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THE WESTERNER



Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo.



Updated: 2017-12-15T06:30:47.294-07:00

 



BLM agent files complaint with DOJ alleging "policy, ethical and legal violations" in Cliven Bundy trespass case

2017-12-15T00:59:47.752-07:00

Embedded below is a complaint filed by Special Agent Larry C. Wooten. Wooten summarizes the issues right up front in his memo:

There is no date on the memo and I have no way of independently verifying it. However, Wa. State Rep. Matt Shae has gone public with the memo on Redoubt News. If real and accurate, this is dynamite. Things were even worse than I had imagined. It indicts both Interior law enforcement employees and the U.S. Attorney's office.

You can view the Redoubt News video with Rep. Matt Shae here (Facebook) or here (website).

Here is the Wooten memo:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ewb9cit4oy6dx6x/Wooten%20Communication_77PI.pdf?dl=0 height="480" src="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZiRgmE9hAkOPiG4LZBpeA6f5XgQ0IK6l/preview" width="640">



Rockefeller and the secret land deals that created Grand Tetons National Park

2017-12-14T19:45:35.433-07:00

Lisa Lednicer

The audacious plan was hatched in secret. In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. – son of the Standard Oil founder, ardent conservationist and one of America’s richest men – agreed to surreptitiously acquire thousands of acres of breathtaking scenery around Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and donate them to the federal government for a national park. At the behest of Horace Albright, the future director of the National Park Service, Rockefeller formed a company called the Snake River Land Co. to buy up property around the Snake River. Rockefeller knew that if word got out that he was interested in acreage there, the price would skyrocket. “He was willing to pay fair market prices for the land, but not Rockefeller prices,” said park service spokesman Andrew White. The federal government had created several national parks in the early 20th century, White said, and the philanthropist “didn’t want the optics that this was the federal government coming in and taking more land.” The agents Rockefeller hired to do the buying told landowners only that they were representing someone who wanted the land for conservation purposes. It left locals thinking that perhaps the buyer was interested in expanding an elk preserve that had been created in 1913, said Robert Righter, a professor emeritus at the University of Texas at El Paso and the author of “Crucible for Conservation: The Struggle for Grand Teton National Park.” But by 1930, a year after Congress had established Grand Teton National Park, word had gotten out about the purchases, and Wyoming residents were furious....Finally, in 1942, he wrote Interior Secretary Harold Ickes with a veiled threat to sell his holdings to the highest bidder if the federal government didn’t act. That got the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1943 used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the Jackson Hole National Monument. A massive protest followed. At the height of World War II, Wyoming Sen. Edward Robertson declared it a “foul, sneaking Pearl Harbor blow.” A newspaper columnist compared Roosevelt’s action to Hitler’s annexation of Austria, according to the Wyoming Historical Society. In May 1943, local ranchers – led by Academy Award-winning actor Wallace Beery, a summer resident of the area – drove 550 cattle across the monument, challenging the National Park Service to stop them. They were allowed to proceed, but the incident got national attention. Congress passed a law abolishing the monument, but Roosevelt vetoed it. The state of Wyoming filed a lawsuit challenging the president’s use of the Antiquities Act, but it was dismissed...more



Four senior managers at Interior Dept. fired for harassment

2017-12-14T18:57:22.413-07:00

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke revealed today he has fired four senior managers at the Interior Department for inappropriate conduct, including sexual harassment. "I've already removed four senior leaders that were guilty of inappropriate behavior and I will remove four hundred more if necessary. Intimidation, harassment and discrimination is a cancer to any organization. However deep it goes, we will remove it from Interior," Zinke said in a video posted on the agency's website today....more

And how about those vaunted law enforcement officers at Interior? We already know about Dan Love. Now we find out about this:

At least one Interior employee accused of harassment has been named in an inspector general report published in February. Tim Lynn was the director of the agency's law enforcement office and was investigated for his behavior after an employee who worked for him said he was "touchy-feely" and and would sometimes touch her arms or hair and at least once talked about watching porn when they were alone in the office. Lynn denied the allegations but the IG's office found five other women who said he had acted unprofessionally toward them, including touching, hugging, personal text messages and flirtatious comments. The Washington Post reported that Lynn retired in May



Fire engineer dies fighting California's growing Thomas Fire

2017-12-14T16:34:07.863-07:00

A firefighter was killed in southern California's massive Thomas Fire on Thursday. The blaze has grown rapidly, fueled by gusty Santa Ana winds, dry conditions and single-digit humidity. The man, who hasn't been identified, was from a firefighting unit in San Diego. He drove a fire engine and was killed on the east flank of the Thomas Fire, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as CalFire. He was with a strike team of two or three other crew members and was pronounced dead on scene, she said. The man's death was the first fatality of a firefighter in the recent string of fires burning in southern California. While most of the wildfires are at or near containment, the Thomas Fire was 30% contained Thursday, covering 242,500 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and was expected to grow...more



'This fire is a beast': Massive inferno keeps growing despite all-out battle

2017-12-14T16:07:17.034-07:00

More than a week after the Thomas fire ignited in Ventura County, destroying hundreds of homes and displacing thousands as it grew into a massive inferno, firefighters are now in a race to protect the pristine coastal communities of neighboring Santa Barbara County before a shift in powerful winds...more



Interior survey: Harassment, discrimination common among workers (and my solutions)

2017-12-15T06:30:47.403-07:00

A survey conducted for the Interior Department found that 35 percent of its employees say they were harassed or discriminated against in the last year. The department-wide findings come on the heels of a National Park Service-specific report released in October, which found that 38 percent of that agency’s employees have been harassed or discriminated against. The most common form of harassment was age-related, with 20.5 percent of employees reporting it. Another 16.5 percent said they experienced gender-based harassment, 9.3 percent were harassed because of their race or ethnicity and 8 percent suffered from sexual harassment. Employee relations issues are often amplified at Interior’s agencies due to longstanding cultural structures, remote workplaces and similar unique circumstances...more

35 percent were harassed or discriminated against, yet they just moved into the top 10 best places to work?  And thanks to Zinke they can bring fido to work and practice shooting a big buck while eating lunch. It would appear that 35 percent need to switch to guard dogs and practice shooting human predators. That should lower the percentage drastically, plus you get to have great fun siccing your dog on the bastards or blowing them all to hell. Guard Dogs & Guns...that's the ticket.





Ranch Radio Song of the Day

2017-12-14T08:13:44.829-07:00

Our tune today is Christmas on the Range by Bob Wills.

https://youtu.be/X5Xc5uHOMCQ
allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/X5Xc5uHOMCQ" width="560">



TW during the holidays

2017-12-14T01:37:14.518-07:00

The news cycle is slowing down for the holidays, and so will we here at The Westerner. You will notice fewer posts unless something big breaks.




Review-Journal asks judge to unseal Bundy docs, hearings

2017-12-14T01:30:34.283-07:00

Two days after a federal judge suggested the possibility of a mistrial in the Bunkerville standoff case, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a group of Nevada newspapers filed a motion to unseal trial documents discussed behind closed courtroom doors. ‘There is insufficient basis to maintain certain motions and transcripts under seal in this case and to continue to close hearings to the public,” the motion filed Wednesday evening states. “Sealing documents and closing hearings is inimical to this Country’s and this Court’s long tradition of open trials, guaranteed by both the First Amendment and common law — a right of access that is always important, but particularly critical in this case.” Three weeks into testimony about the 2014 armed conflict, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro on Monday said government prosecutors did not provide evidence in a timely fashion to the defendants, including rancher Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and an independent Montana militiaman. The judge released jurors for a week and then closed her courtroom to the public for a hearing with the defendants, their lawyers and prosecutors. “The Bundy case is an important one to the people of Nevada, and the public has a right to know what is happening in the case, and why,” said lawyer Maggie McLetchie, who represents the Review-Journal and Battle Born Media, which publishes weekly newspapers in rural communities. “Secret justice is no justice at all,” Review-Journal Managing Editor Glenn Cook said. “The federal system’s preference for closed doors and sealed documents has eroded public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the courts. Openness is the only way taxpayers can be sure they’re not funding a rigged game.” RJ



House Committee votes to overturn the ban of wheelchairs and bicycles from wilderness areas

2017-12-14T07:30:02.703-07:00

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2017 CONTACT: Parish Braden; Katie Schoettler (202) 226-9019Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 1349. Introduced by Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA), the bill clarifies that the Wilderness Act never intended for a universal ban of wheelchairs, adaptive cycles, bicycles, and other human-powered implements in wilderness areas. “This bill advances one of the principal objectives of the Federal Lands Subcommittee: to restore public access to our public lands.  When the House considered the Wilderness Act in June of 1964, the record is clear that its framers intended that the term “mechanical transport” be applied to non-human-powered vehicles like motorcycles – not human-powered devices like bicycles. Bicycles were allowed in wilderness areas from the inception of the Act in 1964 until 1977, when the Forest Service reinterpreted the act to ban them.  Bicycles peacefully co-exist with backpacking, hiking, horseback riding and packing on any other public lands – and they did for many years in Wilderness areas.  This bill only removes the current blanket prohibition against bicycles and other forms of human-powered locomotion established by bureaucratic regulation.  It in no way interferes with the discretion provided in other regulations and laws that gives land managers the ability to close or restrict the use of trails according to site-specific conditions. This bill restores this principle for America’s mountain bikers on our public lands,” Rep. McClintock stated. “This bill prevents unelected bureaucrats from arbitrarily banning bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs from our public lands,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) said. “Public lands should be open to all Americans. It is shocking to see self-proclaimed defenders of public lands in Congress vote to perpetuate a permanent ban on bikers, parents, the disabled, or certain hunters from accessing public lands. I’m proud to stand with Rep. McClintock in fighting for American citizens who are tired of government officials telling them they can’t  enjoy our nation’s public lands.”Click here to learn more about the bill.Background: Congress enacted the Wilderness Act in 1964 to create a National Wilderness Preservation System that would “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” Generally, the law prohibits commercial activities and motorized uses in wilderness areas.   Non-motorized bicycles were allowed in wilderness areas from the inception of the Act until 1977, when the U.S. Forest Service reinterpreted the law to ban them. Since then, federal regulators, acting in direct contradiction to the Act’s original intent, have imposed severe restrictions on public access to wilderness. H.R. 1349 clarifies that federal land managers may allow bicycles, strollers, wheelbarrows, survey wheels, measuring wheels, or game carts on wilderness lands.[...]



Blood, soil, faith - The SPLC on the Nay Book

2017-12-13T14:33:08.758-07:00


Under the guise of their Hate Watch, the Southern Poverty Law Center proffers their take on the Nay Book:

...To see a flag of Mormon faith blowing in the winds of the American West is not surprising for the Bundy family, which has frequently infused their actions with undertones of their faith. But as the trial has progressed, there have been stories spread by word-of-mouth of a book seen by few outside a tight circle of family supporters: The Nay Book.  Compiled by Keith Allen Nay, a Bundy friend and fellow rancher, the book is a scrapbook mix of letters, founding documents of both the United States and the Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ mixed with ideas that have existed in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement for decades. Seen by few outside a tight circle of family supporters, the book lays out a religious justification for resisting the federal management of public lands. Last week, Melissa Laughter, a one-time supporter of the Bundy family, began distributing the The Nay Book. In describing the book at the time, The Washington Post reported that it "appears to lay a religious foundation for the rancher’s strong and consistent views that the federal government has been trampling his rights.”...The book lays out that duty, annotated against Mormon scripture: to defend the Constitution with strict interpretation in what the family sees as a conflict between heaven and hell over the future of a Constitutional republic. The book also suggests the Bundy’s fight with the federal government is more than a highly polarizing issue of public lands, more than even a culture war or a paramilitary conflict that spread across the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. For the family and a group of supporters, the fight for public lands is a religious war. “They’re not just talking about property rights,” said Matthew Bowman, a professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and author of The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith. “They’re talking about this sort of deeply moral notion of the freedom to choose. Which, for them, is very much bound in their ability to follow God and to do what God wants to do. I think it’s very much a religious struggle.”



For more on the SPLC, see 7 Things You Need To Know About The Southern Poverty Law Center




Why are palaeontologists suing Trump?

2017-12-13T09:59:10.216-07:00

Research published earlier this year suggested that the only area of science that liberals and conservatives could bond over, was dinosaurs. Everyone loves Brontosaurus, right? Whatever else may be going wrong in the world, surely palaeontology is safe from the ravages of politics? At the start of December Trump announced plans for the biggest loss of protected public lands in the history of the US. By gutting two of America’s National Monuments – named Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Bears Ears - he will eradicate over two million acres of land from government protection. These areas were designated because they contain thousands of archaeological sites, landscapes sacred to Native American tribes, virtually pristine wilderness, and unique geology. Among the countless geological treasures, are palaeontological specimens of international importance, spanning 320 million years of life on earth. Much of this will be open to destruction if planned cuts go ahead. But the scientists are fighting back. Almost as soon as Trump had spoken, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) made an announcement of their own: they are suing the President of the United States...more



Environmentalists call ‘bait and switch’ on Utah lawmaker’s plan to create new national park in trimmed Grand Staircase

2017-12-13T07:56:00.851-07:00



Conservationists often like national park proposals, but they are smelling a Trojan Horse in the latest idea from Utah’s Rep. Chris Stewart to create a sixth park in the state, covering the Escalante Canyons. At a rally Tuesday in front of Utah’s Capitol, speakers claimed that Stewart’s bill to establish a 100,000-acre park in Garfield County is laden with so many toxic provisions that several environmental groups, local business owners, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and other groups want none of it. Among the chief defects of Stewart’s “Grand Staircase Escalante Enhancement Act,” they said, is that it seeks to write into law President Donald Trump’s recent proclamation slicing the former national monument by half — and puts Kane and Garfield county commissioners in charge of what’s left...more



Oklahoma Beef Council Sues Former Auditor

2017-12-13T07:40:09.365-07:00

Greg Henderson

A lawsuit filed Monday by the Oklahoma Beef Council seeks to recover $2.6 million in embezzled funds. The suit, filed in the District Court of Oklahoma County against Edmond-based accounting firm Arledge & Associates, P.C., relates to the embezzlement of Oklahoma checkoff funds by one of OBC's former employees, Melissa Morton. In May, Morton pled guilty to embezzling the money between 2009 and 2016, and tax fraud. Her sentencing date is scheduled for Dec. 28, and she faces up to 30 years in prison. The lawsuit filed by OBC alleges that Arledge & Associates performed audits of OBC for the fiscal years 2012-2015, and for those audited years, Arledge issued clean, unqualified opinions that the financial statements presented fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of OBC. However, Jim Denton, a CPA and Arledge & Associates’ managing partner, said the OBC’s bookkeeping materials already had been altered to conceal any evidence of embezzlement before his firm’s auditors ever saw them...more



Ranch Radio Song of the Day

2017-12-13T07:37:34.542-07:00

We'll continue our Christmas Season with Tennessee Ernie Ford - A Rootin' Tootin' Santa Claus (1951)

https://youtu.be/CWKloTDTHcY
allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CWKloTDTHcY" width="560">



Questions on Mueller’s Role in Fast and Furious Remain Unanswered

2017-12-12T16:02:36.602-07:00

by David Codrea...That doesn’t mean Mueller was ever anything besides an establishment functionary. Case in point, he made his contempt for the Second Amendment and his oath to the Constitution clear in his condemnation of the Supreme Court’s Heller decision. Based on his own words, he is against anyone but law enforcement and the military having guns, including in the home. He was asked to stay on beyond his 10-year term by Barack Obama, curiously just as things were starting to heat up on the Operation Fast and Furious investigations by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Gunwalking” and the Brian Terry murder took place on his watch, and Mueller’s FBI, with its confidential informants being tracked as suspects by ATF, was up to its neck in things.Outrageously, there is no reason to expect Congress to be any more successful at exposing the full truth than they have been so far at holding Eric Holder accountable for his Fast and Furious obstruction. Nor, as we see from the preponderance of agenda reporting, lies of omission and outright fake news can establishment media be relied on. As with the original Fast and Furious reporting, expect new revelations to come from independent efforts while those with the mass reach fall back on deliberate indifference and hoping not too many notice. One such independent effort to reveal new details about Fast and Furious is being resurrected by a filmmaker that my colleague, the late Mike Vanderboegh and I worked with over five years ago. Noting the timing is now right to continue with the project, documentarian Fleming Fuller has teamed up with Ron Colburn, former national Deputy Chief of the United States Border Patrol, and a founding member of BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s national tactical unit. They are continuing with production. “Under the Radar – Above the Law” promises to bring new “gunwalker” matters to light, including previously unreported information about FBI activities under Mueller’s leadership...more[...]



Are Americans losing faith in the U.S. justice system?

2017-12-12T15:18:58.129-07:00

By Printus LeBlancThe U.S. Justice system is in trouble, not just the federal system, but the state and local systems as well. A disturbing trend of politically motivated prosecutions has emerged across the country. Congress has the role of oversight, but many Members, themselves former District Attorneys or U.S. Attorneys, seem hesitant to be critical of the Justice Department. It could be for fear of tarnishing their own legacy while they were a prosecutor, or they don’t want to believe a club they belonged to has gone rotten. Either way, Congress must wake up take a hard look at the U.S. justice system from the point of view of someone being falsely accused by a legal behemoth with unlimited resources. ...The misconduct is not limited to state and local district attorneys; the federal justice system is also rife with bad behavior. The late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was the target of such an unjust attack.In 2008, 100 days before the elections, Department of Justice prosecutors indicted the Alaskan Senator on seven counts of making false statements related to gift giving. Stevens would ask for a speedy trial and be granted one. In October of 2008, Stevens was found guilty of seven counts of making false statements.The story doesn’t end there. In February 2009 a whistleblower came forward with damning claims of prosecutorial misconduct. One of the FBI agents involved in the case had an inappropriate relationship with the prosecution’s star witness Bill Allen. To further complicate matters, the whistleblower alleged Allen also gave gifts to FBI agents and even helped a family member of an FBI agent get a job. The prosecutors withheld exculpatory material from the defense, including witness statements that refuted the prosecution’s case.A few weeks after the whistleblower came forward, the judge in the case would hold the prosecutors in contempt calling the conduct outrageous. Six weeks later the Justice Department would submit a motion to set aside the verdict and dismiss the indictment with prejudice. At the same time the Department launched an investigation that lasted three years, concluding with a 525 page report stating, “The investigation and prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor, authored the book Licensed to Lie in 2015, detailing prosecutorial misconduct in dozens of federal cases. A quick glance at the Robert Mueller-led Special Counsel investigation into the 2016 election, with the multiple conflicts of interest and stonewalling of Congress, scream for another chapter in the book. Congress and Attorney General Jeff Sessions must put their personal feelings aside, and identify rot in the system when they see it regardless if it’s coming from the federal, state, or local officials. People are losing faith in the Justice System and actions must be taken to restore it before it is too late.Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.READ ENTIRE POST [...]



The Undeniable Value of Wolves, Bears, Lions And Coyotes In Battling Disease

2017-12-12T15:18:36.796-07:00

by Todd Wilkinson

For over two decades, Douglas Smith and successive teams of researchers have watched wildlife predators hunting for prey in Yellowstone.

The national park’s senior wolf biologist says there is no mistaking the way that lobos identify and target elk. To the human eye, an individual wapiti might appear perfectly healthy yet there is something—almost a sixth sense— that catches the attention of discriminating pack members searching for their next meal.
...Does having predators on the landscape—wolves, bears, mountain lions and coyotes— provide a protective gauntlet that can help slow the spread and prevalence of deadly diseases? 

In particular, with ultra-lethal Chronic Wasting Disease now invading the most wildlife-rich ecosystem in America’s Lower 48 states and spreading coast to coast, are these often maligned meat-eaters, frequently dismissed as worthless vermin in western states, actually important natural allies in battling CWD?

While the data and the assessments of most scientists clearly suggests yes, there remains fierce resistance by some to acknowledge the beneficial roles predators play.  At the recent year-end meeting of the Montana Fish and Game Commission, anti-predator biases were on full display, especially toward wolves. They surfaced as the commission pondered its next move in confronting CWD which this autumn entered Montana via sick wild deer for the first time in state history.

Weeks earlier, Ken McDonald, wildlife bureau chief at the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department, raised eyebrows when he claimed the advantages predators bring in weeding out sick prey is merely theoretical and unproved. Dismissing the notion of wolves as effective disease-fighters, he asserted that in order for lobos to truly make a difference in slowing CWD’s advance, they would need to exist in such high numbers that it would be socially unacceptable to humans, namely ranchers and hunters.



Federal Court Hears Oral Arguments in Climate Change Lawsuit From Young People

2017-12-12T10:34:48.214-07:00

By

A bold climate change lawsuit faces a pivotal test this week as a federal court considers whether young people can sue the US government for failing to protect the environment. The lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, has attracted growing interest in the legal world for its unique and unprecedented approach to climate change. The plaintiffs — 21 young, US citizens aged 10 to 21 — are essentially suing the US federal government for depriving them of a secure future. The basis of the litigation is a novel legal theory. According to the plaintiffs, the US federal government is responsible for holding natural resources in trust for its citizens. The government is violating that public trust doctrine, in regard to environmental protection, according to the lawsuit. More specifically, the plaintiffs insist that the US government has failed to heed the scientific evidence on how to stop or reverse climate change — evidence that in many cases was provided by the government's own dedicated scientific agencies. For the case to actually move forward and go to trial, it must past muster with the Ninth Circuit court, which began hearing oral arguments today. Attorneys for the Trump administration are asking the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that a broad mandate from the courts to fundamentally change environmental policy would be impossible to implement. The plaintiffs' case is led by the group Our Children’s Trust, which has previously brought similar litigation at the state and federal level, with mixed success. In the case now before the Ninth Circuit, attorneys will argue that the US government is violating the plaintiffs' constitutional rights. “Their complaint asserts that, through the government's affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources,” the Our Children's Trust said in a statement. Lower courts have allowed the lawsuit to proceed. In fact, a trial date has already been scheduled for February. This week's proceedings will determine whether that date will be postponed or canceled...more

Below is their complaint: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VIitxrWPX9O1VXzNVOnxlnEZozGRNlox/view?usp=sharing
height="480" src="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VIitxrWPX9O1VXzNVOnxlnEZozGRNlox/preview" width="640"> 



Ranch Radio Song of the Day

2017-12-12T09:53:24.798-07:00

Ranch Radio's tune today is Cliffie Stone's 1947 recording of The Christmas Waltz.

https://youtu.be/RK5e5dUoPKU
allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RK5e5dUoPKU" width="560">



Las Vegas judge hints at mistrial in Bunkerville standoff case

2017-12-12T09:20:15.907-07:00

By David FerraraA federal judge in Las Vegas raised the prospect of a mistrial Monday for four main defendants, including lifelong rancher Cliven Bundy, in the Bunkerville standoff case. The indication from U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro came three weeks into testimony about the 2014 armed conflict, and after the judge read through a long list of documents, witness names and other information that she said government prosecutors did not provide to defendants in a timely fashion. That failure to disclose details that could benefit Bundy, sons Ammon and Ryan, and independent Montana militiaman Ryan Payne was “sufficient to undermine the confidence in the outcome of the trial,” Navarro said. She indicated that prosecutors failed to meet deadlines to turn over evidence at least seven times. Before making a decision, however, the judge dismissed jurors, who had returned for testimony after a weeklong break, and later indicated they would not be called back to court until at least Dec. 20. After releasing the jury, Navarro closed her courtroom to the public for a hearing with the defendants, their lawyers and prosecutors. “I hope to get the case dismissed before the jurors come back,” Cliven Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple, later said. Prosecutors have until Friday to respond to the judge’s concern that they missed evidence deadlines, along with questions she had about 14 other possible trial violations...more Let's not forget this is the prosecutor, Steven Myhre, who just a few months ago was being singled out for praise by AG Jeff Sessions:Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday praised the lead attorney in the government's prosecution of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy but also said he would not be "taking sides" in the trials related to the 2014 armed standoff between ranchers and federal agents near Bunkerville, Nev. In an appearance in Nevada, Sessions briefly raised the Bunkerville trials to laud Nevada acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The government has divided its prosecution into three cases, one of which began a retrial this week after a jury deadlocked on charges against four of six defendants in April. "I've got to tell you, it's impressive when you have a tough case, a controversial case, and you've got the top guy leading the battle, going to court, standing up and defending the office and the principles of the law," Sessions said. But he added: "I'm not taking sides or commenting on the case. Just want to say that leadership requires, a lot of times, our people to step up and be accountable.". [...]



FDA: Antibiotic Sales Drop 10% for Livestock in 2016

2017-12-11T17:26:53.035-07:00



Antibiotic sales for use in livestock has dropped according to a report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On Dec. 7, FDA released a summary report for 2016 on “Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food Producing Animals.” A key finding in the report was antibiotic sales and distribution in the U.S. dropped 10% from 2015 to 2016 for food producing animals. Since FDA began collecting sales data in 2009, this is the first time that year-over-year sales of antimicrobials have declined...more



The inferno that won't die: How the Thomas fire became a monster

2017-12-11T14:01:47.109-07:00

So how did the Thomas fire become such a monster? Heavy winds are one factor. But another is the thick brush that has not burned in a century, providing fuel. “The fuels in there are thick and they're dead, so they're very receptive to fire,” said Steve Swindle, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. The fuel can spread the fire even when winds die down. “Since it’s so dry out there, it doesn’t take much in the way of winds to create those critical fire weather conditions,” said Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’ll see wind gusts in that ... area between 20 and 35 mph, maybe a few mountain sites might see up to about 40, but that’s the most we’re expecting right now.” When the fire shifted toward the coast Sunday morning, Monroe said winds were not necessarily the driver. “Wind was probably not the biggest factor last night to this morning — it’s probably more the complex terrain, very dry and possibly widespread fuels for the fire and the fact that it’s a pretty large and ongoing fire,” he said. “The light offshore winds are certainly a factor, but not as important as they’ve been, say, earlier in the week when we saw much stronger winds over the fire.” The last time some of the slopes and canyons burned in the mountains east of Santa Barbara was in the 1970s, when four firefighters operating bulldozers died in a rollover accident...more



Thomas Fire, 5th-Largest In Modern California History, Shows Few Signs Of Slowing

2017-12-11T13:55:00.251-07:00

As Monday dawned in California's Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, firefighters found themselves still locked in a desperate struggle with what has become the fifth-largest wildfire in modern state history. The Thomas Fire, which for a time Sunday was ratcheted down just 10 percent contained, has ticked back upward to 15 percent containment — but authorities are warning that the dry, gusty winds in the area "will continue to promote significant fire growth." All told, the fire covers a span of more than 230,000 acres — tens of thousands of acres larger than all of New York City combined. Nearly 1,000 homes and other structures have been either damaged or destroyed. The cost of the fire has crested $38 million, according to fire officials, and with roughly 18,000 more structures threatened, that cost is likely to increase. The news surrounding the smaller fires currently raging elsewhere in Southern California offered a significantly more positive outlook. Authorities say the Skirball, Creek, Rye and Lilac fires all are more than 80 percent contained, and some — like the Creek — are inching closer to full containment. The Liberty Fire that has been burning in Riverside County has been fully contained. More than 4,000 firefighters are now engaged in battling the flames...more



DuBois column

2017-12-11T11:34:02.609-07:00

A senator’s falsehood, a big win for the Goss family, a BLM move to Denver?A ‘land grab’, really?A recent news item appeared concerning the growing rift between New Mexico’s two Senators and the Secretary of the Interior. The primary focus of the column was how Udall and Heinrich disagree with much of what Zinke is doing, in spite of them both having voted for his confirmation.There were two statements in the column that really grabbed me. The first was by Heinrich: “I’m prepared to do anything necessary to protect New Mexico’s national monuments from a Washington, D.C., land grab,” Heinrich said.That is just hilarious. Sad, but hilarious. Before the monument, most of these lands were managed for multiple use. If necessary, roads could be built. Rights-of ways could be issued. Flood control dams could be constructed, range improvements could be built, geothermal energy could be harvested, sportsmen and recreationists had off-road access to these lands, and so on. Then along came Obama, with the full encouragement of Heinrich, and with the stroke of a pen either prohibited or restricted all of the above. If the monument designation were to be removed, all of those uses would be returned to the people. The review had the possibility of revoking a land grab, not initiating one. Heinrich's attempt to describe it otherwise is laughable.The other statement in the article, which is not new, is the Senators' concern over accuracy:Staffers for both senators told me last week that Udall and Heinrich also want Zinke to address errors of fact in the New Mexico sections of the monuments report.This must be a newfound desire for accuracy, for we didn't hear a peep out of the Senators concerning the many inaccuracies in Obama's proclamation creating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Dr. Jerry Schickedanz, Dean Emeritus at NMSU and currently with the Linebery Policy Center, has identified many errors in the proclamation, including objects that aren't even within the boundaries of the monument, and other objects that are either wholly or partially on private or state land, and therefore not in the monument. These and other errors could have been addressed during the review process, but by opposing the review, the good Senators apparently do not want those inaccuracies corrected.Because of the importance of these documents to the local community and to the health of the natural resource, both should corrected. This selective, narrow focus on errors falls short of good public policy and reeks of pure politics.Of thistles, poppies & water rightsA pioneer New Mexico ranch family has won an important case for property rights.The Goss family has been raising livestock in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico since 1885. Respect to that family for persevering through all these years with a successful ranching operation.A hundred years later along comes the Forest Service to erect “enclosures” to keep livestock out of certain riparian areas, ostensibly to protect the Sacramento Mountains Thistle. Additional “enclosures” were later constructed on behalf of the Southwestern Prickly Poppy. In addition to having their livestock fenced off water, in 2000 their allotment was cut from 553 head to 428, with additional cuts in 2004. The Goss family had sought to pipe water into the allotment, but those requests were denied by the Forest Service.In 2004 the Go[...]