Check out this photo!

This photo appears in Wildfire Today. Courtesy National Geographic and Sean Heavey.

Wuerthner: Tony Dean Wilderness "Ironic"

In his latest New West post, author George Wuerthner mentions S. 3310 coming up as a part of the upcoming, likely doomed Omnibus Wilderness Bill:

SOUTH DAKOTA: America has very little of its native prairie in any protected status. Most of the plains have been carved up by till farming, and the rest is grazed by livestock. Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act would correct this by designating 48,000 acres as wilderness in the Indian Creek, Red Shirt and Chalk Hills areas of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland on the borders of Badlands NP.

Walking these vast open breathing spaces reminds me of being on the vastness of tundra in Alaska. It’s a sense of freedom that is more difficult to experience in more forested terrain. As with any designated wilderness, livestock grazing will continue. This is particularly ironic since Tony Dean, who was an outdoor writer in South Dakota, railed against welfare ranchers and their impact on the state for decades.


Update: Text of Omibus Wilderness Bill.


Grid-free Basin family attends permaculture conference

Dave and Susie live on Pole Mountain about a thousand feet in elevation above Basin.

The house they built themselves from mostly found and salvage materials is about 1500 square feet with views looking south across a mind-blowing part of the Boulder Batholith, The architectural design is functional, yet roomy. It is not huge, but, it is not humble, either.

Their Bosch refrigerator runs on propane, solar cells power a set of batteries that manage their electrical needs (including a welder), Leah and Micah's diapers were washed in rainwater collected in a cistern that also waters the garden. Goats supply milk and meat. The orchard provides fruit. They recently added a chest freezer.

They just spent half of October and half of November at a permaculture conference in California and insist that what they learned changed their lives.

ip posts this knowing that they read this blog. Sarina called it a propaganda site over Thanksgiving. I did not disagree.

With some luck, Dave and Susie will contribute more. Just click the comments button at the bottom of this post, guys.

This article on smart growth appears at the blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Fertility vaccine pending for wild horses works for cougars and wolves

This story aired on Yellowstone Public Radio the other day that reinforces ip's rant on a non-lethal compromise to manage predators, especially cougars and wolves:

The federal Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday it will use fertility treatment on some 900 wild horses that it hopes to round up in western states during the current fiscal year. The "catch, treat and release" approach comes amidst ongoing controversy over the roundups, which are designed to control the population of horses on federal rangelands.

The BLM argues that reducing herd sizes are necessary to protect the range and to keep the horse populations healthy into the future. The agency intends to apply a fertility vaccine called PZP to 890 mares, then release the animals back to the areas from which they were captured.

The technology exists to administer this drug to predators without capture even as western states are suing to force the United States Fish & Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list pressured by livestock producers. The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks has ordered the extermination of 50 cougars under pressure from hunting industries who rely on tourist dollars.

ip has jammed this concept into numerous western blogs with mixed success. Selling licenses to track and identify females then administer these drugs could capitalize its application. PZP is effective for a year. DepoProvera renders males sterile for three months.

Here is an article on the contraindications associated with the long-term use of PZP, it's environmental effects are noted.


Hasselstrom speaks out

Linda Hasselstrom is a Hermosa-area writer, rancher, and contributor to Writers on the Range, a feature of High Country News.

Excerpted from the Missoula Independent:

"E. coli contamination thrives in feedlots, but grass-fed livestock,
including beef, pork, chicken, sheep, elk, deer, antelope and other wild
meat animals, is free of this dangerous pathogen.

Range cattle roam freely, rarely spending more than a day in one spot. They must be branded to prevent theft and vaccinated against disease, but they are herded only briefly into corrals. Since cows live outside in all weather, their wastes are scattered and broken down by elements and insects. Pastured cattle never stand knee-deep in manure, because cows don't like to eat near feces. That's why, in winter, ranchers scatter supplementary feed onto clean grass. Buyers who cram cattle into feedlots for fattening waste resources and in the process make the animals—and those who dine on them—less healthy.

A 2002 U.S. Department of Agriculture study identified 358 million acres of privately owned grassland, pasture and range. The 2007 Ag census noted that only 656,475 farms and ranches are raising beef cattle, even as more U.S. residents consume more imported food every year.

Meanwhile, wild animals in national parks and popular wilderness
areas live precariously because public lands are increasingly crowded. Private land allows those species to breed and rest. Gary Nabhan,
the conservation scientist and writer, estimates that 80 percent of half of the country's endangered mammals, plants and birds are nurtured on private and tribal lands rather than in national parks or wilderness areas.

How can we enhance wildlife habitat in ranching country? We might
zone grazing lands so they can't be invaded by housing or commercial
developments. How about incentive payments for ranchers who shelter wildlife and protect open space—much like the "tax increment financing" given to businesses? Or we could lower taxes on ranch property, since ranchers feed many animals we consider public property.

As I write this, 40 antelope are grazing my pasture."


Ba'ath Party takes the reins in South Dakota

Governor-elect Dennis Hussein assumed the mantle of Ba'ath Party leader by appointing Tariq Nelson to the Public Utilities Commission. Nelson was defeated in his bid for the Ba'ath Party's nomination to the US House by Kristi Hussein, now Bimbo-elect.

From the Rapid City Journal:

From the official blog of the Christian Republic of South Dakota:
Steve Sibson:

“And the PUC and Pierre are already captured by
industry. You’ll
need to elect Dems to fix that.”

and DC is also captured by industry and the Dems own the White House and had
control of both chambers of the legislature…so how can you say the Dems can

Nelson will then be appointed and serve on the PUC until an election
is held in 2012. Nelson said he is planning to stand for election for the
remaining four years of the six-year term.

Hussein appointed Nelson
despite the secretary of state lacking experience in the utilities industry,
saying Nelson was the right person for the job.

As secretary of
state Nelson earned $78,362 a year. He will get $91,390 as a member of the
public utilities commission.


California moving to ban plastic bags

The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico brought emergency to the abuse of Earth to make plastics while ecoterrorists Halliburton, Koch Industries, and Exxon Mobil reap record profits.

This story aired today on KCRW's To the Point:

25% of the world now bans plastic bags, and Los Angeles County is one of a growing number of US communities getting on board. Will the limits of cloth bags like Grandma used to carry require thinking about what goes in them?

Explosive, heptane-rich ponderosa pine infests Black Hills and Rocky Mountain forests historically populated by aspen, chokecherry, and hazelnut.

Connect the dots.

Photo: LooseDoodles.

US torture memos reveal chilling human suffering

Minnesota Public Radio News has become a morning obsession. The hosts are brilliant, respectful, and well-sourced. Since MPR News streams for BlackBerry, it often displaces my traditional drive-time radio.

This Friday, Midmorning host, Kerri Miller, conducts multiple interviews with writers and journalists whose visions of western democracy have been profoundly shaken by their research findings. These interviews are terror-invoking, indeed:

Darius Rejali, professor of political science at Reed College, is a nationally recognized expert on government torture and interrogation. Iranian-born, Rejali has spent his scholarly career reflecting on violence, and, specifically, reflecting on the causes, consequences, and meaning of modern torture in our world. His work spans concerns in political science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, and critical social theory.
Torture and Democracy (Princeton, 2007) is Rejali’s most recent book. It is an unrelenting examination of the use of torture by democracies in the 20th century. As democracy, human rights, and the free press blossomed after World War II, so did the market for “clean” torture techniques that leave no evidentiary scars, such as the use of drugs, stress positions, and waterboarding. Rejali reveals the most controversial Western intelligence-gathering techniques, explains their origins, and questions if their use actually hinders the torturer’s ability to gather credible intelligence.
Waterboarding is torture when they do it to us; but, it is an enhanced interrogation technique when we do it to them.


Wuerthner nails it

From NewWest contributor, George Wuerthner:

Perhaps the best control we have on the effects of hunting on predator-human conflicts is California. In 1991 California voters passed an initiative that outlawed hunting of cougars. Today California has more cougars (about 6000) than any other western state, yet has the lowest per capita rate of cougar attacks in the West. In other words, in states where cougars are hunted so they presumably “fear man” there are far more cougar attacks on people than in California—even though California has more people, and more cougars than any other state—thus should, statistically speaking, have much higher per capita cougar attacks.

South Dakota is a failed state.


South Dakota's Representative At-large-elect, Kristi Noem has been recognized as Washington's newest Boehner ascension after being elected Majority Installed Leadership Freshman:

Noem said she was honored that her colleagues in the freshman class selected her as a liaison. Noem and other freshman lawmakers are in Washington this week for orientation.

Yeah, right! No trailer hitch in DC is safe.

AP photo.


ACLU urges AG to probe Bush crimes

From the blog of the American Civil Liberties Union:

Sounds to us like President Bush broke the law. So last Thursday, the ACLU sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to ask Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate whether Bush violated the Anti-Torture Statute. From our letter:

"The ACLU acknowledges the significance of this request, but it bears emphasis that the former President's acknowledgement that he authorized torture is absolutely without parallel in American history. The admission cannot be ignored. In our system, no one is above the law or beyond its reach, not even a former president. That founding principle of our democracy would mean little if it were ignored with respect to those in whom the public most invests its trust."

If this country is committed to the rule of law, our leaders cannot ignore this very clear, plain evidence that our former president authorized torture.

The Nation's John Nichols believes that there is no time like the present:
Both the House and Senate judiciary committees have Constitution subcommittees. There needs to be an examination by one or both of these committees of the question of whether George Bush's statements mark him an a man who violated his solemn oath to "faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

President Bush and Vice President Cheney continue to "enjoy" the benefits of the positions they held -- in the form of the pensions and extensive staff and structural supports afforded former members of the executive branch. As such, they are subject to the scrutiny of Congress. And that scutiny should be applied with the purpose of achieving accountability -- not just for Bush and Cheney but for the executive branch in general.

The point is not punishment. Rather, it is clarification. Bush has acknowledged wrongdoing. That wrongdoing should be examined, documented and censured by the Congress. Ideally, Democrats and Republicans would accept the importance of a proper investigation and response -- as it would, in many senses, be as much about the future as the past.

From Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive:

Under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, countries that have ratified the accords have a binding obligation to exercise jurisdiction over those accused of grave breaches. (See “Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity,”).

So if I were Bush (and what a horrifying thought that is!), I’d cancel those plans to visit Spain or Germany or any other country where some prosecutor, somewhere, respects international law.

Fry, Baby, Fry.


Basin School in the news

Alana Listoe of Lee Newspapers in Montana tells this charming story of the Basin School:
According to Tammy Urich, or "Ms. U" to the students, the average number of students during her 18 years at the school has been 24. Since school funding is based on the number of students, 14 students means less money for the operating budget. "The board talked about if there becomes 10 or less reducing to one teacher, so we are really worried," Urich said. The environment isn't for everyone, and Urich said it either clicks or it doesn't for both families and teachers. Rhandi Rachlis loves spending time with the school children. On this day, she walked by during recess and said hello to the teachers and the children. She was on her way to the fire hall to display a photo of all the children with the local fire truck. Rachlis, 73, reads to students twice a week at the school through Rocky Mountain Development Council's Foster Grandparent Program. "These kids are like a family with each other," she said. "They get wonderful individualized attention, the teachers know the community, and all that gives them a learning advantage. They care about each other and the teachers, and it's mutual. There's a quality of respect that's fostered there, and I think it's really powerful."

Rhandi has been an anchor on the Basin Volunteer Fire Department for thirty years, is a Founding Mother of the Montana Artists Refuge, owns the historic Diott Building (green front on the right in the photo, the Hewitt on the left houses the Refuge), and hosts Tom Elliott's yoga practice in her backyard on summer evenings. The second-story south classroom in the school is our space otherwise.


Cougar shooting resembles poaching attempt

This story has ip roiling!

Some xenocidal idiot from Colman failed at killing a treed cougar with a fucking shotgun, then blasted the animal several more times before it succumbed. South Dakota's neutered wildlife agency refused to file charges.

This cougar belongs to the people of South Dakota and not to GFP. It's death should be recorded as the first kill of the pending season designed as a Final Solution.

Anonymous manifesto left at ip

Somebody left this at a post below:

"Anger about Messerlee. Understandable.
They need to understand this man was pushed into the offense. Cops have been getting away with killings like this for a long time. Blacks in the South know this all too well. Each time they were all confident the Blue Shield would protect them, and it did. The difference is in many IF NOT MOST of these cases they were rogue cops who the Gods tempted. They did it intentionally thinking they were "earning", knowing they would get away with it. They were the ones whom the Gods disliked, while the Messerlees of the world who get caught are being punished, feedback reserved for those the Gods have interest in keeping.
There are those in the ghetto whom are singled out, targets of the community whom everybody hates. The rogue cops in the South who are guilty of these kind of killings have been reincarnated into roles like this. It's just one of the clues the Gods offer to the community. Lucky for those preditors the ghetto has been an ignorant community, but I think that might be changing.

Of course there could be anoher possibility:::::Due to the history and resulting legacy of hatred for the Gods, since I am guarenteed a spot on the next Planet Earth I will be the original "bad seed":::The Lucifer-figure of the next reality. Unlike Christian dogma, he may just represent the solitary target of the God's ire early, a disgruntled asshole who pissed the Gods off, the proverbial "apple" of the next reality, beginning the process which leads planets to where we are today. A crucial figure in any planet's history, he represents the "beginning of the end".

People, especially liberals give W a very hard time.
Don't forget what I say:::Everything today is both good and evil. The Gods have positioned it as such as we have become increasingly disfavored, confusing the enviornment.

Republicans and conservatives as well, only they fall more on the good side while their adversaries fall more on the evil side, quite contrary to the God's positioning.
Yes, W's evil is illustrated in the United State's efforts in Iraq, and the "Red State"r's who believe we were "earning" are among the worst of them.
If conservatives fall on the side of good, Fox News falls on the side of evil. They pander to the type of trash my brother is, the kind of trash who thinks their war mongering efforts "earn" for them and all others who think like them.
Anyways, it is positioned that W trashed the economy before he left office. Selfish it didn't happen while he was in office, granted, but economic turmoil is a motivator. It's not cancer, mind you, but many have begun praying hard because of their experinces in this event, and it says something about those affected as opposed to those sheltered from affect.
One day just as they will allow vaccines to diseases, especially AIDS, encouraging deviacy the likes which hasn't been seen since the 70s, they will allow cures for cancer, MS, COPD, alcoholism, etc.
Women's diseases will be last. Just as research into women's diseases receive the least amount of funding so is it justified their cures come last, and both for the same reason:::They have the most favor, and the Gods use their diseases as a motivator to pray and find the path. As such they get God's benefit as long as they are willing to offer it."

Wyoming, South Dakota battle for the bottom

From the online Casper Star-Tribune:

Republicans won nine state House seats and three state Senate seats this year, giving them a 50-10 majority in the House and a 26-4 majority in the Senate. That’s the most dominant the GOP has been in the Legislature since 1921.

Predicting legislative races in Wyoming can be tougher than in other states.

For one thing, Wyoming legislative districts are the smallest by population in the country: As of 2002, the average Senate district had 16,459 people, while the average House district had just 8,230 people, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Because a comparatively small number of voters decide the election, it’s harder to predict the outcome.

Interestingly, though, only 66 percent of registered Wyoming voters turned out for the general election. That’s the lowest turnout for a midterm election in Wyoming since 1978, according to the Wyoming secretary of state’s office.

Water quality and environmental issues get ignored in red states where greed is good.


Montana moves to block patriots' lawsuit

The Helena Independent Record reports that an amendment to Montana's constitution is flawed:

Montana's attorney general has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by seven gay couples seeking the same rights as married couples in making decisions about their family's health care and finances.

Attorney General Steve Bullock says the Montana Constitution limits spousal benefits to married couples.

The constitution defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Bullock says in his motion to dismiss the case that the court does not have the jurisdiction to extend spousal benefits beyond that definition.

The American Civil Liberties Union claims the state is violating the couples' rights to equal protection by denying them those benefits.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has set a Jan. 25 hearing on the motion to dismiss the case.

The neighbors are out of town and could not be immediately reached for comment.


“Courts may not exercise the power to enact laws and revise, alter or amend the constitution,” Bullock said. Such policymaking power belongs to the Legislature and the people of the state, he added.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the seven gay Montana couples in the lawsuit, said the couples aren’t challenging the 2004 initiative that added the marriage definition to the state constitution.

But the ACLU claims the state is violating other parts of the constitution — the right to equal protection, privacy and dignity — by denying gay couples in committed relationships the legal protections enjoyed by married couples.

The plaintiffs are asking Sherlock to impose an injunction that requires the state to give gay couples the legal status and statutory framework that gives them those protections.

ACLU of Montana legal director Betsy Griffing said the marriage amendment should be more narrowly construed than the way Bullock is interpreting it.

“It doesn’t provide an exception to the other rights (in the constitution), especially the right to privacy and equal protection,” Griffing said.

The ACLU plans to respond to Bullock’s motion to dismiss by Dec. 10.

Just moments ago in an interview conducted over the fence in my bathrobe, one of the plaintiffs, Nancy Owens, agreed that AG Bullock, considered a front-runner in the 2012 Democratic gubernatorial primary, would alienate a strategic portion of his base by moving to dismiss this lawsuit believing the State would win it. More likely that the amendment defining marriage would not stand scrutiny.



George Washington: US Constitution is Living Document

From Peter Henriques via the Billings Gazette:
One of George Washington’s most important and far-reaching decisions made as president revolved around the question of whether he would sign into law a bill establishing a national bank. Alexander Hamilton, his brilliant secretary of the treasury, argued for such an institution and justified his action by seizing on Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which endowed Congress with all powers “necessary and proper” to perform tasks assigned to it in the national charter.
In short, Hamilton posited that there were “implied” powers in the Constitution as well as “enumerated” ones. Thomas Jefferson was aghast at such implications and prophesied that for the federal government “to take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn is to take possession of a boundless field of power.“
Washington saw it differently and signed Hamilton’s controversial national-bank bill. With a stroke, he endorsed an expansive view of the presidency and made the Constitution a living, open-ended document. The importance of his decision is hard to overstate, for the federal government might have been stillborn had the president rigidly adhered to the letter of the document as urged by Jefferson.
In seeking to reconcile Hamilton and Jefferson (whose views were every bit as divergent as those of the Tea Party and Obama are today), the president eloquently urged forbearance: “I would fain hope that liberal allowances will be made for the political opinions of one another; and instead of those wounding suspicions, and irritating charges there might be mutual forebearances and temporizing yieldings on all sides, without which I do not see how the reins of government are to be managed.”


Don't you just love the Internet?

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Food not Bombs doing good very well

The Rapid City chapter of Food not Bombs is set to celebrate seven years of sharing soup with residents of the East Boulevard Bridge area.

From the days of setting up on card tables with a stock pot filled with steaming soups every Sunday on the banks of Rapid Creek, Deirdre Monahan, Pat Zent, and their intrepid group of volunteers, intent on providing an alternative for people who would otherwise be subjected to persecution at the hands of the Calvinists that operate the Cornerstone Mission, have expanded to share goodies with as many as seventy people.

Today at 11:30, whether rain, blizzard, 100 in the shade, or below zero, Madeline and Claire Kurtz will share salmon casserole they helped make with their mother and with an eclectic community of persons on a sunny, but chilly, November day.

Donations of food, clothing, and money are accepted at the site, at Main Street Market, and at Black Hills Federal Credit Union.


What if Kevin Weiland would have run against John Thune?

He'd have been strangled by the Kochtopus, too.

Just for fun, we can look up dead horses' butts all day long to know much less than we know now and letting John Thune have a free ride was South Dakota Democrats' first stupid choice. Sam Hurst laments the defeat of apparent DINO, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, because Dr. Kevin Weiland chose to mount stupid choice number two, a primary run against her, then strike three? Weiland withdraws, too late to file a run for Senate.



Rocky Mountain Eye Center wins the bid

The vision effects of a torn retina began about three weeks ago after a series of events: a head-first fall of twenty feet, pushing a pose too hard at yoga, and a second bathroom remodel in six months. Spots began appearing in the left eye followed by a darkening curtain appearing from the top of my vision. A retinal tear in that eye three years ago produced similar symptoms.

My drive to Rapid City seeking consult with Dr. Abraham at the Black Hills Regional Eye Institute with one eye was difficult but uneventful. Other patients in the reception area were shocked to have a half-blind man stand up and yell, "Fuck you!" at FOX as ip walked into the exam room, foreshadowing the ultimate result of the entire episode. Erin, the tech, recognized me instantly.

Dr. Abraham poked and prodded, deployed the dreaded "Depressor," and confirmed that which was already known. Then, the Patient Accounts person appeared with the estimate. "Mr. Kurtz, your surgery will cost $12,452 and we want half now." I gulped. Three years ago, the same retina surgery and two cataracts cost that. I got up, said thank you, paid the $423 for my visit and walked out the door.

A call to Rocky Mountain Eye Center in Missoula yielded a quote of a little over $7000.

So, the day after Democrats were slaughtered en masse, I had my left eye cut open. Dr. Guess played Pink Floyd as he performed, ip under conscious nerve block. Great staff.

Thursday morning, we went to Bernice's Bakery (Joani drove) in my old stomping grounds on South Higgins and ran into a guy that had lived across the hall from me thirty years ago, Philip Burgess. He loves Basin so we exchanged numbers and look forward to his visit.

The eye is sore today.


South Dakota collapses

Not surprisingly, South Dakota voters chose entropy over success as Bimbo At-large-elect, Kristi Noem, bested incumbent moderate Democrat, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. None of the above won nearly six per cent of the vote in a state that refuses to win for losing.

Democrats not willing to succumb to a life of recitations from Bill Janklow's Little Red Book, currently being circulated by SDGOP apparatchiks, are advised to evacuate as soon as possible. Civil rights activists have been withdrawn in the wake of a cascade burying education in a shitstorm of effluent vacated by Republicans waving the flag of former slave owners.

Whimpers were heard from under the pile of rubble that used to house SDEA.

On a hopeful note, an earthquake swarm stirred the Yellowstone Caldera.


Halloween at Herb's: The Vision

Herb and ip were pondering the future of the Democratic Party after the TEA movement blows itself up and takes the GOP with it.

His ranch is about nine miles south as the raven flies from Devil's Tower. The house on the sandstone rimrock overlooking the Belle Fourche River with the deck view of the Bear Lodge Mountains looms in my memory as this is being typed. He hadn't seen the Christine O'Donnell campaign ad or the SNL skit parodying it, so I played them for him on the laptop.

Moments afterwards, this image appeared for just long enough to get a photo as the cackling echoes died in the canyon.

What's wrong with this picture?

Our little fascist buddy, Pat Powers, at South Dakota War College took this picture. Spot the irony and make a caption about it.