Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Measles cases spread among unvaccinated family members

According to health officials, the six people that have been diagnosed with the virus are in Davison County, and are made up of three adults and three children. The children range from under the age of five all the way to teenagers. Health officials say they are all part of an extended family that came together for a holiday celebration. None of them are vaccinated against the measles. [KDLT teevee]
If untreated, measles is deadly. Recall that South Dakota Senator don Juan Thune wanted to block travel to non-white Africa during the Ebola hysteria: think he'll call for a Davison County travel ban?

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mayor: Hot Springs on a roll

Hot Springs could be something someday if it wanted to be: the town has recently expanded its social media platform and the Mammoth Site is at the focus of scientific research on a 9300-year-old mummified bison uncovered there.

Nearby Wind Cave National Park is a perennial favorite destination for ecotourists and is within biking distance of the Mickelson Trail. There is a movement to bring a mountain bike race to the area that would rival the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival. Real estate is affordable and historic properties abound.

If passenger rail ever happens nearby Maverick Junction will no doubt be a stop. My maternal grandparents honeymooned in Hot Springs where Evans Plunge became the Black Hills' first commercial tourist attraction.

A planning and development class at Black Hills State University recently delivered to Hill City a packet of concepts to improve access to tourism-related activities.
Students focused on promoting three of Hill City’s strengths – culture and heritage, outdoors, and wine and craft beer. These three market niches are already established in the community and provide the best options for growth, students said. The group brainstormed events that fit into these niche markets, including a history scavenger hunt, dinner tour of local restaurants and a public art walk. The group also identified several challenges Hill City faces, such as budget issues, the seasonality of businesses and website presentation to visitors. Many Hill City businesses close in October and reopen in May. Students suggested that the town support more off-season events, enticing locals or community members from the surrounding area to visit Hill City. [BHSU Communications]
This blogger passed BHSU's article on community organizing to a Hot Springs official.

The South Dakota Democratic Party should book their 2016 state convention in Hot Springs.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bosque birds delight visitors

Click on any image to get a better look.



Sharp-shinned or ferruginous hawk;


Golden eagle feasting on snow goose;

Adult and juvenile bald eagles;

Sandhill cranes;

Sandhills cranes front, snow geese at back of image;


Golden or immature bald eagle;


Canada geese.

Friday, December 26, 2014

RCJ editorial: Schieffer screwed Sue, South Dakota

Patrick Duffy v. Kevin Schieffer:
If you haven't had a chance to watch the amazing documentary Dinosaur 13 on CNN or elsewhere, you're missing out on an in-depth look at one of the most compelling but also agonizing incidents in Black Hills history. Despite the fact we benefit from a major federal military base, and are a recipient state when it comes to taking in federal money, and we benefit from several national parks, forests and monuments, many South Dakotans would rather that "the feds" keep their hands out of our business. [editorial, Rapid City Journal]
No shit, right?

In 1990, Mike Verchio still owned the Continental Cafe in Hill City before it burned to the ground and Bush 41 was wimping out by not marching on Baghdad.

In a related story:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ellsworth bomber range expansion going down in heavy flak

Montana Governor Steve Bullock and the state's congressional delegation are calling on federal officials to stop or make changes to the proposed expansion of the Powder River Training Complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.
Bullock said in a letter dated Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that the proposal should be dropped. And if it moves forward, the Democratic governor asked for changes, including more measures to protect civilian aircraft from harm. The Air Force acknowledged in a study released Nov. 28 that the low-altitude flights and loud sonic booms have the potential to startle ranchers, recreationists and those living on four reservations in the region. [Associated Press]
Senator don Juan Thune (earth hater-SD) needs to land a major policy achievement to maintain any credibility among his party's faithful: he is failing to do that.

PRTC is to Montana as the Keystone XL pipeline to the US: only politicians win anything. No deposit, no return.

Thank you, Montana. Peace on Earth, good will to sage grouse, tribal nations and general aviation.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Racist Rapid City ready to rupture

Daniel Tiger chose to take out two enemy police personnel with him rather than be gunned down in cold blood like Christopher Capps was.

Lakota Country Times editor and Native Sun News reporter, Karin Eagle is speaking out after another American Indian is killed in Rapid City.
"There's a lot of antagonizing factors that people aren't taking into consideration, that this isn't the first death by police," Eagle said. From Eagle's prospective, the mayor and city council are blatantly ignoring the issue. "At the city level no acknowledgement of the problem even exists. There can be no change unless somebody addresses it. The people in power need to address it," Eagle said. [KOTA teevee]
State officials are scrambling to address a problem that they created at Statehood.

The South Dakota GOP thrives on violence.

Under the Rounds and Daugaard administrations the rates of violent crime in the failed red state have increased dramatically. GOP leadership in the state, especially in Rapid City, has fostered conditions where reported aggravated assaults have increased 100%.

South Dakota's red state legislature loves violence but believes cannabis is evil. As the failed red state concentrates on cannabis interdiction and the incarceration of non-whites rather than on violent crime, the state's residents are falling through the cracks.

A heartbreaking plea from Pine Ridge appeared in the rez blogosphere recently:

"Far more harm than good has been done by the presence of Christian groups and non-profits on the reservation (non-profits are modern era heirs to the legacy of early Christian groups). Christianity and non-profits on reservations have mostly been about profiteering, exploitation, religious indoctrination, and culture subversion."

The GOP has failed: it's time for real leaders.

Bill Moyers reports on "Savage Anxieties:"

Monday, December 22, 2014

Editorial: South Dakota foolish to ignore global warming

Chemist Jihong Cole-Dai keeps a winter coat in his office at South Dakota State University in Brookings even in the hottest part of summer. He needs it every time he brings another section of ice out of a university deep freeze storage unit in order to melt it down and study the chemical make-up of the ice. “The question on climate change is whether it is happening and whether it is related to human activity. The clear answer to both questions from a scientific perspective is yes,” Cole-Dai said. “Essentially, humans have the ability to influence our environment in a big way, especially starting in the 19th century with the start of the industrial revolution.” Cole-Dai said burning of fossil fuels such as coal had side effects that are apparent in ice core samples from Greenland. “Starting from the 1850s, there is this clear tend of increasing sulfate amounts in snow samples,” Cole-Dai said. “That timing is clearly tied to the start of the industrial revolution.” [Lance Nixon, Mysteries in Fire and Ice]
The Industrial Revolution and European settlement in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests.
If climate change is real, then South Dakota would be utterly foolish to ignore it. Without a doubt politics has been involved on both sides of the global warming discussion. But doubtless if Svante Arrhenius were alive today, that great believer in the power of humans to alter climate for the better would doubtless want his idea to be considered on its merits, not for his politics. [editorial, Pierre Capital Journal], links mine.
In the Mountain West vast tracts of land have been cleared by bark beetles where aquifers are being recharged: a practice well known to pre-Columbian cultures who burned forests to increase ungulate populations.

South Dakota's junior senator is waffling on climate change:
Notice something different about Sen. John Thune? “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring,” Thune said. “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” Thune now clearly comes down on the side of the vast majority of scientists when he acknowledges climate change. He even notes that man does contribute, in some measure, to climate change, and that it is something that lawmakers can affect. [editorial, Aberdeen American News]
Instead of science, politics determines how public lands are managed: the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are prime examples. Ponderosa pine is extremely high in concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) yet it is routinely replanted because the timber lobby owns the Black Hills National Forest.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Betty Olson: global warming bunk because it's cold

Betty Olson is an earth hater South Dakota legislator defending the Bundyists in Nevada.
Winter wasn’t supposed to start until the Dec. 20, but it arrived a little early. The United Nations is holding a Climate Change conference in Lima, Peru, to combat global warming and they want the United States to pony up billions of dollars to control our energy use while China and third world countries can pollute all they want. What a waste of money! Remember back in the seventies when the alarmists were predicting that we were all going to die in the next ice age? I don’t know about you, but I loved the “global warming” we had this week and I wish it would have lasted until April. [Betty Olson, take a right at the beach]
Hello, Betty? The solstice is the 21st and begins the new year for us pagans.
The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [Christopher Joyce, NPR]
Betty hates non-whites, too: because she can; and was reelected in a mudslide.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's time to move LNI out of Rapid City

A police department known to be 'a bunch of racists' recently passed over a person of color for a leadership position and upheld its history of white supremacy.
Rapid City’s police chief has denied a permit request for a “police brutality awareness walk” that was planned for Friday. In a news release, the department said Chief Karl Jegeris decided against approval because of the timing coinciding with the Lakota Nation Invitational, a sporting event that is expected to draw 2,500 youths and their families to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. [Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
When Garrison Keillor opened A Prairie Home Campanion in the Rapid City Civic Center Theatre on November 20, 1999 he cited a statistic that Pennington County has the highest per capita gun ownership in the United States. A nervous chuckle rolled through the audience.

The number of experiences that i have had in gun and pawn shops in Rapid City that have taken me aback are too numerous to count. Two are vivid: a fifteen year old with mother in tow pointing at a Glock in a case saying: "that one" and a man buying five AK-47s with cash.
Christopher J. Capps, 22, who died of multiple gunshot wounds on Sunday night at Rapid City Regional Hospital, had been accepted by the University of South Dakota – Vermillion. Described as a “very outgoing” young man, Capps was well known around the neighborhood where was shot in a hail of bullets that may have ranged as high as five or six shots from Sheriff Department deputy David Olson, a nearly five-year veteran of the department. [Native Times]
The people involved in this skirmish are not the first casualties of this war; nor are they the last.
Most, and we do mean most, Native Americans believe that the Rapid City Police and Pennington County Sheriffs still profile Indians in traffic stops and in other arrests. Profiling means looking at people of a different race much more closely than at people of the white race. This means stopping them more frequently for traffic violations real or imagined or just for being an Indian walking down Main Street and looking suspicious.
Every time we see that the police department has hired a bunch of new officers and their pictures are published in the local daily, all the Indian community sees are a bunch of new, white faces. And we wonder why there are no Indians represented in the new hires. Whose fault is that? Who does the hiring?
It’s like the situation in Ferguson, Missouri where the community is almost 60 percent black and yet of the 53 police officers on the force only 3 are African American. So look at the mess that city is in now and it is not beyond imagination that the same thing could happen in Rapid City given the right or wrong set of circumstances. The writing is on the wall and it is high time that the Rapid City Police Department wake up and smell the coffee. Forewarned is forearmed and we don’t want to be the ones to say “I told you so” should violence erupt between the Indian community and the Rapid City Police Department. [excerpt, Tim Giago, posted at Indianz]
Here is another look at Rapid City's failure to serve and protect: Racist City, SD, (Rapid City), Where Life is Violent, and Often Deadly.

Black Hills State University is aptly suited to host LNI: Rapid City has blown it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BHEP part of Chaco encroachment

Even as prices plummet, Rapid City-based Black Hills Corp. remains focused on its substantial oil and natural gas holdings in the Mancos Shale within the San Juan and Piceance basins. The firm is bankrolling water diversions, too.

Now, fracking is adding to the methane bubble over the Four Corners area from leaks and flaring escalating a serious threat to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
In the first installment of KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep, we explore northwestern New Mexico – and the Chacoan landscape. “I get an overwhelming feeling of, I'm coming back to a wonderful ancient place," says Paul Reed, an archaeologist with the nonprofit Archaeology Southwest. “It might sound a little corny, but a lot of people have that quasi-religious experience driving into Chaco.” The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the area is more than ten years old. Now, this federal agency, which is in charge of leases and regulations, is trying to catch up. A new plan would open more land to oil drilling. And that has people like archaeologist Paul Reed worried development will press further south. And even closer to Chaco. But just recently, oil prices started coming down. Way down. So, what does that mean for the Chaco and the San Juan Basin? Right now, nobody really knows for sure. [Laura Paskus, KUNM]
The sign for Black Hills Exploration and Production in Bloomfield, New Mexico was head-snapping on the recent drive to Chaco Wash.
Susana Martinez may also be acting out to a national audience as she is always mentioned on the “short list” of Republican VP candidates for 2016, but behind the scenes she and NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn are quietly fighting New Mexico citizens by supporting polluting industries, going against EPA guidelines and passing their own version of “The Copper Rule,” which allows mining, oil, gas and dairy industries to continue to pollute groundwater on their property as long as it doesn’t leave the property. [Alex Jacobs, Indian Country Today]
Note that the oil and gas industry creates mountains of radioactive waste like filter socks looking for disposal sites even as New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recovers from breaches.

When Black Hills Corp. greases candidates like Heather Wilson while South Dakota's Board of Minerals and Environment makes conflicts of interest harder to find and the Public Utilities Commission is stacked with Republicans, the blur of the revolving door is vertiginous .

Alaska Natives are applauding President Obama for stopping new leases for drilling in Bristol Bay: he can stop it at Chaco, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Daugaard chucks $56M at rail industry

Crony capitalism lives large in South Dakota. TIGER grants were trimmed in the Cromnibus but there's nothing quite like greasing the GOP path to a chemical toilet.

From State News: links mine.
The first project is the reconstruction of the Mitchell to Rapid City (MRC) Rail Line. The $29.9 million project between Chamberlain and Presho will upgrade 42.6 miles of rail line to handle modern rail traffic.
The MRC project is being funded by $12.7 million in federal TIGER funds; $7.2 million appropriated by the Legislature during the 2014 session; $7 million in grants and loans from the Railroad Trust Fund; $1 million from the farmers and private investors of Rails to the Future; $1 million from Dakota Southern Railroad; and $1 from a Future fund grant.
The second project is an agreement with the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E) to construct two new railroad sidings along the old DM&E line. The $7.5 million project includes a 10,000-foot siding in the Huron area and a 7,500-foot siding near Aurora. RCP&E has committed to giving $3.75 million for the project, which the state will match with Future Funds.
For the third project, the state will partner with Dakota & Iowa Railroad to invest $7.3 million to upgrade the Sioux Valley Line in southeast South Dakota. The project will include upgrading nine bridges on the line, which will allow the line to handle 286,000-pound rail cars. In addition, a section of track that is currently in an area subject to landslides will be moved.
The last project, an upgrade of the Britton Line in northeast South Dakota, will include $5.25 million in funds from the Dakota Missouri Valley & Western, as well as $5.25 million in loans from the state Rail Board and $1 million in Future Funds. The $11.5 million project includes constructing the south leg of a wye at Jarrett Junction and replacing 29 miles of light rail with heavy rail to enable the railroad to handle heavy modern traffic.
Of course, Future Fund recipients were donors to Governor Daugaard's reelection war chest. $4 million in Future Funds will be doled out to interested SDGOP parties writing proposals on the backs of $100-dollar bills and putting them into the pockets of apparatchiks at the state Department of Transportation.

Monday, December 15, 2014

South Dakota media have no Democrat to speak on background

When media in South Dakota need a Democrat in the state to speak about actions in Congress they have nobody to call. It won't be Rick Weiland or Pat Duffy or Bernie Hunhoff or even Bob Burns and it certainly won't be South Dakota Democratic Party's new chair, Ann Tornberg or vice-chair, Joe Lowe.

KELO teevee chooses to quote Al Franken (D-MN) when it needs a statement.

So, who will it be? Cory Heidelberger? Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether? Anyone? Bueller?

When there are Democratic Party chairs in Harding, Butte, Ziebach, Corson, Clark, Douglas, Faulk, Haakon, Hutchinson, Jackson, Jones, Potter, Sully, and Todd Counties i will think about sending another fucking cent to a South Dakota Democrat.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guns, cannabis collide in Colorado, Montana

Still believe the Second Amendment is absolute? Think again.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) will make sure you lose your Second Amendment rights if you admit to ingesting cannabis or even if you are a patient being treated under the care of a doctor.

From Brian Doherty's piece at Reason:
Merely having a state medical marijuana card, BATFE insists, means that you fall afoul of Sect. 922(g) of the federal criminal code (from the 1968 federal Gun Control Act), which says that anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is basically barred from possessing or receiving guns or ammo (with the bogus assertion that such possession implicates interstate commerce, which courts will pretty much always claim it does). While the BATFE has not yet announced any concerted program to go after people who may have had legally purchased weapons before getting a marijuana card, Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project says that it’s common practice in medical marijuana-related busts that “if weapons are present, there will be gun charges added on as well.”
A Colorado organization wants to change the law in that state:
A pro-gun group is pushing a ballot initiative for 2015 that would allow users of marijuana to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Colorado. “Our goal is to have Colorado’s concealed handgun permit law sync with Colorado’s marijuana laws,” said Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone. “Typically, pro-marijuana legislators are not pro-gun, and vice versa,” he said. “I trust the people more than I do the lawmakers.” [Durango Herald]
Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, another state where cannabis has been legalized, has teamed up with Colorado congress member, Jared Polis: they have introduced legislation that would end the federal prohibition.

As tribal nations mull the Justice Department's memorandum on legal cannabis within reservation boundaries and BATFE remains free to pop anybody in Indian Country more clashes and lawsuits seem inevitable.

In a related story, the so-called 'Castle Doctrine' is being tested in a Missoula, Montana trial where a shooter, allegedly under the influence of cannabis, fatally blasted a German exchange student in the face during a 'garage-hopping' incident. Gun advocate groups have bankrolled experts to testify for the defense in the case: one has been paid $44,000 thus far.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Justice Department won't interfere with tribal cannabis

In another nod to tribes as the 51st State, Attorney General Eric Holder signaled to American Indian nations that they could begin building cannabis industries.
The new guidance, released in a memorandum (pdf), will be implemented on a case-by-case basis and tribes must still follow federal guidelines, said Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota and the chairman of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Native American Issues. "The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations," Purdon said. The policy is likely to be criticized in states opposed to marijuana sales, particularly those with Native American reservations. [Timothy M. Phelps, LA Times,] links mine.
Cherished reader and contributor, Bill Dithmer, believes cannabis could bring needed revenue to tribes trapped in South Dakota:
Legalizing the growing of hemp and the industries that would come as a result of that one act would make huge strides on the Pine Ridge Reservation. What we are doing is not working, hasn’t worked in the past, and history is a guarantee that it wont work in the future so why not perpetuate change now?
Deadwood and tribal gaming are inextricably linked: revenue from the sales of cannabis would require a change in the state's constitution then be directed to raise teacher salaries and fix a crumbling infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Amtrak, BNSF urged to connect Empire Builder with Southwest Chief

Amtrak is still struggling with service on the Empire Builder through Montana and the Bakken boom.
Passenger rail advocates have blamed the delays on an increase in freight rail traffic across the northern part of the country, particularly oil trains coming out of North Dakota. However, freight and passenger congestion in Chicago – the crossroads of North America’s rail lines – is another contributing factor. In October, the westbound Empire Builder, No. 7, was on time just 6.5 percent of the time. The eastbound train, No. 8, was on time 19.4 percent – a big improvement when compared to June of this year when it had a zero percent on time rate. According to data from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana, 15,143 fewer passengers have taken the train to Whitefish in 2014 versus 2013; a 27 percent decrease from last year. [Justin Franz, Flathead Beacon]
Santa Fe has joined other New Mexico communities to support the Southwest Chief.
The City of Santa Fe could take a financial hit in tourism revenue if service stops to nearby Lamy. A loss of passenger service along the current route would cost New Mexico about $3 million annually and 56 jobs, the AP reports, citing a state-commissioned study. [Justin Horwath, Santa Fe Reporter]
The Rail Runner between south of ABQ and Santa Fe goes through several pueblos and is well-supported with stops in each community: it has brought at least access to prosperity in an historically poor state.

Coal drives the traffic between the Southwest Chief depot in Trinidad, Colorado and Denver: easy money for Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

There is a rich history of rail travel between Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming even on to Deadwood.
The E9 locomotive is a living relic of the 1950’s - iconic high-speed diesel electric engines just like it hauled famous passenger trains including the City of Denver, the City of San Francisco and the City of St. Louis during the waning years of the golden age of passenger rail travel. All along the Union Pacific line from Denver to Cheyenne, thousands stood next to the tracks to watch the train cruise by. [Nathan Heffel, KUNC]
Wyoming highway 59 between Douglas and Gillette is killing people and strangling traffic: passenger rail would bring some order to that chaos. BNSF Railway's Burlington Route connects Cheyenne with Laurel, Montana just west of Billings where it intersects with Montana Rail Link.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe has strong rail connecting Laurel and Great Falls with the Empire Builder at Shelby.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) wants to restore the Hiawatha Line and a Montana legislator wants BNSF to rebuild that track, too.

Building two east-west rail systems exclusively for freight in South Dakota is lunacy.

Build track and bed good enough to offer passenger service from Minneapolis through Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Cheyenne with stops near tribal communities to link with the proposed line between the Empire Builder at Shelby and the Southwest Chief at Pueblo. Sioux Falls should get behind passenger service between Omaha and the Empire Builder at Fargo, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eberhard: torture is the moral hypocrisy of the religious right

Whose Anus Would Jesus Penetrate?

From Patheos' what would JT do? Links mine.
The United States defied every principle for which we claimed to stand and we did, in fact, torture people. And I can tell you right now which demographic largely won’t feel a tinge of remorse. It will be the ones who voted for George W. Bush. It will be those wrapping themselves in the American flag and still announcing their superior patriotism. It will be those who believed god was, and still is, at their backs. It will be those who conflated waterboarding prisoners with supporting the troops. It will be the ones perpetually worked up into a frothing rage at the idea of same-sex marriage, but who will shrug off waterboarding as not that big of a deal. It will be the fundamentalist Christians who can’t stomach the prospect of two men having consensual, pleasurable anal sex who will look at a brutal, sick, flagrantly immoral practice like forced rectal feeding and, with the sense of moral superiority that only seems available through unflinching faith in Jesus, say it was for the greater good – they had it coming.
Read more from the essay by JT Eberhard at Patheos.

From History in Pictures: "This remarkable work of art is made from faces of 670 soldiers who died in the Iraq War."

Senator Mark Udall is being urged to read the Central Intelligence Agency torture memos into the Congressional Record.
Sen. Udall has been persistent in trying to elicit the truth about CIA torture, but has failed. Now that he has lost his Senate seat in the November elections, he has the opportunity to do what Sen. Feinstein is too afraid to do – invoke a senator’s Constitutional right to immunity by taking advantage of the “speech or debate clause” to read the torture report findings into the record, a tactic used most famously by Sen. Mike Gravel in 1971 when he publicly read portions of the Pentagon Papers. [Truthout]

Monday, December 8, 2014

Yankton Taco Johns purchased after gay slur incident

The story broke during the South Dakota Democratic Party convention as Yankton went under the national civil rights microscope for an incident that should have shamed the entire state and not just one town.

Chris is a delegate from Yankton County: he represented the LGBTQ community at a convention largely devoid of West River participation (ip photo).
The Yankton franchise came under fire in June when Tyler Brandt, a former employee, alleged the store’s manager forced him to wear a nametag that read “GAYTARD.” Management at the restaurant claimed Brandt wore the nametag on his own accord. In September, the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and co-counsel Stephanie E. Pochop filed a lawsuit in Sioux Falls with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Taco John’s of Yankton, Inc., and Taco John’s International, Inc. The Yankton store has seen an Internet backlash since the June incident was made public. On Google, the restaurant currently pulls a 1.4 star rating with a number of negative reviews referencing the incident. [Rob Nielsen, Yankton Press and Dakotan]
Read Tyler Brandt's story here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Midterm elections bring lessons for Democrats

When only two Democratic native South Dakotans know what wins elections in that state, life might be easier if the author of The Dakota Progressive just jams a fork up his nose.
When voters pass minimum wage hikes in four of the reddest states--Alaska, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas--but still reject Democrats nationally and, perhaps more troublesome, even locally, that should tell you something. It also provides more clarity in terms of the lessons of this election. Here are two keys to fixing this mess:
1) Stop ALEC's corrupt agenda of buying corporate and socially regressive policies in state legislatures with their largesse.
2) Fund more Initiatives in the 24 states that allow them, so we can go around the bought off Tea-Baggers.
To pick out the last two examples, pot is now legal in Oregon and Alaska, and a Florida medicare [sic] marijuana amendment got 58 percent of the vote, and only failed to pass because 60 percent was required to change the state constitution. The other example, I-594 instituting background checks in Washington State, is another success (it passed with just under 60 percent) that can and will be replicated (the requisite number of signatures to put it on Nevada's ballot in 2016 has already been collected--Arizona, Maine and Oregon are other potential states where it might make the ballot).
This is where the action will be the next two years. Democratic left needs to get up off the mat, brush itself off and go do the hard work of taking back the states--via legislation, education and ballot initiative--while standing up strong for principles and not pursuing some elusive "third way." [Bob Cesca]
If Larry Pressler had really wanted to be US Senator he'd have run in the earth hater primary against flawed Mike Rounds. That's sweet that you have such an idealistic view of American politics, Bill Fleming: but we all know that crap is king, especially in South Dakota. Why bother, Bill? To prevent earth haters like Rounds and don Juan Thune from controlling the judiciary confirmation process: we need to run progressives in every race and screw the reactionary wing of the GOP.

Departing Argus Leader reporter, David Montgomery believes Susan Wismer was a fantastic candidate with the skills to govern but she had no chance because she didn't have the cash resources to fight the gubernatorial battle on teevee.

There's always next cycle: variable interval reinforcement is the strongest kind. We need to work harder but our listening to dipshits like Troy Jones drives our people from running.

The Montana GOP is suing to close their primaries to voters outside their party: i'm going to shove Chairman Barth into ending Democratic primaries and nominate our people at convention.

Right now i like Joe Biden for President.

We should look at a DFL-type strategy, gang. The Democratic Parties in Montana and New Mexico are already formulating tactics and raising money so that we can recover. Minnehaha County is going to step up and own the South Dakota Democratic Party if county chairs don't fire up their delegates to go to the goddamned convention. If candidates want support from the party they should know what the platform is and not announce a run expecting the party to back them, especially if they don't attend the convention. The platform is crafted at the convention by delegates who are frustrated that candidates like Joe Lowe completely ignored what the party stands for.

The Pennington County Democrat's blog hasn't been updated for nearly two years and delegates chose not to nominate Mike Wilson for AG: Custer and Fall River Counties sent as many representatives as Pennington did. If West River Democrats want a separate party they should step up and create one. If people don't want a Democratic party hierarchy they should run as unaffiliated candidates.

Jeff Barth: since West River Democrats want to go it alone it looks like just East River, you and me from here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Aberdeen American: Thune flip flops on global warming

Cross-posted at The Dakota Progressive.

South Dakota's junior senator is waffling on climate change:
Notice something different about Sen. John Thune? “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring,” Thune said. “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” Thune now clearly comes down on the side of the vast majority of scientists when he acknowledges climate change. He even notes that man does contribute, in some measure, to climate change, and that it is something that lawmakers can affect. [editorial, Aberdeen American News]
Read the Washington Post article linked here.

Thune hasn't ruled out a shutdown of the federal government over President Obama's executive action on immigration even as white GOP attorneys general sue to block the President.

Nobel Prize winner, Professor Paul Krugman is concerned that Thune and the Republicans want to destroy America.
Our inability to invest doesn’t reflect something wrong with “Washington;" it reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party. The federal government could easily have provided aid to the states to help them spend — in fact, the stimulus bill included such aid, which was one main reason public investment briefly increased. But once the G.O.P. took control of the House, any chance of more money for infrastructure vanished. [Ideology and Investment]
South Dakota's GOP-dominated legislature is scrambling to find the money to fix the state's crumbling infrastructure before its credibility completely collapses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thune embracing PRTC government overreach

Yet another aircraft has gone down in the Powder River Training Complex: this time the victim is a civilian pilot and clergy member. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are probing the incident near where two Ellsworth Air Force Base B1-B Lancer bombers have previously augured in under mysterious circumstances.
The U.S. Air Force has released its final environmental impact statement for an enormous military airspace complex that includes Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. But the environmental statement, released Nov. 28, does not address concerns about the safety and economic impacts of the proposed Powder River Training Complex on general aviation operations in Montana. “We are concerned that the Air Force has chosen not to make accommodations for general aviation operators in its final environmental impact statement,” said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of government affairs. “We will continue to work with all parties involved to help find ways to improve the operation of the airspace and minimize the economic consequences associated with this military training area.” [Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association]
Senator don Juan Thune (earth hater-SD) says he's been stroking the elephant's staff and expects to achieve climax in about 45 days. The state's junior senator says the Air Force is expected to make its decision on the proposed expansion of PRTC that includes portions of northeast Wyoming then FAA would consider its impact.

Montana hates the idea of expanded government overreach.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, said in a statement on Wednesday that he's pleased the Air Force has addressed some of the objections that Montanans raised about the initial proposal, but said he still has concerns about how the expansion will affect ranchers, tribal lands and regular pilots. [Stars and Stripes]
New Mexico is under the microscope for being too dependent on federal largesse: in South Dakota the feds mean survival.

Spare the rod, spoil the senator.

After the 1997 crash of a B-1 in Carter County a responding volunteer firefighter from Alzada told this interested party the multi-million dollar aircraft was brought down by a rancher with a .30-30 Winchester.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, an important figure in national security and commander of the 20th Air Force and based at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming was recently fired. Overall, Carey was responsible for three wings of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles: 9,600 people and 450 missiles in all. Several Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile units have drawn increased scrutiny lately: in August the Inspector General gave a failing grade to the 341st Missile Wing based at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana and a March inspection led the Air Force to decertify some members of the 91st Missile Wing based at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Warren, Minot and Malmstrom can manage the Northern Command: it's time for endangered sage grouse to get a reprieve from extirpation: close this training range and convert Ellsworth to a fire-fighting tanker base.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bandelier view sheds opened by fires

South Dakota-based Wildfire Today posted a story on the Thompson Ridge Fire: map above.

Bandelier National Monument has bermed the visitor center with sandbags to defend the facility from both flooding and wildfires. Managers of public lands in the Black Hills could learn from Bandelier's lessons.

Macaw petroglyph

Elk petroglyph

Long House

Cavate with sunlight

From the Albuquerque Journal Online:
Amid the thousands of acres of vaporized trees and blackened vegetation sat an island of green — a 5,000-plant marijuana plantation that survived both this summer’s massive Las Conchas Fire and catastrophic flooding that followed. The 6- to 10-foot-tall marijuana plants were grown in Bandelier National Monument by unknown growers, who remain at large and who officials believe battled the fire to protect their plants. The 5,000 marijuana plants, which survived a fire that burned more than 150,000 acres of New Mexico wildland, were pulled from their roots Thursday and taken by Black Hawk helicopter to an undisclosed area and burned.
From the New York Times Green Blog:
According to Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey in Los Alamos, N.M., forests in the region have not been regenerating after the vast wildfires that have been raging for the last decade and a half. Dr. Allen, who runs the Jemez Mountains Field Station at Bandelier National Monument, says those forests are burning into oblivion and grasslands and shrub lands are taking their place. “Rising temperature is going to drive our forests off the mountains,” he said. Seeking to preserve existing systems is futile, he said.

Mixed pine, fir and aspen stand after Las Conchas Fire


Ortiz Mountains from burn

Friday, November 28, 2014

Portrait of W constructed of photos of dead Iraq War GIs

From History in Pictures: "This remarkable work of art is made from faces of 670 soldiers who died in the Iraq War."

Senator Mark Udall is being urged to read the Central Intelligence Agency torture memos into the Congressional Record.
Sen. Udall has been persistent in trying to elicit the truth about CIA torture, but has failed. Now that he has lost his Senate seat in the November elections, he has the opportunity to do what Sen. Feinstein is too afraid to do – invoke a senator’s Constitutional right to immunity by taking advantage of the “speech or debate clause” to read the torture report findings into the record, a tactic used most famously by Sen. Mike Gravel in 1971 when he publicly read portions of the Pentagon Papers. [Truthout]