Friday, February 28, 2014

Setting the wolf free: In this version of a classic, the duck-devouring animal relocates to the Gila

The National Dance Institute’s version of “Peter and the Wolf” comes with a PC spin lifted directly from the news. “We’re telling the story of setting the wolf free into the Gila Wilderness because that’s what’s done here,” said National Dance Institute director Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Cisneros-Legate will direct about 60 students from NDI’s four after-school and pre-professional classes in the Russian classic starting tonight. “Prokofiev did an amazing job of making the story of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ into the music using the musical instruments as the characters,” Cisneros-Legate explained. The flute voices the bird, the oboe the duck; the clarinet becomes the cat, while the wolf roars through the horns. The strings double as Peter. “I think it’s a great vehicle for learning,” the director added. “It was a personal favorite of mine when I was a child.” The ballet opens with Peter disobeying his grandfather to enter the meadow, where he meets his animal friends. When the wolf suddenly approaches, the grandfather runs to shut the gate, scolding his grandson. The wolf quickly devours the duck. The hunters emerge, ready to shoot until Peter stops them. This is a decidedly happily-ever-after story, Cisneros-Legate said. “He swallowed (the duck) whole, so the animal can come back alive. After all, it’s a fairy tale.” The group traps and releases the wolf into the wild...more

Nothing like a little environmental propaganda for our school children.  Talk about your Looney Tunes.  Let's hope they don't really go to the Gila, where the sweet little wolfie would rip the guts out of Donald Duck, blow all their solar-powered houses down and have Little Red Riding Hood for desert.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New developments surrounding officer-involved Red Rock shooting

There are two new developments in the investigation into an officer-involved shooting at Red Rock Canyon on Valentine's Day. First, the family of D'Andre Berghardt, the 20-year-old man who was shot and killed, wants the coroner's medical assistant taken off the case. Second, the Bureau of Land Management is responding to one congressman's demands for answers after he turned up the heat in a letter to the agency's Washington, D.C. office. The Bureau of Land Management announced Tuesday it will cooperate with Congressman Steven Horsford's demands for answers following Berghardt's shooting death. Jeff Krauss of the BLM's Division of Public Affairs told Action News, "We are reviewing Congressman Horsford's letter and look forward to working with him on his requests." The response comes less than 24 hours after Action News obtained Congressman Steven Horsford's letter to the deputy director of the BLM, demanding full disclosure of the "...circumstances that led to the shooting of Mr. Berghardt," the "...Use of Force training BLM rangers undergo before deployment to the field," and finally "...the Bureau's preliminary assessment of whether Use of Force protocols were followed." Family of the man killed are relieved lawmakers are demanding a closer look. "There are significant concerns with what happened here," said Jacob Hafter, the attorney representing the family. It is especially important because they said Berghardt isn't getting a fair judgment. It all goes back to cellphone video originally obtained by the Review-Journal which shows two BLM officers and a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper in a scuffle with Berghardt moments before he was shot nine times. According to the family's attorney, the medical examiner assigned to Berghardt's case at the Clark County Coroner's Office saw that video, and they weren't happy with what she said. "She insinuated that she reviewed the video and drew conclusions as to the appropriateness of the shooting based on the video. That's not her job," Hafter told Action News. The family's attorney has now formally requested Dr. Lisa Gavin be removed from the case, saying "She seemed to be influenced by the conclusions of certain government officials that Mr. Berghardt was acting erratically, with superhuman strength, and/or inappropriately, as allegedly depicted by the video." Later on in the two-page letter, Hafter also said, "Dr. Gavin should be focused on a detailed physical examination of Mr. Berghardt and his anatomy. I have grave concerns about her ability, however, to do so."The coroner's office said no way to removing Dr. Gavin from the case. They said it's not only her right, but her responsibility to review everything that may have influenced a person's death...more

EPA Officials Obstructed Fraud Investigation

Several Environmental Protection Agency employees obstructed an investigation into the mismanagement that allowed a senior EPA official to bilk taxpayers for nearly $900,000, the EPA Inspector General said in a letter to Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) released Wednesday. EPA employees threatened Inspector General investigators, refused to cooperate, and handed out non-disclosure agreements to other employees to keep them from being interviewed, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. wrote in response to a request for information by Vitter on the case. “Over the past 12 months, there have been several EPA officials who have taken action to prevent [the Office of Investigations] OI from conducting investigations or have attempted to obstruct investigations through intimidation,” Elkins wrote. John Beale pleaded guilty in September 2013 to time card and travel fraud spanning two decades and amounting to nearly $900,000 in taxpayer dollars.  Beale also spent a total of two and a half years absent from work, claiming he was away on CIA business. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison in December 2013...more

Greenpeace co-founder: No scientific evidence of man-made global warming

There is no scientific evidence that human activity is causing the planet to warm, according to Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, who testified in front of a Senate committee on Tuesday. Moore argued that the current argument that the burning of fossil fuels is driving global warming over the past century lacks scientific evidence. He added that the Earth is in an unusually cold period and some warming would be a good thing. “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” according to Moore’s prepared testimony. “Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species.”
“It is important to recognize, in the face of dire predictions about a [two degrees Celsius] rise in global average temperature, that humans are a tropical species,” Moore said. “We evolved at the equator in a climate where freezing weather did not exist. The only reasons we can survive these cold climates are fire, clothing, and housing.” “It could be said that frost and ice are the enemies of life, except for those relatively few species that have evolved to adapt to freezing temperatures during this Pleistocene Ice Age,” he added. “It is ‘extremely likely’ that a warmer temperature than today’s would be far better than a cooler one.” Indeed, cold weather is more likely to cause death than warm weather. RealClearScience reported that from “1999 to 2010, a total of 4,563 individuals died from heat, but 7,778 individuals died from the cold.” Only in 2006 did heat-related deaths outnumber cold deaths...more

Internal watchdog clears State in Keystone contractor decision

The State Department followed its proper conflict-of-interest guidelines when it selected the contractor responsible for conducting its environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline, the agency's watchdog said on Wednesday. The Office of Inspector General report found that the State Department "substantially" followed "prescribed guidance" when selecting the private contractor Environmental Resources Management (ERM). The firm took the lead on State's environmental analysis of the $5.4 billion Keystone project, which will carry crude oil from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf region. ERM has previously done work with TransCanada, the company behind Keystone. The inspector general also found that the the process State "used to assess organizational conflicts of interest was effective," adding further fuel to pipeline advocates' arguments that the path is clear for State to finish it's 90-day national determination test. That's the final piece before Secretary of State John Kerry sends his recommendations on Keystone to President Obama. While the reports says State's determination that ERM was objective in the environmental review of Keystone XL is a reasonable conclusion, the inspector general found areas in which State can "improve" its process for selecting contractors and its conflict of interest review when doing so...more

Doctoring Data on Kids and Guns

by C.D. Michel

That a medical student may have doctored data is both a crime and a terrible pun.

But this is probably what happened when a student formerly from the University of Michigan Medical School presented a paper at the American Academy of Pediatrics convention, and the media apishly copied headlines about the paper's claims concerning the intersection of guns and kids.

Since reporters are generally not well educated [should I end the sentence there] on criminology, statistics, robust data sources and the minutia of gun policy, they accepted the paper without scrutiny. So I'll have to roll-up my sleeves and dig into this one for the reporters who wouldn't.

The paper (United States Childhood Gun-Violence—Disturbing Trends) took child hospitalization discharge data along with survey responses concerning gun ownership, and applied a weighted analysis to determine that more handguns causes more child deaths and hospitalizations.

This came as a surprise to criminologists, and other people with cranial blood supplies, who have watched the number of handguns in circulation rise steadily over the past three decades, while simultaneously watching child firearm deaths decline. Using criminology/epidemiology data gold standards—Center for Disease Control (CDC) mortality databases and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Commerce Reports—we can chart these with ease. It shows that while gun availability has risen, fewer kids die.

Surprising then that the aspiring doctor told the world that "Policies designed to reduce the number of household firearms, especially handguns, may reduce childhood [gunshot wounds]."

To be clear, from 1981 through 2009, the number of child firearm fatalities has fallen 48%. But because the population kept growing, the rate of child firearm fatalities has fallen 56%. This reduction occurred in a period where the number of handguns went up 216%.

So how can a young doctor be so wrong, and would you want him removing your appendix? With only his abstract to review (the paper and raw data were not immediately locatable and a request sent to the American Academy of Pediatrics was not answered) we can only illustrate the obvious deficiencies in United States Childhood Gun-Violence—Disturbing Trends.

Oregon Senate passes bill in hopes of keeping sage grouse off endangered list

The state must avoid strict regulations that would come with designating the sage grouse an endangered species, an Oregon lawmaker told his colleagues Wednesday. The listing, Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, said, could decimate the Eastern Oregon economy, much like the listing of the “spotted owl had on Western Oregon timberlands.” Senators approved House Bill 4093 on Wednesday, 24 to 5, which aims to persuade landowners to participate in voluntary sage grouse conservation plans; in return, private information about the ranchers could not be disclosed. “Everyone from Bend to those in John Day should be worried about this — not just ranchers,” said Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, who pushed the legislation. The designation would affect a vast area, he said, and “recreationists, four-wheelers, hunters,” should all be wary of such a designation. One way to avoid such a listing is if landowners enter into contracts with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to work together on sage grouse conservation plans. But landowners are hesitant to do so out of fear their personal information would be available to the public. “Ranchers and landowners wouldn’t want the public or every hunter to know where their gates are, their roads, the number of cattle they have on their property,” Bentz said. Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, was one of the votes against the provision. A former reporter, Burdick said she has a very high bar when it comes to exempting records from the state’s public records laws. Those opposed to the measure said it’s dangerous to create more exemptions to public access...more

 I wonder about those ranchers and other landowners who signed candidate conservation agreements on over 600,000 acres in Texas and NM to keep the sand dunes lizard off the list?  And those who are signing them now for the lesser prairie chicken. Are their records protected?

Resentencing ordered of Harney County ranchers

A panel of federal appeals court judges has ordered a district court to resentence a pair of Harney County ranchers for intentionally starting grass fires. Steven Hammond, 45, and his father, Dwight Hammond Jr., 72, have already served time for fires set on their ranch that spread to public land near Steens Mountain, but the panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says it wasn’t enough. The panel vacated their sentences earlier this month and remanded them for resentencing. “The panel held that the district court illegally sentenced the defendants to terms of imprisonment less than the statutory minimum,” acting appellate judge Stephen Murphy wrote in the panel’s opinion. Federal law requires a minimum sentence of five years for anyone who damages or destroys public property with fire. The Hammonds responded Friday by asking for a new hearing before all 11 judges in the court, arguing the panel overlooked crucial facts. The Hammonds’ attorneys say the government didn’t fight for stiffer sentences during sentencing and that the government waived its right to appeal in reaching a plea agreement. “Imposing the five-year term on either defendant will result in gross injustice,” their attorneys wrote in the request. They wrote that Congress added the five-year minimum to an existing arson crime as part of an effort to combat terrorists...more

Another "anti-terrorism" act which is striking home folks.

Liberal Prof.: Obama Has Brought Us To ‘Constitutional Tipping Point’

During testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, liberal constitutional professor Jonathan Turley said that the growth of executive power is “accelerating” and that the growth of such power has brought us to a “constitutional tipping point”. “I believe we are now at a constitutional tipping point in our system,” Turley, who teaches law at George Washington University, said. “It’s a dangerous point for our system to be in, and I believe that your response has to begin before this president leaves office. No one in our system goes it alone.” Turley noted that while he agrees with the President on most of his policies, it still “does not alter the fact that I believe the means he is doing is wrong” and that the continued acceleration of executive power can be “a dangerous change in our system.” Turley flatly rejected the Obama administration’s reason for using more executive powers, which the President claims is a gridlocked Congress. “It is simply untrue that we’re living in very different or unprecedented times. The framers lived in these times,” Turley pointed out, noting that back then Congress used the Alien and Sedition Act to arrest opponents and Thomas Jefferson referred to his opponents as the “reign of witches.” “This is not a different political time, and it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for extra-constitutional action,” Turley warned.


Go here for the Turley and others testimony.

Could newly discovered gold coins be the haul stolen by disgraced San Francisco Mint employee in 1901?

The mysterious haul of gold coins discovered by a Northern California couple while out walking their dog – and valued at $10 million – may well be a previously undiscovered bounty that an employee of the San Francisco Mint was convicted of stealing in 1901. The couple, who haven’t been named, stumbled across the haul of 1,427 rare, mint-condition gold coins, nearly all dating from 1847 to 1894, buried in the shadow of an old tree on their Gold Country property in February 2013. The face value of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, as they’ve called it, added up to about $27,000, but some of the coins are so rare that experts say they could fetch nearly $1million apiece. The couple went public with their amazing discovery on Tuesday, and treasure enthusiasts have been quick to suggest that the coins could be the same ones stolen by Walter Dimmick, an employee of the San Francisco Mint in the late 1800′s, reports Altered Dimensions. Dimmick began working at the mint in 1898 and by 1901 was trusted with the keys to the vaults – until an audit revealed a $30,000 shortage in $20 Double Eagle coins, six bags in all. He quickly became the prime suspect as he was the last person to see the missing gold coins and had already been caught practicing how to forge the Superintendent’s name. After a month-long trial, Dimmick was convicted of stealing the coins and sentenced to nine years at the San Quentin prison in California. The coins that Dimmick stole were never found, leaving some to now wonder if the Saddle Ridge Hoard is the very same set of lost coins. There is certainly compelling evidence to link the two bounties. According to 1901 reports, 500 coins were stolen by Dimmick - only 73 coins less than the 1,427 discovered at Saddle Ridge. The dates on the coins fit the time frame and the type and denomination of the coins match too...more

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Crushing People Into Tight Housing Won't Cut CO2 Levels


'Smart growth" projects across the country aim to jam people into high-density housing near mass transit systems.

Proponents think this will make people abandon their automobiles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But new research shows "stack-and-pack" housing is an ineffective way to reduce carbon dioxide levels.
Researchers at the University of California Energy and Resources Group in Berkeley used Census, weather, economic and transportation data — 37 variables in total — to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from the energy, transportation, food, goods and services consumed by U.S. households.

They calculated "household carbon footprints" for more than 31,000 U.S. ZIP codes (of approximately 43,000 total) in all 50 states and found that a "10-fold increase in population density in central cities yields only a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."

In other words, the number of people living in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia and New York would have to increase 10 times — from 1.5 million in Philadelphia, for example, to 15 million — to yield a 25% reduction in CO2.

As the study's co-author, Christopher Jones, put it: "(A 10-fold increase) would require a really extraordinary transformation for very little benefit."

Stack-and-pack living is a blueprint for misery in urban America. Few people would want to live in such conditions. Yet this is exactly the vision that smart-growth advocates and their political allies are pushing.
For example, the regional smart-growth plan for the San Francisco Bay Area, approved last summer, calls for jamming an additional 2 million people into just 5% of the Bay Area's land over the next 27 years.

Similar plans exist, or are being discussed, in metro Chicago, El Paso, Minneapolis-St. Paul and a seven-county area of South Florida — including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties — to name a few locations.

These regional government master plans effectively eliminate local control of communities. They also run into the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Avalanche deaths spike as storms bring snow, risks

Skiers and snowboarders rejoiced when a series of storms dumped several feet of snow in the mountains across the West, after what had been a disappointing start for those seeking fresh powder in the backcountry. But all the new snow and strong winds in the past month have fueled dangerous conditions from the Cascades to the Rockies, prompting forecasters to issue warnings of considerable or high avalanche danger for many places outside of established ski areas. Seventeen people have died in an avalanche this winter, 11 of them since early February. Many more skirted disaster and survived with broken bones or other injuries. Some were partially buried in snow, but managed to dig themselves out or were dug out by companions. Avalanche experts are seeing a similar problem across the region: too much snow and strong winds overloading weak layers of old snow. With too much stress and not enough time to bond or stabilize, that weak snow layer eventually gives way...more

Kerry Calls for 'Global Understanding,' U.N. Enforcement to Protect the Oceans

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed support Tuesday for “a global structure” within the United Nations to enforce regulations on how the oceans are managed and protected. After addressing the World Ocean Summit in California by video link, Kerry was asked by an event moderator for his views on calls for “a world oceans organization of some sort at the United Nations.” “Of course we need a global framework of some kind by which people sign up and agree to cooperate,” Kerry replied. “But we not only need the rules, we need the regulatory enforcement process.” “I absolutely endorse the notion, as does President Obama, that we need some kind of global understanding about how we will enforce – and what – how we will enforce regulations and what rules we will put in place in order to preserve our fisheries and manage our coastlines and do the things necessary to reduce the pollution and preserve these ecosystems. It is going to take some kind of global understanding,” he said. “I know people resist and hate the idea,” Kerry continued. “They think: ‘Wait a minute. We have our commercial economic zone, our extended economic zone. Each country wants to exercise its own sovereignty.’ But that’s not the way the ocean works, and that’s not the way migratory species behave. Kerry was also asked about the ongoing effort to ratify the U.N. Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which due to Republican opposition has been awaiting Senate ratification since 1982. “I wanted very much to try to ratify the Law of the Sea when I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and I’d love to ratify it now,” he said. “But we’re having difficulty with this Senate in even being able to ratify a disabilities treaty that doesn’t require the United States to do anything, but helps other countries raise the standards for people with disabilities. So you can understand the difficulties of what we have in terms of the ratification process. “But we are committed to living by the Law of the Sea even though it isn’t ratified, and we will do everything in our power to live by the standards of the Law of the Sea.”…more

Great, the same government which can't manage 30% of the land area in the U.S. now thinks the United Nations will do a great job managing oceans which cover 72% of the earth's surface and contain 97% of the earth's water. "The ocean principally comprises Earth's hydrosphere and therefore is integral to all known life, forms part of the carbon cycle, and influences climate and weather patterns."  Turn that over to the U.N.?  I don't think so.

The expert on the Law of the Sea treaty is one Perry Pendley, author of  Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan's Battle With Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today.  In that excellent book you'll find a devasting critique of the LSOT plus an account of Pendley's internal battle in the Reagan administration to defeat it.

Quagga mussels have invaded Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam

Like a bad rumor spread with malicious intent, invasive and destructive quagga mussels have finally taken hold at the massive Lake Powell reservoir on the Utah/Arizona border. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area officials announced Tuesday that "thousands" of adult quagga mussels have been found from Glen Canyon Dam to Bullfrog Bay, some 95 miles up the lake. The mussels have caused extensive damage across the country since landing in the Great Lakes in the 1980s. State officials estimate an infestation in Utah would cost more than $15 million annually if the 6,000 miles of pipes and canals and numerous dams become coated with the creatures. The mussels can also severely impact fisheries, aquatic life and tourism as a result of sharp shells lining the beaches of popular recreation areas. "I can picture what Lake Powell is going to look like and it isn’t pleasant," said Greg Sheehan, director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). "Every beautiful sandstone outcropping will be encrusted with snails. The days of running barefoot on the beaches will be gone." The growing number of mussels at Lake Powell — the recreation area’s website says more than 1,300 adult mussels have been removed — does not mean attempts to prevent other waters will be halted. "We are going to tighten up our efforts to educate boaters and make sure they know the threat they could carry with them if they leave Lake Powell with water in their boat," said Jordan Nielson, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Utah DWR. "We need to make every effort to keep mussels from getting to other waters."...more

This could have been prevented.  They should have turned it over to Sec. Kerry and the U.N.

Idaho Water Call Threatens Area economy; Attorneys and Users Fight Back

HAGERMAN, Idaho • A trout farm at the headwaters of Billingsley Creek is holding the Magic Valley economy hostage. The ransom? Nine cubic feet per second of water. If Rangen Inc. doesn’t get that water or agree to other terms, the Idaho Department of Water Resources must shut off groundwater access across 157,000 acres on March 14. In harm’s way are more than 2,300 water right holders: 14 cities, five school districts, irrigators, dairies, Jerome Cheese Co., Glanbia and others. “It is a real personal issue,” said Arie Roeloffs, a Wendell dairyman. “It is just devastating thinking a company like that could hold the whole valley hostage.” “You start shutting down the dairies, and it is a big ripple effect,” said Jerome Mayor David Davis. But this battle over Idaho’s most precious resource won’t be the last. Attorneys for the 14 cities are uniting to fight this water call and more to come...more

Canadian Ambassador: Water wars with U.S. will make pipeline debate 'look silly'

Canada must prepare for diplomatic water wars with the U.S., as demand on both sides of the border grows for this vital but ultimately limited resource, says Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the United States. In an interview that explored a wide range of issues from the Keystone XL pipeline to Iran, Doer predicted that water diplomacy would make the debate about pipelines “look silly.” “I think five years from now we will be spending diplomatically a lot of our time and a lot of our work dealing with water,” he said. “There will be pressure on water quality and water quantity.”...more

Farmed & Disingenuous: Chipotle’s Agribusiness Attack Upsets Farmers, Delights Jim Cramer

by Julia A. Seymour

Chipotle says it’s all about “food with integrity.” “Facts with integrity,” not so much. Marketing efforts by the burrito chain once owned by McDonald’s smear many of America’s farmers and use scare tactics to drive consumers away from Chipotle’s competitors.

On Feb. 17, Chipotle released an online original video series on, called “Farmed and Dangerous.” The comedy pits a the fictitious Animoil farm and their powerful public relations agency Industrial Food Image Bureau (I.F.I.B.) run by Buck Marshall against little guy “sustainable” farmer Chip Randolph, who has audaciously spread online video of their cow exploding because it was fed “petropellets.” The storyline is laughable, but the impression that big agriculture is guilty of practices that are harmful to animals and people isn’t.

Jim Cramer at CNBC ate up the program, promoting it and Chipotle on “Mad Money” on Feb. 3 and 4, long before the show was available for public viewing. He called it “brilliant” and “one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.” On Feb. 3, he interviewed Chipotle’s chief financial officer extensively, and Cramer claimed that farm groups really talk like Buck Marshall, the fictitious head of I.F.I.B. on the web series.

“Good Morning America” also mentioned the series on Feb. 18, and said it was “funny.” The segment quoted two Chipotle spokesmen, but not a single upset farmer or farm association.

According to news outlets including Politico, Chipotle has openly said the show “has a social message.” Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director, told Variety in an email, “Our aim was to create a show that presented some issues in the food system -- the heavy reliance on fossil-fuels in large-scale farming, GMOs, the overuse of antibiotics -- but to do that in a way that was entertaining.”

Many farmers, however, are not entertained by the food company’s portrayal of their businesses. The Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel (MJS) spoke with Wisconsin farmers angered by the show. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation called it “divisive propaganda” and a “smear campaign against America’s farm families by a corporate restaurant chain.” MJS also reported that Mike North, of the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, said “It’s saddening. It really is. There is a basic misunderstanding of what farming is and how it has progressed over time.”

Nicole, who blogs at Farm Girl Facts of Life, spent more than 20 years on the farm and said, “The Chipotle series called Farmed and Dangerous that’s coming out on Hulu is crap. There, I flat out said it. They are using humor, and scary marketing ploys to scare consumers into buying organic and antibiotic free food.”

For those don't know, here's some info on Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is a chain of restaurants in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France, specializing in burritos and tacos.  Founded by Steve Ells in 1993, Chipotle had 16 restaurants (all in Colorado) when McDonald's Corporation became a major investor in 1998. By the time McDonald's fully divested itself from Chipotle in 2006, the chain had grown to over 500 locations. With more than 1500 locations Chipotle had a net income in 2012 of US$278 million and a staff of 37,310 employees.

I guess they're trying to be the Ben & Jerry's of burritos.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Editorial - Here's how to end the mega-fire cycle

No entity on earth is more prone to stealing from Peter to pay Paul than the U.S. government.
And the feds are rarely more eager to launch a fund-raiding party than when a huge forest fire is raging somewhere, and they have no money to pay for putting it out.

In an age when mega-fires are rapidly destroying the nation’s Western forests, the problem has become chronic: Each year, enormous fires rapidly consume the resources allocated to the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires, so the agency turns elsewhere, seeking emergency funds.

Far too often, that “elsewhere” has been money allocated for federal fire-prevention efforts, including forest thinning and planned burns. Since 2000, the Forest Service has run out of money allocated for fighting fires eight times, forcing it to launch raids on its own remediation budgets.

The raids help create a tragic, self-defeating circle of destruction. Without funds for forest thinning, the forests are left more exposed and vulnerable to the next year’s mega-fires, which become ever-more frequent and intense as forests become ever-more choked with trees and underbrush.

Legislation in Congress promises to break the cycle. Now, if only the snow-packed lawmakers in Washington, D.C., can see past their moisture-laden environment and recognize just how critical these funds are to the drought-stricken forests of the West.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would free up as much as $412 million annually for forest-thinning projects by creating a special fund for fighting mega-fires.

With a designated firefighting funding source, the need to raid other pots of money abates.

Congress has made some progress on forest remediation. Notably, an amendment to the farm bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., will streamline the often complex process of contracting with private companies to conduct forest-thinning operations on federal land.

 Sorry Arizona Republic, but its not Peter or Paul who are being robbed, its the taxpayer.  Stop all this "forest-thinning" junk and let the private sector harvest timber and fence posts and push brush.

Lawmaker demanding answers following Red Rock shooting

One lawmaker is now demanding answers from the Bureau of Land Management following an officer-involved shooting that took the life of a man in Red Rock Canyon. Action News was the first to find the letter from Congressman Steven Horsford's office. The letter shows Congressman Horsford putting heat on the BLM, looking closely into the circumstances that led to the shooting death of 20-year-old D'Andre Berghardt at Red Rock Canyon on Valentine's Day, all at the hands of BLM officers. In that letter, written on Monday, Horsford demands the deputy director of the BLM fully reveal, "The circumstances that led to the shooting of Mr. Berghardt," the "...Use of Force training BLM rangers undergo before deployment to the field," and finally, the "...Bureau's preliminary assessment of whether Use of Force protocols were followed." In a statement released nearly a week after the shooting, the BLM explained two of their officers shot and killed Berghardt after hitting him with multiple taser deployments, pepper spray, and a baton, all in an effort to remove him from the roadway where cyclists reported seeing a man walking in and out of traffic. Berghardt's family was left wondering why their son had to die. "Numerous ways they could have gotten him cuffed," Tracy Meadows, Berghardt's mother, told Action News. "I really don't know why they would just abuse him. It wasn't just abuse, it was like they toyed with him before they killed him." Now at least one lawmaker is demanding answers too...more

Hold your horses, U.S. Forest Service

DENVER – Legislators pushed forward with a plan Monday to restrict the U.S. Forest Service’s ability to control ski area water rights, a year after Forest Service lobbying stalled a similar bill. The Forest Service has tried to get Powderhorn and other ski areas to sign over their water rights to federal control before they renewed their operating permits. Legislators pushed back, led by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. The House approved Sonnenberg’s House Bill 1028 on a voice vote Monday morning. It needs one more recorded vote before it can go to the Senate. “This bill basically does the same thing that it did last year: It tells the federal government that you cannot require as a condition of a permit or lease to sign over your water rights,” Sonnenberg said. Democrats are divided on the bill this year. Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, is opposed. “I actually don’t believe there’s a problem that this bill is trying to fix,” he said. He pointed to an opinion by the Legislature’s lawyers predicting Sonnenberg’s bill would be overturned in court because state law can’t trump federal law. The Forest Service has been working on a new water rights policy for more than a year. The bill applies not just to ski areas, but also to anyone leasing federal land – including ranchers. Congress might tackle the issue this week. U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Jared Polis, D-Boulder, have a bill passing out of committee and could be heard on the House floor this week, Coram said. Tipton’s and Polis’ bill would bar the Forest Service from gaining control of water rights used for snowmaking and other ski-area functions when granting ski areas permits for operation...more

Barred owls ousting spotted owls in the Northwest

An increase in the barred owl population is contributing to the decline of threatened Northern spotted owls, according to models developed by U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service scientists. A report on the models was released Monday by the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz. The larger barred owl is considered to be a more aggressive competitor, with higher reproductive capacity as well as a more diverse diet and use of habitat. In the face of increasing barred owl populations and declining habitat, the medium size Northern spotted owl, which lives in old growth forests of northern California and the Pacific Northwest of the United States, is declining. Using 22 years of detection data from a 1,000 square kilometer site in Oregon, researchers found that both species are more likely to abandon an area when the other species is present. “While both species feel the effects of competition, spotted owls are far more sensitive,” said Charles Yackulic, a USGS research statistician and lead author of the study. “As a result, spotted owls at this site, and in many other areas, are declining while barred owl numbers steadily increase.“ The authors simulated future population dynamics and found that barred owls are likely to drive down spotted owls to low numbers over the next few decades. “Scientists in other parts of the Pacific northwest have suggested that differences in the habitat preferences of the barred owl and spotted owl might allow them to coexist. While the two species showed different habitat preferences in this study site, there is still substantial overlap in habitat use,” said Yackulic. “As a result, in recent years, barred owls have frequently excluded spotted owls from habitat that they would otherwise prefer.“...more

Michelle Obama to unveil food marketing limits for schools

First lady Michelle Obama will unveil a proposal Tuesday that would ban marketing junk food and sodas in schools — an unusually aggressive position for the administration that could draw the ire of school districts, food companies and conservatives. Schools would no longer be able to house vending machines that sport images of their flagship sodas, have posters promoting unhealthy food and drinks or use cups in cafeterias that market high-calorie beverages, among other forms of promotion, according to administration officials. The proposal — part of an updated school wellness policy crafted by the Department of Agriculture — would require marketing of all food and drinks to fall in line with the same healthier standards that are expected to be required of foods sold during the 2014-15 school year. Both sets of measures, which go beyond the new school lunch and breakfast requirements, stem from the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The updated standards for foods sold in schools, which have yet to be finalized, would require snack foods, including those in vending machines, to meet at least one of the following requirements: be a whole-grain-rich grain product; have as the main ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product or a protein food; be a combination of food that contains at least one-quarter of a cup of fruits or vegetables; or contain 10 percent of the Daily Value of nutrients like calcium, vitamin D or dietary fiber. The foods also would have to meet calorie, fat, sodium and sugar limits. For beverages, elementary and middle schools are mostly limited to water, unflavored and low-fat milk, or 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice. High school students will be able to buy a certain amount of low- or no-calorie beverages...more

Nanny State, Nanny State.  Prediction:  fewer kids will eat the school lunches and their nutritional intake will decline, not improve. 

Got Milk? Only In California: National Industry Group Drops Slogan

You can take away an advertising slogan, but you can never take my milk mustache indicating that I do, indeed, have milk. The Milk Processor Education Program is dropping its 29-year-old tagline “Got Milk?” in favor of a new one to highlight how nutritional the stuff is. Only the California group is keeping the slogan instead of switching to “Milk Life.” The national dairy milk industry is facing stiff competition from non-dairy products like soy, rice and almond milk, and as such decided it was time to introduce a new national campaign. Got Milk? was first used by the California Milk Processor Board in 1993, which then licensed the use of the phrase to the national group in 1995. That group will still use the tagline. The problem is people don’t seem to be drinking much milk anymore, and while the old tagline was popular,focus now is on things like the protein content of milk as it tries to compete with other beverages, notes Advertising Age...more

Facebook And Instagram In Talks With Gun Control Advocates Seeking To Ban Gun Sales On Social Sites

Two of the country’s most influential gun control groups are in talks with Facebook’s legal team in an effort to see gun sales banned on the world’s largest social network and its sister site Instagram. Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America has partnered with Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns to put pressure on Facebook to prohibit the private selling or trading of guns on its platforms — a practice that’s as widespread as it is unregulated. “Facebook and Instagram are enabling people to sell weapons, often with no questions asked and no background checks required,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ spokesperson Erika Soto Lamb. Lamb cited a recent sting operation in Storm Lake, Iowa, where a convicted felon tried to exchange an assault rifle for a handgun via Facebook. In this case, the gun dealer was an undercover officer, and the 21-year-old felon was arrested and jailed. “This police department shed light on how easy it is for someone who is prohibited from owning a gun to procure one using social media,” she said. Lamb added that Facebook and Instagram would be joining fellow online platforms eBay, Craigslist and Google +, all of which have banned the buying, selling or trading of firearms without background checks. Legal representatives from both gun control groups have to date held a number of conference calls with Facebook’s legal team. “We’re seeing how we can work together,” she said. “They’re listening to us.”...more

Monday, February 24, 2014

Please sign this petition opposing huge National Monument in Dona Ana County

The controversy around a National Monument in Dona Ana County has moved from local to national input.  Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell came to Las Cruces a few weeks ago for a listening session on the 500,000 acre Organ Mts-Desert Peaks National Monument.  The environmental supporters had ample time to get notices out to rally support for the large national monument.  Supporters of a smaller national monument for just the Organ Mountains had only 2 days to notify the local citizens of the meeting.  The Sun News did not report about the meeting until the day of the meeting.  Buses were used to bring supporters from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Silver City and El Paso. Consequently, the room was packed to over capacity with monument supporters and the Secretary may have left with a false impression that the majority of the local people were in favor of a large national monument.

I have been skeptical of on line petitions until I received two from Senator Tom Udall, one asking for my signature on his petition in support of his bill S 1805 and the other on climate change.  He will be using an online petition to generate support for his bill and or recommending to Secretary Jewell and President Obama he sign a Presidential Proclamation designating one fourth of Dona Ana County as a National Monument.

I have developed an online petition for those opposed to a large national monument to make it known to the President, Secretary Jewell and as well as Senators Udall and Heinrich that there is not a consensus in favor of  the 500,000 acre national monument.

It is important that you sign the petition and pass the link on to your contacts for their signature.  Together, we can stop this major land grab.

Jerry G. Schickedanz, Chairman
Western Heritage Alliance

Court denies gun rights cases

The Supreme Court refused on Monday, as it has done repeatedly in recent years, to settle the issue of whether Second Amendment rights to have a gun extend beyond the home.  The Court, without comment, denied three new petitions — two filed by the National Rifle Association — seeking clarification on the scope of an individual’s right to have a gun for personal self-defense.  In other orders, the Court did not accept any new cases for review, although it did hold over a number of cases it had examined for potential review. Since the Court first ruled nearly six years ago that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to have a gun, it has issued only one further ruling — expanding that right so that it applies nationwide, to state and local gun control laws, as well as to federal laws.   But, without exception, the Justices have turned aside every potential sequel, essentially leaving it to lower courts to continue to sort out variations on the right. One thing seemed clear from the denial of review of two of the new cases, the NRA’s challenges: the Court is not, as yet, ready to stop lower courts from creating an entirely new group in society with less than full gun rights.  In those cases, it was youths aged eighteen to twenty years old. One petition — NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms — was a challenge to the part of a 1968 law barring licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to those in that age bracket.  The other case — NRA v. McCraw  — was a challenge to a series of Texas laws that generally barred individuals in that age bracket from qualifying for a license to carry a handgun in public, outside the home. In separate rulings in those cases, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit raised doubts about whether individuals in that age group are entitled to any protection under the Second Amendment, on the theory that the Supreme Court had upheld gun rights only for “responsible” individuals. While the Supreme Court’s denial of review of those petitions was not explained, it cannot be said for sure that it agreed with the lower court’s view, but that view does prevail for the time being. The third Second Amendment case denied review on Monday was Lane v. Holder, an attempt to get the Court to clarify when gun purchasers have a legal right (“standing,” in a technical sense) to go to court to challenge federal restrictions on gun buying.  At issue is a provision of a 1968 law barring all interstate sales of guns except through federally licensed gun dealers, and whether purchasers can sue to challenge that limitation...more

Marin Sun purchase of slaughterhouse could be a game-changer for sustainable meat

What started out as a nightmare for small cattle ranchers in Northern California could turn out to be the game-changer sustainable meat has been waiting for. Rancho Feeding Co., the Petaluma-based slaughterhouse that closed down last week after recalling 9 million pounds of beef because some of it may have come from what the Department of Agriculture has described as “diseased and unsound animals,” is being bought by Marin Sun Farms, one of the nation’s pioneers in grass-fed beef. And Marin Sun owner David Evans is promising to turn it into a one-stop shop that can provide every service a small rancher might need -- from slaughter to sales. “We’re going to completely rewrite the program of how animals are handled, we’re going to be a totally new business,” says Evans, a fourth-generation cattle rancher who began growing grass-fed beef back in 1998 on his family ranch in west Marin County. After decades of meat industry consolidation, independent slaughterhouses have become a rarity, particularly ones that will work with small farmers. Rancho was the last one in Northern California and without it, ranchers were facing having to truck their cattle south to either Los Banos or Modesto, a drive of several hours from the North Bay and even farther for ranchers in Mendocino and Humboldt counties. At a time when ranchers in general -- and growers of grass-fed and sustainable beef in particular -- are struggling to stay alive, that could have been a death sentence. “David is basically rescuing North Bay ranching,” says cattleman Mike Gale of Chileno Valley Ranch, located just west of Petaluma. “All of us who work with pasture-finished animals are grateful to him. This is really the hope of the future for sustainable ranching.” Now, if Marin Sun’s purchase goes as planned, not only will those ranchers keep their conveniently located slaughterhouse, but they’ll also have access to butchers who can craft individual cuts of meat from whole carcasses, marketers who can help sell and distribute the meat, and even a buyer for any meat they can’t sell to their own customers...more

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy

Cowboys and ATVs

by Julie Carter
For 150 years, cowboys have ridden horses. It didn't always turn out well, but generally it has been the perfect combination for the job.

Then along came the motorized "horse" in various versions of wheel count - two, three and four.
Dirt bikes, the rugged slower model of motorcycle, made a stab at offering an easy "saddle up" for the cowboy along with the promise of covering lots of country in a short amount of time.

Hunkered over his iron steed, hat pulled down tight, the cowboy did indeed find he could take the outside circle, bring the cattle at a high trot from the farthest corners and never have to let his "horse" have a breather.

If he could still walk at sundown, he might make mention how that bike like to have beat him to death on the rough terrain.

But as is his way, he would cowboy-up and do it again the next day.

Like with great bronc stories, this screaming machine created many a tale.

"Man, you shoulda seen it. I was watching ole Roy headed down the top of the ridge when all of a sudden he just disappeared! He flat just dropped out of sight."

The storyteller, who happened to be proudly mounted on a real horse, would then tell about loping over to find Roy and his iron mount at the bottom of a sink hole. Roy and "Trigger" were in need of some serious help that would come only with a rope and a pull from a real horse.

Then along came the three-wheeled ATV followed by the somewhat more stable four-wheeler.
There are cowboys in cowboy country that will tell you, "Give a cowboy an ATV and in a year, you will have a dead cowboy." It sounds harsh, but the phrase was born from a sad truth.

For every comical tale about the new generation of motorized cow herders, there are twice as many proving the danger of the machines.

While accidents happen and accidents are accidents, there is something menacing about mixing the wild-side nature of the cowboy with something mechanical.

They truly cannot resist pushing the limits, testing the parameters and making every effort to prove something that never needed proven.

If fast is good, faster is better. If gradual is safe, straight up or down and all out is better. "Hey Maw, watch me rope that sick yearling, dally to the tool box and turn off hard enough to bring him to Jesus."

Convenient, step-saver, fuel-saver, time-saver and man's best tool when conditions warrant it, the ATV has unequivocally become standard equipment for ranches and farms.

There isn't anything better for the job when you need it. Handy as a pocket on a shirt and likely to be around just as long, but still very dangerous.

I had a teenage cowboy in the house who ended up sporting a neon-orange leg cast. His recipe for a wreck that could have been oh-so-much worse was a rope and four-wheeler.

He was headed out to rope something -- the rope coils thrown over his shoulder while he moseyed the four-wheeler to the corral. The tail of the rope got hung up in the rear axle and in a flash, the rope cinched down tight around the lad's shoulder and arm. He was jerked off the seat, slammed to the ground and drug a short way until the machine came to a stop.

There was a lot that could have happened but thanks only to God, it didn't. He was uncomfortable and inconvenienced for a few weeks but he soon was up and running again.

I wanted to hope that he became a little wiser because of the event, but then again he was 13-years-old and a cowboy. I realized the futility of my thoughts.

Julie can be reached for comment at