17 Dec 2010, 3:39pm
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Lunar eclipse and winter solstice to coincide, first time since the year 1378

by Dr. Tony Phillips, Watts Up With That, December 17, 2010 [here]

How often do you get to witness an event that has not been seen since the year 1378, over half a millennium, 632 years ago? Of course, weather will make or break the viewing, and it appears the much of the west coast of the USA will be socked in with a significant winter storm at that time.

For those that can see it, the moon will likely be seen as a deep coppery red…

See for yourself on Dec. 21st, the first day of northern winter, when the full Moon passes almost dead-center through Earth’s shadow. For 72 minutes of eerie totality, an amber light will play across the snows of North America, throwing landscapes into an unusual state of ruddy shadow.

The eclipse begins on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST (Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST). At that time, Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark-red bite at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the “bite” to expand and swallow the entire Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes.

If you’re planning to dash out for only one quick look -­ it is December, after all -­ choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That’s when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red. … [more, with photos]

28 Nov 2010, 2:12pm
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Abandoned in a Dead Land

By Monique Polak, The Montreal Gazette, November 27, 2010 [here]

Note: Monique Polak is a teacher, journalist, and author of a dozen books including What World Is Left (2008) and The Middle of Everywhere (2009) [here].

Inukjuak, Nunavik, Canada — The rumble of a snowmobile, children shouting in the schoolyard, dogs barking, the gusting wind. These are the sounds of Nunavik, the northernmost part of Quebec and homeland of the province’s Inuit.

But on the western edge of Nunavik, on the shores of Hudson Bay, the town of Inukjuak seems even quieter than the rest. That’s not only because it is, like all of Nunavik, inaccessible by road, but also because some of its inhabitants have been keeping their harrowing stories of survival secret for more than half a century.

“I don’t talk much about it to my kids. It happened a long, long time ago. Less talk is better,” said Markoosie Patsauq, 69.

In the 1950s, Patsauq’s family, along with 18 other families from the Inukjuak area, then known as Port Harrison, were plucked from their hunting camps and relocated to the High Arctic — some 1,200 kilometres farther north in what was then the Northwest Territories, now Nunavut. Some were dropped off at Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island, others at Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island, the most northerly island in Canada.

Lonely and lost, the newcomers were overwhelmed by conditions that were even harsher than the ones they had known.

Patsauq was 12 when, in 1953, he and his family made the long journey by boat from Port Harrison to Resolute Bay. They went because they were promised a better life by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

Only instead of discovering paradise, they found a kind of hell on Earth. Cornwallis Island was barren. From November through January, there was total darkness, something the newcomers had never experienced. Unaccustomed to hunting in the dark, it was weeks before they could feed themselves. “It was like being a blind person,” recalled Patsauq.

What they didn’t know — and wouldn’t learn for some 20 years — was that they were being used as human flagpoles. Their relocation was part of a Cold War plan to establish a Canadian presence in the High Arctic and to assert sovereignty.

It was not until last August that the Canadian government officially apologized for what happened. … [more]

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

25 Nov 2010, 10:22am
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Norm Winningstad, high-tech pioneer and philanthropist in Oregon, dies at 85

The Oregonian , November 24, 2010 [here]

C. Norman “Norm” Winningstad, a technology pioneer and philanthropist in Oregon’s Silicon Forest, died today at his Newport home. He was 85.

“Norm was always working on the next new technology venture, but also always made time to give back to education, science and the arts through his volunteer and philanthropic efforts,” Gov. Ted Kulongoski said in a written statement.

Winningstad was among the leading minds at Tektronix, a venerable Washington County electronics company, and later became one of the state’s chief tech entrepreneurs.

“Norm will be forever remembered as the grandfather of technology here in Oregon, and his contributions and legacy will be realized for generations,” the governor wrote. … [more]

Note: Norm Winngstad was a friend and correspondent who will be sadly missed. He was an engaged and humorous critic of global warming alarmism, and brought tremendous insight and study to the issue. — Mike D.

8 Sep 2010, 12:54am
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Scientists find evidence discrediting theory Amazon was virtually unlivable

By Juan Forero, Washington Post, September 5, 2010 [here]

SAN MARTIN DE SAMIRIA, PERU - To the untrained eye, all evidence here in the heart of the Amazon signals virgin forest, untouched by man for time immemorial - from the ubiquitous fruit palms to the cry of howler monkeys, from the air thick with mosquitoes to the unruly tangle of jungle vines.

Archaeologists, many of them Americans, say the opposite is true: This patch of forest, and many others across the Amazon, was instead home to an advanced, even spectacular civilization that managed the forest and enriched infertile soil to feed thousands.

The findings are discrediting a once-bedrock theory of archaeology that long held that the Amazon, unlike much of the Americas, was a historical black hole, its environment too hostile and its earth too poor to have ever sustained big, sedentary societies. Only small and primitive hunter-gatherer tribes, the assumption went, could ever have eked out a living in an unforgiving environment.

But scientists now believe that instead of stone-age tribes, like the groups that occasionally emerge from the forest today, the Indians who inhabited the Amazon centuries ago numbered as many as 20 million, far more people than live here today.

“There is a gigantic footprint in the forest,” said Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo, 49, a Colombian-born professor at the University of Florida who is working this swath in northeast Peru. … [more]

8 Sep 2010, 12:53am
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Scientist’s Firing After 36 Years Fuels ‘PC’ Debate at UCLA

By Diane Macedo, Fox News, August 31, 2010 [here]

A longtime professor at UCLA, told that he would not be rehired because his “research is not aligned with the academic mission” of his department, says he’s being fired after 36 years at the prestigious school because his scientific beliefs are “politically incorrect.” But UCLA says Dr. James Enstrom’s politics have nothing to do with its decision.

Enstrom, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s School of Public Health, has a history of running against the grain. In 2003 he wrote a study, published in the British Medical Journal, in which he found no causal relationship between secondhand smoke and tobacco-related death – a conclusion that drew fire both because it was contrary to popular scientific belief and because it was funded by Philip Morris.

Now Enstrom says his studies show no causal link between diesel soot and death in California – findings that once again set him far apart from the pack and put him in direct conflict with the California Air Resources Board, which says its new standards on diesel emissions will save 9,400 lives between 2011 and 2025 and will reduce health care costs by as much as $68 billion in the state.

The expected benefits of the new standards have been used to justify their estimated $5.5 billion price tag, which opponents say will cripple the California trucking industry at a time when the state can least afford it. The new standards, the critics warn, also could set the stage for national regulations.

Enstrom questions the science behind the new emissions standards, and he has raised concerns about the two key reports on which they were based – exposing the author of one study as having faked his credentials and the panel that issued the other study as having violated its term limits.

He says his views are what have gotten him fired, raising serious concerns not only about the diesel regulations but about academic freedom and scientific research as a whole. … [more]

28 Jul 2010, 9:44pm
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Federal Judge Blocks Portions of Arizona Illegal Immigration Law

FOX News, July 28, 2010 [here]

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked some of the toughest provisions in the Arizona illegal immigration law, putting on hold the state’s attempt to have local police enforce federal immigration policy.

Though the rest of the law is still set to go into effect Thursday, the partial injunction on SB 1070 means Arizona, for the time being, will not be able to require police officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also struck down the section of law that makes it a crime not to carry immigration registration papers and the provision that makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek or perform work.

Click [here] to read the ruling.

In all, Bolton struck down four sections of the law, the ones that opponents called the most controversial. Bolton said she was putting those sections on hold until the courts resolve the issues.

The ruling said the Obama administration, which sought the injunction, is likely to “succeed on the merits” in showing the above provisions are preempted by federal law. … [more]

28 Jul 2010, 11:30am
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Science Turns Authoritarian

By Kenneth P. Green and Hiwa Alaghebandian, The American, July 27, 2010 [here]

Science is losing its credibility because it has adopted an authoritarian tone, and has let itself be co-opted by politics.

In a Wired article published at the end of May, writer Erin Biba bemoans the fact that “science” is losing its credibility with the public. The plunge in the public’s belief in catastrophic climate change is her primary example. Biba wonders whether the loss of credibility might be due to the malfeasance unearthed by the leak of emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, but comes to the conclusion that malfeasance isn’t the cause of the public’s disaffection. No, people have turned against science simply because it lacks a good public relations outfit. Biba quotes Kelly Bush, head of a major PR firm, on the point:

Bush says researchers need a campaign that inundates the public with the message of science: Assemble two groups of spokespeople, one made up of scientists and the other of celebrity ambassadors. Then deploy them to reach the public wherever they are, from online social networks to “The Today Show.” Researchers need to tell personal stories, tug at the heartstrings of people who don’t have PhD’s. And the celebrities can go on “Oprah” to describe how climate change is affecting them—and by extension, Oprah’s legions of viewers.

“They need to make people answer the questions, What’s in it for me? How does it affect my daily life? What can I do that will make a difference? Answering these questions is what’s going to start a conversation,” Bush says. “The messaging up to this point has been ‘Here are our findings. Read it and believe.’ The deniers are convincing people that the science is propaganda.”

While nobody would dispute the value of a good PR department, we doubted that bad or insufficient PR was the primary reason for the public’s declining trust in scientific pronouncements. Our theory is that science is not losing its credibility because people no longer like or believe in the idea of scientific discovery, but because science has taken on an authoritarian tone, and has let itself be co-opted by pressure groups who want the government to force people to change their behavior. …

[A]n assortment of publicity-seeking, and often socially activist, scientists stopped saying, “Here are our findings. Read it and believe.” Instead, activist scientists such as NASA’s James Hansen, heads of quasi-scientific governmental organizations such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, editors of major scientific journals, and heads of the various national scientific academies are more inclined to say, “Here are our findings, and those findings say that you must change your life in this way, that way, or the other way.” …

In other words, around the end of the 1980s, science (at least science reporting) took on a distinctly authoritarian tone. … [more]

20 Jul 2010, 8:36am
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Professor Investigates Ket Language

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage, Alaska News July 9, 2010 [here]

A new book chronicles the language link between a remote village in northern Siberia and the Dene or Athabascan family of languages in North America. The Ket people, of the Yenisei River, have been studied by Professor Edward Vajda, a linguistics expert from Western Washington University. Vajda says there are about 30 languages in Siberia that are not related to Russian and Ket is one of them. He says it is radically different than any other language of north Asia.

Vayda says no one from North America had ever worked with the Ket language before. He says Ket is the only surviving language of the Yeniseian family. Other Native languages along the Yenisei River are extinct.

The story of language loss in remote Siberia is similar to Native language loss in North America. Under Stalin, the Soviet government forced nomadic reindeer herders and hunters into villages in the 1930s and 40s and then took their children away to boarding schools to learn Russian in the 50s and 60s. Vajda says today, of the 1,200 Ket people, fewer than 100 elders speak the language.

Note: includes attached video with a story in the Ket language.

18 Jul 2010, 7:07pm
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Seeing the Forest for Its Hedges

Grace Beahm, The New York Times, July 9, 2010 [here]

FOR decades, some university endowments, pension funds and other big investors have put part of their money to work in the woods. They’ve bought large tracts of timberland, viewing them as an asset class separate from stocks, bonds and other forms of real estate.

Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist at GMO, the asset manager based in Boston, calls timber “a perfect investment” for someone with a time horizon of, say, 20 years or more. “Timber is safer than stocks but not quite as safe as Treasury inflation-protected bonds,” he said. “And as long as the sun shines and the rain rains, trees grow.”

Timber also acts as an inflation hedge. “If you look at commodities, you find a pattern that all of them, except timber, had a declining real price up until 10 years ago,” Mr. Grantham said. “But standing timber has a long-term record of modestly rising prices.”

Retail investors, for the most part, haven’t been able to exploit the investment benefits of timberland because acquiring it has demanded too much money and expertise. A typical swath of Georgia pine or Maine spruce could sell for millions of dollars, and buying it required knowledge that couldn’t be gleaned from typical investment books. A buyer had to understand land, lumber and even bugs, said Bob L. Izlar, director of the Center for Forest Business at the University of Georgia.

After all, an insect infestation can destroy a stand of trees just as surely as a financial crisis can bring down a bank.

“The mountain pine beetle has eaten 70 million acres of timber in Canada,” Mr. Izlar said.

Lately, however, novices have been invited to play in the woods. Over the last three years, exchange-traded funds have been introduced that, in theory, provide easier access to the diversification benefits of timber. The Claymore/Beacon Global Timber Index E.T.F. and the iShares S.&P. Global Timber and Forestry Index fund buy securities like timber-related stocks and real estate investment trusts. …

In contrast, an exchange-traded fund holding easy-to-trade stocks and REITs gives investors the ability to sell shares daily: it may lack larches and lodgepoles but compensates with convenience. Besides, companies in the Claymore/Beacon index, like Weyerhaeuser, often own ample acres themselves, Mr. Baffico said. …

J. Brian Fiacco, owner of Timberlands Strategies in Summerville, S.C., [and the Timberland Blog here] advises institutional investors on timber purchases, and has concluded that E.T.F.’s are not an accurate proxy for timberland. Too many of the companies that they hold no longer own much, if any, actual timber, he said. Consider International Paper, whose shares are owned by both iShares and Claymore Beacon. It sold the bulk of its timberland to focus on manufacturing, he said.

In addition to E.T.F.’s, investors can buy shares of timber REIT’s. The United States has three — Plum Creek, Potlatch and Rayonier — and Weyerhaeuser is taking steps to become one. All four have substantial land holdings. For example, Plum Creek, based in Seattle, owns seven million acres in 19 states.

Although the REITs are closer to a timber pure play than the E.T.F.’s, they are still likely to be more correlated with Wall Street than with the woods, Mr. Fiacco said. So he is skeptical of using them to achieve diversification.

INSTEAD, he advocates the old-fashioned path of just buying timberland. That’s more expensive and time-consuming than buying a security, but may not be out of reach for some affluent people. “You can own small tracts,” he said. “I have 58 acres right outside of Charleston. I also own 150 acres in the northern Adirondacks.”

Timberland brokers and appraisers can help with the identification and evaluation of properties, and buyers can pool their funds with other people to reduce their risk, he said. A group of friends might form a limited liability corporation and buy a few hundred, or even a few thousand, acres. … [more]

16 Jul 2010, 10:30am
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Brief for 9 states backs Arizona immigration law

By David Runk, AP, July 15, 2010 [here]

Detroit, Michigan (AP) - States have the authority to enforce immigration laws and protect their borders, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Wednesday in a legal brief on behalf of nine states supporting Arizona’s immigration law.

Cox, one of five Republicans running for Michigan governor, said Michigan is the lead state backing Arizona in federal court and is joined by Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Arizona law, set to take effect July 29, directs officers to question people about their immigration status during the enforcement of other laws such as traffic stops and if there’s a reasonable suspicion they’re in the U.S. illegally.

President Barack Obama’s administration recently filed suit in federal court to block it, arguing immigration is a federal issue. The law’s backers say Congress isn’t doing anything meaningful about illegal immigration, so it’s the state’s duty to step up.

“Arizona, Michigan and every other state have the authority to enforce immigration laws, and it is appalling to see President Obama use taxpayer dollars to stop a state’s efforts to protect its own borders,” Cox said in a statement.

Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer, in a statement released by Cox’s office, said she was thankful for the support.

In a telephone interview, Cox said the nine states supporting Arizona represents “a lot of states,” considering it was only Monday that he asked other state attorneys general to join him. The brief was filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona on the same day as the deadline for such filings. … [more]

15 Jul 2010, 9:48pm
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Suing Arizona Opposed by Large Majority of Readers

FedSmith.com, July 15, 2010 [here]

Immigration has been in the headlines for some time and is not likely to go away anytime soon.

In the wake of action by the Department of Justice to sue the State of Arizona, we asked readers this question:

Do you agree with the administration’s decision to sue over Arizona’s immigration law?

Here are the results:

yes: 11.5%

no: 87.3%

undecided: 1.2%

The survey results are more strongly opposed to the administration’s actions than the results of a similar poll of likely voters on the same issue that was recently released. In that poll, voters by a two-to-one margin were in opposition to the action by the Justice Department to challenge the legality of Arizona’s new immigration law in federal court.

Sixty-one percent (61%) favored passage of a law like Arizona’s in their own state.

About 1,000 readers also sent in their written comments on the issue.

As indicated by the survey results, most of those providing a comment were opposed to the administration’s decision. It is rare to find a topic that finds as much commonality among our readers as this one question does.

While there are movements to boycott Arizona, and some writers have described it as a “pariah state,” more people are embarrassed by our politicians than by the new Arizona law, according to one recent poll.

The most common statements made by readers were that the federal government is not enforcing our borders and that is why Arizona decided to take action on its own.

In fact, we had to search through hundreds of comments to find any that supported the decision. … [more]

18 Jun 2010, 12:41pm
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Rancher Rob Krentz Murder Case Reports Tell of Intense Loyalty by His Dog “Blue”

By Paul Rubin, Phoenix News Times, Jun. 15 2010 [here]

We’ve gotten our hands on a heavily redacted police report made public a few hours ago by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.

It’s about the Rob Krentz murder case, a subject that we explored last week in the story “Cowboy Down.”

It is available right [here] if you haven’t checked it out yet.

Nothing earthshaking emerges in the carefully edited CCSO reports.

What does hit us hard, however, is the remarkable loyalty that Krentz’s beloved blue heeler-appropriately named Blue-showed to his master until the very end.

As we described in our story, Rob Krentz’s body was found out on the family’s sprawling ranch in southeastern Cochise County hours after he and Blue went missing. Krentz had been shot twice from close range by a still-unknown assailant.

Blue was shot once in the back, but still was clinging to life as authorities moved into the crime scene around midnight last March 27.

The sheriff’s police reports describe how Krentz, after being fatally shot, had fallen out of the Polaris all-terrain vehicle he and Blue had been riding around in.

Blue was lying in the back of the vehicle near his slain master when authorities arrived.

more »

12 Jun 2010, 9:48pm
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Scientists Rescue Voyager 2 Probe on Edge of Solar System

by Jason Mick, Daily Tech, May 29, 2010 [here]

An error in Voyager 2’s memory threatened its mission on the edge of the solar system. The 33-year old probe has since been successfully fixed.

Voyager 2 was launched 33 years ago and currently remains on course, traveling out of the solar system. It is currently 8.6 billion miles (13.8 billion km) from Earth, passing through the heliosphere, a magnetic bubble that surrounds our solar system. It continues to transmit data, even as it passes through this volatile region.

However, three weeks ago the probe started transmitting garbled messages to Earth. NASA program administrators put the spacecraft in an engineering mode, restricting it to only sending health updates to Earth, while they diagnosed the issue.

It turns out the problem was caused by a single bit in the probe’s memory that had flipped. The memory was successfully reset to the proper value and normal operations resumed. In near-Earth satellites, bit flip occasionally occurs due to solar radiation. Since Voyager 2 was so far from the Sun, though, it’s unclear exactly what caused the bit flip instance.

NASA’s Voyager 2 project manager Ed Massey comments, “In some spacecraft that are closer to the sun one could think of single event upsets caused by solar activity. But we’re so far away, it’s hard to say that’s what caused it. We’re like 93, 94 AU out.”

The command to reset the probe was set on May 19, and by May 22 the probe was back in action talking to Earth in its usual fashion. … [more]

27 May 2010, 12:04pm
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Monument concerns prompt meeting

Illinois Valley News, May 26, 2010 [here]

Tuesday afternoon, May 18, Josephine County Commissioner Sandi Cassanelli traveled to Yreka, Calif. to attend a five-hour meeting regarding a proposal to create the Siskiyou Crest National Monument.

The monument, being promoted by the Ashland-based Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center environmental group, would encompass more than 600,000 acres in Josephine and Jackson counties in Oregon, and Del Norte and Siskiyou counties in California.

Cassanelli said that other attendees at the meeting, held at the Yreka Community Theater, included Tom Kitchar, of the Waldo Mining District; Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith, and representatives from U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management Medford office.

Another attendee was Rob Patridge from the office of 2nd District Congressman Greg Walden (R-Oregon).

Siskiyou County officials are concerned that designation of a monument would limit various activities on public land in the area, Cassanelli said. They could include grazing, logging, mining and riding all-terrain vehicles. Fire suppression issues also are important to county officials, she added.

Another fear, Cassanelli said, is that President Obama possibly could use the American Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish the monument without an open public process.

“It’s out of BLM’s control if the president declares a monument,” Cassanelli said.

The five-hour meeting was attended by more than 400 people, Cassanelli said. A hand count was taken to determine how many people were in support of the monument proposal, she said, and only one person expressed that sentiment.

Officials from the counties that would be affected by the monument designation are planning to submit documentation of their opposition to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Cassanelli said.

“Now is the time for us to band together,” she said. “If we do it together, there’s some hope.”

2 May 2010, 11:40am
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State Senator Sylvia Allen responds to SB1070

By Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen, The Tucson Citizen, May 1, 2010 [here]

I’m Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen. I want to explain SB 1070, which I voted for and was just signed by Governor Jan Brewer. Rancher Rob Krantz was murdered by the drug cartel on his ranch a month ago. I participated in a senate hearing two weeks ago on the border violence; here are just some of the highlights from those who testified.

The people who live within 60 to 80 miles of the Arizona/Mexico Border have for years been terrorized and have pleaded for help to stop the daily invasion of humans who cross their property. One Rancher testified that 300 to 1,200 people A DAY come across his ranch vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles and property, cutting down his fences, and leaving trash. In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles. Another rancher testified that drugs are brought across his ranch daily in a military operation. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, 1/2 mile behind are the guards — fully armed — 1/2 mile behind them are the drugs, behind the drugs 1/2 mile are more guards. These people are violent and they will kill anyone who gets in the way. This was not the only rancher we heard that day that talked about the drug trains. One man told of two illegals who came on his property, one shot in the back and the other in the arm by the drug runners who had forced them to carry drugs and then shot them. Daily they listen to gunfire. During the night it is not safe to leave his family alone on the ranch and they can’t leave the ranch for fear of nothing being left when they come back.

The border patrol is not on the border. They have set up 60 miles away with checkpoints that do nothing to stop the invasion. They are not allowed to use force in stopping anyone who is entering. They run around chasing [illegals]; if they get their hands on them then they can take them back across the border. Federal prisons have over 35% illegals and 20% of Arizona prisons are filled with illegals. In the last few years, 80% of our law enforcement that have been killed or wounded have been [killed or wounded] by illegals. The majority of people coming now are people we need to be worried about. The ranchers told us that they have seen a change in the people coming; they are not just those who are looking for work and a better life.

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