Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Senate Democrats call for investigation of climate scientist whistleblower complaint

Eight Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee asked the Interior Department's deputy inspector general on Monday to investigate Secretary Ryan Zinke's decision to reassign roughly 50 senior career officials last month, on the grounds that it could constitute an "abuse of authority." In the letter to Interior deputy inspector general Mary Kendall, obtained by The Washington Post, and signed by all but three of the panel's Democrats, the senators note that one of the reassigned Senior Executive Service officials – Joel Clement, the department's top climate change official – has alleged he was punished for his work on the issue. Clement, who was reassigned to the department's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which collects royalty payments from oil, gas and mining firms, wrote an op-ed last week saying, "I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities." "Any suggestion that the Department is reassigning SES employees to force them to resign, silence their voices, or to punish them for the conscientious performance of their public duties is extremely troubling and calls for the closest examination," wrote the senators, led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee...more

La. farmer bilks USDA out of $1.6 million

MONROE, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal jury found a Bastrop farmer guilty last week of creating shell farms so he could receive more than $1.6 million in subsidy payments to which he was not entitled. Brad A. McIntyre, 33, of Bastrop, La., was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and four counts of money laundering related to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. presided over the trial, which started July 10 and ended Friday, July 21. The jury returned a guilty verdict after deliberating for approximately five hours. Evidence admitted at trial revealed that McIntyre, a fourth generation farmer and the owner of Delta Agriculture and Company, sought to avoid the Farm Service Agency direct program payment limitation of $40,000 per year per farm entity member. From August 2009 until February 2013, McIntyre conspired to create fictitious farm operations. When applying for FSA’s direct program payments, McIntyre listed the names of his relatives and employees as the owners of these entities when in fact he controlled and managed all of these farming entities....more

REPORT: US Oil Production To Shatter Historic Milestone In Trump’s First Term

U.S. oil production could reach never-before-seen heights by the end of President Donald Trump’s second year in office, according to the Department of Energy’s statistical arm. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) “expects crude oil production to reach an average of 9.9 million b/d, which would surpass the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970.” Most of the increase in production would come from Texas hydraulic fracturing operations and offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, according to EIA. EIA forecasts that most of the growth in U.S. crude oil production through the end of 2018 will come from tight rock formations within the Permian region in Texas and from the Federal Gulf of Mexico. n fact, Texas’s Permian Basin alone is expected to churn out nearly one-third of U.S. oil production by 2018. Permian production is expected to increase even if oil prices remain below $50 a barrel...more

Gary Johnson for U.S. Senate in 2018?

by

In a recent interview for IVN, Gary Johnson consultant Ron Nielson said Johnson “would be a fantastic senator” if he chose to run in 2018 against New Mexico’s Democratic junior senator, Martin Heinrich. When pressed on whether Johnson would consider making a bid for the U.S. Senate next year, Nielson had no comment, saying: “Well you’d have to ask Gary. I have no idea. No doubt that Gary would be a fantastic senator. He would do an amazing job and be great at that task. I have no idea if that would be of interest to him.”...His high name recognition and approval rating as a popular two-term governor in New Mexico would give him a great local advantage as well. He won his last statewide race in New Mexico by 9 percentage points. Martin Heinrich won his by less than 6 points that he had to fight hard for, and with far less money than Johnson would have to spend. Republican candidates winning one special election after another in 2017 (even the Republican candidate body slamming a reporter the night before the election can’t seem to get a Democrat elected this year) might portend a tough midterm for Democrats in 2018. If Gary Johnson were to pull off a U.S. Senate win for the Libertarian Party in his home state, he would make history for third party candidacies in the United States. He would also gain access to a vast amount of earned media air time as a senator to talk about the problems in Washington that other politicians won’t talk about, and that a growing number of voters are eager to hear. In the meantime, the only thing that’s sure is that Gary Johnson will be returning to the helm of his political non-profit, Our America Initiative, to mobilize “the largest grassroots army of liberty activists in the nation.”...more

Quotes

"By pursuing his own interest [every individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."
-- Adam Smith
(1723-1790) Scottish philosopher and economist

 "The state remains, as it was in the beginning,
the common enemy of all well-disposed,
industrious and decent men."
-- H. L. Mencken
(1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

Monday, July 24, 2017

Senate confirms Trump's nominee for No. 2 Interior post

The Senate voted to confirm David Bernhardt to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department. The Senate voted 53-43 on Monday evening to confirm him to agency’s No. 2 post. Bernhardt — only the second Interior Department nominee confirmed by the Senate since President Trump took office — will serve under Secretary Ryan Zinke. Monday’s vote means Bernhardt will make his return to the Interior Department, an agency where he served as solicitor under President George W. Bush. He was confirmed to that position with a unanimous vote in 2006. But Bernhardt’s confirmation process this year was stickier. Democrats raised ethics concerns dating back to his tenure in the Bush administration, and drilled down into his private sector lobbying career, which they warned could undermine his impartiality at Interior. Bernhardt’s supporters, though, call him an experienced and knowledgable nominee for the position, noting his work on an array of issues within Interior’s portfolio, including energy development, conservation and tribal affairs...more

U.S. Cattle Inventory at 103 Million Head, Jumps 4% Since 2015

By Wyatt Bechtel

The total U.S. cattle herd counting all cattle was at 103 million head on July 1, 2017. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) outlines in the latest Cattle Inventory Mid-year Report that the total herd count has increased 4% since the previous summer report on July 1, 2015, when there were just 98.2 million head. The total cow herd was at 41.9 million head, up 5% from the 39.8 million head mark two summers ago. Beef cows composed 32.5 million head in the total herd and accounted for a 7% increase during the last two years. Dairy cows were up 1% from the previous report with 9.4 million milk cows. There were 16.2 million head of heifers weighing 500 lb. or more at the time of the report, a 3% increase from the 15.7 million head reported on July 1, 2015. Beef replacement heifers actually saw a drop of 2% from 2015 reports with just 4.7 million head. Dairy replacement heifers saw no change in the last two years with 4.2 million head counted. Non-replacement heifers accounted for a 9% increase in numbers with 7.3 million head reported this year. Calves under 500 lb. increased 5% from 2015. There were 28 million light weight calves reported on July 1, 2017, compared to only 26.7 million head two years ago...more

EPA chief spent almost half of spring in home state of Oklahoma

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was in his home state of Oklahoma on at least 43 of the 92 days of March, April and May, according to copies of his travel records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project watchdog group and reviewed by Reuters. Pruitt’s frequent visits to Oklahoma have raised concerns among critics that he is cultivating political relationships in the state at taxpayer expense, instead of focusing on his job as head of the environmental regulator. EPA officials contend that Pruitt works hard and pays for his trips home to Tulsa to see his wife and children. "Administrator Pruitt works long hours and is available around the clock," said EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. "He is extremely focused and disciplined, which is evident by the fact that he spearheaded over two dozen significant regulatory actions since being sworn in."...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1885

Its Swingin’ Monday and we have Jody Nix with Let’s Get It Over and Done With. The tune is on his 2010 CD Twin Fiddles Turn Me On.

https://youtu.be/b1zhlgF80hU

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Udall supports preserving monuments

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., took a break from Beltway duties to fish in the Rio Grande July 21 with supporters of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. It is part of a devoted effort by Udall, his colleague Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. and others to protect the state's newest national monuments, created under former President Barack Obama. The U.S.Department of Interior is reviewing most of the monuments designated under the Obama administration with an eye to rolling back protections or reducing the size of the protected areas. Those reviews include the Rio Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, all in New Mexico. According to his communications staff, "Udall has been leading a coordinated effort – with other members of Congress and engaged people across New Mexico and the country – to rally public opposition against President Trump's threat to rescind or shrink Rio Grande del Norte and other national monuments. "Sen. Udall has repeatedly called on the Trump administration to drop its misguided attack on public lands, and has expressed his clear position that President Trump does not have the legal authority to rescind or shrink a monument designation," according to an email from Udall's staff. Udall is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department's budget. Udall has talked about the monument review one-on-one with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke three times. He has urged Zinke to end this unprecedented attack on national monuments, said staff...more

Small farmers push for USDA reforms

Small farm and ranch companies and animal rights activists flew to Washington to meet with lawmakers and push for legislation they say will bring needed reforms to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At issue are mandatory USDA fees for so-called checkoff programs. Farmers and ranchers are required to pay for federal programs that help market industry products. The funds have been used for such popular and iconic campaigns as the "Got Milk" ads and the "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" campaign. But critics say those programs promote policies for industrialized agriculture, not small farmers and ranchers. The fly-in on July 19 to 20 was organized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Humane Society Legislative Fund. “The least we are asking for is transparency,” Eric Swafford, Tennessee HSUS state director and a former state representative told The Hill. “No one can see how these checkoff dollars are being spent, and there is no accountability. The system is inherently broken.” One of the bills, the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, would enforce greater transparency on how the funds are used. The bill has bipartisan support and was introduced by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Cory Booker (D- N.J.). Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.) also working on companion legislation in the House. “Federal checkoff programs -- which impose a mandatory tax on farmers and ranchers -- are in desperate need of reform,” Booker told The Hill. “Checkoff programs need to do a better job of spending their dollars in ways that benefit small family farmers, and the legislation that Senator Lee and I have introduced will increase transparency and help restore trust in checkoff program practices.”...more

Zinke’s decision on NM monuments coming soon

By Michael Coleman / Journal Washington Bureau

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has just one month left before he’s due to report on the likely fate of New Mexico’s two newest national monuments, as well as nearly two dozen others around the nation. New Mexicans on both sides of the debate are getting antsy. Ultimately, the decision to downsize the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and/or the Rio Grande del Norte national monuments in New Mexico – or not – lies with President Donald Trump. But Trump is waiting on Zinke’s recommendation, due no later than Aug. 24. Zinke told Congress on June 22 he would visit New Mexico to discuss the monuments with concerned parties “in two weeks.” Late Thursday, an Interior Department spokeswoman said the agency, responsible for millions of acres of federal lands, still wasn’t ready to announce Zinke’s visit...more

Note to readers

Century Link finally got the internet back up on Friday a.m. I had continued posting on Face Book by using my phone.

THE WESTERNER will also be different this week as I'm working on a special project which will soon be apparent to all.

Dubois Brothers

The Dubois Brothers were a French-Canadian organized crime group, who operated mostly in Montreal in the 1950s to the mid-1980s. The Dubois Brothers began their reputation for their criminal behaviour and their toughness throughout their teenage years.[1] By the 1960s the Dubois Brothers were gaining control and were becoming the only crime group in Montreal that were considered to rival the Cotroni Clan in the 1960s and 1970s. The Dubois Brothers engaged in extortion, the exploitation of strippers and prostitutes, drug trafficking, loan sharking, and the murder of rival victims.[2] A report by the Quebec Crime Commission called the gang "the most important criminal organization in Quebec," so vicious and strong that they were known to be feared by both motorcycle gangs and the nearby mafia.[3]...more

My brother happily sent this along...

Rancher, Sheriff Clash over Seized Horses

A North Dakota rancher is battling to keep custody of his horses after the county sheriff, a discredited veterinarian, and an anonymous call from an out-of-state person rained down the unconstitutional seizure of his animals, he says. He now faces animal neglect and abuse criminal charges, including a felony charge. This dispute arises out of laws passed in the North Dakota legislature in 2012 after lobbying from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF). Rancher Gary Dassinger, who is also a licensed clinical social worker, has raised constitutional objections to the actions taken by the sheriff’s office, as well as the application of the state’s law that became effective in 2013. A preliminary hearing in the criminal prosecution is scheduled for July 31. In April, a Stark County deputy sheriff came to the Dassinger ranch and said they had been notified that there were dead and “thin” animals on the ranch. The Dassingers later learned that the complaint came from a person who had never been to his ranch and did not live in North Dakota.


  On May 17, North Dakota State Representative Luke Simons, who also served as a Stark County Sheriff’s Department volunteer deputy, visited the ranch after news of the seizure spread. He interviewed Dassinger and took a tour, and it including filming the livestock. Representative Simons posted the video of the interview and the stock on his Facebook page. Sheriff Oestreich later contacted Rep. Simons and reportedly told him his services with the department were no longer needed....more