to negatively impact the area. “It’s definitely going to affect the operation of much of our rural community,” he said. Bostwick cited Farmers Electric as an example of a business that has been affected. Due to the lesser prairie chicken listing, the cost of permitting and the cost of maintaining service lines has increased, Bostwick said. This additional cost, he noted, is passed on to the customer. Bostwick also spoke of the negative impact the Endangered Species Act has had on other communities. He cited Catron County in southwest New Mexico, which, he said, once boasted a population of 13,500 and had what he described as a “robust timber industry.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1256

Our tune today is one of those blue songs so enjoyed by the Crayola Cowboy (  Jimmie Revard & His Oklahoma Playboys - Naughty, Naughty.  The number was recorded in San Antonio on Oct. 26, 1936. 

Artist Biography

b. 26 November 1909, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, USA, d. 12 April 1991, Texas, USA. Playing fiddle from an early age, Revard moved to neighbouring Texas where, in the early 30s, he led a semi-pro band in San Antonio. It was here that he heard and hired teenage brothers Emil (steel guitar) and Adolph Hofner (vocals/guitar). It was the steel guitar that appealed to Revard but because of Emil’s youth he took along Adolph, thus unwittingly kick-starting a long and illustrious career for the singer. Revard named his new band the Oklahoma Playboys, ostensibly to differentiate between himself and Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys, but actually capitalizing upon the latter’s growing fame.

With the Oklahoma Playboys, Revard recorded extensively for Bluebird Records in the mid-30s although the Hofner brothers were soon making their own way independently. Included in Revard’s repertoire were ‘Dirty Dog’, ‘Bound To Look Like A Monkey’, ‘Daddy's Got The Deep Elm Blues’, ‘We Played A Game’, ‘Blues In The Bottle’, ‘Big Daddy Blues’, ‘Oh! Swing It’, ‘It’s A Long Way To Tipperary’, ‘Someone Else You Care For’, ‘At The End Of The Line’, ‘Old Waterfall’, ‘Lose Your Blues And Laugh At Life’ and ‘Riding Down The Canyon’.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fire-related cattle deaths could approach 300 head

WENATCHEE, Wash . — Crews Friday began burying many of the approximately 300 head of cattle that died in the Carlton Complex Fire. Total cattle deaths already number more than local officials say they’ve ever seen. “The fire was moving so fast, the cattle didn’t have time to get out of the way,” Doug Hale, environmental health specialist for Okanogan County Public Health. “They became confused and couldn’t find their way to safety.” Officials will inspect and try to identify the animal by brand or ear tag and determine who it belongs to. In the Chiliwist area, a vast region of pine forest and open range north of Brewster, 215 cattle were found. Many of those were along stretches of North Star Road, beyond where the pavement ends, Hale said. Most belonged to rancher Cass Gebbers, who allowed authorities to dig trenches on his property to bury the cattle, Hale said. Other carcasses found on rangeland far from homes and water sources were left where they fell and allowed to decompose, he said. Exact numbers of dead cattle haven’t been tallied, but Hale said he’d heard reports of 40 more in a remote canyon near Pateros that were left in place and 50 in a canyon near Twisp that were buried by U.S. Forest Service officials...more

Oil Overtakes Ag As North Dakota's Economic Breadwinner And Tensions Mount

The Western Choice Cooperative in Killdeer, North Dakota

Farming and ranching have always been the biggest industries in North Dakota. But now, oil has knocked agriculture from the top spot. Mining – which includes oil – is now worth $8.5 billion dollars in the state. Agriculture is closer to 7 billion. It’s a milestone for a state that had hardly any oil production 10 years ago, and the change has created some tension. In Killdeer, North Dakota that tension is visible, especially at the local Western Choice Co-op. It was founded by local ranchers and farmers in 1935, but it's not just a farmers' store anymore. Now, there’s lots of merchandise targeting oil industry workers like giant pipe wrenches and $70 fire resistant sweatshirts that manager Jesse Sipe said are "specifically designed for explosions on the oil rig. There’s no farmer that’s ever going to need that." In the past few years, the new customers, with all their oil money, have been getting priority over the old ones at the co-op. That bothered ranchers like Taylor Bang, one of the co-op’s members. "We see our groceries higher, we see our restaurant prices higher," he said, but there was nothing anyone could do. The co-op is different. "We felt like we had a little control over that because the customer is the owner." This spring, the co-op booted out its president and hired new store managers that are friendlier to agriculture. The tension isn’t unique to Killdeer, it’s a reality around North Dakota. Ryan Taylor, a rancher from the central part of the state points to the shiny object theory. "Where something shiny and new comes along and there’s a bit of a honeymoon period there," he said. Taylor is running for state agriculture commissioner in a race that’s as much about oil as it is about ag. That’s because the agriculture commissioner is one of three people in the state who regulates the oil industry. He's proposed something radical for North Dakota – a land owner's bill of rights that would protect farmers from the worst impacts of the oil industry. "We’re going to harvest oil for 30 or 40 years," he said. "But it will end at some time. So we need to make sure in the meantime that agriculture is healthy and it’s not forsaken."...more

Stay tuned Sunday for a tale about me and a pard from Killdeer, North Dakota.

Cattle Mutilation Reported In Missouri

A Wright County, MO, radio station employee filed a report for a local listener who experienced a recent cattle mutilation, according to July 28, 2014, testimony in Case 58460 from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database. “He checks his cattle every day and the other day one of his calves were missing from the herd,” the reporting witness stated. “He couldn’t find it that day, but the next day he noticed a buzzard and went to that area and found the calf in a creek bed.” The witness described the animal’s condition. “All the internal organs were gone. It was drained of all blood and there was nothing left but hide and bones. He said there was a smell like a butcher shop has.” Hearing of other animal mutilations in the area, the rancher has relocated his herd. “He moved all his herd to another area and has sold all the calves he could as he heard that his neighbor has lost 15 calves the same way this calf has died.” Wright County is located in the southern portion of Missouri, population 18,815. The incident occurred on July 15, 2014...more

Jolley: Are the chickens coming home to roost?

Circumstances are certainly opening the door...and it is a very wide barn door. To continue with the metaphor - straining it just a bit - half a century ago, beef ruled the roost. Other meats were also rans. Turkey was just a holiday treat, the visual centerpiece of Norman Rockwell's art and the dominant and traditional food of the long Thanksgiving weekend. The same could be said for pork; ham was the culinary focus of the Easter table, leaving the industry to enjoy the rest of the year on the back of breakfast meats like bacon and sausage. We ate some chicken, too, but not much. Campaigning for president in 1928, Herbert Hoover proclaimed “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” The ravages of the great depression and the rationing of WWII delayed that promise until the mid-sixties but the poultry industry and General Motors finally came through for Mr. Hoover. Today, many of us have two cars in every garage and chicken has moved from a relatively expensive Sunday dinner staple to the most consumed protein source in America. In the 1980's, beef began to slowly give way to the new meat case items offered by the shrewder and hungrier Tysons and Perdues who began branding their products and cutting that whole bird into pieces and parts. Realizing the time constraints of modern life well before the beef boys did, they were first at further preparation, too. A lower price point helped but, to be blunt, the beef industry was out-marketed. The cattle industry has been stunned by a long, hard drought that struck the heart of the herd. Ranchers have to go back to the early 1950's for a comparable head count. Last year, some prognosticators were thinking we would start increasing the herd size soon, at least shortly after the rains returned to the plains again. The rains haven't returned and an aging rancher population is looking at the several years needed to rebuild with fear and trepidation...more

Yes, they changed the marketing, and they also changed the production, taking the small and medium sized independent producer out of it.  If the feds keep on with their health, safety and environmental regs on the beef industry, the same will happen to us.

It's a rough stock life

For most bronc riders, eight seconds is more than enough time with a bucking horse. They’re mean. They’re angry. Generations of breeding and years of practice make these rough stock animals a terror for anyone in their way. One man who doesn’t shy away is Kaycee rancher John Forbes. Forbes has provided rough stock to rodeos across the state and surrounding region for more than a decade. The work is, well, rough. Transportation is stressful, maintenance, upkeep and training is unending and the work is never over. This year, Forbes has made stops in Sheridan, Gillette, Cheyenne and even Rock Springs for the National High School Rodeo Finals. Every Friday he provides the horses for the Kaycee Friday Night Rodeo. However, his biggest event of the year is the Johnson County Fair and Rodeo. Forbes has provided the fair with rough stock for about a decade. This year, Forbes will provide all 25 bucking horses. Forbes will load each of the horses into a large truck and will move them Tuesday of fair week. “It’s not easy getting that many (horses) in one place at a time,” Forbes said. “They’ll stay in the barns at the fair, and they’ll accommodate for them. It’s easier to move some than others, but some way or another we’ll get them all there.” Forbes purchased his first two broncs in the mid 1990s when his sons first expressed interest in riding. What started as two practice horses quickly turned into a lucrative hobby. Popularity spread, and Forbes purchased additional horses. “Pretty soon every kid in town wanted to ride,” Forbes said. “We have kids who come and practice, and my boys and others like to work on riding.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1255

Ranch Radio brings you a little early bluegrass, with Jim & Jesse McReynolds performing Are You Missing Me.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on June 13, 1952.  Jim does vocals and guitar while Jesse does vocals and plays his distinctive mandolin style.  Also in the studio that day were Ray Sechler - guitar, Hoke Jenkins - banjo, Bob Moore - bass, and on fiddle is none other than Sonny James.

Rep. Pearce: Transfer of undocumented immigrants halted because of chicken pox

U.S. Rep Steve Pearce says he has received confirmation from the Department of Homeland Security that arrivals and departures of undocumented immigrants at the Artesia's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center have been stopped indefinitely due to treatment and vaccination for Varicella, commonly known as chicken pox. In a news release, Pearce said he is "incresingly concerned for the health and safety of the immigrants at FLETC," along with the local community. Jill McLaughlin, spokeswoman for Pearce, said two cases were reported involving a woman and child. She also said FLETC officials would now be using Eastern New Mexico Regional Medical Center in Roswell instead of Artesia General Hospital, which is more than 30 minutes away from the FLETC facility. Artesia Mayor Phillip Burch said FLETC officials reported that there was one confirmed case of chicken pot, but Burch said nothing was reported on any operation changes or a switch from Artesia's hospital to the Roswell hospital. "There was nothing mentioned of that," Burch said. Burch added that one child was recently taken to Artesia General Hospital for respirtory difficulties. Also, two calls were sent to local emergency medical services for health-related issues last week, according to Burch.  The Current-Argus was unable to reach DHS or FLETC officials for comment because of deadline but more information will be reported as it develops.  Source

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A brief history of climate panic and crisis… both warming and cooling

From But Now You Know. There is most certainly a pattern to climate change…but it’s not what you may think:

For at least
114120 years, climate “scientists” have been claiming that the climate was going to kill us…but they have kept switching whether it was a coming ice age, or global warming.
(A timeline of claims follows, updated to 2014)

  • 1895 - Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again New York Times, February 1895
  • 1902 - “Disappearing Glaciers…deteriorating slowly, with a persistency that means their final annihilation…scientific fact…surely disappearing.” – Los Angeles Times
  • 1912 - Prof. Schmidt Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice AgeNew York Times, October 1912
  • 1923 - “Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada” – Professor Gregory of Yale University, American representative to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress, – Chicago Tribune
  • 1923 - “The discoveries of changes in the sun’s heat and the southward advance of glaciers in recent years have given rise to conjectures of the possible advent of a new ice age” – Washington Post
  • 1924 - MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age New York Times, Sept 18, 1924
  • 1929 - “Most geologists think the world is growing warmer, and that it will continue to get warmer” – Los Angeles Times, in Is another ice age coming?
  • 1932 - “If these things be true, it is evident, therefore that we must be just teetering on an ice age” – The Atlantic magazine, This Cold, Cold World
  • 1933 - America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-Year Rise New York Times, March 27th, 1933
  • 1933 – “…wide-spread and persistent tendency toward warmer weather…Is our climate changing?” – Federal Weather Bureau “Monthly Weather Review.”
  • 1938 - Global warming, caused by man heating the planet with carbon dioxide, “is likely to prove beneficial to mankind in several ways, besides the provision of heat and power.”– Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

Greenpeace calls for halt to federal coal leasing

A report released Monday by Greenpeace said that the environmental harm from the federal government’s coal leasing program dwarfs the fees that mining companies pay, and called for a moratorium on the leases. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leases mining rights on federal property to private companies. The program has generated 2.2 billion tons of coal during the Obama administration alone. Each ton of coal from the program costs $22 to $237 in environmental damage, Greenpeace said, a total based upon the federal government’s estimates of the social cost of carbon. But during the Obama administration, BLM has effectively sold the coal for $1.03 a ton. “The federal coal leasing program is undermining efforts to address climate change by selling our coal at subsidized rates,” Kelly Mitchell, director of Greenpeace’s energy program, said in a statement. “Instead of giving away our coal for one dollar a ton, Interior Secretary [Sally] Jewell should establish a moratorium on new coal leases and pursue comprehensive reform of the federal coal leasing program.” Based on the social cost of carbon estimates, Greenpeace said leased coal during the Obama administration will cost society between $52 billion and $530 billion, but BLM charged only $2.3 billion...more

Interior Department and AFL-CIO’s Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to Sign Agreement to Restore Parks and Other Public Lands

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), an organization representing affiliates and members of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), will sign a Memorandum of Understanding later today stating their collective commitment to rebuild, renew and restore our country’s national parks, national wildlife refuges and other public lands alongside youth and veteran conservation corps. The agreement, which will be signed at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Annual Conservation Gala in the nation’s capital, will pair the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance all-volunteer “Work Boots on the Ground” program with shovel-ready projects on public lands...more

House Approves Legislation to Improve and Update the Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 29, 2014 - Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4315, the Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act with a bipartisan vote of 233-190. This common sense legislation focuses on sensible and specific updates to the Endangered Species Act in the areas of data transparency and species recovery.
“It’s been over 40 years since the Endangered Species Act was enacted and over 25 years since the law was renewed by Congress; it’s time this law was brought into the 21st Century. This common sense legislation to update and improve the Endangered Species Act aims to increase transparency, to enlist greater consultation by states, localities, and Indian tribes in species listings, and to reduce taxpayer-financed attorneys fees to help invest more funding in actual species recovery,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). “The House’s bipartisan approval of this legislation to make modest, sensible updates to the ESA is an important step forward to making this law more effective for both species and people while respecting the original intent of this law which is to conserve species.”
Since its enactment in 1973, over 1500 species have been listed as a result of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and only 2 percent have been recovered. The last time the ESA was renewed by Congress was in 1988 – long before the internet and cell phones were as widespread and available for commercial use as they are today. With new technological capabilities readily available and strong support for conserving endangered species, there are key areas where improvements could be made to make the law more effective for both species and people in the 21st century.
Specifically, the Endangered Species Transparency & Reasonableness Act would:
  • Require data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions to be made publicly available and accessible through the internet, while respecting state data privacy laws and private property. 
  • Require the federal government to disclose to affected states data used prior to an ESA listing decision and it would require the “best available scientific and commercial data” used by the federal government to incorporate data provided by states, tribes, and local county governments. 
  • Require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to track, report to Congress, and make available online the federal taxpayer funds used to respond to ESA lawsuits, the number of employees dedicated to ESA litigation, and attorneys’ fees awarded in the course of ESA litigation and settlement agreements.
  • Prioritize species protection and protect taxpayer dollars by placing reasonable caps on attorneys fees to make the ESA consistent with existing federal law. For example, the federal government limits the prevailing attorneys fees to $125 per hour in most circumstances, including federal suits involving veterans, Social Security, and disability. But under the ESA, attorneys are being awarded huge sums, in many cases, at a rate much as $600 per hour.
For more information on H.R. 4315, click here.
###Press Release

5 food writers subpoenaed in 'pink slime' lawsuit

Several food writers, including a New York Times reporter, have been subpoenaed by a meat producer as part of its $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC in regards to the network's coverage of a beef product dubbed "pink slime" by critics. The subpoenas were issued to five writers - three reporters for the online Food Safety News, Times reporter Michael Moss and noted food writer Michele Simon - asking each to supply copies of any communications they had with ABC in 2012. Beef Products Inc. sued the network in 2012 seeking $1.2 billion in damages for the coverage of the meat product the industry calls "lean, finely textured beef," which critics dubbed "pink slime." BPI said ABC's coverage misled consumers into believing the product was unsafe and led to the closure of three plants and roughly 700 layoffs...more

Last surviving Enola Gay crewman dies in Stone Mountain

Capt. Theodore Van Kirk, center, as he and the rest of the crew return from the mission over Hiroshima, Japan Aug. 6, 1945
The last surviving crewman of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, died overnight at his Stone Mountain home. Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, 93, was the navigator on the Aug. 6, 1945 flight that dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb. With the 2010 death of Morris Jeppson, Van Kirk became the only one of the dozen crew members left. For a number of years, he lived at a retirement community in Stone Mountain where by chance he found himself sharing the place with James Starnes, an Atlantan who had a front-row seat at history. Starnes was the navigator on the USS Missouri and the mighty battleship’s officer of the deck on Sept. 2, 1945 who greeted Japanese officials boarding to officially surrender. “We were two individuals who happened to be at historic dates,” said Starnes, who said his friend died Monday after being hospitalized for a few weeks. “The passing always hurts so much. I told someone today that this was the first time I shed a tear for someone in a long time.” Starnes learned that Van Kirk was living in Stone Mountain from a Time Magazine article. A mutual friend who also lived in the retirement community introduced them. For more than a decade, the two men put on “dog-and-pony” talks around metro Atlanta about the two events that ended World War II. The two became close friends, Starnes told The Atlanta Journal Constitution Tuesday. “I like to say Dutch ended the war, and I made it official — got them to sign on the dotted line,” Starnes told The AJC in 2010. “He was very responsible for the success of the bomb drop.”

Senate Democrats Angle for Entire Gang of Eight Bill After Boehner Caves

Senate Democrats are angling to include the entire “Gang of Eight” bill in a conference committee with whatever border crisis bill comes out of Speaker John Boehner’s House of Representatives, Politico reports.“The only way any piece of the House proposal could become law is if it was conferenced with the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, which is something we’d certainly consider,” a senior Democratic aide told Politico. Gang of Eight Republicans Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recently issued a joint statement saying they did not want this to happen, but there’s no stopping Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Boehner from entering a conference committee at which this could happen if both Reid and Boehner want to. Gang of Eight Republicans Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recently issued a joint statement saying they did not want this to happen, but there’s no stopping Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Boehner from entering a conference committee at which this could happen if both Reid and Boehner want to. But the left is ramping up using its battle plans to force Republicans into a worse position with this too. “House GOP wants to change immigration policy on border bill,” Frank Sharry, a pro-amnesty advocate, Tweeted on Tuesday. “We do too: CIR [Comprehensive Immigration Reform]. Look forward to Senate Dems demanding CIR in conference.” The Senate Democrats’ boldness comes as Speaker Boehner and House GOP leadership backed down, refusing to fight President Barack Obama’s plans to use executive orders to grant amnesty via executive order to 5 to 6 million illegal aliens in America. The final legislation that Boehner’s border crisis working group, led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), introduced on Tuesday afternoon includes no plan to fight the president on his executive amnesty plans, despite numerous efforts by senior conservative Republicans to get the speaker to do so. Instead, Boehner’s plan offers $659 million for the border crisis and makes a few minor changes in policy that don’t get close to solving what key immigration hawks say is the root cause of the problem: the perennial promise of amnesty to illegal aliens by executive order from President Obama...more

Kiss of Death? Harry Reid Plans to Add Gang of Eight to ‘Meaningless’ House Border Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) announced his plan to add the ‘Gang of Eight’ comprehensive immigration legislation to any border crisis package that House Republicans might pass, a revelation so likely to diminish conservative support for the bill that it suggests he’s trying to spike the House package. “If they pass that, maybe it’s an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform,” Reid told reporters Tuesday when asked about the House Republican border package produced by Texas Representative Kay Granger’s working group. “He can’t do that, he doesn’t have the votes,” a House leadership aide said in response, dismissing Reid’s comments as an attempt to kill the bill in the House. When a reporter asked if that threat might discourage House members from passing anything, Reid denied that he was “threatening anything.” Reid’s remarks can only elevate the fears of immigration hawks who have urged House Republicans from passing any legislation. “I don’t want to see a vehicle coming out of the House that gives Harry Reid a chance to attach the Gang of Eight language to it and then send it back to the House and say, ‘We have all of these kids that are down here pouring into the United States, and we can’t fix that unless you first pass amnesty,’” Representative Steve King (R., Iowa) told National Review Online to explain why he hadn’t introduced a bill containing his preferred legislative remedy to the crisis....more

Jeff Sessions: House Border Bill Is a ‘Surrender To a Lawless President’

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) denounced the House Republican border bill as a “surrender to a lawless president” because the legislation does not include any language to prevent President Obama from expanding his unilateral legalization of illegal immigrants.
Here’s the statement:
The Obama Administration has openly declared its plan to implement a unilateral executive amnesty for 5–6 million more illegal immigrants. This unlawful amnesty—urged on by congressional Democrats—would include work permits, taking jobs directly from millions of struggling American citizens.
Any action Congress might consider to address the current border crisis would be futile should the President go forward with these lawless actions. Congress must speak out and fight against them. It must use its spending power to stop the President’s executive amnesty.
That the House leaders’ border package includes no language on executive actions is surrender to a lawless President. And it is a submission to the subordination of congressional power.
After years of falling wages and rising joblessness, American workers are pleading for someone to hear them. How can it be that our President is brazenly advertising that he will nullify and strip away American workers’ immigration protections, and their own elected leaders will not rise to their defense? Or to the defense of our laws and our Constitutional order?
There are other grave concerns with the Granger package as well: because it does not fix our asylum rules and loopholes, the end result of the additional judges and hearings will be more illegal immigrants gaining asylum and access to U.S. welfare. It is a plan for expedited asylum, not expedited removal.
Nor will this package make our rogue President actively enforce anything, coming nowhere close to the kinds of reasonable enforcement activities needed to restore the interior application of our immigration laws.
And finally, a package that is silent on blocking amnesty creates an opportunity for Senate Democrats to add elements of their party’s open borders and mass immigration agenda.
This legislation is unworthy of support.


Immigration Hawks Prepare for Tuesday Showdown on House Border Bill

Immigration hawks are preparing for a final closed-door showdown Tuesday morning over the House Republican border crisis package produced by Texas Representative Kay Granger’s working group before the legislation is unveiled for the public. The latest critique circulating among opponents of the package is that Rebecca Tallent, a former staffer to Senator John McCain (R. Ariz.) who currently works for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), has played a significant role in drafting the Granger proposal. “[Tallent] is writing the House plan for Kay Granger,” a well-placed congressional source. “She more than almost anyone has her fingerprints on President Obama’s immigration plans and is very close with the amnesty community, with the White House, with Democratic offices.” A GOP leadership aide rejected the suggestion that the Granger group’s proposal is a liberal brainchild...more

State getting no answers on educating migrant children

The group of state lawmakers overseeing how much taxpayer money is being spent on the border is set to meet Tuesday at the state Capitol. Officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the National Guard, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Education Agency will testify before a committee overseeing the fiscal impact of Texas Border Support Operations. “I don’t like that the state of Texas is having to put any extra dollars toward this effort that is clearly the responsibility of the federal government,” said state representative and committee chair Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton. The hearing will focus on the short-term and potential long-term costs and impacts to the state. One of Bonnen’s biggest concerns is education. He wants to know what is going to happen to the thousands of immigrant children crossing the border alone and who will end up paying for it. “Are these immigrant children going to be enrolled in schools in Texas?” asked Gene Acuna, director of communications for the Texas Education Agency. The agency has not received any answers from the federal government. State lawmakers will ask TEA members to explain Tuesday how they handled the influx of students after Hurricane Katrina. “In Katrina you’re talking about minors that came over to the state with their parents,” said Acuna. The Texas Education Agency has received a handful of letters from school superintendents across the state asking what to do if immigrant children show up at schools. “What grade level do they start? How much do they know? Do they have to take the STAAR test and what will that do to a campuses accountability rating?” said Acuna. Question upon question with just one month to go before the first day of school.  KXAN

6 Mexican wolves released into Gila Wilderness

Six Mexican wolves were released Tuesday into the Gila Wilderness as part of its 15-year-effort to reintroduce the endangered predator to the Southwest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced. According to the agency, the wolves were driven from the wolf sanctuary in Sevilleta to the Gila Cliff Dwellings on Monday night, then packed into the wilderness for release. The female wolf is one who was recaptured in May after becoming separated from her mate and having six pups with no wildlife experience, officials said. Two of the pups were put with another pair of wolves that had a smaller litter and more rearing experience. At the sanctuary, the mother and her four remaining pups were reintroduced to a former mate, who officials say adopted the pups as his own. January numbers show that there were 83 Mexican wolves — 46 in New Mexico and 37 in Arizona — in the wild. Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said he was happy that wolves were being released into the wild but still had concerns that they were coming from only five breeding pairs. "There's a lot of inbreeding going on and we are seeing smaller litters of pups," he said. On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also announced a proposal aimed at the release of captive-bred wolves into new areas of New Mexico and parts of Arizona. The move, which is subject to 60 days of public comment, would expand areas where Mexican wolves can be released and disperse, allowing them to roam from the Mexican border to Interstate 40...more

NM driver tells story of sheriff’s invasive body search - video

In October of 2012, Timothy Young was pulled over for failing to use his turn signal in Lordsburg, New Mexico. When Hidalgo County deputies saw that Young’s companion had an open container, they asked to search the truck. Young consented. The search dragged on for more than two hours. Deputies eventually called in a K9 unit and claimed that the dog, Leo, alerted on the driver's seat. While deputies sought a warrant for a more extensive search, deputy Patrick Green continued to interrogate Young, at one point asking him, “Do you have it up your ass?” After the deputies obtained a search warrant, they handcuffed Young and drove him an hour away to the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City, New Mexico. Young was x-rayed and digitally probed without his consent. No contraband was found. A few weeks later, the hospital sent Young a bill for services rendered. Young sued all parties involved. So far he has received a judgment of $925,000 from Hidalgo County...Reason

Here's the video.  Warning, some rough language.  See what the War On Drugs has brought us:  Failure to use a turn signal leads to a strip search, an hours drive to a hospital, x-rays and anal finger exam.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1254

Today's tune is Eddy Arnold's 1953 recording of Missouri Waltz.

Monday, July 28, 2014

White House pursuing plan to expand immigrant rights

Even as President Obama grapples with the crisis of immigrant children arriving at the Southwest border, White House officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks. Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama's move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded. Roughly 5 million of the estimated 11 million people who entered the country without legal authorization or overstayed their visas could be protected under a leading option the White House is considering, according to officials who discussed the proposals on condition of anonymity. Obama said last month that because Congress had failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, he would take executive action to "fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own." That move will come by the end of the summer, White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer told reporters Friday. Some officials had advocated waiting until after the November midterm election. One option would allow immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens to apply for temporary legal status which would let them work legally in the U.S. Because children born in the country automatically receive U.S. citizenship, that option could affect about 5 million people, researchers estimate. A second option would be to allow temporary legal status for the parents of young people already granted deportation deferrals by the Obama administration. That would affect a smaller, but still sizable, number of people. So far, more than 520,000 people have received permits to stay and work in the U.S. under the administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was created in 2012 for young people who were brought to the U.S. as children...more

Bracing for Amnesty

Amnesty is coming — big time. Americans need to brace themselves for a huge new wave of Obama-led lawlessness because the president is planning what a top schemer in the White House calls a “very significant” executive action on immigration after the summer. Undoubtedly this means some kind of amnesty for illegal aliens is in the works over and above what Obama has already done, the Constitution and public fury notwithstanding. Obama’s “planned executive orders” would give legal status “to another 5–6 million illegal immigrants,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, (R-Alabama). “This would effectively end immigration enforcement in America.” Leftist congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) boasted Friday that the Obama administration could unilaterally provide legal status to as many as 5 million illegals. The lawmaker said he planned to meet with White House officials “to negotiate additional terms and avenues the president can use” through executive action. “I think we can get 3 or 4, maybe even 5 million people,” Gutiérrez said...more

Top House Dem: Obama’s Immigration Orders are More Important than Vulnerable Dems

Representative Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) thinks that President Obama should pursue his immigration goals unilaterally, even if it hurts vulnerable Democrats in the 2014 midterms. “That’ll always be the case,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus co-chair told National Review Online when asked if Democrats were still nervous that the border crisis had turned Obama’s expected orders into a political liability. “You’ll always have members whose political vulnerability they tie entirely to immigration,” Grijalva said. “We didn’t make progress when we were in the majority because we were being protective of those — on immigration reform — we were protecting those members. At some point do you worry more about the future or do you continue to put off the inevitable by not taking action?” Grijalva told C-Span’s Newsmakers that Democrats were increasingly pessimistic about Obama’s coming orders. “You can sense already, even among my Democratic colleagues, a kind of — ‘this issue is a little too complicated, too risky, let’s go small,’” he said. “Politically, they’re tied together and the children at the border and his executive orders are going to get tied together.” Grijalva’s colleague, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.), said Friday that Senate Democrats in particular are getting nervous about immigration...more

Sessions calls on members to oppose border bill that doesn’t stop Obama’s amnesty plan

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Monday called on members of the House and Senate to vote down any border supplemental bill that doesn’t include language blocking President Barack Obama from extending an amnesty and work permit program for millions of illegal immigrants. “I’m calling on all members of Congress today to stand up to these lawless actions and sponsor legislate that will block them,” Sessions said on the Senate floor Monday. “I’m calling on all members of Congress today to oppose any border supplemental that does not include such language.” Sessions has issued warnings to Congress almost every day about the need to block what some reports say is Obama’s pending plan for amnesty. Still, the House was working on a border bill early this week that is not expected to include language dealing with Obama’s possible plan. Sessions said current law prohibits people from hiring anyone who is in the country illegally, and said if reports are right, Obama is planning to override that law through executive action. “Current law is plain — those who enter this great nation by unlawful means or overstay their visa are subject to removal and are ineligible to work,” he said. “The president’s actions are astonishing, and are taking our nation into exceedingly dangerous waters.” “Such calculated action strains the constitutional structure of our republic,” he said. “Such unlawful and unconstitutional action, if taken, cannot stand.” Sessions called on Obama to pull back from his plan that would not only violate the law, but would be opposed by most Americans...more

Illegal immigrants protest outside White House, with little fear of repercussions

Illegal immigrant demonstrators were protesting outside the White House on Monday – but don’t expect America’s immigration officers to intervene. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official indicated that even if the protesters end up getting arrested by D.C. police, they’d have to be serious criminals for ICE to get involved. “Unless the individuals meet ICE’s enforcement priorities, it’s unlikely that the agency would get involved in the case,” the official told Under a policy that’s been in effect for several years, ICE focuses deportation mostly on serious criminals and – in some cases -- those caught in the act of crossing the border. The agency prioritizes deportation for felons, repeat offenders, gang members and others with a serious criminal record. But the agency largely gives a pass to other undocumented residents. This is why illegal immigrant activists can protest outside the White House without worrying too much about ICE...more

Boston ‘Teeming With Protesters’ in Giant Rally Against Housing Illegal Immigrants in the State

Illegal immigration protesters descended upon historic Boston on Saturday decrying Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s decision to offer shelter in the state to unaccompanied minors.

Image source: Twitter/Marc Lombardo
Image source: Twitter/Marc Lombardo

While Bree Sison of WBZ-TV estimated the crowd numbering in the hundreds, described the area in front of the State House as “teeming with protesters,” noting that rally organizer Jeff Kuhner, host of WRKO’s The Kuhner Report, put the number closer to 10,000. Sison did note that the rally was the largest she’s ever seen on Beacon Hill...more

Coyotes shown 'smuggling undocumented immigrants across the Rio Grande on JET SKIS'

New footage claims to show Mexican smugglers known as coyotes smuggling immigrants across the U.S. – Mexico border using jet skis. A video shown on the Breitbart website claims the person driving the jet ski is a smuggler, and that his passengers are a woman and her infant child. It then shows the pair being taken into custody by Border Patrol. The woman departs the jet ski and walks along the river bank to a nearby road where authorities apprehend her and the baby. MailOnline was not able to independently confirm the nationality of the woman and infant. The video is said by Breitbart to have been shot recently at Anzalduas Park, in Mission, Texas. A downstream dam in the Rio Grande has created a lake of sorts that allows the coyotes to quickly zip across the river with immigrants, according to the site. ‘We have problems, a lot of times they (the coyotes) have more intel sources than we do,’ Border Patrol agent Albert Spratte is shown saying on the video. ‘Our resources have been hampered.’...more

‘The border is closed’

Judge Robert Brack’s courtroom – a cavernous hall with high ceilings, an elevated dais and rows of dark wood pews – marks the last stop for hundreds of migrants each month before they are sent home as felons. They come through his court at a rate of about a dozen per day, chained at the waist and wrists. He preaches a gentle sermon to each before he issues their sentence. He calls their intention to seek work in the United States “noble,” their motivation “admirable,” but he warns them again and again that “the border is closed.” But is it true? Illegal immigration at the Southwest border has always been cyclical, tied to the ups and downs of the U.S. economy and marked by shifting patterns in which one entry point grows hot while others cool. While South Texas struggles with a flood of Central American migrants – many of them women and children who give themselves up to authorities, a pattern different from earlier waves of migrants who tried to evade capture – a “high consequences” approach to border enforcement over the past decade raising the stakes for would-be migrants has helped push illegal immigration to 40-year lows elsewhere on the Southwest border. One of those consequences is felony prosecutions of undocumented immigrants caught trying to illegally enter the country more than once: In southern New Mexico, federal felony prosecutions of undocumented immigrants have climbed sharply, up 40 percent over two years through May, according to Brack. That trend has emerged even as the number of migrants apprehended in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico, fell dramatically for seven years straight and then plateaued over the past two years. Illegal immigration has fallen off similarly in Arizona and California, as well. Over time, fewer people are crossing illegally but a higher percentage of those who are caught are being slammed with a felony charge, jail time and deportation. Apprehensions of undocumented migrants in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico, totaled 8,656 in the first nine months of the fiscal year. That compares with just over 11,000 apprehensions in all of fiscal 2013. Both years pale in comparison to the peak of more than 122,000 migrants apprehended in the sector in 2005...more

Group of Illegal Aliens from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka Caught Entering Texas from Mexico

A single group of illegal aliens entering Texas from Mexico over the weekend included foreign nationals from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, according to the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC). The group crossed into the Rio Grande Valley sector from Tamaulipas, Mexico. “One group of our agents apprehended individuals from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka,” said Albert Spratte, a spokesman for Local 3307 of the NBPC. “Everyone in this group was an adult male. They entered on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Our agents apprehended them, they did not turn themselves in. They were trying to sneak in.” Spratte said it is unusual and infrequent for illegal aliens from these nations to appear in the Rio Grande Valley sector. “We have had them in the past, but it isn’t common,” he said. “This should be a reminder to the public that unaccompanied minors and family units are not the only ones crossing into the U.S. illegally. On the same day, I also witnessed 3-4 Chinese females at the processing station. The media are concentrating on the Central American families and minors and they are not covering the fact that we are still getting people, often adult males, who are coming from other nations.” Breitbart News previously reported on foreign nationals coming from Asia, the Middle East, and terror-prone nations from the Horn of Africa—often entering Central America and utilizing the same pathways and smuggling networks as Central Americans and Mexicans who illegally enter the United States...more

Rancher: Gov’t ‘Bullying People’ Who Have Been on Lands ‘for Generations’

Jose Varela Lopez
At a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation on Thursday, ranchers from Western states testified that they are routinely threatened and bullied by federal land management officials, including the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife. “I sit before you today to let you know what’s going on up there, and I hope that we can come to some kind of agreement on what needs to be done and move forward on it, because enough is enough when it comes to bullying people that have been on this land for generations,” Michael Lucero, fourth generation rancher in New Mexico, said in his sworn testimony at the hearing, entitled “Threat, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Management Agencies, Part II.” Lucero said his family’s ranch was first established by a San Diego Land Grant and was eventually designated as land under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. He claimed the federal government is “driving us completely from the land.” “We feel that the government has taken away and are still trying to take away what is rightfully ours, from our grazing rights to our water rights,” Lucero said in his prepared remarks. “It seems that every year it gets more difficult to continue with our way of life and keep our heritage alive as the government is continually putting obstacles in our path. Jose J. Varela Lopez, who also is a 14th generation rancher in New Mexico, appeared on behalf of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. Lopez testified that the “endangered species” was the “biggest culprit” in allowing the Fish and Wildlife Service to quash ranching activities. “At the moment, the Fish & Wildlife Service is considering critical habitat for the lesser prairie chicken, the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and two varieties of garter snakes,” Lopez said in his prepared statement. “Expansion of the Mexican wolf habitats is expected as early as tomorrow. “We have had 764,000 acres in New Mexico and Arizona recently designated critical habitat for the jaguar although only a few male jaguars have been sighted in the U.S. over the last 60 years,” Lopez said...more 
Mike Lucero

Ouray County Adopts a Road Map for the 21st Century

Despite an eleventh hour interjection from the U.S. Forest Service, the Ouray County Commissioners made history this week, unanimously voting to adopt a new county road map that brings it into the 21st century. The last time an official county road map was prepared in Ouray County was in 1961. Proposed revisions to this 1961 iteration of the map took place over the past five years, first through the work of the collaborative, multi-jurisdictional Public Access Group and later through two years of intensive work by Ouray County IT/GIS Manager Jeff Bockes, who integrated modern computerized mapping techniques (including GoogleEarth) and historical information on public roads going all the way back into the 1800s. The process of adopting the revised map turned out to be quite lengthy. Commissioners first held a public hearing on June 25 to consider its adoption. This hearing was continued to July 1 on the request of Commissioner Don Batchelder to receive legal advice as to what kind of legal exposure the county may face upon map adoption. The hearing continuation was again continued to Tuesday, July 22, this time to reopen public comment pertaining to specific, documented requests for additions or deletions of roads included in the map. Ouray District Ranger Tammy Randall-Parker of the U.S. Forest Service took advantage of the reopened public comment period to weigh in with a number of concerns pertaining to the map. These concerns primarily had to do with the correct identification of the ownership of Forest Service roads included on it...more

Federal court upholds Florida law in ‘Docs vs. Glocks’ case

A Federal Court of Appeals overturned a 2011 injunction Friday won by Florida doctors against a state firearms owner’s privacy law. The suit, brought in part by the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics, had won an injunction by a lower court in what became known popularly as the “Docs vs. Glocks” case. That injunction was struck down this week in a 2-1 ruling by a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. “We find that the Act is a valid regulation of professional conduct that has only incidental effect on physicians’ speech,” wrote Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat for the majority in the mammoth 161-page ruling in the case of Wollschlaeger v. Governor of the State of Florida published Friday. The case dates back to 2011 when Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, signed the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act into law that discouraged health care workers to ask patients questions about firearms that were not directly relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety. Violations of the law could trigger fines, restriction of practice, return of fees, probation and suspension or revocation a health care professional’s medical license by the state. The act had been passed by the Florida legislature following a series of complaints from patients that medical personnel were asking unwelcome questions on firearms ownership during interviews. In one case mentioned in the complaint, a health care provider falsely told a patient that disclosing firearm ownership was a Medicaid requirement. In another, a mother was separated from her children while medical staff asked the children whether the mother owned firearms...more

2014 Hatch Chile Roasts in Southern California Begin August 2

It's that time of year again: Hatch chile season is right around the corner. And while expat New Mexicans have always lined up for green chile to assuage their homesickness, the peppers have started to worm their way into the hearts of non-New Mexican Californians. Here is a running list of this year's roasting dates. As always, these dates are subject to change if there's any kind of supply problem or if the season runs short or long in southern New Mexico. This list will be updated as we get information from our friends in the grocery industry...more

Satellites show major Southwest groundwater loss

Groundwater losses from the Colorado River basin appear massive enough to challenge long-term water supplies for the seven states and parts of Mexico that it serves, according to a new study released Thursday that used NASA satellites. Researchers from NASA and the University of California, Irvine say their study is the first to quantify how much groundwater people in the West are using during the region's current drought. Stephanie Castle, the study's lead author and a water resource specialist at the University of California, Irvine, called the extent of the groundwater depletion "shocking." "We didn't realize the magnitude of how much water we actually depleted" in the West, Castle said. Since 2004, researchers said, the Colorado River basin — the largest in the Southwest — has lost 53 million acre feet, or 17 trillion gallons, of water. That's enough to supply more than 50 million households for a year, or nearly fill Lake Mead — the nation's largest water reservoir — twice. Three-fourths of those losses were groundwater, the study found. Unlike reservoirs and other above-ground water, groundwater sources can become so depleted that they may never refill, Castle said. For California and other western states, the groundwater depletion is drawing down the reserves that protect consumers, farmers and ecosystems in times of drought. The Colorado River basin supplies water to about 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in seven states — California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — as well as to people and farms in part of Mexico...more

Editorial - ‘Udall amendment’ an assault on free speech

The effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to allow Congress and the states to regulate campaign finance isn’t simply misguided. It’s dishonest, and, even were it successful, it would be ineffective, as well.

Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to bring a joint resolution to the floor that would add a 28th Amendment explicitly giving Congress the authority to regulate contributions and spending in federal elections. It would also give state governments the same authority in statewide contests.

The effort is ostensibly in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s widely lamented Citizens United decision and other rulings that have undone regulatory efforts of the past four decades. But while the role of money in politics is a serious problem, it’s difficult to take this effort seriously.

Think about it: The amendment, crafted by Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and hyped by Senate Majority Leader as “the salvation of American politics,” doesn’t have a snowball’s chance on the 4th of July. 

...Were the amendment to pass, it would be the only time other than Prohibition that the Constitution has been amended to limit rights, and it would do so by granting Congress unimaginable authority to limit speech in the name of “political equality for all,” a meaningless if catchy slogan that obfuscates the real impact of this amendment: a deck stacked in favor of incumbents.

...This newspaper has long taken the position that the lack of transparency has been of far greater consequence than limits on donations, which have done little or nothing to prevent influence peddling in electoral politics. We support, for example, Democrats’ efforts to introduce a new version of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill intended to cast light on so-called dark money.

Overturning Citizens United through a constitutional amendment that undermines the First Amendment, however, is not an answer. Democrats would be wise to drop the idea.

Pet longhorn roams near suburban homes

In Marin Hollow, deep in the Helotes Hill Country, lives a pet unlike the cats and dogs in the area. He’s Red the Longhorn, a mischievous steer that’s the color of rust-colored leaves. His horns stretch more than 6 feet, tip to tip, and slope like an old cowhand’s handlebar mustache. He weighs more than 600 pounds and is thick as an oil barrel. “He’s not fat. He’s just big-boned,” said Denise Moore, a neighbor he’s followed since he was a calf. “He’s a funny guy.” Red spends most of his day at Moore’s property, named Rachmones, which means compassion in Yiddish. Her husband, Craig Manifold, and their three children — Hanna, 23, Della, 20 and Caleb, 11 — all have stories of adventures with Red among the scrub brush and mesquite tree-lined fields. He’s photo-bombed an outside father-and-son portrait. He’s lapped up water from their swimming pool. And when it’s time to go home, he’s liable to gallop around Moore’s house, with his owner, Pat Langlinais, in hot pursuit...more

Midwest Becomes A Cattle Paradise As Drought Stretches Beef Map (Nebraska passes Texas as #1)

Drought is re-shaping the beef map and raising the price of steak. Ranchers are moving herds from California to Colorado and from Texas to Nebraska seeking refuge from dry weather. And cattle producers in the Midwest are making the most of it. In 2014, for the first time, Nebraska passed Texas as the top cattle feeding state in the country. That is, Nebraska houses the most cattle in feedlots, which are generally the final step before they head to the slaughterhouse. It’s a turnaround brought on by a long-term decline in cattle numbers and an ongoing drought that has devastated the southern Plains. That has caused the cattle industry to look north. If Nebraska’s “cattle motels” have fewer vacancies these days, it is largely because ranchers in the southern Plains have emptied out parched pastures waiting for a rainy day. Oklahoma State University livestock marketing specialist Derrell Peel said ponds are drying up across large parts of Oklahoma and Texas. “Western Oklahoma -- the panhandle, the panhandle of Texas and in fact much of west Texas and much of western New Mexico are still in extremely severe drought,” Peel said. “There’s been very little relief really since the fall of 2010.” As a result, herds are shrinking. In Texas, feedlots, and even a Cargill packing plant, have closed because of the drought’s impact on cattle numbers. Texas, the country’s No. 1 beef state, lost 24 percent of its total beef herd from 2010-2014. Oklahoma saw a 13 percent cut. Missouri, which housed about 6 percent of the nation’s beef cattle at the start of the drought, lost roughly 8 percent of its herd. In fact, national herd numbers are the smallest they’ve been since the 1950s and that’s important if you ever buy steaks or hamburger to throw on the grill. Low cattle numbers are a big reason meat prices are so high. The trend started long ago...more

New Mexico is down 23 percent.  See all the states here.

Welcome to Williston, North Dakota: America's new gold rush city

Anyone who happened to pass along the northern slope of the Missouri river valley on US Route 2 in 2008, at the start of the global economic recession, would have seen a small city, suffering from the same malaise that was afflicting every other ranching-and-farming community scattered about the immense expanse of the US great plains. Young people were leaving Williston, North Dakota. The remaining residents were aging and dying off. No new industries wanted to move to an obscure corner of what was already one of the most obscure US states, plagued by a midcontinental climate where the average January night dips down to -18C and the normal July highs are 29C. If you'd stopped to ask her then, lifelong resident Rena Greaves would have said she dreamed of leaving. “It was so quiet, so boring,” she said. The constant rumble of Ford F-350 pickups and 18-wheelers means there is very rarely any quiet any more. “I’m not used to the noise. I have a lot of mixed feelings,” said Greaves. “There are new restaurants and places to shop. There are new people from all over and a lot of them are nice. “But I don’t go out any more. I don’t do anything. You can’t walk into a bar. It’s so overcrowded and you don’t know anyone.” Today's Williston is unrecognisable to its former self. Thanks to the shale-oil boom, what was once an isolated city in the emptiest corner of the continent is now the fastest-growing small centre in North America. It has the highest average wages in the US and the worst housing shortage. It is the most expensive place in the US in which to rent new housing. And it is wracked with cultural conflict between about 12,000 long-time Williston residents and at least 21,000 newcomers who’ve arrived over the past five-odd years...more

Murkowski Tells Alaskans to Show Their ‘Inner Ted’ Stevens

In a new video message, Sen. Lisa Murkowski is encouraging her fellow Alaskans to celebrate Ted Stevens Day on Saturday. “Sen. Stevens, or ‘Uncle Ted’ as many of us knew him, was the Alaskan of the 20th century and always put Alaska above partisan politics,” the Alaska Republican said. “This year, Alaskans have seen me put on my Hulk scarf and channel my inner Ted Stevens to fight in the Senate for what is important to Alaska.” Murkowski, the ranking member on the Interior-Environment Appropriations subcommittee, wore the Hulk scarf to a hearing with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in March. The move came as a nod to Stevens’ famous Incredible Hulk tie, which he was known to wear on the Senate floor when preparing for battle. “Every now and again, you have to let your inner Ted shine through,” said Murkowski, praising his work to fund infrastructure projects and the state’s defense base — much of which came through earmarks...more

Senator Murkowski Attempts to Reach Out to Secretary Jewell

It’s been seven months since Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected a road that would connect King Cove and Cold Bay. US Senator Lisa Murkowski sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary Jewell expressing her disappointment in the lack of action. King Cove is 25 miles away from Cold Bay and there is currently one gravel road that connects the two communities. The residents of King Cove would like a direct and paved road to the Cold Bay all weather airport so in the event of a medical emergency it will be faster and easier to Medevac to safety. Both US Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich believe that this road is imperative to the safety of those in King Cove and earlier this month, Governor Sean Parnell announced that the State of Alaska filed a motion to intervene in support of the Izembek Road. In her letter to the Secretary, Murkowski laid out important dates in the dispute including; December 23rd the Secretary rejecting the road, January 16th the King Cove leaders requesting reconsideration, and March 25th residents of King Cove traveling to Washington, DC to meet with the secretary. Murkowski also released a YouTube video expressing her frustrations. She says in the seven months since the Secretary’s rejection, there has been no explanation as to why the road can’t be built...more

API survey finds gap between voters, federal officials on development

A substantial gap exists between registered voters’ support for more US oil and gas development on federal lands, and what they think federal officials actually are doing about it, according to a recent survey commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute. Nielsen’s random telephone survey of 1,012 largely suburban registered voters July 11-13 found 77% support more production of US oil and gas, including 92% of Republicans, 80% of Independents, and 66% of Democrats, API said on July 23. “But only 28% said the federal government does enough to encourage domestic oil and gas development,” API Upstream Group Director Erik Milito noted. “And 68%—including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—say they would be more likely to vote for candidates who support offshore drilling,” he told reporters. “Clearly, voters do not think energy should be a partisan issue.” The survey’s results came days after the US Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) moved a step closer to authorizing geological and geophysical surveys of the South and Mid-Atlantic US Outer Continental Shelf (OGJ Online, July 18, 2014). “These surveys will give our industry and the government a clearer picture of the oil and gas resources hidden beneath the Atlantic seafloor, although there is a lack of scientific support for some of the constraints the government might place on survey operations,” Milito said...more