Koch Brothers: From Stalin to Beck and Ellis

From Fresh Air:

Terry GROSS: You might not know their names, but brothers Charles and David Koch have quietly given more than $100 million to right-wing causes, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think-tanks and political groups.

Jane Mayer reports on the Koch brothers in the current edition of The New Yorker, in an article titled "Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who are Waging a War Against Obama."
She says the Koch brothers have become the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America, and their views dovetail with their corporate interests. Charles, who is 74, and David, who is 70, own virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate whose annual revenues are estimated to be $100 billion.

The Kochs operate oil refineries in several states and control some 4,000 miles of pipelines. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet and Lycra and is ranked by Forbes as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill.

Jane MAYER: They have been working to fight the federal government really since the 1970s. And their father was doing it before they were. So they're trying to get rid of federal regulations, particularly on energy companies like their own. They particularly have been at war with environmental regulations, and they have a history of serious and even criminal pollution problems. And they're very anti-tax in almost every form.

Terry GROSS: They founded the Cato Institute, the first libertarian think-tank.

Ms. MAYER: Absolutely, the Cato Institute has become, you know, a very powerful player in the area of shaping political opinion in the country. I mean, it's quoted all the time as a kind of a nonpartisan and impartial libertarian think-tank. But it was founded by the Koch fortune, and it has been funded by it ever since.

GROSS: Although the Koch brothers are libertarians, and they think government should be stripped to its most minimal role, you say they've been great beneficiaries of government money. Their companies have gotten about $100 million in government contracts since 2000.

Ms. MAYER: That's right. They've got a you know, so there's a certain amount of hypocrisy in this libertarian notion, and in fact, there have been some more kind of purist libertarian thinkers who have attacked the Kochs for exactly this, for kind of disguising their corporate self-interest as a kind of a lofty libertarian philosophy.

They were also, I think, tremendous beneficiaries during the Bush years of the 2005 energy bill, which was a tremendous giveaway of subsidies and tax breaks to various energy companies.

You know, I think that David Koch has, you know, you don't want to take that away from him. But at the same time, I have to say one of the things that really shocked me in doing the reporting on this family was that at the same time that David Koch has been, you know, sort of portraying himself as such a champion of the fight against cancer and actually has given a tremendous amount of money to that fight, his company produces a chemical, formaldehyde, in many, many, many products, and they produce it in huge quantities, which the U.S. government has been trying to regulate as a known carcinogen in human beings.

And the Koch Industries, through its Georgia-Pacific subsidiary, produces tons of formaldehyde and puts it into tons of products, particularly things like plywood and laminates.

And the company has been fighting the regulation of formaldehyde, trying to hold off the EPA from keeping it from flowing freely into the marketplace. And, you know, I just don't know how they can reconcile these two roles.

GROSS: The Koch brothers have an interesting family political history. Their father was an oil man in the 1930s. He spent a lot of time in the Soviet Union. You say his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin's regime set up 15 modern oil refineries but, eventually, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch's Soviet colleagues and then he became fiercely anti-communist, became an original member of the John Birch Society.

Do you think that his, like, fervent anti-communist beliefs had any effect on his sons' beliefs?

Ms. MAYER: Oh, absolutely. I mean, and they've talked about it themselves. At the dinner table they were told over and over again that strong centralized government were evil. And some ways - and I've interviewed an old family friend of theirs who basically suggests that they transferred their father's paranoia about communism to paranoia about the federal government in the United States and all regulations.

And, I mean there was a consistent thread even within the Birch Society there, too, which was that the Birch Society was founded mostly by largely businessmen who were opposed to labor unions and, you know, minimum wage laws, and specifically opposed to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and a larger federal government. So there's kind of a consistent line that moves from the father, whose name is Fred Koch, to these sons. And, I mean I just don't think you could make some of the details up, though.

Who would ever think that behind one of America's most spectacular private fortunes is a father who made his first millions working for Joseph Stalin setting up the Soviet oil refineries?

GROSS: So the Koch brothers were brought up by a father who was fervently anti-communist. They grew up with anti-government, anti-big-state beliefs. How much of their work now in funding libertarian causes and anti-regulation, how much of that do you think is just like personal political philosophy and how much of it is like, this will help my corporation make profits?

Ms. MAYER: Well, I think there is no separation between the two in their thinking. They believe that prosperity will result for themselves and others, I guess, if you get rid of all kinds of state regulations and just allow the marketplace to bloom, as they would put it. They see both things as being united, really.

One of the things that I found fascinating was that they're not just your sort of ordinary Republican captains of industry; they are really self-described radicals. And Charles Koch specifically calls himself a radical and says he has a radical agenda when he talked to Brian Doherty in this book Radicals for Capitalism. Their vision is really pretty far out.

It doesn't take long to follow the money from these guys to the TEA movement on the lunatic fringe.

UPDATE: h/t to TGrindAdams.

New York Magazine. Koch apparatchik. Koch Industries reply.


The Big Picture for the Mountain West

From Wildfire Today:

There may be discussions about its cause, but there is overwhelming evidence that climate change is having a profound effect on the forests of the world. We don’t have the luxury of debate–it is here.

There may also be profound changes in how we fight fire, where the fires occur, the length of the fire seasons, and the number of personnel and dollars needed to suppress fires. Some of these changes in fire management are already occurring.

Here are some excerpts from an excellent article in the

"For many years, Diana Six, an entomologist at the University of Montana, planned her field season for the same two to three weeks in July. That’s when her quarry — tiny, black, mountain pine beetles — hatched from the tree they had just killed and swarmed to a new one to start their life cycle again.

Now, says Six, the field rules have changed. Instead of just two weeks, the beetles fly continually from May until October, attacking trees, burrowing in, and laying their eggs for half the year. And that’s not all. The beetles rarely attacked immature trees; now they do so all the time. What’s more, colder temperatures once kept the beetles away from high altitudes, yet now they swarm and kill trees on mountaintops. And in some high places where the beetles had a two-year life cycle because of cold temperatures, it’s decreased to one year.

Such shifts make it an exciting — and unsettling — time to be an entomologist. The growing swath of dead lodgepole and ponderosa pine forest is a grim omen, leaving Six — and many other scientists and residents in the West — concerned that as the climate continues to warm, these destructive changes will intensify.

Across western North America, from Mexico to Alaska, forest die-off is occurring on an extraordinary scale, unprecedented in at least the last century-and-a-half — and perhaps much longer. All told, the Rocky Mountains in Canada and the United States have seen nearly 70,000 square miles of forest — an area the size of Washington state — die since 2000. For the most part, this massive die-off is being caused by outbreaks of tree-killing insects, from the ips beetle in the Southwest that has killed pinyon pine, to the spruce beetle, fir beetle, and the major pest — the mountain pine beetle — that has hammered forests in the north.
These large-scale forest deaths from beetle infestations are likely a symptom of a bigger problem, according to scientists: warming temperatures and increased stress, due to a changing climate. Although western North America has been hardest hit by insect infestations, sizeable
[sic] areas of forest in Australia, Russia, France, and other countries have experienced die-offs, most of which appears to have been caused by drought, high temperatures, or both.

One recent study collected reports of large-scale forest mortality from around the world. Often, forest death is patchy, and research is difficult because of the large areas involved. But the paper, recently published in Forest Ecology and Management, reported that in a 20,000-square-mile savanna in Australia, nearly a third of the trees were dead. In Russia, there was significant die-off within 9,400 square miles of forest. Much of Siberia has warmed by several degrees Fahrenheit in the past half-century, and hot, dry conditions have led to extreme wildfire seasons in eight of the last 10 years. Russian researchers also are concerned that warmer, dryer conditions will lead to increased outbreaks of the Siberian moth, which can destroy large swaths of Russia’s boreal forest.

While people in some places have the luxury to doubt whether climate change is real, it’s harder to be a doubter in the Rocky Mountains. Glaciers in Glacier National Park and elsewhere are shrinking, winters are warmer and shorter, and the intensity of forest fires is increasing. But the most obvious sign is the red and dead forests that carpet the hills and mountains. They have transformed life in many parts of the Rockies. It is interesting that normal amounts of precipitation combined with warmer temperatures can translate into drought:

The tiny mountain pine beetle, which is just a quarter of an inch long, has destroyed nearly 70,000 square miles of forest in the Rocky Mountains.

University of Montana ecologist Steve Running says warmer temperatures in the Rockies bring spring earlier and fall later, each by about a week, yet precipitation has remained about the same. That translates into a drought, and stressed trees are highly susceptible to beetle infestations. Wintertime minimum temperatures in the 1950s, meanwhile, ranged from 40 F to 50 F below zero. That’s risen to the 30-below range, and there are fewer days when minimums are reached. It’s not getting cold enough anymore to kill the beetles, which over-winter in their larval stage and survive the milder temperatures because they are filled with glycol, a natural anti-freeze.

In addition, the past suppression of fire and the fact that many Western trees are reaching the age at which beetles target them — 80 to 100 years — are also factors in the widespread loss of forests.

So the forests across the West are dying, in such large numbers that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar called it the West’s Hurricane Katrina. In Colorado and southern Wyoming, the U.S. Forest Service has created an emergency management team to cut down dead trees around towns and along roads and power lines. Forest Service campgrounds and trails have been closed because of the hazard from dead trees, and communities surrounded by dead forests have drawn up emergency evacuation plans for residents.

Tree-killing bugs aren’t the only problem. In 2005 Colorado researchers noticed that aspens were suddenly dying in large numbers. That year they found 30,000 acres of dead aspen forest. The next year there were 150,000 acres, and in 2008 it had soared to 553,000. The die-off is called Sudden Aspen Death, or SAD. “It’s growing at an exponential rate,” said Wayne Shepperd, who researches aspen for the Forest Service. “It’s pretty sobering when you see a whole mountainside or whole drainage of aspen forest dead.”

Groves at low elevations and facing south are dying fastest, and scientists believe the cause is hotter temperatures and drier weather. It’s not only killing mature trees, but the root mass as well. An aspen grove is the offspring of a large single underground clonal mass, which sends up shoots. “The whole organism is disappearing and it has profound implications,” Shepperd said. “When the roots die, groves that are hundreds or thousands of years old aren’t going to be there anymore.” If the die-offs continue, the loss of the aspen trees would be a blow to goshawks, songbirds, and a number of other species that find food and refuge in the groves.

A lot of beetles can also turn vast tracks of forest from carbon sinks to carbon sources. Take British Columbia, which is ground zero for the mountain pine beetle infestation in North America. Some 53,000 square miles of mature pine forest is dead and the province is projected to lose 80 percent of its mature trees by 2013. The second largest known die-off there occurred in the 1980s and claimed just 2,300 square miles. Bill Wilson — the province’s director of Industry, Trade and Economics Research — said he has flown in a plane for hours over the province and seen nothing but dead forest the entire time. "

What gives researchers pause is that many of these large die-offs have occurred with minimal warming, in just a few years. In the West, for example, the average temperature has warmed on average 1.8 F over the past century. “This is before we put two to four degrees centigrade (3.6 F to 7.2 F) into the system,” said Allen, referring to forecasts for warming by the end of this century. Trees across the world are stressed already from fragmentation, air pollution, and other problems, he said. “I don’t know how much stress the forests of the world can take,” said Allen.

ip's anecdotal mycology surveys reveal precipitous declines in Pleurotus species associated with aspen and support the argument that antibiotics deposited in cattle dung are disrupting those systems. Stay tuned.


206 Harvey Dunn flashback

The house looks great, maybe even like a Hereford with braces.

A duplex, moved onto a newly-poured basement in 1973 by Paul Prussman, graces the south side of Harvey Dunn Street kitty-corner from Sexauer Park. Four brave new men were the first renters.

Fall semester 1974, the left door was blocked and the right door opened onto a landing and split to the second floor. Pink Floyd posters adorned the staircase leading to the second-floor kitchen where the grapes of acid spaghetti wrath were stored. First floor on the left in the living room exhibited empty RETURNABLE Buckhorn Beer cases holding book shelves when Buckhorn was $2.75 a case.

My room was on the right, first floor. Kim was in the first floor southwest room. Bobby was second floor northwest, Michael, second floor southwest. There was a room full of LPs and Michael's big fucking stereo with four turntables. On one summer night, the speaker that was in the upper left window came tumbling off that porch roof while a hundred party-goers exclaimed, "Wwooww!" Mike still has those speakers.

Kim left; Michael right. Photo: Bruce and Lori Venner.


Mary Black Bonnet writing from Lakota perspective

From Life as a Human:

Mary Black Bonnet is an enrolled member of the Sicangu (Rosebud) Lakota Nation (incorrectly known to the greater world as the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.) She is married to one of the most evolved husbands and they are parents to the mind blowingly awesome Turtle. They all live on a 13 acre “ranchette” that boasts sandburs, wandering wildlife, and breathtaking 360 degree views.

The majority of her writing is nonfiction and ethno-historic essays, mostly dealing with issues faced by Lakota Women. She has published poetry, and nonfiction essays. Her work can be seen in Tribal College Journal, Frontiers: a Journal of Women’s studies, Genocide of the Mind, Eating Fire Tasting Blood, Sharing Our Stories: Native women surviving Violence, Birthed From Scorched Hearts, Oregon Literary Review and Potomac Review.

As an undergraduate at the University of South Dakota, she was awarded an NCUR grant that she used to tell the story of the White Swan People, and their forced removal by the government. This research was then published and presented repeatedly in South Dakota and at the NCUR conference at the University of Utah. She was an artist-in- residence at The Montana Artists Refuge, and was named One of South Dakota’s Ten Outstanding Young South Dakotans for her contributions to literature. She collaborated on a mixed media piece titled “Indian 3.0” which was presented at the University of Montana at Billings, and can now be viewed on You Tube.

She has been a visiting writer and writer- in- residence in various schools and universities and given numerous readings of her works. She enjoys working with Youth and Women and is working on doing writing and wellness workshops for them. She is a member of the Y writer’s voice and the Oak Lake Writer’s society.

When she isn’t being an Ina (mother) to the adorable Turtle, she can be found at her website.

Earthworm template for human evolution

From NPR's Talk of the Nation:

Historian Christopher Lloyd, who for his new book, What on Earth Evolved, took on the modest assignment of life, specifically the 100 most important species. And we'll give you two quick examples. Stony corals, tiny co-operative fish that constructed reefs that became islands, mountains and habitat for thousands of other creatures, they come in at number seven. And one spot ahead at number six is man.


Family: Lumbricidae

Species: Lumbricus terestris

Rank: 1

Earthworms are annelids, a phylum of creatures whose evolutionary past stretches back at least to the Cambrian Explosion c. 530 million years ago when the trilobites first developed sight and marine creatures evolved bones and shells. Burgessochaeta is an ancestral, twenty-segmented sea worm whose fossils were found by Charles Walcott in the Burgess Shale. Descendants of these marine creatures came ashore at the time of the first invertebrate invasions of the land, c. 450 million years ago, making their living in damp soils broken up by bacteria, fungi and the roots of colonizing plants. These earthworms have been ploughing up the earth, ventilating the soil and nourishing terrestrial ecosystems with their excrement ever since.

Five mass extinctions have occurred over the last 500 million years, some of which devastated up to 96 per cent of all species, but none of them ever touched these creatures. Slice a worm in half and it re-grows as if nothing happened. Divide one half and the same thing happens. One worm even survived forty such butcherings, all in the name of science.

The effects of worms on human history are as profound as they are unwritten. French scientist-cum-poet Andre Voisin was one of the few experts who properly highlighted the role of worms in the birth of ancient human civlizations. Were it not for their continuous regeneration of soils around damp river valleys such as the Nile, Indus and Euphrates, early agricultural societies in Egypt, India and Mesopotamia could never have succeeded in building humanity's first large-scale urban communities. Even the Egyptian pyramids, said Voisin, were built thanks to the nourishment of the soil by earthworms. It was only because of their hard-work that farmers could take time off from toiling the soil themselves to work as a labour force for their pharaoh's ambitious building projects.

Throughout human history earthworms have unintentionally but undeniably triggered the rise of civilizations. Wherever earthworms plough, people thrive. When worms perish, societies collapse. Infertile soils led to the demise of the people of ancient Sumeria. Rising levels of salt as a result of irrigating the land with sea water killed off the worms around the mouth of the Euphrates river and the soil turned sour. By 2000 BC their civilization was so weak from lack of food that they fell easy prey to Assyrian invaders from the north.

It might be easy to think that worms matter little today, replaced by artificial fertilizers and pesticides that guarantee soil fertility anywhere and everywhere they are spread. But no. Once again it was largely thanks to the earthworm that the unsustainable nature of using such methods was originally exposed.

But which worm species has had most impact? There are some 15,000 species of segmented worms in the annelid phylum, including leeches, and marine polychaetes — as well as earthworms. They range from the now rare but enormous purple-headed Giant Gippsland (Megascolides australis), a native Australian worm that grows up to three metres long, to the extremely common red wrigglers (Eisenia foetida), vermicultural alchemists that turn kitchen vegetable scraps into rich garden compost.

Lumbricus terrestris, the European earthworm, is now probably the most prolific and invasive species in the world. Its success is largely thanks to the spread of Europeans from c. 1600 onwards. Immigrant farmers inadvertently brought these earthworms, sometimes called 'night-crawlers', to the Americas in everything from the soil in their potted plants and their horses' hooves, to the treads of their boots and the wheels of their wagons. Today, there is hardly a region of North America where Europe's earthworms have not made a home for themselves. There they continue to plough, ventilate and fertilize the soil to the general benefit of life in and on the Earth.

Whatever they lack in glamour, colour or a sense of adventure (most worms move only about fifty metres in their four-year lifetime) they make up for in their constant ploughing, harrowing, fertilizing and recycling of that most precious of all the planet's assets — the living Earth itself.

Oh, and btw, humans are on the list because of anthropogenic climate change and for no other attribute.


Butte-Silver Bow commission fails in coup attempt

From the Montana Standard:

Butte-Silver Bow commissioners voted in favor of a medical marijuana moratorium Wednesday - but not by a wide enough margin.

Caregivers are still eligible to receive licenses for their business in the county after a proposed emergency moratorium could not garner a two-thirds majority.

Commissioners voted 6-4 in favor of the moratorium and initially it seemed as if it would go on the books. But later, because of the nature how the action was brought to the council, county attorney Eileen Joyce noted that the proposal needed a super majority, or two-thirds, to pass.

Council Chairman Dave Palmer brought the action before council in a rush after hearing that area youths had recently been finding it easier to get marijuana. He asked the council to put an emergency moratorium in effect until the Legislature convenes next year and revisits the Medical Marijuana Act.

Palmer said he wanted to "slow down" that industry's growth in the city.

Hours before the moratorium was to be decided on Wednesday, four more people applied for medical marijuana licenses in the county, bringing the total number of caregivers conducting legal business in Butte-Silver Bow to about 20.

Commissioners debated Palmer's position.

Mike Sheehy said the county should "stay out of it" and obey the desires of the electorate, who passed the law in 2004.

Dan Foley said there is no emergency that necessitated this action and said the council is responding to the "stigma" of marijuana users instead of any credible danger. Foley said the board is "naïve to think this ordinance will stop or lesson
[sic] the use of marijuana or any drug in our community."

Mark Moodry said marijuana in the hands of area youth is a law enforcement issue and agreed that it is not something the commissioners should deal with. He called the moratorium a "Band-Aid" and "unnecessary."

But Palmer had votes in his favor.

Charlie O'Leary and Terry Schultz each backed Palmer's proposal. Both said they supported the medical marijuana law. They said it's important to make sure cardholders are able to receive marijuana, but they argued it is right to limit the number of providers in the county just as liquor licenses limit the number of bars.

Sheehy first submitted a counter-motion to deny the moratorium, but that faltered by a 6-4 vote.

Numerous supporters of medical marijuana were in the audience, but the public did not have a chance to speak on the issue because it was labeled as council business. They, like the commissioners, initially thought the proposal had passed.

As for Palmer, he said denying the immediacy of the measure takes some of the bite out of his proposal. He said he will have to consider if he will bring forth another emergency moratorium next council meeting and try to win the necessary votes, or have the proposal move through the council's committees and
go before public comment.
Butte is a proud, Ma and Pa-friendly, union town and doesn't like newcomers parachuting in to "fix" it, thank you very much.


ip grades

ip passes! 2 Fs, 2 Ds, and a B. GPA:1.00 My mother can't vote, she's 88, blind, and thinks the "internet" keeps a perm nice when you're sleeping.

Essen blasts Fearmongerers On Xanax

This is so great, it has to be up.

From the Missoulian:

Imagine you're sitting in a waiting room with a stranger. The TV is on, and the host is ranting about how America is being destroyed by the conspiracy issue of the week. The stranger asks the manager to change the channel to something less divisive. Should you:

a) Accuse the stranger of censorship

b) Demand the stranger read the Constitution

c) Call the stranger a commie bastard

d) Suggest the stranger move to China

e) Tell the stranger to go f*** himself

The above answers aren't far-fetched. In fact, they quote actual comments I received from Fox News followers after the Missoulian and Ravalli Republic published stories about the Turn Off Fox News website and campaign I founded (Aug. 6). (I also received supportive comments from many people. Thank you!)

As someone who has been outspoken against censorship in the past, I was taken aback by the censorship accusation. If changing the channel from Fox News is censorship, then the reverse is also true - tuning in Fox News censors all other channels!

Rather than being about censorship, the Turn Off Fox News campaign is about giving people the tools and encouragement to speak up when Fox is the only option in "captive audience" situations such as airports, waiting rooms, and hotel breakfast areas. The campaign doesn't advocate any law changes or endorse any television network.

As for those who demanded I read the Constitution, I'd like to suggest the First Amendment. What could be more American than a campaign that encourages people to speak out against political propaganda masquerading as news?

And for those who believe that Fox News only tells the truth, I'd like to suggest a visit to the "Fair and Balanced?" page at TurnOffFoxNews.com. There you can see proof of Fox News deceptions.

Names Fox News followers have called me include "commie bastard," "fascist" and "socialist." While I've never aligned myself with any of those ideologies, being all three at once would be difficult. Equally confusing were the suggestions Fox News followers gave me on where to live, including North Korea, China, Russia and Venezuela. Since I can't live in all those countries at once, I've added them to the places people have suggested I visit for the sequel to my previous book. Searching for wildlife in those locations would be fascinating. However, I'll pass on North Korea.

Sarcasm aside, the vitriolic response I received from the Missoulian and Ravalli Republic articles was expected. This certainly isn't my first time standing up for a cause I believe in, and I wouldn't do the work I do if I couldn't take the heat. If anything, the response has reaffirmed that my project is a good one.

While some people did offer criticism in a constructive manner, those who responded like 14-year-olds showed the influence of their idols. If Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly can call Rachel Maddow a loon or Glenn Beck can tie President Barack Obama, Al Gore, global warming and health care reform to Nazism, why engage in civil discourse when names and insinuations will do?

Finally, many Fox News followers obviously only scanned the newspaper articles before commenting. Therefore, I want to repeat that the only goal of my campaign is helping people find freedom from offensive political propaganda, in public locations, where that freedom is currently difficult to obtain.

Although TurnOffFoxNews.com is a national campaign, I'll use a local example: Many months ago I was at a clinic in Hamilton, and Fox News was on the waiting room TV. Since I was the only person in the waiting room - and the channel couldn't be changed manually - I asked the receptionist to switch the TV to something else. Her answer? "I'm not allowed to do that!"

Now people in similar situations can arm themselves with a handout, printed from TurnOffFoxNews.com, to let the management know how they feel. Eventually businesses will realize that locking in Fox is a political statement that says, "only the far-right are welcomed here."

As for the clinic, wouldn't it have been nice if, instead of a politically divisive national news network, they had tuned in one of the local channels, supported by advertising from our local businesses!

Marty Essen is a six-time award-winning author and the founder of TurnOffFoxNews.com. He writes from Victor.


Montana legislature tweaking The Peoples MM law

From the Missoulian:

HELENA - An interim legislative subcommittee tentatively agreed Thursday on some proposals to restrict Montana's fast-growing medical marijuana industry.

The Medical Marijuana Subcommittee spent the day informally voting on various proposals that will be incorporated in draft legislation to be considered by the Legislature's Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee on Aug. 23-24. The 2011 Legislature ultimately will decide on the issue.

Afterward, the chairwoman, Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, said she believed two of the subcommittee's actions were especially significant - the call for a new dispensary system and restrictions to prevent physicians being financially involved with medical marijuana caregivers or dispensaries.

The committee voted to recommend that Montana become a "dispensary system" through which people with medical marijuana cards could buy marijuana through dispensaries, or stores, that are designated as their caregivers. Legislators voted to use the recently enacted Colorado law as their model.

Colorado, Maine, New Mexico and Rhode Island recently adopted dispensary systems that require all principal officers, board members, managers and employees to undergo background checks and be licensed by the state, according to a report by legislative researcher Sue O'Connell.

Under the proposal, the state would be allowed to inspect the facilities or any growing operations and examine sales records. The panel tentatively approved having dispensaries regulated by the state Revenue Department as the state agency does with establishments that sell alcoholic beverages.

Another key change recommended by the panel would prohibit a doctor from being paid or soliciting pay from caregivers and dispensaries. It also would be illegal for a physician from holding an economic interest in a business if that doctor certifies the "debilitating medical condition" that allows a patient to participate in a medical marijuana program.

Afterward, Bill Boast, a Kalispell caregiver, said he would probably oppose the bill as written for a number of reasons.

"They don't limit a pharmacy as they have my clients," he said. "Wal-Mart can sell Oxycontin to as many people (with prescriptions) as they want."


Are you a Democrat-owned business in South Dakota?

ip is looking for Democrat-owned businesses in South Dakota (in addition to the handful posted in The Local Group) for a directory to be compiled at a later date. Anyone else feel like outing yourself or your business as an Obama devotee?

Outside Magazine loves Bozeman

From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
Outside Magazine has named Bozeman one of the country's best towns of 2010, particularly for skiers. Outside also touted the Bozeman-area's 10,000-foot peaks, crystal-clear streams and rugged wilderness. And it lauded the city's cultural amenities, including the free music concerts -- though it didn't name Music on Main specifically. 
Each year, Outside picks a couple dozen towns to feature as the nation's best for outdoor enthusiasts. This year it chose 25, but also specified which were home to the best places to cycle, paddle, run, surf and ski. It also named what it considered the best overall outdoor cities in the East and West. The writer also gave a shout out to Bohart Ranch's 18 miles of cross-country ski trails just up the road from Bridger.

And just 45 minutes south of town, "Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin offer a combined 5,512 acres of glades and bowls," Outside said. "Sweet," was Chad Jones' initial reaction to the news. Jones, Big Sky's public relations manager, said it was an excellent thing to hear. "It kind of reinforces what we already know," he said. "It's an amazing place to live and work and recreate. With the close proximity of the ski areas -- Big Sky Resort and Moonlight -- and the biggest skiing in America, not to mention Yellowstone National Park, it's easy to see why Bozeman would be chosen."

Greg Pack of Moonlight Basin echoed Jones' sentiments. "I think it's incredible," he said. "It's something we all know and appreciate about living here." Pack grew up in Colorado and worked at many of the big ski areas there before moving to Montana. He said the skiing here beats anything in his old stomping grounds. "The skiing out here is at a different level," he said. "It's more challenging terrain with short lift lines. When you can get all the skiing you want and you don't have to fight traffic and wait on lift lines ... that's what makes Bozeman appealing."
No South Dakota locations were considered for Outside's list.


ip poll results

Actually, it was amazing to see how many people voted on questions meant to be so hideously skewed.

Damned near half of respondents agree with ip that South Dakota is profoundly broken; hardly surprising. 3 out of 4 believe that voters will agree to give patients legal access to medicine despite single-party rule in South Dakota. But, most surprisingly, ONE HALF of the people who voted on the Mexico for Statehood poll apparently believe it's an elegant response to xenophobia masquerading as "immigration reform." Maybe, the 11 people that did not vote on that poll think ip is merely just another extremist crackpot interfering with the plunder of South Dakota by industries lining the pockets of legislators.

So hey. Thank you to all that visit interested party!


South Dakota's GFP decapitating ecosystem recovery

From the blog of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation:

Black Hills cougar population is extremely important to the recovery of cougar populations in the Midwest. It’s likely that a high percentage of the scattered subadult male dispersers now showing up in states such as Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois originated in the Black Hills. If the Black Hills population is drastically reduced, it may mean no more dispersers in the Midwest and no recovery of breeding populations there.

Just one of the many holes in SDGFP’s 2010-2015 Mountain Lion Management Plan you could drive a bus through By Amy Rodrigues

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks (SDGFP) has submitted its 2010-2015 Mountain Lion Management Plan for public review. The new plan calls for reducing the state’s mountain lion population by about 80 to 100 cats in order to bring their estimated population total down from an approximated 251 lions to only 150 to 170 mountain lions. The current 251 estimate includes kittens. Since mountain lion kittens may not legally be hunted, and South Dakota fails to recognize that killing a mother lion often results in her orphaned kittens starving to death, their mountain lion management plan ultimately calls for the removal of 80 to 100 adult lions.
Read more.
Dr. John W. Laundre' :

First, I would like to complement the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks for their holistic guiding philosophy (Page 15) regarding the return of mountain lions to the state of South Dakota, specifically, the Black Hills region. As an ecologist and specifically a predator ecologist, I find the views expressed there to be refreshing and enlightened regarding the role of mountain lions (and all predators ) in ecosystems. I, like you, have come to see that predators such as mountain lions are needed elements in maintaining the biodiversity of an ecosystem.

I applaud your goal of trying to manage mountain lions in accordance with sound biological information. What you have expressed here indeed should be the guiding principles for your Department and the State. However, upon reading the accompanying document and based on my experience of working with mountain lions for over 20 years, I do find that there may be some concern regarding management goals established. I would like to address these concerns in the spirit of your guiding philosophy to manage mountain lions with the best possible biological principles.

Before I get into specifics, I would like to state that I am not opposed to a hunting season on mountain lions but am opposed to the possible overuse of this resource, which would then endanger the population, and your guiding philosophy. Mountain lions, as a hunting resource should be treated as a trophy species, one who’s taking should rank up with that of bighorn sheep, African lions, and other noted wildlife species. They should not be hunted as vermin nor the privilege to hunt them sold cheaply. Having said that, here are my concerns.

The biggest concern I have is in regards to the accuracy of your estimates of the number of mountain lions there are in the Black Hills. This concerns me because, as you know, if one overestimates the population size, the projected number of animals to be removed can have a very destabilizing impact on the population and could lead to a loss of ecological functionality of the mountain lions in the Black Hills. With regards to the estimates that have been made of the current population level (251 animals), first I think it needs to be made clear and maintained throughout the document what you really mean is 160 adult animals, being reduced to 138 per year, plus the 113 kittens of various ages. To use the 251 number obviously inflates the perception of the population size and the total density of the area, e.g. Black Hills is 8,400 km sq and at 251 lions, it is a density of 3 lions/100 km sq but at 160 lions it is only a density of 1.9 ADULT lions/100 km sq and is normally how the density is expressed. If, as you point out, you feel the population is currently stable, that means that excess animals, mostly young dispersers, will be leaving the Black Hills and the stable resident population is the lower number. To use the higher number makes it seem to the general public that there are more lions there then biologically there really are. IF you want to maintain this stable number around 160, then you can talk about what will happen to these excess animals produced each year, many will disperse, as they should be allowed to, many will die from other causes (we still do not have an idea of what mortality rates of dispersing animals are), some will fill the slots vacated by resident animals, some can be removed by the hunt. How many depends on the mortality and dispersal levels.

Based on your estimate of 160 adult lions, I am not sure what that would all equate to as a final number of animals that could be removed by hunters. I would need to sit down and go through the calculations. I am just saying that it is a more biologically correct way of presenting the data on the number of lions there actually are. Regarding that number, however, I do have some concerns as to how the 160 (and the 113 kittens) was derived. The first concern I have is that it does not provide any possible range of error. You do use a standard deviation on page 5 but I am not sure where that came from. What I do see is that only one set of values (e.g. one MAXIMUM growth rate, one percent of females with kittens, etc., most from just one area, the desert of New Mexico, hardly like the Black Hills) when we know biologically these values can change yearly in one area and do change geographically. What this does is present just one scenario and thus one estimate of the number of lions. And more specifically, without any knowledge of whether or not these values apply to your population in the Black Hills. As examples, why would we use only the maximum growth rate from a desert population of mountain lions for a population in a totally different habitat? It could be lower than that and if it is, the resulting population estimate would not have any bearing in reality. Even if it did, the repeated use of single values likely makes any final estimate to be far from reality. For example, you used 50% as the number of females with kittens at any one time. Other studies have shown that it could be as low as 20%. If that is the case for the Black Hills, the number of kittens produced and surviving each year drops from 113 to 45, quite a difference.

As for the estimate of the number of adult females based on the “capture/recapture” estimate of females killed by hunters, this also relies on just one estimate and unfortunately because of the small sample size (5/35) and possible bias of hunters to not shoot collared animals, could lead to an overestimate of the number of females. If a hunter passed up just one collared female, the total number of collared females that would have been killed would be 6/35 and would result in an estimate of only 93 females in the population rather than 112. Running this number of females through all the numbers, we get only 93 kittens, etc. etc. And if 2 collared females were passed over, it goes even lower. So because of all these unknowns, we really don’t know if the ADULT lion population in the Black Hills is 160, 100, ???.

I know it is difficult to get these numbers and that should not stop us from attempting to come up with an estimate but to use just single values, especially those which seem to exaggerate the population size, which seems to be the case here, is not biologically honest. What needs to be done, and has been done in a lot of instances, is to present a range of estimates (worse case/best case scenarios) so that the public has an idea as to in what range the lion population size likely falls. What I suggest is that all the population estimate figures need to be reworked using a wider range of data than just one study so that reasonably low and high estimates can be presented and then use these for the basis of your management decisions. This would be more biologically correct and more politically transparent. As the guiding philosophy states, you need to provide accurate information to the public regarding the mountain lions. Your current population estimates are by far not accurate nor justifiable. California lost its ability to hunt mountain lions because they could not justify their population estimates and I feel that, as presented, nor can South Dakota. Until we have a reasonable RANGE of possible population estimates, it appears that the Department is attempting to justify higher killing of mountain lions by inflating the population numbers. I would hope that that is not the case.

One last concern I have is regarding the orphaning of kittens (birth to independence). Though one can reduce the number of less than 3 month old kittens orphaned by changing the season dates and trying to find those that are, there still will be small spotted kittens left out in the woods to starve to death. The public needs to know this. Also, by the calculations presented, 40 % of the females killed will have kittens between 3 months and 1 year old. Though there is a 71% survival rate (again one value from one study), this still means that out of the 20 females with these age kittens, 17 died of starvation and over 40 survived uneducated! These become the trouble makers, the ones who will go to human inhabited areas and eat pets or domestic stock, or attack people. Are we not exacerbating the dilemma of problem cougars (which some then use as an excuse to kill more)? I think that there can be an acceptable level of orphaning but the current management plan does not achieve it. Lastly, I would like to observe that many of the management strategies proposed here, if applied to ungulates, would be considered biologically unacceptable. For example, would the Department propose that out of a bighorn sheep population of 160 adult (huntable animals), hunters could kill 40 of them, including females?? Would the Department allow the killing of does with spotted fawns? For that matter, would current game laws permit hunters to shoot deer, take their head and hide and leave the meat in the forest? I think these issues need to be addressed and the public be made aware of them if the all the public is to make sound decisions on the management of mountain lions. I end by again applauding the Department’s guiding philosophy but urge it to use this philosophy and a wider range of sound mountain lion science to produce a more scientifically sound management plan. In my professional opinion it seems that this document was develop based on selective use of existing science, mainly to produce inflated estimates of mountain lion numbers. Some could interpret this as a way to justify the higher kill levels that appear to be predetermined based mainly on political factors. For the sake of transparency, and producing a more legally sound management document, I hope that you consider my observations and concerns.

Kevin Woster is hosting comment at Take It Outside. The Black Hills hydrologic region is at risk to state-sanctioned butchers. Contact them to stop the slaughter.


FOX: Fascists Oligopolizing Xenocide

From the Missoulian:

Update #1. Update #2.

For the past three years, Victor resident Marty Essen has made his living by sharing his insights on global warming as a touring speaker on college campuses. Along the way, Essen has grown increasingly frustrated over what he sees as another major source of hot air in America: Fox News.

The result of Essen's musings went live last week, when he launched
TurnOffFoxNews.com, a website aimed at encouraging others to join him in a campaign to convince business owners to choose another channel on their televisions.

"They're the ones who need to know that, in a country that recently voted a Democrat into the White House and made Democrats the majority party in the House and Senate, it's a pretty good bet that at least 50 percent of their customers don't agree with Fox News' far-right hate-mongering and don't want it forced into their faces when they're stuck in the airport or trying to enjoy breakfast," said Essen.

No shit, right?


Montana may issue medical marijuana registration to out-of-staters! Christ rejoices!

From the Helena Independent Record, the Billings Gazette, and the Missoulian:

A person doesn’t have to live in Montana to receive a medical marijuana card from the state, health officials said Friday.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services discovered what it calls a loophole in state law after reviewing plans to require medical marijuana applicants to have a Montana driver’s license or state-issued identification, said department spokesman Chuck Council.

“The law is mute on the subject of legal residency and there is no recourse for the Department of Public Health and Human Services but to keep the situation as it stands,” Council said. “On Monday, we will be moving forward, status quo, on the processing of out-of-state applications.”

Health officials decided to tighten the residency requirements after discovering several people whose permanent residences were outside Montana, such as college students and snowbirds, had applied for medical marijuana cards. It is unclear just how many such applications were received

The founder of the Montana Caregivers Network, an advocacy group that has helped sign up thousands of medical marijuana patients, said Friday that the health department’s announcement is good news.

“This was a clear violation,” Jason Christ said of the plan to require driver’s licenses.

He has said that any qualifying patient should be able to get a medical marijuana card from Montana, and that he is skeptical the Legislature will act to restrict that access to Montana residents.

“A lot of people have anticipated that the Legislature’s going to do a lot of things. They never have,” Christ said. “Intentions are great, but you can’t take intentions to the bank.”

Is there a dispensary for Alzada in the future?

interested party is 6 months old

ip would like to thank Bob Newland, Cory Heidelberger, Kevin Woster, and Joani for making me do this. Bob, because he has the guts I've never had. Cory, because he's smarter than I'll ever be. Kevin, because he's a better writer than nearly every other South Dakotan. Joani, for all the other reasons.

So, in the winter (of course) of 2001, the world suspended disbelief as the United States of America allowed a court to determine the outcome of a presidential election. When the Rapid City Journal put itself on the Web and interested party was created as a commenter to get the call to revolution to readers, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney plotted and executed the plunder of the US Treasury in response to the addition of Vladimir Putin's name to the list of the world's richest men. After too many posts were censored and during yet another brutal South Dakota January this time in 2010, interested party celebrated daughter, Madeline's 15th birthday by creating this web address.

It is my sincere wish that Attorney General Eric Holder is diligently compiling the evidence to indict the entire Bush White House, convict it, load up the whole works, and fly it on the first manned mission to Uranus.

Tell ip what you think.


One step closer to a rewilding corridor

From the Missoulian:

Wolves are back on the endangered species list, after U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled Thursday that populations in Montana and Idaho cannot be considered separately from Wyoming's wolves.

In a 50-page decision, Molloy said "the rule delisting the gray wolf (in Montana and Idaho) must be set aside because, though it may be a pragmatic solution to a difficult biological issue, it is not a legal one."

With the relisting, this fall's planned wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho are now on hold, at least until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can assure an adequate protection plan in Wyoming.

Specifically, Molloy ruled that the Endangered Species Act does not allow only part of a species to be listed as endangered, nor does it allow a distinct population segment to be subdivided. By separating Wyoming's wolves from Montana's and Idaho's, he said, the agency had violated the law.

At the end of 2009, there were at least 843 wolves in Idaho, 524 in Montana and 320 in Wyoming, with more in parts of Oregon and Washington state.

Higher wolf numbers mean better ungulate management, more aspen, more beaver, and cleaner water. The addition of millions of free-range bison migrating into Canada in the summer and into the Mountain West and upper Great Plains for winter would bring cleansing and renewal to a North America decimated by centuries of anthropogenic plunder.


Deepwater Horizon: Is it a hate crime?

From Democracy Now!

Environmental Activist Jerry Cope has spent the last few weeks traveling along the Gulf Coast and experiencing firsthand the contamination in the air and water. In an article being published on Huffington Post, Cope argues that instead of celebrating the allegedly vanishing oil, we should be concerned about the disappearance of marine life in the Gulf. He describes the Gulf as a "kill zone" and looks into where the marine animals have gone, given that BP has reported a relatively low number of dead animals from the spill.
DN! speaks with independent journalist Antonia Juhasz, who is just back from Louisiana, where she found what she calls some of BP’s "missing oil" on the wetlands and beaches along the waterways near St. Mary’s Parish, where no one is booming, cleaning, skimming or watching.


Wyoming: Racism, Ecoterrorism and Entitlement

From the Casper Star-Tribune, Billings Gazette, and even more snarkily by the Rapid City Journal:

A Gallup poll released on Monday found Wyoming, long a solidly Republican state, to be the most conservative state in the nation along with Mississippi: 53 percent of Wyomingites declared themselves to be conservatives. Two-thirds of all Wyoming voters believe the country as a whole is on the wrong track, including includes 82 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of registered independents polled, the Star-Tribune poll found.

Come on: Wyoming is just one more racist red state leading the pack in failed marriages, teenage pregnancies, and obesity rates, not to mention acid mine drainage or aiding and abetting war criminals.


FAQ @ UAE BB ban

From the Helena Independent Record:

Some questions and answers about the United Arab Emirates banning the use of BlackBerry's messaging and Web services:

Q: What is being banned?

A. E-mail, messaging and Web services on BlackBerry phones, starting in October. The ban also applies to foreign visitors using roaming, but not to phone calls.

Q: Why is the United Arab Emirates banning BlackBerry e-mails?

A: In short, the corporate version of the BlackBerry system is too hard to eavesdrop on. The e-mails and messages are encrypted while in transit, and even Research In Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry, doesn't have the keys to decrypt them. The system is designed to keep corporate and government secrets safe, but the UAE is concerned that it could provide cover for illegal activity.

Q: Aren't BlackBerry e-mails accessible to governments anyway?

A: Possibly, but not in a fast, easy way. The e-mails exist in decrypted form on corporate servers, but those may be overseas, and it takes time to get access to them through a legal process with warrants. RIM stresses that governments can satisfy national security and law enforcement needs without compromising commercial security requirements.

Q: Why doesn't RIM give the UAE what it wants?

A: The company hasn't said, but it's likely that RIM doesn't want to give any government wholesale access to e-mails. BlackBerry users wouldn't trust the system to keep commercial secrets safe.

Q: Why is the UAE singling out the BlackBerry? Aren't there other ways to communicate without a risk of eavesdropping?

A: The BlackBerry may be targeted because it is popular and provides security in an easy, prepackaged way. Also, the e-mails travel through RIM's system overseas, even if sent between two BlackBerry users in the UAE. But it shares these features with Google Inc.'s Gmail, which is also likely to store e-mails overseas and is difficult to intercept if used in a Web browser. Corporations inconvenienced by the ban may be able to find adequate security from some other wireless e-mail system the UAE hasn't gotten around to banning.

Q: Could other countries follow suit?

A: Saudi Arabia has already said it would do the same, starting later this month. India has complained about the BlackBerry system before, but a newspaper there, The Economic Times, reports that the government is looking
at negotiating a solution.

ip's communication bill is beyond obscene, but going back to the Stone Age before BlackBerry or All Wheel Drive? Barbaric!

WTF is wrong with Rapid City?

From the Rapid City Journal:

At the request of police, the slanted wall under the East Boulevard bridge spanning Rapid Creek and the Leonard Swanson Memorial Pathway is now sculptured with rocks and rough-surfaced concrete intended to discourage people from gathering under the bridge.

"Changing the wall is an environmental alternative that will discourage people from loitering under the bridge when police are not there," [Rapid City police captain, Doug] Thrash said.

The city street department responded to the police department's request for the changes.

Think this action isn't related to the duck-feeding ban at Canyon Lake?

Rapid City spends more money chasing people away from its stupid community than it does making it a nicer place to live. If Democrats were in office, shelters would be built to invite people to more hospitable surroundings without the oppressive christian propaganda that haunts homeless people at the Cornerstone "Mission."


Montana patriots join civil rights lawsuit

From The Billings Gazette:

LAUREL — When her 5-year-old son’s grandfather died, Denise Boettcher asked her boss for bereavement leave to take the boy to the funeral across the state. Her request was denied because, she says, her employer does not view her relationship with that side of her son’s family as legitimate. Boettcher and her female partner, Kellie Gibson, jointly adopted [son] Morrgan last year, and it was Gibson’s father who died in April.

If Boettcher and Gibson were married, Boettcher would have qualified for up to two weeks of bereavement leave when Gibson’s father died. But because the women are a same-sex couple, they do not have many of the rights accorded to married couples in Montana.

The experience spurred the Laurel couple to join a lawsuit filed against the state of Montana by the American Civil Liberties Union. Seven Montana same-sex couples signed on to the lawsuit, which was filed last month in Helena District Court. In it, the ACLU argues that denying same-sex couples rights that married couples enjoy violates the equal protection clause of the state constitution.

The women sealed their relationship with a commitment ceremony in 2001 and consider themselves and their children — in addition to 5-year-old Morrgan, Gibson’s 16-year-old daughter lives with them — to be a regular family.

Fighting for equal rights is worth whatever negative fallout may come from suing the state, they said.

So, the body of law describing marriage as a legal instrument, especially when members of the sectarian clergy acting as officers of the court are parties to binding contracts under the pretext of "marriage," reads like a "chilling effect" on the freedom of religion constraints described by the US Constitution.