Friday, December 31, 2010

Billy the Kid still an outlaw

From the AP via the Washington Times:

Billy the Kid, the Old West outlaw who killed at least three lawmen and tried to cut a deal from jail with territorial authorities, won't be pardoned, Gov. Bill Richardson said Friday, nearly 130 years after the gunslinger's death.

The prospect of a pardon for the notorious frontier figure drew international attention to New Mexico, centering on whether Billy the Kid had been promised a pardon from New Mexico's territorial governor in return for testimony in killings he had witnessed.

But the facts of the case didn't support a pardon, Mr. Richardson said Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America." He had been formally petitioned to grant one.

The proposed pardon covered the 1878 killing of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady. Billy the Kid was shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881, a few months after escaping from the jail.

Once an outlaw, always an outlaw, I suppose.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Poll: Majority opposes FCC takeover of Internet

From Rasmussen Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 21% of Likely U.S. Voters want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet as it does radio and television. Fifty-four percent (54%) are opposed to such regulation, and 25% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The survey was conducted shortly after the FCC decided on a party line vote to impose so-called “net neutrality” regulations on the Internet world. Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly oppose FCC regulation of the Internet, while Democrats are more evenly divided. Those who use the Internet most are most opposed to FCC regulations.

By a 52% to 27% margin, voters believe that more free market competition is better than more regulation for protecting Internet users. Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly share this view, but a plurality of Democrats (46%) think more regulation is the better approach.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters believe that the FCC would use its regulatory authority to promote a political agenda. Half that number (28%) disagree and believe the commission would regulate in an unbiased manner. The partisan divide is the same on this question as the others. A plurality of Democrats sees an unbiased regulatory approach, while most Republicans and unaffiliated voters fear a political agenda.

Monday, December 27, 2010

No matter the weather, it's global warming

Opines the Investor's Business Daily, in an editorial titled "The Abiding Faith of Warm-ongers":

The sight of confused and angry travelers stuck in airports across Europe because of an arctic freeze that has settled across the continent isn't funny. Sadly, they've been told for more than a decade now that such a thing was an impossibility — that global warming was inevitable, and couldn't be reversed.

This is a big problem for those who see human-caused global warming as an irreversible result of the Industrial Revolution's reliance on carbon-based fuels. Based on global warming theory — and according to official weather forecasts made earlier in the year — this winter should be warm and dry. It's anything but. Ice and snow cover vast parts of both Europe and North America, in one of the coldest Decembers in history.

A cautionary tale? You bet. Prognosticators who wrote the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, global warming report in 2007 predicted an inevitable, century-long rise in global temperatures of two degrees or more. Only higher temperatures were foreseen. Moderate or even lower temperatures, as we're experiencing now, weren't even listed as a possibility.

Since at least 1998, however, no significant warming trend has been noticeable. Unfortunately, none of the 24 models used by the IPCC views that as possible. They are at odds with reality.

The writers note that the true scientific method seeks to find out if a hypothesis can be disproven, but that the global warming crowd doesn't seek to do that.

No matter what happens, it always confirms their basic premise that the world is getting hotter. The weather turns cold and wet? It's global warming, they say. Weather turns hot? Global warming. No change? Global warming. More hurricanes? Global warming. No hurricanes? You guessed it.

Nothing can disprove their thesis. Not even the extraordinarily frigid weather now creating havoc across most of the Northern Hemisphere.

The editorial rightly concludes that this "isn't science, it's a kind of faith." Indeed, if the theory of evolution serves as the creation story for the religion that is secular progressivism, global warming is its end-time theology. And as such, the religion's adherents -- who include many in the elite media -- aren't going to easily let facts ruin the narrative.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes

... but little lord Jesus, no crying he makes ...

To me one of the coolest things about the Nativity story is how Jesus was born to feel right at home amongst the herd.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Vilsack on the GIPSA rule

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed his recent call for a detailed economic analysis of the proposed GIPSA rule on the radio program Agritalk this week.

The link to the audio is here.

Klamath PR campaign sparks debate

My story this week about the communications campaign the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council may undertake was the subject of a blog entry by Felice Pace, a Klamath Glen, Ore., environmentalist who's long been involved in the Klamath issue.

Pace writes:

KlamBlog is skeptical. If this group really wanted feedback it would have released for comment the draft Drought Plan they have negotiated behind closed doors; or better still, they would develop that plan from scratch in public.

In the same interview in which he called for better communication, Tucker labeled those who do not support the Deal as opposed to compromise. That is precisely the sort of “gotcha” rhetoric which alienates those who honestly do not believe the Water Deal and the restoration arrangements embedded within it provide a real or durable solution to the Basin’s water conflicts. This is not new; for years now Tucker has been attacking anyone who does not fall into line with the Water Deal he supports.

If those agencies and interests pushing the KBRA really want to engage their critics, they should reach out one to one – not rely on a PR campaign. Tucker’s sound bite claiming that those who support the Water Deal represent the “radical center” of Klamath politics is yet another roadblock to real dialogue.

Pace also takes issue with the location of the council's latest meeting -- Redding, Calif., which he suspects was chosen "apparently to accommodate agency bureaucrats and others from places like Sacramento, Portland and Eugene." (He makes no mention that the council's last meeting was in Klamath Falls.)

The post sparked a response from Glen Spain, northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, who helped plan the communications effort. Spain replies:

There is a huge disconnect in this posting’s undeserved condemnation of the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council’s (KBCC) efforts to both inform and engage the public. Would it be preferable for the KBCC to have NO public outreach plan, and NO communications plan to inform the public about what it is and what it is doing?


So the fact that the KBCC members – myself included – are working to better inform the public on what the KBCC is, and how the Klamath Settlement Agreement is being implemented, should be cause for rejoicing, not concern. What you dismissively call a “public relations offensive” in this article is merely the KBCC’s Draft Communications Plan. KBCC members have an obligation to present the FACTS (as opposed to much misinformation already available) about the Klamath Settlement, as well as to actively engage the public in helping us all shape the 50-year Klamath Basin restoration effort the Settlement has begun. No one should doubt the need.

Spain goes on to explain that KBCC meetings are currently being rotated between Redding, Klamath Falls and Eureka, Calif., which offer facilities with adequate seating and proximity to an airport. And as for the drought plan, he says it's coming.

For the record, 1) most of the comments attributed to Tucker were said in a public meeting, and I did not see Pace in the room; 2) the importance of public participation doesn't appear to be lost on Spain, who admonished his fellow council members about transparency during a discussion about how or whether to hold teleconferences; and 3) the council had planned on spending a good portion of the Redding meeting on the draft drought plan but it wasn't ready. Once it is, it will be presented and debated in public.

But I could understand how Pace could feel uncomfortable about Tucker's reference to extremes, since one could make the argument that Pace resides at one of them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'The ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists'

That quote came from one Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. He is one of the primary backers of the so-called "Net Neutrality" regulations that have been enacted by fiat.

John Fund explains in a Wall Street Journal article titled, "The Net Neutrality Coup," under the subhead "The campaign to regulate the Internet was funded by a who's who of left-liberal foundations."

Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn't have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he's had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.

The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney's agenda? "At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. "But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."

A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that "any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself." Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been "taken out of context." He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was "hesitant to say I'm not a Marxist."

For a man with such radical views, Mr. McChesney and his Free Press group have had astonishing influence. Mr. Genachowski's press secretary at the FCC, Jen Howard, used to handle media relations at Free Press. The FCC's chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, co-authored a Free Press report calling for regulation of political talk radio.

If you were going to create a society where government maintained an iron grip of control over the population, you'd start by taking control of the food supply, the financial system and communication -- all of which seem to be happening to some degree in America today.

All too often, it appears as though our leaders are governing as if they won't have to face voter scrutiny, and that's what's scary.

NCBA 'disappointed' over food safety bill

From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association:

WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2010) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The legislation has been passed by the House and Senate, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law soon.

“We are extremely disappointed the House passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Food safety knows no size, and exempting some small producers and processors from the legislation, as the Tester/Hagan amendment will do, sets a dangerous precedent for the future our nation’s food safety system. Instead of including the Tester/Hagan language, Congress should have passed legislation to set appropriate standards for all products in the marketplace, no matter the size of the producing entity. Going forward, NCBA will continue supporting improvements to our nation’s food safety system that are based on sound science, focused on industry application and have a strong research foundation.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The FCC's 'coup' on the Internet

I'd better post this quickly, while it's still legal.

Phil Kerpen, vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity, which is fighting the FCC Internet power grab at, writes:

Starting today, the Internet will be regulated, despite the fact that network neutrality regulations have almost no support in Congress, where Rep. Ed Markey’s legislation, which aimed to do by legitimate means what the FCC is now doing surreptitiously, has just 27 co-sponsors.

Starting today, the Internet will be regulated, despite the fact that on November 2 that American people let out a collective scream against big government and intrusive regulations, and the further fact that all 95 candidates who signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s pledge to promote network neutrality regulation lost. That’s 0 for 95.

Starting today, the Internet will be regulated despite the fact the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in "Comcast v. FCC" that such regulations have no legitimate basis in law.

The solution is clear. Congress must make it a top priority to overturn these regulations early in 2011, preferably with a Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval that can avoid filibuster and cleanly invalidate the order. The resolution can be forced onto the Senate floor with as few as 30 senators signing a discharge petition.

His op-ed piece is here.

Fox News adds an explanation of why you should care about so-called "Net Neutrality," which many see as a hostile government seizure of online content. It's here.

It seems to me I heard a lot of media screaming about censorship when the FCC was fining broadcasters for leaking out cuss words and letting a performer bear her breast during a Super Bowl halftime show. Where is the so-called "mainstream media" now that First Amendment protections may truly be at stake? (Cue the sound of crickets.)

California's big group shower: breaking it down

The storms that have been pelting California in the past few days have begun to rack up some impressive rainfall and snowpack numbers.

As of today, the water content in snowpack statewide is 204 percent of normal for this time of year, including 274 percent of normal for the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The abundance follows nearly a week of virtually nonstop precipitation throughout the state – particularly in usually-parched Central California. About 40 residents of the San Joaquin Valley farming community of McFarland were briefly evacuated Monday for fear of flooding.

From Friday through today, Visalia sopped up 4.29 inches of rain, while 3.92 inches fell on Bakersfield, 4.41 inches were recorded in Delano and 3.25 inches fell in Hanford, according to the National Weather Service.

Fresno has received 3.19 inches of rain so far in December – a big leap from its normal 0.8 inches.

“I haven’t seen this much (rain) at one time in quite a while,” said Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual. “It’s pretty much shut us down for the week, although we’ve gotten a break today (Tuesday) which may allow some packing houses to get in if they’ve got some sandier soil and the fruit dries off.”

A breakdown of all things rain and snow:

December rainfall
Here are the December and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service. Totals are as of Monday, Dec. 20:
Redding: month to date 4.97 inches (normal 2.84); season to date 12.35 inches (normal 9.80)
Sacramento: month to date 4.08 inches (normal 1.47 inches); season to date 7.91 inches (normal 5.02 inches)
Stockton: month to date 2.53 inches (normal 1.12 inches); season to date 6.34 inches normal 4.14 inches
Modesto: month to date 1.97 inches (normal 1 inch); season to date 4.80 inches (normal 3.61 inches)
Salinas: month to date 1.36 inches (normal 1 inch); season to date 4.06 inches (normal 3.44 inches)
Fresno: month to date 3.19 inches (normal 0.80 inches); season to date 5.43 inches (normal 2.83 inches)

Reservoir levels
Here are the percentages of capacity for California reservoirs as of midnight Dec. 20, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center:
Trinity Lake: 67 percent
Shasta Lake: 73 percent
Lake Oroville: 55 percent
New Bullards Bar Reservoir: 78 percent
Folsom Lake: 52 percent
New Melones Reservoir: 58 percent
Lake McClure: 72 percent
Millerton Lake: 73 percent
Pine Flat Reservoir: 54 percent
Lake Isabella: 37 percent
San Luis Reservoir: 67 percent

Here are average snow water equivalents and comparisons to normal for the date in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center. Totals are as of Tuesday, Dec. 21:
North: 13 inches, 164 percent of normal
Central: 17 inches, 197 percent of normal
South: 26 inches, 274 percent of normal
Statewide: 16 inches, 204 percent of normal

For my complete story, check soon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just what they need -- another NPR station (updated)

It seems that government is out to seize more than just water in Siskiyou County in far Northern California. It's apparently seizing the airwaves, too.

As blogger Bruce Ross reports:

It's not just the U.S. Congress where public radio is a political punching bag.

In Siskiyou County, the Board of Supervisors yesterday approved a letter opposing (on a 3-2 vote, according to the Daily News) Ashland-based JPR's acquisition of KSYC.

The heart of the supes' argument is that the station is the only locally based broadcaster serving much of the rural county. It's ironic complaint, given that JPR's Ron Kramer is a genuine devotee of localism in programming, though it's become something of a regional giant --- though obviously nothing close to Clear Channel.

My favorite part of the letter, however, is this word on behalf of KSYC under the current management: "It plays country music, which is the genre largely reflective of this agricultural community."

Bruce went on to suggest that JPR create a country music-and-news feed for that frequency, which prompted a snarky (albeit poorly worded) response from somebody who signed on as JPR:

The FCC has the final word, and they rarely consider politics, formats or specific music in approving a radio station sale. So the Board of Supervisors and take their letter and hang it, because it won't make a difference, and JPR WILL change the format. "Country and News" is not an option.

In other words, you'll get this government station and like it, darn you. And you can forget about listening to that cowboy music, you unsophisticated hayseeds.

My question is, how many NPR stations do you need in an area? We have something like four in Redding, including Oregon-based JPR's two feeds. I thought the idea behind public radio was to provide an alternative to commercial radio, not take it over.

UPDATE: Having learned of the opposition, Jefferson Public Radio has abandoned its plans to buy the station. (Hat tip: Bruce Ross.) Talking about getting huffy, taking your ball and going home.

Oh well. A victory for the private sector -- or at least the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.

Walnuts the topic in Red Bluff

With walnuts, stress begins to affect tree growth and other processes before the leaves start to wilt. So explained Ken Shackel, a UC-Davis plant biologist, during a University of California Cooperative Extension short course on walnut irrigation held Friday at the Red Bluff Elks Lodge. The course was attended by about 60 local farmers.

Shackel said it's important to use pressure chambers and other devices to monitor moisture levels, much like with a blood pressure monitor for humans.

In some walnut orchards, researchers tried moderate deficit irrigation, which has helped improve the quality of almonds and prunes and saves water and pruning costs.

But the practice resulted in bit yield losses by the third year, as walnuts are much more vulnerable to low to mild stress than are almonds or prunes, Shackel said.

"This would argue that no stress is the sweet spot for walnuts," he said.

For my complete story, check later this week.

Farm Bureau: Tax bill good for ag

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:

Final passage of legislation extending current tax laws will benefit family farmers and ranchers—and give them time to seek longer-term reforms, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“The tax package is critical to promote growth in the economy. That benefits everyone, including farmers and ranchers,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said, “and parts of the package will be especially critical on the farm.”

Wenger pointed to extension of tax rules for capital gains, gifts, income and small businesses. In particular, he said, family farmers and ranchers will benefit from revised rules regarding the federal estate tax.

“The estate tax forces farming families to take extensive and expensive actions to avoid having their farms broken apart when a family member dies,” he said. “Even then, farmers are often forced to sell land and other assets to pay estate taxes. That’s particularly true in California, where land values are so high. The tax package gives farm and ranch families two more years of certainty, but they still need a longer-term solution.”

Farm organizations including CFBF have co-sponsored legislation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, that would defer estate taxes on family farm property as long as the farm remains in operation and stays in the family.

“We will continue to fight for this reform,” Wenger said, “which will assure that farms and ranches can remain family businesses. The two-year extension that Congress just approved will pass quickly. We won’t rest until family farmers and ranchers have permanent relief from the burdens of the estate tax.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of approximately 76,500 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 6.3 million Farm Bureau members.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rednecks of the world unite!

Hey y'all! Introducing the newly formed American Redneck Society, looking out for the interests of rural Americans and rednecks everywhere. And yes, that includes farmers.

From the Website:

It includes farmers whose hard work in the sun-drenched fields of this nation’s breadbasket burned their necks crimson red while keeping Americans fed. As a Redneck, I work hard and I play hard. As a Redneck, I am able to laugh at myself. In short, as an American Redneck, I have a sense of country and a sense of humor.

Reports the Washington Examiner:

You might be a redneck if…you create a dues-paying society and a scholarship fund?

And that's what a Virginia man did last week, launching the “American Redneck Society.”

“I really felt that American Rednecks are an under-served, but large population that could benefit from a formal membership organization structure,” said American Redneck Society Executive Director Rob Clayton.

A $20 membership fee will get you access to retail discounts across the country, and a portion of the funds are set aside for an educational fund for “rural youth.”


Today's Glenn Miller band: True to a legend

If you have a chance to see the current incarnation of the Glenn Miller Orchestra in your community, I would recommend it. If you're going to call yourself the Glenn Miller Orchestra you'd better be good, and in a concert last night in Redding, Calif., these musicians were spot-on -- save perhaps for a missed note or two during a couple of solos.

Watching the band was interesting as they crisply mixed old Hit Parade tunes with Christmas favorites during a more than two-hour performance. Adding to the evening's ambiance was the venue -- Redding's Cascade Theatre, which was built in the '30s and recently refurbished. One could easily imagine that this was the kind of theater the original Glenn Miller Orchestra would have played in.

The two vocalists that tour with the band were lights out. Brian Hemstock absolutely nailed the Frank Sinatra tune, "Come Fly With Me," and Valerie Hemstock later matched his feat with an uncanny recreation of Karen Carpenter's "Merry Christmas, Darling." The orchestra also asked veterans to stand as they played a tune from Miller's military band library -- a nod to Miller's patriotic zeal during World War II (which ultimately cost him his life). At least one audience member had to appreciate the gesture; he was a WWII veteran who saw Miller's orchestra perform while stationed overseas.

The evening was marred only somewhat by band leader Larry O'Brien's choice of words while introducing the song, "Silent Night." He noted the band normally steers clear of religious themes but added he was sure nobody could "be offended" by this song. It was an unnecessary comment that ran the risk of spoiling the authenticity of the evening, as I can't imagine Mr. Miller himself would have felt the need to offer such a disclaimer whatever his own religious convictions might have been. It was also odd, considering the band's fan base comes largely from a generation that understood it's a form of intolerance to be offended by Christmas songs. I'm sure it reminded a lot of longtime fans they weren't in the early '40s anymore.

The highlight of the evening, though, came at the end. O'Brien said the orchestra had arranged a tune that's been greeted by loud cheers, hand-clapping and foot-stomping -- so much so that the orchestra is "considering recording it." "Tell us what you think," he said. A few seconds later, the packed house erupted with the first telltale notes of Miller's signature tune, "In the Mood."

One can only imagine what Mr. Miller himself would have thought of such a fond reception from young and old alike, some 70 years after the song was first recorded. No doubt it would have sent him on "A Stairway to the Stars."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

USMEF: China destined for top 10

The U.S. Meat Export Federation issued this statement on the series of new U.S.-China trade agreements announced Wednesday:

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is pleased to learn of the progress made during the recent session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) on several significant trade issues. In particular, the announcement that technical discussions on re-opening the Chinese market to U.S. beef will resume early next year is very encouraging news for the nation's beef industry.

When the market closed in 2003, China was just beginning to show its potential as a major destination for U.S. beef. Obviously, China's economy has grown remarkably since that time and so have the opportunities for high-quality beef products. If the United States regains access to the Chinese market early next year, we estimate that 2011 beef exports will be in the range of $200 million. This would rank China among the top ten global markets for U.S. beef, with tremendous potential for future growth.

USMEF is appreciative of the efforts put forth by all U.S. agencies on this matter, and we look forward to working closely with the U.S. government and other beef industry groups to secure the prompt resumption of exports to this critical market.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, green fraud?

More proof that a few radicals won't be happy until every last vestige of progress and civilization is expunged from human consciousness.

A columnist for the alternative San Francisco online news site Beyond Chron is ripping what it calls the mainstream media and political leaders' "greenwashing" of the environmental record of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who just may be remembered as the governor whose environmental policies facilitated the biggest business exodus in the state's history.

Among the dozen or so grievances that author Dan Bacher levels at Schwarzenegger:

In his zeal to build the [peripheral] canal, Schwarzenegger attempted to sabotage the campaign by the Klamath, Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes, fishermen and environmentalists to remove four Klamath River dams by making $250 million for dam removal contingent upon the voters' passage of an unpopular water bond that creates the infrastructure for a peripheral canal and new dams. Because it would have faced certain defeat at the polls this November, Schwarzenegger and the Legislative leadership postponed the water bond until November 2012.

In addition, the Schwarzenegger administration has granted agribusiness permits to divert water from the Scott and Shasta rivers, resulting in the de-watering of these Klamath River tributaries at tremendous risk to endangered coho salmon. [...]

Pesky voters, and peskier farmers. I suppose the folks at Beyond Chron think the governor should have declared martial law, seized people's bank accounts to come up with the $250 million and shut down every ag operation that's near a body of water. Forget all this back-and-forth negotiating and politicking that weak-kneed democracies do; just do whatever it takes to fulfill the agenda.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Klamath meeting today in Redding

The Klamath Basin Coordinating Council -- which was created to implement the massive water-sharing and dam-removal agreement on the Klamath River announced earlier this year -- met today in Redding, Calif.

In the second photo, council facilitator Ed Sheets (left) talks with Greg Addington of the Klamathh Water Users Association during a break. In the third, Tim Hemstreet of PacifiCorp (center) talks with other attendees.

As I reported this morning, Hemstreet told the council that preparations to remove the dams are proceeding.

For more on the meeting, check the Capital Press Web site soon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PLF: Judge calls out 'junk science'

From the Pacific Legal Foundation:

This afternoon, Federal Judge Oliver Wanger of the Eastern District of California issued his long-awaited ruling in the The Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, a legal challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Delta smelt biological opinion.

Judge Wanger held the Delta smelt "biop" to be invalid, violating the Endangered Species Act and Administrative Procedure Act. He also held that certain specific water pumping restrictions are arbitrary and capricious.

In this challenge to the Delta smelt biop, Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys represent three San Joaquin Valley farmers who have been significantly impacted by the water cutbacks that resulted from the Delta smelt biological opinion.

In response to today's ruling by Judge Wanger, PLF attorney Damien Schiff issued this statement:

"Judge Wanger was correct to recognize that the feds' Delta smelt biological opinion involved a lot of junk science. The feds claimed that the pumps harm the smelt population, but they didn't provide any meaningful measurement to back up that assertion. He also blasted the government for failing to consider the devastating economic impacts created by draconian water cutbacks. With the economy struggling and unemployment still soaring, it is welcome to see a judge refusing to rubber stamp extreme, destructive, and unjustified environmental regulations."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Arnold's tenure 'a flop'

Opines Redding Record Searchlight editor Silas Lyons:

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an actor whose primary thespian talent was appearing brave and invincible when he was ridiculously overmatched.

Of all his traits, this is probably the one that served him best as governor of Kahli-four-nya, and he’s not about to give it up now.

Expect him to leave the smoldering capital with his head held high. On a motorcycle, in a black leather jacket, would be a nice touch.

But like the fight scenes in Schwarzenegger’s movies, this act is hard to buy.

More here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ag lender: GIPSA not good for financing

Add Mark Greenwood, vice president of agribusiness capital at AgStar Financial Services in Mankato, Minn., to the list of industry representatives who've come out against the U.S. Grain Inspection, Packyards and Stockyards Administration's proposed rule.

The American Meat Institute picks up on Greenwood's recent op-ed with this press release:

In the op-ed, which appeared recently in the St. Cloud Times, Greenwood provided a unique perspective on the proposed GIPSA livestock and poultry marketing rule, noting that the livestock industry has seen historic volatility in recent years, making difficult for ag lenders like himself to provide critical operating capital to these farmers. Marketing agreements, he said, make it possible to do business.

"Without these agreements, the livestock market is simply too volatile for most lending organizations to risk financing. Current use of marketing agreements actually helps new farmers build the credit they need to become long-term contributors to the industry and their local economy," Greenwood wrote.

"Like the broader U.S. economy, access to capital is a critical factor that will determine how the food and agriculture industry will emerge from this recession. Limiting the ability of the nation's livestock producers to use a proven risk-management tool to secure operating capital will limit the ag industry's expansion potential at a time when our country desperately needs more opportunities," Greenwood added.

Greenwood pointed to the recent study conducted by John Dunham and Associates for the American Meat Institute which estimates 104,000 jobs will be lost if the proposed USDA rule is finalized.

"As American consumers, I urge you to contact your lawmakers and the USDA and push for the USDA to evaluate the impacts of this proposed policy, conduct due diligence and make the right decision for the ag economy and the overall U.S. economy," Greenwood concluded.

To view the op-ed, click here:

Why Hillary is all but finished

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin puts in writing something I've always sort of suspected -- that Hillary Clinton sealed her fate by signing on with President Obama.

He writes:

It's that magical time of the year, so let's play political pretend. Let's imagine Hillary turned down the secretary-of-state job two years ago.

Imagine where she would be now. A leader in the Senate, thinking seriously about challenging a damaged President Obama in 2012, that's where.

And she'd be getting tons of encouragement. She'd be free to join and even lead the chorus of outraged Dems and turned-off independents.

Instead, she's checkmated herself. By hitching her wagon to the shooting star Obama was in 2008, she effectively took herself out of the next presidential election.

It seemed like the smart thing to do at the time. Obama's smashing victory and huge popularity sparked talk of a generational realignment in favor of Democrats.

She'd come so close in the primaries that State was the only job that didn't seem like a demotion. Besides, signing on to his team wasn't viewed as giving up anything in 2012 because there was no hope of challenging him. And 2016 was too far off to game.

But the demigod turns out to have clay feet, and Clinton is now stuck to him. He's fallen and she can't get up.

Yes, it's hard to rage against the machine when you're part of it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Government-sanctioned news

Rush Limbaugh is, of course, being at least somewhat facetious when he makes references to the "state-run media." His point, as I understand it, is to draw satirical comparisons between major news organizations' willing alliance with the government establishment -- and particularly with the current administration -- and news outlets in dictatorships and communist countries.

But how far off is Limbaugh's description, really, when you have stories such as this? Could a truly state-run media be around the corner?

Hey, I like that idea

George Lucas apparently wants to digitally resurrect dead actors for new movies.

The folks at NBC Bay Area think that's a terrible idea.

Look for actors to start laying out their film rights in their wills to prevent this from happening pretty much ASAP. Because when you're dead, you don't have the power to say no to George Lucas.

A commenter on the site disagrees.

On the contrary, what actor for money, would NOT want this kind of shot at true immortality? What an ego boost for this narcissistic egotistical crowd. Look for their agents to be negotiating the right price, and their press agents to be putting the best face on whatever the negotiations yield.

Hey, they're already pretty much doing it with Michael Jackson, aren't they?

I think Lucas may be on to something. After all, a dead, computer-generated John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart would still have 10 times the character and acting ability as most of today's so-called stars.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Farm leader: Advocacy needed

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:

To succeed in advocating for their members, farm organizations must work together and be aggressive and strategic, according to the leader of the state’s largest farm group. California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger says the coming change in administrations in Sacramento underscores the need for farm groups to enhance their political activity.

In an address to the organization’s 92nd Annual Meeting in Monterey, Wenger noted that cooperation among farm groups has allowed California farmers and ranchers to pass legislation that supports their businesses, and to head off potentially damaging bills. With a new administration and many new legislators taking office in Sacramento, Wenger said farm organizations must step up their commitment to political engagement.

“It has to be that if you cut a farmer, we all bleed,” he said. “We have to pull together and make sure we work for the common good of our industry, because every one of our industries is so dependent upon the other.”

Wenger said farm organizations must focus in particular on assuring reliable water supplies for California. He noted that Farm Bureau supported the water bond originally scheduled for last month’s ballot, which has been postponed until the November 2012 election.

“We cannot grow in this state without new water infrastructure,” he said, adding that forecasts about the impact of global climate change include less snow and more rain for California.

“If that holds true, we need more reservoirs and we need them to be on streams, so we can slow the water so we have less flood damage and we have more water to be used not only for environmental purposes, but also for hydroelectric generation, for municipal and industrial use, and for the production of fresh food for a growing population,” Wenger said.

To achieve the policies that will protect California agriculture, he said, the state’s 45,000 commercial farmers and ranchers must commit their “time, talents or treasure” to political action.

“Because we are so diverse, we need to pull together,” he said. “We need to arm our folks who use their talents on our behalf. We can do better and we must do more.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of 81,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

Grandin: 'Open up' to the public

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:

Renowned animal scientist Temple Grandin told livestock ranchers today to “open up the door” to the public, to show how ranchers care for their animals. Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University who has become famous for her animal welfare research and her personal history of autism, spoke to the California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Monterey.

Grandin described Americans as “hungry for information” about what happens on farms and ranches. She urged farmers and ranchers to fill that information gap, and to use the Internet as a tool for demonstrating their animal-care practices. For example, she commended a California egg farm that has begun streaming live video of its chickens online.

“Most of the public is just curious,” Grandin said. “We need to be opening up the door and showing the things that we do.”

That includes, she said, showing everyday farm activities such as dishing up feed or putting out bedding for dairy cows.

“What you would consider mundane, normal stuff, the public wants to look at that,” Grandin said. “Put it up and show it. It doesn’t have to be some fancy thing. If you don’t know how to put it up on YouTube, your kids will know how to put it up.”

Grandin has developed animal-welfare auditing programs for restaurants and food retailers including McDonald’s, Burger King and Whole Foods, and has created animal-handling systems designed from the animal’s point of view, to help them remain calm as they’re being moved to market.

“When I first started, I thought I could fix everything with engineering,” she said. “What I’ve found is I can only fix half of things with engineering; the other half is management.”

Grandin encouraged farmers and ranchers to observe their animals carefully, adding that “good stockmanship pays” in improved animal health, milk production and meat quality.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of 81,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Long-awaited Korea deal hailed

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is one -- but by no means the only -- agriculture-related group that's elated over the long-awaited U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea that was announced today.

From a USMEF news release:

Today's announcement by President Obama that negotiators for the United States and South Korea have reached consensus on their free trade agreement (FTA) is very welcome news for U.S. red meat producers, processors and exporters. The U.S. red meat industry will reap significant benefits under the FTA from the gradual elimination of duties on pork and beef exports to Korea.

"I would like to take this opportunity to personally congratulate the U.S. negotiators for their dedication and commitment to pursuing these discussions to a successful conclusion," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

Seng also acknowledged the leadership of Montana Sen. Max Baucus in achieving the resumption of beef exports to Korea in 2008. Noting the strong recovery that has occurred in beef exports since 2008, Seng said that Senator Baucus's continued commitment to expanding access to the Korean market has been critical to the success the beef industry has experienced there over the past two years.

USMEF looks forward to working closely with Korean importers, food service and retailers as well as consumers to provide the high quality products they enjoy from the United States. This agreement provides a good opportunity for U.S. agriculture and is great news for Korea's consumers.

Through the first nine months of 2010, the United States has exported 81,866 metric tons (180.5 million pounds) of beef valued at $383.8 million to South Korea - an increase of 136 percent in volume and 181 percent in value versus the same period in 2009. Pork exports to Korea are down about 17 percent year-over-year, but still total 64,209 metric tons (141.6 million pounds) valued at $136.5 million.

'Should Bob Dylan retire?' blogger Marc Beauchamp poses the question, and writes:

After 50 years on stage, his voice is pretty much shot, many of his performances perfunctory and even some die-hard fans are wondering if he should hang it up, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Actually, Dylan's voice has always been pretty much shot. My question is, if Bob Dylan retired, would anybody other than a few aging hippies really notice? Or care?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ag groups: Pass 'meaningful, permanent' death tax reform

From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's legislative newsletter, out today:

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) joined forces with other agricultural organizations representing farmers and ranchers to call on Congress to pass estate tax reform and to ensure President Obama understands the detrimental effect the estate tax has on family-owned farms and ranches. If Congress does nothing, the estate tax will revert to the pre-2001 levels of a $1 million exemption at a 55 percent tax rate. NCBA's Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said it doesn't take a big cattle operation to have assets in excess of $1 million.

On Tues. Nov. 29, NCBA, PLC and 29 other agricultural organizations sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take a leadership role in reforming the estate tax. The letter said, "This action will strengthen the business climate for farm and ranch families while ensuring agricultural businesses can be passed to future generations. Allowing estate taxes to be reinstated without an exemption and rate that protects family farms puts many operations at risk and threatens succession to the next generation of farmers."

In addition to sending the letter to the President, NCBA hosted a press conference with PLC and eight other agricultural organizations to call on Congress to pass meaningful, permanent estate tax reform. Scott Bennett, a junior at Virginia Tech University and an active participant in his family's ranch, spoke on behalf of NCBA. He said, "With a $1 million exemption and a 55 percent tax, we would need to sell most of our assets just to keep part of the operation in the family." Click here to watch the entire press conference, or click here to view photos from the press conference.

NCBA supports a full and permanent repeal of the estate tax but understands that in the current climate that is not "doable." NCBA supports legislation introduced in the Senate by Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and in the House by Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Kevin Brady (R-Texas) to increase the exemption level to $5 million and reduce the rate to 35 percent. The proposals also ensure that any relief related to the exemption is tied to inflation and that a stepped-up basis is included. NCBA also supports proposals for an estate tax exemption for agriculture.

"There are only 27 days until the estate tax returns at levels that many family-owned operations won't be able to bear," NCBA President Steve Foglesong said. "Congress can't continue sitting on its hands not acting. The return of the estate tax will not only impact family-owned farms and ranches, it will have a rippling effect throughout our entire economy. This should not be a political issue. It's time to do what's right and pass permanent, meaningful estate tax reform."

'Are Hail Marys banned, too?'

That was Fox News' question upon reporting on the Tacoma, Wash., high school football player who drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct foul for praying in the end zone after a touchdown.

The story is here. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Web site is here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

War on Independence Day? blogger/opinion editor Bruce Ross posts:

War on Christmas? Try the war on Independence Day

In Orange County, at least, water-quality regulators have announced that July 4 pyrotechnic shows -- which typically are fired over water, where possible, to minimize the fire hazard in the middle of the California summer -- are subject to permit requirements. The L.A. Times reports that the move isn't sitting well:

State water quality regulators may douse the annual Fourth of July fireworks display in Laguna Beach if City Manager Ken Frank can't get an exemption.

The San Diego region of the state Regional Water Quality Control Board recently announced its intention to regulate fireworks over ocean water in San Diego County and parts of Orange County, including Laguna Beach. The shows won't be banned, but a permit from the board will require the cleaning up of debris, which must be monitored for pollutants.

--- SNIP ---

Laguna's show at Monument Point in Heisler Park overlooks a portion of the city's coastline designated as a marine reserve.

I'm reliably informed that Redding's never needed such a permit -- yet. Of course, the Sacramento River through the city is very much critical habitat for various fish.

Don't know this for sure, but I'd have to wonder if the river doesn't get more debris from homeless encampments under the Highway 44 bridge than it would with a little falling ash from a fireworks display that's held once a year.

It is what it is

Columnist Gary Bray takes note in Portland's of the irony that the tree-lighting ceremony in Pioneer Square -- which has barred any mention of Christ or Christmas -- would be the target of a Muslim would-be terrorist's bomb plot.

He writes of terror suspect Mohamed Osman Mohamud:

in his mind it was a celebration of Christ Jesus who he declared Jihad against. The irony that in the most tolerant city in America who has outlawed Christianity is the target of an Islamic terrorist attack points directly at the spiritual war we are fighting. [...]

He was not a normal American kid he was an extremist Somali Islamic terrorist who has been indoctrinated in a Mosque here in Portland. He has been taught to hate capitalism, freedom, America, Christians and Jews and is at war with. He said he liked it when Americans were jumping out of buildings and it would be great if there were dead women and children at his bombing, which tells how deep his hatred for Christians is. He knows that he was going to make a major blow on America in the heart of liberalism which is something he hates as much as Christians and Jews.

The whole thing just goes to show that no matter what people choose to call it (or not call it), Christmas is Christmas. And no matter what people choose to call it (or not call it), terrorism is terrorism.