Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What If the Oceans Were National Parks?

Next year will mark the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service. In the 100 years since it was established, the national parks have become one of America’s most popular federal programs. Now, marine scientists and conservationists want to do for the oceans what the National Park Service did for the land. When the National Park Service was proposed, “it was a really crazy notion,” said Jane Lubchenco, prominent marine scientist and former administrator of NOAA, to an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “It was so far from people’s thinking that wilderness was important to protect in and of itself.” Parks and other wilderness now define the American landscape, Lubchenco said. Today, she said, we think about the oceans the way we thought about wilderness 100 years ago, when few Americans had ever visited Yosemite or Yellowstone. “Fourteen percent of land—all around the world, all countries—is set aside in some kind of protected status,” Lubchenco said. The equivalent for oceans? 3.4 percent, according to the World Database on Protected Areas. And of that, Lubchenco pointed out, only one percent is fully closed off from extractive activities such as fishing...more

Robert Redford sees 'last chance' to fix climate

Robert Redford told the United Nations on Monday that negotiations on a global deal to tackle climate change could be the world's "last chance" to save the planet. "This December, the world must unite behind a common goal," said the American actor and producer. "Because look, this is it. This is our only planet, our only life source. "This may be our last chance." World governments will try to forge a new global accord to address climate change at a UN climate conference in Paris in December, with both developed and developing countries committing to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The landmark agreement would limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (two degrees Celsius) from pre-industrial revolution levels as of 2020. "We are all responsible for this crisis," Redford told the gathering. "Your mission is as simple as it is daunting: save the world before it's too late." "Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we're going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations." Redford told the gathering that he was an "actor by trade" but an "activist by nature" and that his convictions on the need for action to save the environment had grown over the past 40 years...more

Historic Induction of Western Writers Hall of Fame

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Western Writers of America held a historic induction of the first class of living authors to the Western Writers Hall of Fame at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock during WWA’s annual convention. Last year, the board of directors that oversees the Western Writers Hall of Fame voted to induct the 2015 Owen Wister Award recipient, Win Blevins, into the Hall of Fame, which is housed at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. The Wister and its previous incarnation, the Saddleman Award, honor lifetime achievement for writing about the West. Previously, writers had to be dead at least 10 years to be eligible for induction. Among this year’s other Hall of Fame inductees are Judy Alter, Matt Braun, James A. Crutchfield, David Dary, Max Evans, Andrew J. Fenady, John Jakes, Leon C. Metz, N. Scott Momaday, Robert M. Utley, Dale L. Walker, Richard S. Wheeler and Jeanne Williams, all previously recognized by WWA with either a Saddleman Award or a Wister...more

Judge orders Brady Center to pay legal fees of ammo company after nuisance suit

A federal judge has ordered the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence pay the legal fees of an online ammunition dealer it sued for the Aurora movie theater shooting. The order, which was issued last week, comes after Judge Richard P. Matsch dismissed the gun control group’s suit that sought to hold Lucky Gunner legally responsible for the 2012 shooting. The Brady Center had argued in their suit that the way Lucky Gunner sells ammunition is “unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance.” “A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” Brady Center’s Legal Action Project Director Jonathan Lowy said at the time. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes.” Judge Matsch disagreed with the Brady Center’s argument. He said the suit was filed for propaganda purposes. “It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order,” he said in his order...more

LA weighs rules to lock up handguns, police union wants exemptions

Los Angeles city council members are debating controversial new gun law changes aimed at locking up handguns when they're not in use.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposal would require city residents to either lock up handguns not being used or apply trigger locks to them. The proposal was authored by Councilman Paul Krekorian and is meant to protect children from gun accidents. But the plan has faced resistance from the local police officers union – the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The proposed rules exempted active duty and reserve officers, but the union wants retired officers and their families also included. They reportedly wrote a letter to lawmakers arguing that all officers need quick access for self-protection. The letter cited ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner's massacre of other officers three years ago. Union director Pete Repovich reportedly said it was vital for current and retired officers alike to be exempted to “protect themselves and society.”...more

Did green madness help create the Greek debt crisis?


...How much of Greece’s current economic problems were caused by the made Hellenic dash into renewable energy? The answer, unsurprisingly, is most likely quite a lot.

Greece, like many small European economies, has placed a substantial focus on green energy, seeing it as a quick leg up into the big league – an easy way to attract generous funding from rich green neighbours like Germany. On paper it must have seemed a fantastic opportunity – build green energy infrastructure, using a mixture of easy finance and generous grants from Germany and other rich green neighbours, then sit back and profit from selling carbon credits, on the pan-European, or even a global carbon market.

The promised European carbon market never really manifested, thanks mostly to an embarrassing oversupply of carbon credits – a surplus which was created through a combination of domestic overissuing of carbon credits, and through clever gaming of the defects in the Kyoto accord.

The consequences for Greece of this economic miscalculation have been nothing short of tragic. With money in short supply, Greece has been forced to retroactively roll back generous carbon credits, which has undoubtably bankrupted local investors, and which likely contributed to a sense that investing in Greece is unsafe.

Archaeologists call on feds to protect Chaco Canyon area

Tucked away among northwestern New Mexico's sandstone cliffs and buttes are the remnants of an ancient civilization whose monumental architecture and cultural influences have been a source of mystery for years. Scholars and curious visitors have spent more than a century trying to unravel those mysteries and more work needs to be done. That's why nearly 30 top archaeologists from universities and organizations around the nation called on the U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday to protect the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from oil and gas development. In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, they talked about the countless hours they've spent in the field, the dozens of books they've published about the Chaco society and their decades of collective experience studying its connection to modern Native American tribes in the Southwest. They call Chaco a distinct resource. "Many of the features associated with this landscape — the communications and road systems that once linked the canyon to great house sites located as far away as southeast Utah and which are still being identified to this day — have been damaged by the construction of oil and gas roads, pipelines and well pads," the archaeologists said. They're pushing for the agency to consider a master leasing plan that would take into account cultural resources beyond the boundaries of the national park. They're also looking for more coordination between federal land managers, tribes and archaeologists. Wally Drangmeister, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said the BLM's existing plan already takes into account cultural resources. He said there has been a push by environmentalists to tie Chaco to development in the Mancos shale more than 10 miles from the park. Environmentalists have been calling for protections for the greater Chaco area, and Drangmeister said that expansive definition could put the whole San Juan Basin off limits...more

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/business/national-business/article25819795.html#storylink=cpy

Rand Paul meets with Cliven Bundy on Nevada campaign stop

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul met with southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy on Monday during a question-and-answer session in the town of Mesquite with about 50 supporters and activists interested in land rights. The meeting northeast of Las Vegas was part of a statewide tour with stops from Las Vegas to rural Elko. The Kentucky senator stopped at casino resorts and ballrooms Monday as part of his "Stand with Rand" tour, looking to win over small-government Republicans he believes are key to a successful result in Nevada's February presidential caucus. In Mesquite, Paul fielded questions on public land control — a contentious topic in a state where more than 80 percent of the land is owned by the federal government. In an interview with The Associated Press, Paul said he'd favor transferring federally owned land back to state control. "I think almost all land use issues and animal issues, endangered species issues, ought to be handled at the state level," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think that the government shouldn't interfere with state decisions, so if a state decides to have medical marijuana or something like that, it should be respected as a state decision." Paul's meeting with Bundy recalled one of the more dramatic conflicts over land rights in recent years. Bundy told the AP: "In general, I think we're in tune with each other." He added: "I don't think we need to ask Washington, D.C. for this land. It's our land."...more

Let’s Fix Our National Parks, Not Add More

IN Yosemite National Park, officials need roughly $19 million to upgrade an aging sewer system to prevent spills like the one that leaked thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the Merced River 15 years ago. In Grand Canyon National Park, more than $100 million is needed to repair the water system and $44 million to fix the trail network for the park’s four million visitors a year.

Throughout the national park system, an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance is eroding the visitor experience and threatening the very resources that the National Park Service was created to protect. Earlier this year, the park service announced that the cost of deferred maintenance had reached $11.5 billion.
Included in the backlog: $5.6 billion for park roads, $1.8 billion for buildings, nearly $473 million for trails, $255 million for wastewater systems and $62 million for campgrounds.

Unfortunately, the park service is not alone. At last estimate, the maintenance backlog for its parent agency, the Interior Department, which also includes the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, was put at between $13.2 billion and $19.3 billion.

Despite this, in December President Obama effectively spread the maintenance budget even thinner by adding seven new parks totaling approximately 120,000 acres to the park system. The administration also supports reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which devotes up to $900 million annually from offshore oil and gas leases to federal land acquisitions and state recreational grants — but nothing explicitly for the maintenance of our federal lands.

Adding more land to the federal estate is irresponsible when the government is failing to maintain the parks, forests and grazing lands it currently owns. Rather than using the conservation fund to acquire more land, Congress should use the money to help address the deferred maintenance backlog.
True conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have, not insatiably acquiring more and hoping it manages itself.


New data released on violent threats to federal employees

...Earlier this month, six anonymous gunshots were fired on public land near the camp of three Bureau of Land Management contract researchers from the Reno-based nonprofit Great Basin Institute who were monitoring water in the Gold Butte area, near the Bundy Ranch. The BLM has said it would take extra precautions in the area as a result. Environmental groups that are concerned about the impact of grazing say that by allowing ranchers like Bundy to let livestock graze illegally in sensitive habitat encourages others to do the same, to the detriment of ecosystems. At least three green organizations, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Oregon Wild, have now partnered with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others to create the Ballots not Bullets Coalition. The Coalition launched in May, around the time that the conservative militia-type organization Oath Keepers and others, including two Bundy family representatives, gathered in southern Oregon to support gold miners in a dispute with the BLM.  There’s a long history of violence toward federal public lands officers, as was evident in the results of last year’s High Country News investigation on the topic. And since 1995, the nonprofit watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has compiled annual reports of such cases that involve BLM officials. Last week, they released their 2014 report, which included 15 incidents involving BLM officers. Despite the Bundy fracas, it was the lowest number since 1996...more

BLM to take 'fresh look' at Burning Man housing request

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials are reviewing the agency's recent requests to Burning Man after a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation last week revealed a more than $1 million proposal for BLM facilities and services at this year's event in the Black Rock Desert. The proposals included flush toilets, washers and dryers and 24-hour access to ice cream for high-level BLM personnel, according to documents obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal. BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis issued the following statement Monday: "I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event. Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety." Federal BLM officials stated that the Nevada office would be doing most of the review. The review does not mean that the documents will be revised. "At this point, it's taking a step back, taking a fresh look at what our needs are. It's making sure that whatever we do is being seen as cost-efficient," said Craig Leff, spokesman for the federal BLM offices in Washington, D.C. "Where that leads us will be determined."...more

Feds: Please stop flying drones over active wildfires

The people charged with protecting millions of acres of public land from wildfires have a request to drone pilots: Stop getting in our way. On Monday the U.S. Forest Service along with other land management agencies sent a notice asking the general public to kindly avoid flying over active fires. According to the notice on June 25 drones interrupted air tanker operations over the Sterling fire in San Bernardino National Forest. Here's more from the Forest Service:
"Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as airtankers and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes, typically just a couple of hundred feet above the ground, the same as UAS flown by members of the public do, creating the potential for a mid-air collision that could seriously injure or kill aerial and/or ground firefighters. In addition, a UAS flown by a member of the public that loses its communication link could fall from the sky, causing serious injuries or deaths of firefighters on the ground."...more

Cartel Gunmen Silence Star Witness in Trial of Los Zetas Boss in Mexico

Gunmen acting under orders of a ruthless cartel executed one of Mexico’s star witnesses who played a key role in the prosecution of top capos in Mexico, including the leader of Los Zetas. While authorities tried to downplay the May 29 shooting where three men having lunch died at a shopping plaza near Mexico City, that country’s Proceso Magazine has identified one of the victims as a protected witness known to authorities by the name “Karen.” The murder serves as another example of the overwhelming power of the criminal organization that remains one of the most ruthless and powerful syndicates in Mexico and continues to reach deep into the United States far beyond the border cities. Karen is the name given to a former Zeta hitman who had been testifying about having worked with former top Zeta boss Miguel Angel “Z-40 o El 40, L40” Trevino Morales in the early 2000s which is a time when Los Zetas were still part of the Gulf Cartel and initially set their control over the border city of Nuevo Laredo. The Mexican government has been using women’s names in an effort to help hide the identity of government witnesses that have chosen to testify against their former employers. In the case of Karen, he had been a former Mexican soldier who had joined the ranks of Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo as a foot soldier and then climbed to being a key member. After his capture, Karen joined Mexico’s witness protection program. According to Proceso, Karen’s testimony at trial is what led to his execution under orders of Trevino’s defense team. The information is based on the court records filed against one of the two hitmen captured by Mexican authorities...more

Body of Mexican immigrant, water bottle found in desert near Santa Teresa

Authorities found the body of a 36-year-old man in a remote area of the desert near Santa Teresa Saturday evening. According to the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, the body belonged to a Mexican immigrant who may have died from the extreme weather conditions. Border Patrol agents were patrolling the area when they discovered footprints, and after following the prints for a mile they discovered the body. Authorities also found an empty water bottle about 15 feet from the body, as well as a pair of boots that reportedly belonged to the victim, officials said. Agents found two other individuals in the same desert area, officials said. One person was severely dehydrated, and the other had water and appeared to be in good health...more

South Texas Farmer Dies in Bee Attack Near Tractor

A South Texas farmer has died after being stung by hundreds of bees while using a tractor on a field near Rio Hondo. The San Benito Fire Department on Monday identified the victim as 53-year-old Rogelio Zuniga (roh-HEE'-lee-oh ZOO'-nee-guh). Fire Chief Raul Zuniga Jr. is a cousin of the victim. He says the attack happened Sunday afternoon. Rogelio Zuniga was using a disk on the field when the tractor hit an old concrete pipe meant for irrigation. The fire chief says the bees came from an opening in the pipe. The victim was dead at the scene. The fire chief says an exterminator was brought in to kill the bees and clear the pipe, which had 15 to 20 feet of honeycombs.  AP

Man dies in Arizona after getting stung by hundreds of bees

A man who was stung hundreds of times in a bee attack in western Arizona has died. The Mohave County Sheriff's Office confirmed Friday that the man died Sunday at a hospital in Kingman. Authorities say the man was watching a property in Valle Vista, a community about 14 miles northeast of Kingman, June 12 when he was attacked by a hive of Africanized bees. He was stung between 500 and 1,000 times. Beekeeper Johnnie Hoeft, who was called to the scene, says the hive was inside an old tool cabinet in a shed...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1444

Whew!  Almost didn't get this one made.  Couldn't figure out the Movie Maker 2012 that came with the new computer.  Was able to find and dl the 2.6 version I'm used to.

Anyway, this week I'll be going back and getting some of the pre-YouTube SOD that I want to share in this format.  First up is Cliff Gross with Hog Pen Hop.  The tune is on White Label's Boppin' Hillbilly, Vol. 22. 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Texas, Other States Challenge EPA Over New Water Rule

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Monday challenging an Obama Administration rule that gives federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, greater authority of waterways under the Clean Water Act. Louisiana and Mississippi joined Texas in the lawsuit filed in Houston, which argues the new definition of "Waters of the United States" is too broad and open to interpretation. The EPA said the waters affected would only be those with a "direct and significant" to larger bodies of water downstream that already protected. "The EPA's new water rule is not about clean water – it's about power," Paxton said in a statement. "This sweeping new rule is a blatant overstep of federal authority and could have a devastating effect on virtually any property owner, from farmers to ranchers to small businesses. If it moves forward, essentially anybody with a ditch on their property would be at risk of costly and unprecedented new regulations and a complicated web of bureaucracy. Texans shouldn't need permission from the federal government to use their own land, and the EPA's attempt to erode private property rights must be put to a stop." The new rule was finalized May 27 and currently set to go into effect Aug. 28. Thirteen other states led by North Dakota filed lawsuit Monday in a federal court in Bismarck, asking the rule be thrown out.  AP

New workers’ compensation ruling could cost local farmers

State Senator Pat Woods
The New Mexico Court of Appeal’s ruling that farmers and ranchers are not excluded from the Workers’ Compensation Act may cost those in the Curry and Roosevelt county area up to 40 percent in wages. Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association, said that the appeal was approved with the understanding that it would only cost 1 percent in wages to farmers and ranchers. “That just isn’t true at all,” Cowan said. Cowan said farm and ranch employers in the Albuquerque area are seeing up to 25 percent for every $100 in wages being spent on insurance. Pat Woods, a state senator from Curry County, said that ranch owners who have gotten workers’ compensation for their employees in this area have seen their rates sky rocket up to 40 percent. “Salesmen say that it happens because we aren’t controlling our accidents, but it is because we are so far away,” Woods said. According to Woods, the policies can get expensive due to the long wait for medical attention in the country. Between that and the policies being based on frequency rather than severity, Woods said the policies could close down small producers. “This is just another reason for people to get out of agriculture,” Woods said. These costs have the potential to scare away the heirs of ranches and farms, Woods said. When new owners face the idea of keeping the business alive or selling for profit, Woods said he fears more people will run because of this cost...more

Feds defend Utah prairie dogs rules in closely watched case

Government attorneys are defending federal protections for Utah prairie dogs after 10 states stepped into the case in favor of a ruling that animal activists say could undermine the Endangered Species Act. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers want a federal appeals court to overturn the unusual decision striking down prairie dog protections near the southern Utah town of Cedar City, about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City. "The Supreme Court has consistently upheld Congress's authority to prevent interstate competition from causing various harms, including destruction of the natural environment," lawyers wrote in recently filed court documents. They're asking the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments in the case. It was originally filed by a group of Cedar City residents who said federal protections were allowing the small, burrowing animals to take over the town's golf course, airport and cemetery and even interrupt funerals with their barking. Attorney Michael Harris with Friends of Animals countered Thursday that those claims are overblown, and property rights can co-exist with animal protections. Jonathan Wood, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, disagrees. He represented the Cedar City residents and argued that the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause doesn't allow the federal government to protect animals only found within a single state on private property. That reasoning hadn't gotten much traction in court before the ruling from U.S. District Judge Dee Benson last year. He struck down federal protections for Utah prairie dogs in a decision animal-rights groups called a radical departure from 40 years of animal protection under the Endangered Species Act. The ruling could have wide-ranging effects because most protected animals in the U.S. are only found in one state. If it's upheld on appeal, the case could bring the Endangered Species Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ten states have entered the case to support Benson's decision: Utah, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and now Michigan, which weighed in earlier this month. They say states should run protection programs for rare animals instead...more

Vagneur: The myth of the West is all that's left

by Tony Vagneur

We were driving down Highway 24, a young man and myself, pulling a loaded four-horse trailer at about 65 miles per hour, listening to me extol the virtues of the passing landscape as being especially great cattle country. Out of the corner of my eye, the sight of grazing animals caught my attention, and before I could say “cows,” I realized I was staring down a herd of llamas. 

“What the hell? That ain’t the spirit of the Wild West,” I exclaimed. 

“Nope,” said my passenger, “that’s the New West.” A sullen silence began to overtake us as we weighed the depth of his remark, but there were worse things ahead. Within a few miles, off to our right, we spied a panoply of new homes, just far enough apart (or close enough together) to create an impenetrable wall to the wild creatures among us. Disgustingly, they were, in total, a subdivision under the auspices of some jackassed name, meaning clearly, “New-Fangled Ranch,” each home site covering 10 to 15 acres. 

In the spirit of the “New West,” I suspect most of those lovers of open space couldn’t tell the difference between a cow pie and a wild mushroom.

The myth of the West is about all that’s really left of the spirit of the West. So many of us have moved westward, looking for that indefinable feeling of independence, of freedom, of being our own person, that we’ve totally mucked it up. It is very difficult to tell, at least on the surface, the difference between the West and the East, simply because almost everyone who moves west for the intangibles also brings with them a psychological load of city-bred constraints, and slowly the magnificent breadth of the West is being chiseled down to the lowest common denominator. 

Wolves kill domestic animals in eastern Oregon

Two wolf attacks in eastern Oregon have left three sheep, one dog and one calf dead. The Statesman Journal reports the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Wednesday confirmed the two attacks from last week. They were the first attacks confirmed by the department since September. The first incident occurred June 20 after a Wallowa County livestock owner found a partially consumed calf with bite marks and wolf tracks near the carcass. GPS locations showed a radio-collared wolf to be within 4 miles of the carcass. On June 22, three sheep and one guard dog were found dead in Umatilla County. The department said the bite wounds and location of the attack were similar to other wolf attacks. Since returning to Oregon, wolves have killed 109 domestic animals. An annual report finds that wolves continued to grow in numbers and spread across Oregon in 2014. Wolves in counties with intensive prevention efforts were moving to other locations, such as Baker County and remote national forest grazing allotments. Ranchers were noticing more missing cattle, and there were likely many more wolves than the census documented because of the difficulty of finding every wolf...more

High-stakes rustling

A year’s worth of work was loaded into a trailer and stolen away from Marvin Wagman’s ranch. Sixty head of cattle, worth $110,000 to $120,000, were stolen from Wagman’s property late in 2014 in Arpelar. Disappeared, vanished, gone — and left behind were very few clues to make sense of it all. A broken lock and a downed fence were the only things to suggest anything peculiar happened. But, something did happen, and Wagman is left with no other option than to absorb the loss and move on. “I worked all year for nothing, basically,” Wagman said. “I will break even for the year, if that.”
Wagman’s ranch is a timeless slice of midwestern Americana. Grassy fields and knolls, wooded patches, ponds, a solitary deer stand, and even a one-room rural school building last used decades ago, are all located on the property with a small creek snaking between it all. Cows lazily look up and stare at Wagman’s truck as he drives through a field in his pickup truck. It’s difficult to imagine the ranch as the location of such a high-value heist. In fact, little signifies anything wrong ever happened, other than the presence of a rifle resting at Wagman’s side as he drives. Cattle theft is a problem across Oklahoma. Gregg, the agriculture agent, said 1,500 head of cattle are reported stolen every year to the state agriculture department. “There’s several ways they can report it,” Gregg said. “They can call the sheriff’s office and they in turn call our office. The sheriff’s office has a map of which agent operates in their area.” Wagman called the sheriff’s department, which then called Gregg. Gregg maintains the investigation is still ongoing, but Wagman has all but given up after more than eight months without seeing any of his cattle returned. “It’s always an open investigation unless they (inspectors) find the cattle or arrest a suspect and it goes to trial,” Gregg said. “We may find evidence six months to a year down the road. We may make an arrest or conviction and they will confess to other thefts.” Gregg says roughly 40 percent of stolen cattle are returned — and most thefts are on a much smaller scale than Wagman’s case. Another Pittsburg County resident, Ronnie Allford, had nearly that number of cattle stolen from his property near Tannehill in November. Allford reported 51 head of calves missing to the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office at an estimated total value of $90,000. Compare Allford’s $90,000 loss to that of a bank robbery. The average amount of loot taken in 2011 per bank robbery, burglary or larceny was less than $8,500, according to the most recent numbers available from FBI records. Wagman had more than 12 times that amount stolen from him in the form of cattle. “It’s just a problem and I don’t know what to do about them,” Allford said. “These things (stolen cattle) are traded around and shipped hundreds of miles.”...more

Study says consumption of antibiotics will increase by 67 percent

Between 2010 and 2030, the global consumption of antibiotics will increase by 67 percent, according to a new study called “Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Chicken and pork production will be responsible for most of that increase. By 2030, China and the United States will likely lead the world in animal antibiotic use, but countries like Myanmar, Indonesia, Nigeria, Peru and Vietnam will see the highest projected percentage increases. There, a growing middle class will be looking to add more meat to their diets, so, the study’s authors predict, producers will be looking for ways to increase production as inexpensively as possible. The scientists behind the study are concerned about the consequences. To better understand them, the authors call for, among other things, an international surveillance network of antibiotics in the livestock sector — and, eventually, the withdrawal of their use as growth promotants in all food animals. In this country, there is some movement in that direction already. The Food and Drug Administration has asked drug and meat companies to stop feeding antibiotics to livestock for faster growth. That request is strictly voluntary, but it’s the strongest action the FDA has yet taken. The agency has also asked the makers of antibiotics to rewrite their labels to prohibit such use of their products, and the drug makers have agreed to do that by the end of next year. Consumer pressure is driving some businesses to take action on their own. Perdue has dramatically reduced its use of antibiotics; Tyson launched lines of antibiotic-free chicken and beef. Chick-fil-A is phasing out chicken raised with antibiotics over the next five years. Panera and Chipotle offer antibiotic-free chicken, beef and pork dishes; McDonald’s and Wendy’s intend to start reducing antibiotic use in U.S. chicken offerings. Some of these companies have suggested that their attention will turn to beef in the future, but for now, antibiotic-free chicken is more widely available, and vertical integration in the chicken industry makes these large-scale changes easier...more

Federal Legislation Takes Aim at Mexican Gray Wolf Program

Two congressmen from the Southwest have introduced legislation that they say would protect farmers, ranchers and rural communities in Arizona and New Mexico from economic losses stemming from the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves. Environmentalists argue, however, that the legislation would be a death sentence for the endangered predators. U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Paul Gosar of Arizona introduced the bill this week. The two Republicans said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ignored public safety concerns and has failed to establish recovery goals for the wolves. They also criticized a recent decision to expand the wolf-reintroduction area in the two states. Pearce said the current reintroduction program isn’t effective and doesn’t provide the kind of accountability that residents deserve. “Congress must intervene by delisting the Mexican wolf, eliminating this inadequate ‘recovery’ program and transferring species protection back to the state of New Mexico,” he said. Gosar said the experiment to return wolves to the wild in the Southwest is flawed and should be ended. A subspecies of the gray wolf, the Mexican wolf was added to the federal endangered species list in 1976. There are now at least 109 wolves in the wild in the two states. That’s more than at any time since the reintroduction started. Changes announced by the Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year would allow up to 325 wolves to roam a larger area...more

Burning Man officials push back against BLM's demands for a VIP compound on the playa

The proposed Blue Pit compound will be an exclusive set-up reserved for BLM officials and VIP guests.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking Burning Man organizers to build a separate compound with amenities such as flushing toilets, washers and dryers, and 24-hour access to ice cream for government officials staying in Black Rock City. A Burning Man spokesman estimated the compound would cost the event more than $1 million, bringing its 2015 permit fees to about $5 million. The renderings of the compound obtained by the RGJ show various accommodations set aside for VIP visitors but don't indicate who the visiting dignitaries will be. Burning Man has refused to comply with the BLM's request, which the federal agency submitted on June 1, according to Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham. In its response, Burning Man gave the BLM until Monday to set a meeting to hash out their differences. "We want to work this out. We're getting close to the event, but we feel that there are more common-sense and cost-effective solutions," Graham said. Among the amenities included in the request are flushing toilets to be cleaned daily by Burning Man staff, a laundry with washers and dryers, on-demand hot water, air conditioning, vanity mirrors, refrigerators and couches. The event, known for its emphasis on self-reliance in harsh conditions, provides only basic amenities such as nonflushable portable toilets, for ticketed attendees...more

Harry Reid: Government officials at Burning Man can use other toilets

Burning Man has attracted plenty of eclectic people over the years, including leading conservative thinker Grover Norquist, who attended last year and seemed generally enamored by what he saw.
But the annual desert gathering may never have an ally as prominent as Harry Reid. The Nevada lawmaker and Senate minority leader has joined a battle that pits the 30-year-old festival of art and self-expression against the powerful Bureau of Land Management. And that has made Reid angry. Withhold-gifts angry. Leave-a-trace angry. Burn-something-in-effigy angry. “While I agree that the BLM should take its permitting duties seriously and work with Burning Man to both guarantee the safety of its participants and the protection of the environment,” he wrote in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Friday, “providing outlandishly unnecessary facilities for the BLM and its guests should be beyond the scope of the permitting requirements.”...more

BLM defends its Burning Man requests

Federal Bureau of Land Management officials defended on Sunday their request for special housing accommodations during the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada, disputing comments by Sen. Harry Reid and others that the plans are unnecessary and extravagant. A Reno Gazette-Journal investigation broke the details of the request last week. Burning Man organizers have refused the request, saying amenities such as flush toilets, washers and dryers, showers, air conditioning and refrigerators at the bureau's on-site camp in the Black Rock Desert would cost $1 million and increase permit fees to about $5 million. Gene Seidlitz, the bureau's Winnemucca district manager, said Sunday to the Associated Press that the cost of the portable units is being "robustly exaggerated" by organizers. The compound will offer basic amenities only for top agency officials who oversee the event, he said. The number of Bureau of Land Management personnel on hand at the festival has doubled to 160 over the last five years as the peak crowd size has soared to nearly 70,000, he said. And the bureau has run out of places around the nearby town of Gerlach to house employees, he said. Most of the agency's employees stay at a motel or rental properties in the tiny town. "A lot of folks think we're like participants in that we are out there to enjoy the event and party," Seidlitz said. "But my staff and I have to be rested, well-nourished and accommodated to the bare minimum so we can ensure health, security and safety at the event."...more

Cities, Farms, Orchards Fight for Water as California Shuts Faucets

California ordered San Francisco, five water agencies and the state's biggest utility to stop pumping from rivers and streams, targeting water rights dating back to 1858. The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday sent notices curtailing 16 water rights held by 11 senior diverters on the upper San Joaquin and Merced rivers. The cuts affect five water agencies that collectively serve more than 300,000 acres of farmland, as well as Pacific Gas & Electric, a ranch and a dairy. Because PG&E can use water for hydroelectric generation as long as the flows are returned to the river, it is unlikely to be seriously affected by the notice. San Francisco was sent a curtailment order for rights it has held to divert water from the Tuolumne River since 1903. The water board said the city's rights should have been curtailed two weeks ago when it delivered orders to those holding water rights from 1903 or later. San Francisco's notice was omitted because of an incorrect entry in the water board's database. The order will have little practical effect on San Francisco because the city pulls most of its water from other sources, including Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is 95 percent full. San Francisco gets 85 percent of its water from the reservoir. California has curtailed more than 9,000 water rights this year. Until this month only junior water rights holders were affected - those who laid claim to surface water after 1914. Two weeks ago, the water board announced cutbacks for 114 water users who established their rights to divert water from the San Joaquin River, Sacramento River and the Delta between 1903 and 1914. Until this year, the state had curtailed pre-1914 rights only once, during the 1977 drought. More senior rights curtailments are expected as supplies continue to decline through the summer, the water board said. Several irrigation districts are fighting back in court, claiming the water board does not have the power to curtail senior rights. The latest district to sue is the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, which filed a complaint in Contra Costa County Superior Court on Friday, demanding that the notice of curtailment it received on June 12 be rescinded immediately. Byron-Bethany's curtailments affect family farms, ranches and communities that depend on the district for water. The 12,000 residents of Mountain House rely solely on the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District for water. The district calls the state's action dangerous and illegal...more

Is California trying to take Arizona's water?

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva don’t agree on much, but both worry California could take Arizona’s water. The conservative governor and the liberal congressman say Arizona must be vigilant to ensure its drought-parched neighbor doesn’t use federal action to grab some of Arizona’s Colorado River supply. Of particular concern is a California drought bill that’s been quietly negotiated for months in the U.S. Senate. “The secrecy generates concern and nervousness. Nobody I know in Arizona knows what’s in this bill at this point,” says Chuck Cullom, who manages Colorado River issues for the Central Arizona Project, the canal system that brings the river water to Phoenix, Tucson, tribes and farms. The two states have fought over water many times, and any threat from giant California has always been a potent Arizona rallying cry. California, after all, has much more political clout: 53 members in the House of Representatives compared to Arizona’s nine. And California’s water situation is much worse than Arizona’s, which has done far more than its neighbor over the years to conserve water and prepare for shortages. That’s why Democratic Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton added his voice to the concerns a few days ago, saying in Washington, D.C., that his city must be ready for a fight with California...more

Greens intensify fight for higher energy royalties

Progressives and environmentalists are upping the pressure on the Obama administration to increase the fees that energy companies pay to extract oil, natural gas and coal from the federal government’s land. The advocates and their Democratic allies in Congress say they’re out to ensure taxpayers get a fair return for the minerals the government owns, while better protecting the environment and being fair to other industries. The coalition pushing for higher rates can now count Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton as one of its allies after she highlighted the issue earlier this month as she formally launched her campaign. Clinton said at her New York City speech that she would push for “additional fees and royalties from fossil fuel extraction to protect the environment,” with the money going to clean and renewable energy expenses. Campaign spokesman Ian Sams declined to comment further on the policies. The Interior Department is beginning to work on several fronts to change fees and lease terms. “A lot of it is driven by the need to create a level playing field among extractive industries on taxpayer-owned lands,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, director for public lands at the Center for American Progress...more

Black Chamber of Commerce: EPA Clean Air Plan Will Increase Black Poverty 23%, Strip 7,000,000 Black Jobs

A study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which represents 2.1 million black-owned businesses in the United States, found that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan would increase black poverty by 23 percent and cause the loss of 7 million jobs for black Americans by 2035. The study also found that the EPA' plan would increase Hispanic poverty by 26 percent and cause the loss of 12 million jobs for Hispanic Americans by 2035. The EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan on June 2, 2014 to cut carbon emissions from power plants. The National Black Chamber of Commerce commissioned the study to evaluate the potential economic and employment impacts of the plan on minority groups...more

Civilian Conservation Corps merits monument

The men from the Civilian Conservation Corps, Company 833, built the National Park Service Building in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque journal)
From 1933 to 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that employed out-of-work, young unmarried men as part of the New Deal. Similarly, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided jobs for men and women during those years. It was no accident that New Mexico had more CCC camps than any other state. Today, we are the beneficiaries of the work accomplished by those who served in the CCC and WPA. Although the CCC and the WPA were important to the nation and to National Parks throughout the country, and although their works remain evident in many parks, nowhere is there a unit of the National Park System dedicated to preserving and telling their stories. There ought to be such a national monument, it ought to be in New Mexico and it ought to be at the Old Santa Fe Trail Building in Santa Fe, itself a CCC project...more

Oh, how they long for those good ol' FDR days. 

Are we going to have a monument for every failed government program?

So that's why I've lost my 'cognitive flexibility'

If you love your fried, fatty foods smothered in chocolate and generously dusted with icing sugar? Then, you might just have to say goodbye to mental acuity. A new research conducted in Oregon State University has revealed that a high-sugar, high-fat diet can drastically modify your gut bacteria which in turn may lead to significant losses in ‘cognitive flexibility’ – a measurement of the brain’s ability to switch between thinking about one concept to another, and to adapt to changes in the environment. The study, which was conducted on mice and published this week in the journal Neuroscience, showed that a high-sugar diet was detrimental to brain function, leading not only to decreased cognitive flexibility but also to impairments in both short- and long-term memory – thereby increasing your chances of dementia later in life...more

Boy Scout killed in flash flood at Philmont Ranch

One Boy Scout died and three others were rescued after being swept away in a flash flood early Saturday, according to the New Mexico State Police. A group of eight Scouts, ages 14 to 17, three adult crew leaders and one adult ranger were on the two-week trek across the Philmont Scout Ranch, a popular Boy Scout ranch near Cimarron. They were camped near the North Ponil Canyon, 15 miles northeast of the training center. Rain started falling early Saturday morning, flooding parts of the ranch property, according to a news release posted on the ranch’s website. Around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, a flash flood rushed down the canyon, said State Police spokesman Chad Pierce. “As the floodwater swept through the canyon, it overran the Scouts’ campsite, resulting in four Boy Scouts being swept away,” Pierce said. Staff members found three of the Scouts who had been swept away down the canyon, but couldn’t find the fourth...more

Feds announce additional Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative sites to prepare natural resources for climate change

The Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) today recognized three new collaborative landscape partnerships across the country where Federal agencies will focus efforts with partners to conserve and restore important lands and waters and make them more resilient to a changing climate. These include the California Headwaters, California's North-Central Coast and Russian River Watershed, and Crown of the Continent. Building on existing collaborations, these Resilient Lands and Waters partnerships – located in California and Montana/British Columbia – will help build the resilience of valuable natural resources and the people, businesses and communities that depend on them in regions vulnerable to climate change and related challenges. They will also showcase the benefits of landscape-scale management approaches and help enhance the carbon storage capacity of these natural areas. The selected lands and waters face a wide range of climate impacts and other ecological stressors related to climate change, including drought, wildfire, sea level rise, species migration and invasive species. At each location, Federal agencies will work closely with state, tribal, and local partners to prepare for and prevent these and other threats, and ensure that long-term conservation efforts take climate change into account. These new Resilient Lands and Waters sites follow President Obama's announcement of the first set of Resilient Landscape partnerships (southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington and the Great Lakes region) at the 2015 Earth Day event in the Everglades...more

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Equal rights across the pasture

Julie Carter

It didn't take an act of Congress to give cowgirls their equal opportunity rights in their work at the ranch. Since cowgirl time began, the women of the range have been afforded the opportunity to work side by side with their male counterparts.

The weather never made the issue debatable. She was allowed to freeze her backside off in the same West Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, or Dakotas blizzard as he was.

Her circle for the day included ice just as thick to axe through and the same drifts to drive or ride through. Her frost-encrusted eyelashes, batting over blue eyes, never turned an ounce of sympathy or empathy from any of the other chilled-down cowhands as they moved a herd of mother cows and calves in a spring snowstorm.

Dust boiling from a droughty country side as the winds whipped across the landscape never offered a preference for what gender the rider was when she got sandblasted, dirt stuck to eyes and nostrils and teeth turned brown with grit.

The start before daylight, the stop long past sundown carried no clause for shorter hours for the fairer sex.

In fact, more often than not, she started earlier and ended later, as she first tended to arrangements for provisions to last the day and the cleanup at the end of the day. It's not a complaint, just a fact.

A charging cow in the alley will just as quickly run over the one wearing chaps and mascara as she will the guy who hollers at her in a deep voice, then laughs when the denim bottom is last seen bailing over the fence into the weeds.

The bulls will knock down the gate she is holding with no regard to the fact she's a mother and has plans to live to raise her children, preferably not as a quadriplegic.

The real equalizer in the operation has always been the horses. And, this is where the cowboys will, and they can't help it because it is how they are, claim a superior notion that they can ride what the little woman can't.

Sometimes true, sometimes not.

I remember my dad warning me not to ride one of the horses he brought home in a herd of several that he’d bought.

"You stay off that horse," he said. "Even the cowboys at the ranch I bought him from are afraid of him and for good reason."

The local hands murmured and warned me. Eagle's reputation had traveled the information highway common to ranch hands.

You can see where this is going. I was 15 and bullet proof, or horse proof as it were.

As soon as nobody was looking, I had the tall, leggy dun saddled and in a long trot in the opposite direction from the house so my mother couldn't see me ride off.

Never knew why, but nothing happened. And in subsequent saddlings, no problems. When my dad got over being mad at me, Eagle and I covered lots of miles at a long trot.

One time a friend of mine was hurt seriously when her horse bucked her off at the ranch. She was on the mend and would live to return to riding in a few months, but the best medicine she got came in the form of some news.

The "outlaw" that had put her on the ground was sent to a cowboy for some miles, wet saddle blankets and manners. Seems that was going along fairly well until this same horse dusted that cowboy's britches in the dirt.

"That son-of-gun sure can buck," he admitted.  The lad’s lightbulb moment had arrived. The cowgirl hadn't "fallen" off in a simple crow-hopping event ... dang if she hadn't actually been bucked down by a real bucker. Victories for the cowgirl sometimes come in odd ways.

This was one of them.

Julie, who sometimes just fell off, can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

Seeking Protection

 Summer Stampede
Seeking Protection
Gone to Texas
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Texas is wet.
That can be discerned not just by the green grass trying to head out and water standing in the furrows, but by the way folks act. Big smiles are abundant. Ranch pickups are covered with mud, and too many tractors are parked with similar unwashed appearances. The heavens finally opened, and, like Napoleonic legions marching in echelon into battle, the successive storm fronts have invaded the Llano.
The Summer Stampede was a fitting celebration of the gifts to be derived from those rains.
Folks came from far and near to gather. The excuse to mingle and dance was the Summer Stampede where some of the finest western artists and craftsmen in the country were assembled to display their work. Sales from the artwork and gear will benefit the Ranching Heritage Association with its absolutely befitting Ranching Heritage Center on the campus of Texas Tech University.
A who’s who of the ranching world was there. They were noted not as much by their names as they were by the hats they wore, the courtesies of their greeting, and the character of the culture of their chosen lives. To the man, woman, and child, they were an amalgam of concerned stewards of western ranges. Just like the mission of the Ranching Heritage Association, they voiced concern and the dire need to preserve the physical, social and cultural aspects of ranching and perpetuate the traditions, intrinsic values, and history of our nation’s most important grassland (industry).
Seeking Protection
 The attempt to capture in the three most recent Westerner articles the cornerstones of the most important grassland industry in our country, and, perhaps the world was both a desired challenge and a burden. The sometimes spirited exchanges with The Westerner, Francois DuBois himself, were indicators of the complexity and the consternation the business and its participants face.
The decision to break the explanations into parts was done in order to devote time and effort to impact a particular target group … the United States Congress. It was yet another educational pursuit.
Our plight continues to be a growing chasm between knowledge and first hand relationships with the land and the vast majority of the folks whose view of us is not predicated on any bond or connection to the natural world. Their world is increasingly affected by political strategies suggesting natural, peaceful and pastoral balances that only exist in imaginations and theory. We are affected by the continuum of real life experiences that happen to coincide with biblical accounts that the world around us was made for the glory of our Creator. As such, our existence emphasizes individual human autonomy over the natural world rather than global and national coordination that must be planned centrally and protected from our existence.
The difference is stark.
Our existence is based on autonomy over our world, and, from that foundation, mankind has and will continue to develop. The growing antagonistic forces are increasingly political recapitulations of tyrannical regimes that have never recognized the individual much less benefited the whole of mankind. Our belief is founded in the importance of the individual of which all is derived. Theirs is the belief that the whole is the foundation which necessarily trumps man’s responsibility to subdue and perfect his surroundings.
Our approach and our heritage is God centered while theirs invariably suggests and accuses our stewardship of creating mayhem in the extreme and natural untidiness in the least. History shows, however, the greatest earthly tragedies emerge from tyrannical regimes not individual existence. The individual doesn’t have the wherewithal to spread death and destruction on a macro basis. Mass destruction only comes from scientific, sociological pantheism given the opportunity to blossom and run amuck.
Hence, we will take refuge in our world, and … we must defend it with intensity.
Our generational knowledge with all the accompanying ranching infrastructure, the cow herself, and the American constitutional gift of private property are the critical, foundational mainstays that will keep our heritage robust and intact. The collapse of any one of the three assures the failure of all.
As a culture and an industry, our general order is to protect those cornerstones. How we carry out that order is left to us, the autonomous, God centered individuals. My intent has been to elevate our stewardship into legislation in the form a purpose rather being cast aside as a categorized use of western lands that can be minimized through regulatory expansion or unilateral executive actions toward more restrictive land designations.
We must all recognize the importance of our ranches.
They were part of the framework that created the industrial revolution and they now stand in a crossroads of changes that will continue to fuel the next revolution. We can only strive to make that revolution a celebration of man’s dominion over nature … rather than the full evisceration of individual freedoms and the cloaking of intended actions through laws and regulatory despair.
Gone to Texas
The Ranching Heritage Center is not a shrine. It is a depository of both individual strife and achievement. As I walked its paneled and limestone hallways, there was no suggestion of big or little. Rather, it was the realization of belonging. It gave me goose bumps. The life I now live is all I ever wanted to do, but I am not alone.
If there are heroes, they don’t dwell there. Rather, they still exist as individuals in the sweeping expanse of our grasslands. Bassist and Texas swing musician extraordinaire, Jake Hooker, recognized that as he played to the big dance floor fashioned under the stars and filled to capacity song after song. When taking request after request, he noted that he doesn’t normally do that, but, with that crowd, he would play and perform to their wishes.
But, the emissaries were there … the Moorehouse brothers, Donald and Jo Allison, Walt and JaNeil Anderson, Luke and Connie Shipp, Bob Sweat, Bruce Green, Bob and Mary Ross Buchholz, Wilson Capron, Billy Klapper, Baru Spiller and on and on the names were revealed as they danced into the starlit Texas night. Collectively, each is united in the life we live.
This way of life is not so unique and special that it stands above any other, but it is symbolic and it is important. Our ranches, like our faith in God, are based on objective facts of History. They have sustained a great nation and will continue to do so if allowed to exist. We don’t think we have placed our faith in the wrong objects. Granted, salvation is always by faith through grace, but our natural surroundings annually reveal the magic of resurrection each time we replant our crops or observe the first calf of the next cycle.
As we headed home, another revelation confronted me.
The Summer Stampede was a welcome and delightful event, but home and the demands of this ranch life took preference and priority. So much to do with so many demands is superceded by the shear fascination of this life. As we drove west and out of green grass, it remained my most heartfelt hope that this baton I carry can be passed to a next generation individual who understands and accepts the huge responsibility of this culture. I’ll take personal responsibility of my own salvation, but our industry needs our help for the continuity of this way of life with its historic operations.
Draw a line and accept the challenge to defend it … this history has value.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “If private land ranches think they are exempt from the dismantling occurring on federal lands ranches, they are sadly mistaken. Once any pillar is removed … all are subject to failure.”

SCOTUS Rules Against The Raisin Ripoff -- A Small Win Against The Dead Hand Of The New Deal

by George Leef

On June 22, the Supreme Court released its decision in Horne v. Department of Agriculture. When I wrote about Horne after oral arguments last fall, I called it the “raisin ripoff” case because the federal government (specifically, the Department of Agriculture’s Raisin Administrative Committee) had demanded 47 percent of the Hornes’ crop for its “price stabilization” system back in 2002.

The value of those raisins was roughly $484,000. When the Hornes refused to obey the Department’s order to turn over the raisins, they were slapped with an assessment plus a fine amounting to $695,000. They fought back, arguing that the government had violated their rights under the Fifth Amendment because it sought to take their property without paying just compensation.

Litigation dragged on for years, with the case making two appearances in the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion finally puts to rest the strained, desperate arguments that the government had hoped would keep this absurd policy going.

For one, he dismissed the claim that the Fifth Amendment was only meant to protect against takings of real property and that takings of personal property (like raisins) did not have to be compensated. Roberts noted that one of the reasons why the Constitution’s drafters included the just compensation requirement was that the people had suffered from uncompensated seizures of personal property by the British and did not want any of that in their new country.

Furthermore, he easily dealt with the Ninth Circuit’s idea that the taking of the property of raisin growers was constitutionally OK because the growers might benefit from the higher prices and also might get some money returned to them – besides which, no one forces them to go into the raisin business in the first place. “Selling produce in interstate commerce, although subject to reasonable governmental regulations, is similarly not a special benefit that the Government may hold hostage, to be ransomed by the waiver of constitutional protection,” Roberts replied.

The Court’s holding that the Department of Agriculture must pay just compensation if and when it takes growers’ output is a welcome defense of property rights. While the decision does not put an end to the Department’s manipulation of raisin prices or any of its other programs – it has “marketing orders” that cover twenty fruits and vegetables including pistachios, cranberries and tomatoes – having to pay for any crops taken will crimp these programs somewhat.

...The idea that agricultural markets needed government “stabilization” was a bad one in 1937 and remains so today. Free agricultural markets would benefit consumers and spare us the waste of good food, the waste of paying bureaucrats to mess with markets, and the waste that lobbying by big agricultural interests involves.

Getting rid of all of those programs is not the Supreme Court’s job, although a strong argument can be made that they are unconstitutional under a correct understanding of the Commerce Clause. (Professor Richard Epstein has nailed that down in this Virginia Law Review article.) The job belongs to Congress, which should repeal all of the various commodity price control and subsidy programs. (Read this piece by Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards to see the scope of the problem.)...

Supreme Court: Yes, Of Course the Fifth Amendment Applies to All Property


“The Fifth Amendment applies to personal property as well as real property,” wrote Justice Roberts in a Supreme Court ruling handed down earlier this week. “The Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.”

You might be thinking, “Was that ever in doubt?” The answer is apparently yes—at least it was by the federal government since the time of FDR’s New Deal.

...Horne challenged the law (Horne v. US Department of Agriculture), arguing the taking of his property without compensation is a violation of the Fifth Amendment, while the Obama administration claimed they can take personal property without compensating the owner. More broadly, the government argued they have the ability to take a broad range of personal property—from raisins to iPhones from Americans without compensation. A lower court had agreed, ruling that while the Fifth Amendment protects real property (i.e., land) it does not apply to personal property (e.g., your car).

Fortunately, all nine Supreme Court justices disagreed (though they expressed differing views about compensation). As Roberts notes in his opinion, “This principle [of just compensation], dating back as far as Magna Carta, was codified in the Takings Clause in part because of property appropriations by both sides during the Revolutionary War. This Court has noted that an owner of personal property may expect that new regulation of the use of property could “render his property economically worthless.”

Roberts cites some of the instances of government taking property prior to the American Revolution and notes, “Nothing in this history suggests that personal property was any less protected against physical appropriation than real property.”

Just think of that.  The gov't was claiming they could take your truck, your livestock, your equipment, etc., without just compensation.  I wonder what other ramifications this decision may have.

Lessons From a Little Pink House, 10 Years Later

June 23 marks the 10th anniversary of Kelo v. City of New London, when the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 ruling that government could use eminent domain to take private property for “economic development.” At issue in the case were 15 homes, including a little pink house owned by Susette Kelo, in the city of New London, Conn., which wanted to transfer the properties to a private nonprofit with plans to revitalize the area. But after the court ruled and the houses were razed (with the exception of Ms. Kelo’s, which was moved at private expense), those plans fell through.The condemned land remains empty, housing only a few feral cats. After Hurricane Irene in 2011, the city used it as a dumping ground for debris. Yet the first real development since the Supreme Court’s controversial decision might now be on its way: New London Mayor Daryl Finizio, who was elected in 2011 as a critic of the government taking, recently announced a plan to turn the former site of Ms. Kelo’s house into a park that will “serve as a memorial to all those adversely affected by the city’s use of eminent domain.” Although Kelo was a painful defeat for advocates of property rights, it led to important progress. The ruling generated an enormous backlash: More than 80% of the public disapproved of the court’s decision. The opposition cut across racial, partisan and ideological lines. Kelo was denounced by such unlikely bedfellows as Ralph Nader, Rush Limbaugh and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Since 2005, 45 states have passed laws reforming eminent domain...more

Interior chief: Bundy will be held accountable

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday she is confident that Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, who with armed supporters faced down federal officials over grazing cattle on public land, will be held accountable. “Cliven Bundy has had multiple court orders to remove his cattle from federal public lands and he has not paid his grazing fees and he has not abided by the law,” Jewell told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We will continue to pursue that.” Jewell spoke in Incline Village, where she was to deliver the keynote address to the Western Governors’ Association later in the day. In April 2014, Bundy supporters from around the country congregated on his remote Southern Nevada ranch after Bureau of Land Management officers tried to round up his cattle for failing to pay $1 million in grazing fees over the past 20 years. A tense standoff ensued before federal officials backed down and the cattle were released back to the range. “The safety of our law enforcement officers and the safety of people that represent land managers at every level is of paramount importance to me,” Jewell said. “The wheels of justice move at their own pace,” Jewell said. “I am confident this issue is going to be appropriately resolved.”  Source

Rodeo de Santa Fe saddles success with growth

Mary Borgen marks time by rodeos, not a calendar. So, anything that happens in July is the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Ariz. If it occurs in June, it’s the Rodeo de Santa Fe. Somehow, Borgen, the general manager of the Turquoise circuit of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and her cast of rodeo friends put it together that she has participated in the rodeo — usually as a timer — for 20 years. In that time, she has seen how the Rodeo de Santa Fe, now in its 66th iteration, has grown to be a valuable asset on the Turquoise circuit schedule — one of 32 PRCA sanctioned events that encompasses New Mexico, Arizona and southern Colorado. “They are always trying to improve and make the rodeo better and more fun,” Borgen said. Which explains why the rodeo introduced miniature bull riding, in which competitors from ages 8-14 ride smaller, younger bulls, to its lineup this year. The Rodeo de Santa Fe board of directors brought in the Navy Band Southwest from San Diego to perform at the rodeo parade and during the pre-rodeo events. Next year, a new set of grandstands will be introduced to the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds. All of these improvements — both slight and grand — helped the rodeo set an attendance record in 2014. For rodeo president Jim Butler, he and the board’s goal is to balance providing entertainment for its ticket holders with a quality rodeo that attracts elite-level cowboys as well as those weekend warriors who simply want to keep in touch with a sport they so dearly love. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘I wish you could put on a basic, old-fashioned rodeo,’ ” Butler said. “But you can’t do that. I tell people we are in show business battling for entertainment dollars from a lot of different sources. And there is more and more to battle with every year.” Still, the rodeo has walked the fine line of entertainment and competition, and the reward is in the caliber of cowboys who compete at the rodeo. While many participants are veterans of the Turquoise circuit, which Borgen said was developed in the 1970s as a way to let cowboys who don’t compete for a living a chance to do so on their schedule, the Rodeo de Santa Fe entertains some of the best competitors in the country and the world. Butler has seen the likes of Joe Beaver, an eight-time world champion (three-time all-around champion and five times in tie-down roping) and fellow world champions Taos Muncy, Trevor Brazile and J.W. Harris explode from the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds chutes and give crowds their money’s worth. “Any time you are in your 66th year and the second largest rodeo in the state, that helps,” Butler said. “Anytime you bring in the quality of contestants we bring in, people pay attention.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1443

Our gospel tune this Sunday is I've Got My One Way Ticket To The Sky by the Bailes Brothers (Johnny & Homer). 


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kenji Kawano: 40 Years with the Navajo

Kenji Kawano is perhaps best known for his photographs of the Navajo code talkers recruited by the Marines to communicate military orders in their own language in World War II, baffling the Japanese. Around 400 young men, who had never been away from the reservation, served in some of the bloodiest battles in the South Pacific and are credited with helping win the battle of Iwo Jima. As a Japanese native, and thus a “former enemy,” Mr. Kawano might have seemed an unlikely candidate to tell the code talkers’ story. But his background is what helped him bond with the Navajo veterans who had remained silent for so many years. Soon after he had settled into the Navajo Nation in 1974 to work on a project, he was struggling to learn the language. While he was hitchhiking in 1975, a big camera bag on his shoulder, he was given a ride by Carl N. Gorman, one of the original 29 code talkers. Mr. Gorman invited him to a Navajo Code Talkers Association meeting, and Mr. Kawano began to photograph them at functions and parades. He quickly realized they were the same age as his father, who served in the Japanese Navy during the war and trained as a human torpedo for a potential suicide mission. “My father said the war ended early so he could come home,” Mr. Kawano recalled. “That’s why I was born and I came to America, taking pictures of the former enemy. He came to see me back in the ’90s; he met Mr. Gorman, and I have a picture of the two of them. So life is very interesting.” Those images are among four decades of work included in a two-part retrospective, “40 Years With the Navajo,” which will be exhibited through Jan. 30, 2016, at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz. The second part of the exhibit opens today.